‘American Horror Story’: Wigging out

American Horror Story
“Chapter 5”
October 12, 2016


More hilariously, here is Doris Kearns Goodwin as Doris Kearns Goodwin on My Roanoke Nightmare which is really American Horror Story, telling a ghost story about Evan Peters in a Marie Antoinette wig having bathtub sex with a hot guy. Give her all of the Emmys.


Pulitzer Prize-winning Doris Kearns Goodwin is here to give us the history not of ghosts, but of Matt and Shelby’s pig-haunted house. We meet the builder of the house, Edward Philippe Mott, ancestor of Dandy, at an art auction, where he just walks in, announces he’s going to buy everything and everyone else can just go home because he will invariably outbid them. And no one stops him? Why doesn’t anyone, specifically the auctioneer, stop him? Because that’s not how auctions work? No one points out that that’s not at all how auctions work?

The point is, Edward is a huge art fan, but not so much a people fan. And to this end, he builds a house out in the middle of Nowhere, North Carolina where he can hide from his wife and children back in Philadelphia and hang out with his slave and lover, Guinness, and all of his fancy paintings. The building process is reportedly fraught with accidents which injure many workers. But Edward was like, “Did was any of my art or my sex slaves or my wigs hurt? No? Then carry on.” He even demands that the builders dig through the deep roots of the forest to build a series of tunnels for plot purposes to protect his precious art.

Once the house is built, Edward and Guinness have the aforementioned bathtub sex, and the sentence, “But first let’s rouge each other’s nipples,” is spoken for the first time ever on television.

But it’s not all bathtub sex and nipple-rouging. Only after the second night of being in the house, someone comes in and destroys all of his art. Edward, furious, blames the staff, and while a disapproving Guinness looks on, locks them all in what would eventually become the “Professor’s” cellar.

Later that night, Edward is awoken by The Butcher and her minions, who drag him outside, impale him on a stake and set him on fire for good measure.

R.I.P. Edward Mott

Though Edward’s body was never found, Guinness was arrested for his murder, and this asshole, he fails to mention to the cops that the rest of the staff was locked up in a root cellar for some reason, leaving them all to starve to death. Way to go, jerk.

As to whether or not Doris Kearns Goodwin thinks the place is haunted, all she knows is she wouldn’t stay there on a night with a full moon. Thank you for your service, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Back in the present(ish): we begin with “Matt” and “Shelby’s “actual 911 call”  as they are being menaced by The Butcher — but it’s not the actual call at all, it’s “Matt” and “Shelby’s” voice that play over the transcript.



No, seriously: if Matt and Shelby are the actual people who were supposedly terrified in this house and they are playing the “actual” 911 tape, why is it Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sarah Paulson’s voices we hear?


I’m just saying ALL OF THIS IS FAKE.

Anyway. Last we left them, “Matt” and “Shelby” were being terrorized by The Butcher and her minions who had just disemboweled “Cricket.”

R.I.P. Cricket.

So “Matt” and “Shelby” make the 911 call before deciding they have to run for it. As they head downstairs, one of the Chen girls, who, despite the fact that she was Chinese, has become a Korean water ghost, grabs at “Flora” and climbs all over the walls looking creepy and stuff. Meanwhile, the Butchers’ butchettes set fire to “Matt” and “Shelby’s” cars, trapping them inside the house. Then the Pigman storms inside,herding, “Matt,” “Shelby” and “Flora” are into the basement where they meet the ghost of Edward Mott.

Ghost Edward, unlike all of the other ghosts, decides to help “The Millers” escape the house, and leads them through his underground tunnels. Eventually they emerge in the woods, and Edward *poof* disappears.

Immediately, “The Millers” have hoods thrown over their heads, and when they are lifted, they find themselves in the hillbillies’ garage with one partially dismembered “Professor” — still alive, but just barely. The hill folk urge “Matt” to take a closer look at “Professor,” which he does, while assuring him that they are going to help. The hillbillies explain that they found “Professor” full of arrows and brought him back here instead of the hospital because he “wasn’t no use to nobody but us.” And that’s when “Momma” (Frances McDormand rocking an unitelligble  accent) enters, offering “The Millers” some fresh Professor jerky. “The Millers” politely decline — which, as it turns out was for the best, as it was rancid which “Momma” learns when she takes a bite. Furious, she has the hillbillies smash “Professor’s” face in with a hammer.

