With everything going wrong for Matt and Shelby, “Chapter 4” of American Horror Story: Roanoke begins with Shelby confronting Matt over sleeping with another woman (a witchy Gaga). Matt doesn’t have any recollection of the events, and, after being moved to tears, Shelby finally believes him. Their moment of security is cut short after we see Shelby entering the shower — only to be stopped by the Pig Man killer, who swings at her with a knife and chases her down the hall. Matt saves Shelby, sending them both downstairs, where he appears again, and the assumed-to-be-deceased professor/author/basement dweller strikes the murderer and makes him vanish after yelling the word “Croatoan.” Recognizing him as well as the word, they decide to keep him around long enough to explain what he knows (which is basically the murder or disappearance of every resident for countless years).
The professor tells them that, on a particular moon cycle every October, these people are murdered, and, if they want to survive, they must leave the property with him at that moment. (Lee is safer in custody, clearly.) The man tells them that, during those six days, spirits can crossover with the ability to murder with their own free will. Before they can leave, they decide to pursue Priscilla because he knows where she “plays,” but they are distracted by two things: firstly, Shelby is seen chasing Lady Gaga’s character through the woods out of a jealous rage, and, secondly, the merry band of spirits are interrupted by a barrage of arrows and colonial ghosts with a thirst for blood. The couple flees back toward the house (not too smart) but are pleasantly surprised by finding Cricket the psychic from the previous episode.
The psychic decides to head into the woods and find out the entities’ needs, not returning until morning — and clearly shaken. He tells the two that he met the being with real power, a witch (Lady Gaga). Cricket goes on to explain he had to barter Matt to obtain any answers because, through the moon cycle, her powers grow — as do her needs. Cricket is, then, shown the past of the lost colony (which was the property they live on now) and finds out the butcher practiced an ancient religion requiring human sacrifice. Her son (Wes Bentley) wasn’t too keen on his mother’s beliefs and overthrew her, which sparked the witch of the woods to eerily motivate the butcher to enslave the souls of all who defied her. The butcher massacres the entire colony before offering her own life to the witch, making it a sacrifice so large that the entities were tied to the land forever.
Cricket explains that the witch showed him a spell that could obliterate every spirit, but, before he can do that, he must Uber back to his hotel forms few belongings. As he leaves (and offers money for his Uber driver in reference to “gay for pay”), a frightened Flora runs in front of the vehicle and back to the woods — most likely as a decoy to stop Cricket. Matt and Shelby try to contact him with no answer, as it gets closer to the evening, leaving them with no choice but to remain hopeful. The two get some rest while waiting, but, as Matt wakes up, he notices he had been losing track of time. He is lured out into the cellar portion of the property, being mystically seduced by the witch with no ability to fight it. Matt explains it as, through her touch, her life was explained to him — watching her become imprisoned as a witch but using her abilities to massacre an entire army that she was never blamed for. She escaped to the woods and became an unbelievably strong being fueled by powerful gods unknown to mankind. While Matt admits he was ready to join her (and the strongest connection he had ever experienced), he is snapped back into reality by Shelby’s screams as the colonists approach with Flora and Cricket. Flora isn’t a victim just yet, but Cricket is murdered, and his intestines are pulled from his body with a message clear that Matt and Shelby are next on the butcher’s list.
Overall Grade: 8.5/10
The history of the witch in the woods was a necessary addition to the plot of Roanoke and continues to connect to the AHS mythology we have seen in Seasons 1-5. I’m not completely understanding the Matt and Shelby endgame, but I am still hopeful due to the season being regarded as having multiple arcs that are interwoven to AHS. This season is a great installment to the franchise for keeping ambiguity and using some of the horror elements we love from AHS with new aspects popping up as it progresses.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
– RIP Cricket.
– The witch is my new favorite. I feel like she could have an entire episode centered on the powerful being (and Gaga delivered a spectacular performance very different from her Hotel character, the Countess).
– Lee is probably the luckiest character at the moment.