American Horror Story Season 6 Premiere Recap: Was It Scary Good?

Charlie Mason

After American Horror Story spent months serving up enough red herrings about its Season 6 premise to open a seafood restaurant, the FX anthology series on Wednesday finally revealed all — well, some, at least. Did the gamble pay off? Were you more frightened, having tuned in as blind as Coven’s Cordelia after being splashed with acid? Or would you have been just as terrified if you’d known beforehand the who, what, what-the-hell, why and where of it all? Let’s go over the key thrills and chills first, then you can vote in the poll below and hit the comments with your first impressions.

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WELCOME TO ROANOKE | As the episode began, we found ourselves in a documentary feature called My Roanoke Nightmare, in which expectant, modern-day L.A. marrieds Matt (Andre Holland for real, Cuba Gooding Jr. in recreations) and Shelby (Lily Rabe for real, Sarah Paulson in recreations) were attacked on the street by thugs playing the knockout game. In the aftermath of the missus’ resultant miscarriage, they fled from the big, bad city to rural North Carolina. Enjoying a day in the woods, Shelby reported, “we found ourselves in front of the most beautiful old farmhouse,” which they promptly outbid some pissed-off locals to purchase. Unfortunately, “from the very first moment,” Shelby said, “I felt danger there.” (And they hadn’t even gotten the danger discount!) Matt, on the other hand, felt right at home.

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THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT | Shortly after moving in, the Millers were making love one evening when they heard noises coming from outside. Investigating, Matt had a garbage can hurled at him and assumed that it was racist hicks. The next day, Shelby was shocked to discover teeth falling on the house like hail (which was exactly what Matt assured her that it had been). When he subsequently left on a business trip, she had scarcely begun savoring her alone time before she saw a pair of (were those) nurses strolling through the hall?!? She couldn’t even chillax with her wine in the hot tub without being nearly drowned by someone she later described as wearing old-timey costumes and carrying pitchforks.

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CALLING IN REINFORCEMENTS | After hightailing it home, Matt tried hard to act like he bought Shelby’s story — which was no mean feat, considering that the police found no footprints near the hot tub, much less pitchforks. That night, Matt again heard noises outside and this time discovered a slaughtered pig on their doorstep. Convinced that the local “ZZ Top wannabes” were trying to scare them away, he set up security cameras before his next trip and, to stay with Shelby, called in his sister, Lee (Adina Porter for real, Angela Bassett in recreations). Once upon a flashback, Lee had been a policewoman who lost her job, marriage and pretty much her child due to an addiction to painkillers. Back in the recreations, Shelby was unnerved when the knife with which she was chopping veggies moved — into a piece of meat — while she wasn’t looking. For her part, Lee, trying hard to remain sober, was unnerved by her sister-in-law’s drinking. That evening, at spookytime, a bottle of vino rolled into Lee’s room, and she naturally assumed that Shelby had done it. Just then, a mob of pitchfork-wielding intruders showed up on Matt’s security cameras…

INTO THE WOODS | While Matt watched helplessly, Shelby and Lee were too busy arguing to answer his frantic calls. They finally stopped when Lee heard a door creak open. In the basement, she and Shelby discovered a television playing a home movie featuring the same noises that had so often disturbed the Millers’ sleep as well as a freaky shot of… was that Seinfeld’s legendary pigman?!? Emerging from hiding, Shelby and Lee discovered enough Blair Witch-y stick figures to supply a dozen movie sequels. When Matt returned home, Shelby pleaded with him to leave. Since he wouldn’t, she did by herself. “There’s no shame in getting the hell out of the way,” she reasoned. But she didn’t get far before she — and her car — ran into a woman (Kathy Bates). After following the woman a few feet into the woods, Shelby found herself lost — and surrounded by more stick figures. Also, the ground was moving. And there were the pitchfork-wielders. (Was that Wes Bentley among them?) And… and… that was the end?!?