“The Millers,” good and freaked out now, beg to be let go, but “Momma” is like, “Nah, instead, I am going to go into long exposition about how we run a cannabis farm here, which we are allowed to do unmolested because our family made a deal with the Butcher some 200 years ago. And because of that deal, we are going to return you to her, so get in the truck, Sweet Meat.”

“The Millers” are loaded up into the back of the hillbilly truck with one hillbilly pointing a rifle at them the entire time. At one point, “Matt” grabs the gun, and in the ensuing struggle, it goes off, killing the driver. “The Millers” use the chaos to run away and hide in the woods.

Meanwhile, at the police station, “Sister” endures her 48 hours of questioning about “Ex-Husband’s” death, which she insists she had nothing to do with. When the questioning is over, she discovers that she has a ton of messages on her phone — most notably one from her brother informing her that they have Flora. However, when she tries to call back, “Matt” doesn’t answer because he’s busy being chased down by mumbly homicidal hill people.

And, in fact, when the phone goes off, it alerts said hill people to “Matt,” “Shelby” and “Flora’s” location. While “Momma” would VERY MUCH like to kill them for killing her son, she knows she has to keep them alive for The Butcher, so she just hobbles “Shelby” instead. And then it’s back into the truck and off to The Butcher.

Upon arriving back at the house, The Butcher extends her condolences to “Momma” on the loss of her son, and then the hill people are like, “Cool. Later.”

Byebye jimmy fallon

Meanwhile, “Sister” is able to convince the cops to give her a ride back to the house, but upon arrival, the officer takes one look at the ghost mob and is all, “Nope. Later,” and speeds off.

Byebye jimmy fallon

The Butcher decides that “Flora” will be their first sacrifice, over Priscilla’s protests. But before she can tie her to the stake, out of nowhere, The Butcher’s son, Ambrose, declares that he’s not going to allow his mother to kill another innocent soul, and he pulls her down with him into the pyre. Pigman lunges for “Flora,” but before he can reach her, “Sister” runs him over with some car she found somewhere, who even knows where. “The Millers” pile into the car and drive to the safety of a motel.

There, in their nod to season 5, “Shelby” has a nightmare that The Butcher comes for her, a nightmare that Shelby explains still haunts her.

Tonight is the big TWIST episode that sets everything we thought we knew about this season on its ear. Are you excited? I AM EXCITED.

So based on nothing more than a few seconds of the promo and, well, logic, it is looking like the rest of the season will be going behind the scenes on My Roanoke Nightmare. To what end? I don’t know. Ryan Murphy has [SPOILER! I guess] all but admitted that the cast will be playing other characters — which I took to mean that Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Frances McDormand, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Angela Bassett, Denis O’Hare, and Leslie Jordan will be back as the actors who were in the “dramatic reenactments.” And the natural narrative arc from here would be if they or the production crew themselves are haunted by whatever is supposedly in those woods.

But that wouldn’t be an unexpected twist, which is what Murphy and Falchuk have promised in recent interviews, Falchuk going so far as saying, “No matter what you think it is, it’s not that. Then, episode 6 comes and you’re like, ‘Wait! What happened?’” Having the reality show cast and crew be haunted by their subject matter is a pretty obvious twist when it’s all said and done, so if we take Falchuk at his word, it shouldn’t be that. I’m not saying that it won’t be! Just that if it is, Murphy and Falchuk oversold how mind-blowing this twist would be. (Of course, if they had kept their big mouths shut, we wouldn’t have known there was a twist in the first place and just think of how many brains would have been splattered when tonight’s episode aired, taking the show in a different direction. [The rebuttal to that, though, is that this episode could have felt like a finale if you weren’t warned ahead of time to be looking for something in the sixth episode. Plus, the fact that tonight’s episode airs against the Presidential debate must have left Murphy and Falchuk in a panic.])

I still stand by the idea that somehow all of Matt and Shelby’s experiences were actually manipulations of some sort, that they were being led to believe they were being haunted by the lost colony of Roanoke by someone, for some reason. And perhaps this is what the production crew will actually be investigating in the second half of the season? Perhaps in their extensive background checks and research, they discovered something shady about the Mott house and they go to check it out only to become victims themselves?


