We’re four weeks into American Horror Story and only two episodes away from the “game-changing” twist creator Ryan Murphy keeps teasing. Things are progressing nicely on the show, with character reveals that make sense and the stakes keep escalating. Think it’ll all go to hell in two episodes? Who knows!
Chapter 4 starts again right where last week left off: Shelby called the cops on Lee as revenge for Lee and Matt agreeing to destroy the house in exchange for Flora, and Matt banging the forest witch played by Lady Gaga.
Shelby is furious with Matt, demanding to know who the woman she caught him with was. Matt claims he doesn’t remember any of it, and that it feels like part of his brain is missing. Matt’s legitimately upset and confused, and Shelby believes him. She decides to call it a night: Flora’s still missing, Mason’s dead, Lee’s in jail for the murder, Matt’s having amnesia sex with witches, it’s been a crazy long day. Shelby goes to hop into the shower and is confronted with the Pig Man, or a man in a pig mask, that we’ve seen before on the videotapes and with the Roanoke people. Shelby screams and runs away, and the Pig Man gives chase to her and Matt. They twist through the house, but Pig Man always seems to pop up in front of them again. They’re starting to think it’s game over when an axe swings from nowhere and knocks Pig Man down. It’s Elias, the professor from the videotapes. He shouts “Croatoan” and the Pig Man disappears completely. What just happened?
Elias didn’t die like we all had assumed, but he did leave the house. He’d been investigating all the deaths, murders and disappearances on the land and decided the only way to keep people safe was to own the house but never set foot on it, so unsuspecting buyers wouldn’t accidentally move into a creepy death house. However he defaulted on a payment, the house went up for auction and here we are. Elias takes Shelby and Matt to the basement to show them his documents on the house’s previous owners (I guess Shelby and Matt never cleaned the place out? Also never lock the front door?). The farmhouse was built in 1792 by Edward Philippe Mott — if that name sounds familiar, it’s because American Horror Story: Freak Show’s psycho clown was also named Mott — and Mott disappeared shortly thereafter. The house has a long history of missing and murdered owners, including the nurse sisters Matt had visions of (ripped apart and beheaded by The Butcher) and a family of immigrants in the 70s. All the murders and disappearances take place in mid-October: during the Dying Grass Moon, as Elias calls it. It’s a six-day period between the Blood Moon and the New Moon, and during that time the spirits of this land have the power to kill. Elias’ solution is for all of them to flee before The Butcher and her crew get the power and come kill them all. Shelby and Matt refuse to go without Flora, who is still with Priscilla, and Elias thinks he knows a way to get her back.
The three of them head out into the woods to search for Flora yt again. Elias knows where Priscilla and the other “outsider” spirits play. Lady Gaga’s forest witch is watching them from the tree line, and Shelby snaps and chases after her. She runs through the forest, seemingly led by Lady Gaga’s forest witch (she has no name, so I’m sticking with this) to a clearing where the bloody ghosts of three hunters start to advance on her. Shelby tries Elias’ trick of screaming “Croatoan” but it does nothing. Thankfully, Matt and Elias grab Shelby and they run to a different clearing, where Priscilla, Flora and an assortment of other ghosts (the Pig Man, the Chen family, the nurse sisters) are playing. Elias advances, asking Priscilla to give Flora back when he’s hit with a barrage of arrows and dies. The Butcher and the Roanoke people are coming, so Matt and Shelby run back to the farmhouse. Cricket is there to greet them, wondering if they’re finally ready to do things his way. Seriously, Matt, Shelby — lock your front door.
Cricket went back into the woods to talk to the Butcher again but instead met “the bitch with the real power” – Forest Witch Lady Gaga. She’s the powerful force that’s controlling the spirits in the area and agrees to help Cricket in exchange for the one thing she really wants: a man, or more specifically, Matt. I guess she got a taste for him earlier and wants more. She showed Cricket the history of the area, which he now recounts to Matt and Shelby: the forest witch taught the Butcher dark magic, and the Roanoke people started doing human sacrifices (Priscilla). When the people once again start to turn on the Butcher, she poisons them all and lets the forest witch kill her so that they are tied together in death and roam the land as spirits. Cricket knows how to get rid of the Butcher now, and calls an uber (uber comes all the way out here?) to head back to his hotel to pick up some supplies for a spell. As the uber takes off down the road, Flora runs in front of the car and Cricket gets out to chase her. This is not going to end well.
Cricket doesn’t return, and Shelby falls asleep. Matt hears a noise outside and goes to investigate (I mean it’s not like there are killer ghosts on the loose or anything). He heads down to the bunker Elias has been living in, where Lady Gaga the Forest Witch has set up dozens of candles and is ready for a romantic night. Get it, Matt. She puts him under her spell and they start to have sex again, but this time it lets Matt into a vision of her past. The forest witch was a Druid in England before sneaking onto a ship to the new world. Men aboard became sick, and they eventually found her and blamed her for the ship’s misfortunes. She was set to be burnt at the stake but quickly escaped and killed them all. Her old world magic, the magic of the new world in the forest and the buckets of blood she spilt somehow all came together and made her something new and powerful. She’s been living as an immortal forest witch ever since and she wants Matt to join her. He’s fully entrances and ready to stay when Shelby’s ever-present screams snap him out of it. He runs back to the house and find The Butcher and her crew are outside with Flora. Before the Butcher can kill her, Priscilla intervenes and lets Flora run back to her family. Unfortunately, Flora wasn’t the only prisoner: the Butcher also has Cricket and cuts his throat before pointing at Matt and Shelby, letting them know they were next.
This episode has escalating stakes (everyone who tried to help Shelby and Matt is now dead), reveals (Gaga’s past, the Butcher’s past, the house’s past) and the biggest dash of humour we’ve got all season via Cricket’s uber driver (not only does Cricket ask him if he does “gay for pay,” but in the talking head interviews he hilariously recounts Cricket leaving the vehicle and says “hope everything turned out okay!”). It’s another strong entry in a so far strong season. As we get closer and closer to Murphy’s twist, the more I worry about how far off the rails this season can go. We still don’t know much about the Pig Man, and does the inclusion of the Mott family mean some Freak Show characters might show up? Every week Twitter is alight with complaints that Evan Peters is yet to arrive (despite his name in the credits every week), can we expect his character to be the big twist? And Angela Basset’s coming back, right?