American Horror Story has been so good this season it has me, as the kids say, shook. Six seasons in and it’s finally found the right amount of gore, scares and fun. I’m hooked! Let’s dive right back in.
Last week ended with Shelby, Matt and Lee looking for lost little Flora, whose sweater was up a tree. They’re still looking for her this week with the help of the townspeople (who knew there were townspeople?) and a distinct lack of help from the local police. There’s a pile of remains that is part pig guts and part Flora’s doll, but no Flora herself. So everyone heads out into the woods to try and find Flora.
After a while, the group stumbles across an abandoned farmhouse and a run-down barn. The place is rotting almost as badly as the food in the fridge and everyone has cleared out, save for two little feral boys feeding off a hog. The gross-out factor has finally made its appearance! The police arrive and take the boys to meet with a social worker but the only word they know is “Croatoan.” Mason arrives at this point and is furious that Flora hasn’t been found, that these hillbilly children don’t know anything about her whereabouts and that this whole dumb ordeal happened in the first place. I still like Mason. Back at the farmhouse, things get even more heated and Mason accuses Lee of hiding Flora. She had kidnapped the girl from school after all and was about to lose custody, so he thinks she’s stashed Flora away and will head to Mexico once the cops stop looking. This is a fair point! Mason is pretty smart! He and Lee argue and he pushes her to the ground, so we don’t like Mason anymore. He storms out, and Lee, Shelby and Matt all head to bed.
A few hours later, Matt gets a call from the police that a body has been found. They all run, thinking it’s Flora, but it’s Mason charred to a crisp on a cross in the middle of the forest. Matt checks the security system on the house and sees Lee left after Mason, but didn’t return until hours later. Shelby is ready to take this to the police but Lee confronts her, and then an unexpected visitor drops in. American Horror Story: Coven‘s Leslie Jordan is back as Cricket, a Southern psychic who has helped the FBI track missing children before, and was guided to the farmhouse by the spirits — and CNN. Since he had a proven track record with the FBI, the trio allow him to conduct a seance in the house.
Cricket calls to the spirits who have taken Flora. While Priscilla, the little colonial ghost everyone thought was Flora’s imaginary friend, was the one that took her, it’s Kathy Bates’ spooky leader that shows up to chat. She’s called the Butcher, and with a cleaver in hand and blood smeared on her face, it’s not hard to see why. The Butcher tells Cricket this land is hers and she must protect it from outsiders. He starts screaming “Croatoan” and she smashes all the windows, then leaves. Cricket tells the group things are getting serious and he can help — for $25,000. Matt throws him out, but not before he whispers something to Lee.
This is where the episode starts to play with the documentary-style talking heads, that are still there every time narrating. We hear a producer, off-screen, ask Lee what he said and if it was about ‘Emily.’ Lee freaks out and asks the camera to turn off. It does, briefly, and then turns on again to see the studio and someone (maybe the producer?) bringing Lee a cup of water. Then we’re back to the interview, and she explains that Emily was her first daughter who disappeared when she was 4, and Lee herself was only around 21. She wasn’t ready to lose a second daughter, it seems, because Lee went to Cricket with the money. Cricket can’t take Lee to the other side, it seems, but he thinks they can rescue Flora is they learn everything they can about the Roanoke people. “You only think you know the story,” he tells Lee, and I assume tells the audience in a wink-wink way that things won’t be what they seem.
The Butcher was a woman named Tomasin who was left in charge while her husband, the colony’s leader, went back to England. They were low on food and supplies so a group of the villagers turned mutinous, including her own son. They put a contraption on her face and left her alone in the woods to die while they moved to set up camp elsewhere. Alone in the woods at night, with her hands bound and her face covered, Tomasin hears a creature approaching and sits back to accept her fate. Something intervenes, however, and Tomasin’s chains are released. Lady Gaga’s witchy character has killed the beast and is offering Tomasin its heart to eat. She does, and then bursts into the camp with a clever and kills the men who betrayed her. The whole colony moves again, landing right where Matt and Shelby’s house now stands.
Cricket takes the trio into the woods to try and broker a deal with the Butcher. He says if she can get Priscilla to give back Flora, they will vacate the property and burn it down so no one else will move there. Shelby wasn’t privy to that part of the deal and turns to confront Matt, who has wandered off. She heads into the woods and finds him having sex with witch Lady Gaga, while a pair of hillbillies watches. In the documentary interview, Matt claims he has no memory of this. A likely story. Shelby runs off, distraught.
When Matt, Lee and Cricket make it back to the farmhouse, the police are there. Shelby called them and gave the evidence about Lee possibly murdering Mason, and she is placed under arrest and taken away.
The batshit level is upped in this episode, with the seances, quirky psychic and spooky forest hookup, but it’s not so crazy that it takes away from the story. In other seasons, particular American Horror Story: Hotel, the attempt to do crazy and shocking (and sexual) stuff often felt cheap or forced, but this season is still managing to tow the line a lot better. It might be because the story overall is much more interesting: the Roanoake people, mixed with Blair Witch elements and The Hills Have Eyes-style feral children, is a great recipe for a horror story. We’re three episodes in and I’m still loving this season. Bring on next week!