But I just can’t shake this feeling that “Matt” and “Shelby” were being led around in this episode for some other purpose. Think about what happened in this episode: “Matt” and “Shelby” have already been primed by “Professor’s” information to know that Edward Mott was the original owner of the house. When The Butcher and her mob arrive, “Matt” and “Shelby” are blocked from leaving through the front or the back of the house, and herded into the basement where they meet the only “ghost” who is willing to help them: Edward. He leads them through the tunnels which end at the hillbillies’ home, where they are promptly abducted as though someone were waiting for them. In the hillbillies’ home, they are shown “Professor” again, encouraged to examine him, in fact, before he is “killed.” On the way back to the Mott house, “Matt” is allegedly involved in shooting and killing one of the hillbillies, but neither “Matt,” “Shelby” nor “Flora” are killed; the worst that happens is that “Shelby” is injured. And then, at the last moment, when”Matt,” “Shelby” and “Flora” are completely vulnerable and out of options, this is when, AFTER CENTURIES, The Butcher’s son decides enough is enough and saves the day? Right then? Right at that particular moment? Huh.

All of this is fishy. Add this to this the fact that the supposed history of the ghosts do not line up with actual recorded history; that everything Matt and Shelby know about this house comes from two sources: “Professor” and “Cricket,” both of whom supposedly died in front of their eyes; that neither “Matt,” “Shelby,” “Flora,” nor “Sister” were killed — and even “Ex-Husband’s” death is not an absolute; and that nothing that actually happened to Matt and Shelby (or “Matt” and “Shelby”) couldn’t be explained by the actions of a group of very devoted and very alive actors. All of this taken together stinks to high heaven, frankly.

In fact, the events in this episode felt more like “Matt” and “Shelby” were being led through an elaborate haunted house, winding their way through a predetermined path, being shown specific things for a specific purpose. Now, that said, there are some problems with the idea that this is all a fraud: if the story we are being shown in this episode is to be believed, people died, both “Professor” and one of the hillbilly boys. Murder is a big commitment to make for some sort of real estate fraud or whatever it is that is happening here.

However — and this is crucially important — the events that we are shown are “dramatic re-enactments,” — they are not the actual events themselves. If you go back and watch the scenes in which “Professor” and the hillbilly are killed, you’ll notice that the real Matt and Shelby do not talk about their deaths. They don’t narrate them. In fact, they aren’t even mentioned. We are shown them, but not told them by the real people involved — compare that to “Cricket’s” “death” which they do talk about witnessing — from a distance. It’s possible that the deaths were faked for the benefit of the real Matt and Shelby at the time, much like I think “Cricket’s” death was. Or, it’s possible that the deaths might not have happened at all. The producers might have punched up the story in these spots to make the episode of My Roanoke Nightmare more horrific. If you’ve ever watched any of these reality horror series, particularly those with re-enactment, they are often enhanced with jump scares, because just listening to someone talk about how they had a creepy feeling this one time doesn’t exactly lend itself to a visual medium. To get to the “true” horror of a situation, sometimes you have to embellish.

And ultimately I think that’s where we are headed: Whatever the big reveal is tonight, I think it will lie somewhere in the disconnect between reality and fiction. I am not sure exactly how that will play out: whether the “real” ghosts will begin to haunt the actors who portrayed them; or if Matt and Shelby’s “real” haunting turns out to be some sort of fraud and the real story is somehow scarier; or if the fictional My Roanoke Nightmare begins to haunt the real people involved with American Horror Story itself, who knows. But mark my words, somehow this line between fiction and reality will be blurred in this coming episode.

And as soon as the Presidential debate is over — or as Friend of Foolish Bobby called it, the REAL American Horror Story — we will find out.

Until then, piggies.

American Horror Story airs on FX Wednesdays at 9/10 p.m.

(But again, why was the “actual 911 call” recorded by the actors portraying Matt and Shelby and not, you know, Matt and Shelby’s actual 911 call? Why didn’t they record it with Lily Rabe and André Holland instead of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sarah Paulson? I JUST FEEL LIKE THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT, GUYS.)

2 thoughts on “‘American Horror Story’: Wigging out

  1. Have you considered that it is backwards? The “reenactment” is actually the real thing and the “actors” in the documentary, whom we’ve been taking to be the “real” Matt and Shelby, are actually the actors in the midst of filming their Blair Witch-like movie based on those events. This would make the 911 call real. I’m not right, but this season is so nuts, who knows? Ryan Murphy is too in love with his own cleverness to actually be clever methinks.

Leave a Reply