When Ryan Murphy first announced that the newest season of American Horror Story would be kept a secret, I was skeptical. WhenÂ AHS: Roanoke premiered, I was intrigued. As the season went on, I was thrilled to be creeped out after the last few lackluster seasons barely got a jump out of me. Then came the season finale, and I was disappointed once again.
Consistency is important, not just for the narrative, but for the audience as well. The first half of the season we were watching My Roanoke Nightmare. Then we were watching Return to Roanoke: Three Days In Hell. In “Chapter 10,” we were watching a multitude of shows, and then we weren’t at all.
First, we watched footage from PaleyFest after the first season of My Roanoke Nightmare. Then we watched a couple of YouTube clips. Then we watched an AHS version of Oxygen’s Snapped, called Crack’d. Then we watched the Lana Winters interview. Then we watched Spirit Chasers. Then… nothing. We were watching events play out in real time. That’s a hell of a lot to cram into a one-hour finale.
Everything up until the final moments of the episode is seen through the lens of a camera, whether it’s through reality shows, news footage, Go-Pro footage, etc. However, the final minutes are not through any cameras. Why the change? What was the purpose? If this all sounds like a mess, that’s because it was.
As the episode began, we watched Paleyfest footage of everyone still alive after the first season of My Roanoke Nightmare. There were crazed fans everywhere, and Sidney was acting like a pompous ass about the show’s incredible ratings. First of all, I’ve been to Paleyfest… at the American Horror Story panel… and I don’t think this was an accurate depiction. Anyway, one fan in particular loved Lee and thought she was being treated unfairly by the public. Cut to that same fan on a YouTube video discussing Return to Roanoke: My Three Days In Hell. She called it exploitative. Then we cut to a YouTube video of the last surviving member of the Polk family, Lot. Lot was vowing to seek vengeance for his family.
Next we saw footage from the show Crack’d, which chronicled Lee’s downward spiral. The show examined the trials Lee faced after her crimes came to light. She was acquitted of the murders that occurred during Return to Roanoke: My Three Days In Hell. Then Lee had to face trial for the murder of Mason. The prosecution made Flora take the stand where she claimed to have seen her mother murder her father. However, Lee’s lawyer was able to turn her into an unreliable witness when she got Flora to talk about her ghost friend, Priscilla. Even though Lee was once again found not guilty, Flora didn’t want to speak to her.
This is when my favorite character of the entire series, Lana Winters, made her return. However, her appearance felt rushed and purposeless. Lee agreed to be interviewed by Lana because of her past. Lee spoke directly to the camera as she apologizes to her daughter. Lana dropped the bombshell to Lee that as of an hour prior, Flora was reported missing. Then, gunfire was heard, and Lot busted into the room murdering people left and right. Lana warned him that they were on live television. He knocked her out, but before killing Lee, Lot was shot dead.
As if all the shows within the show weren’t enough, we were then introduced to Spirit Chasers, which is AHS‘ version of Ghost Hunters. With Ashley, the actor who played Cricket,Â coming along, the crew trespassed onto the property during the blood moon. Things quickly turned bad as doors began shutting, bonnets were found, and Lee showed up looking for Flora. It’d been two weeks since she disappeared, and this was Lee’s last stop.
All of the evil spirits began making their appearance taking out Ashley and the rest of the crew, as well as a couple police officers who had just arrived on the scene. With the police surrounding the house, Lee finally found Flora. She came back to Roanoke to protect Priscilla from The Butcher. If she was turned into a ghost, she could stay there forever.
Lee begged her daughter not to end her life so young. She promised Flora that if she stayed behind instead, and gave up her life, she would protect Priscilla. Flora agreed and left the house as Lee had Priscilla shoot her and the house went up in flames. As Flora waved goodbye from inside the cop car at ghost Lee and Priscilla, the mob of ghostÂ colonists made their way toward the house and the remaining police.
AHS: Roanoke has been one my favorite seasons.Â The storytelling was well-paced, we weren’t overloaded with too many characters at time, and the scares were genuinely earned and surprising. The use of documentary style was a unique way to flip the script, and I loved the show within the show format.
The cinematography was outstanding, especially in the second half of the season. The “found footage” allowed for the ghostsÂ to be seen slightly off frame or appear distorted. The uncertainty of what you are seeing can be far more terrifying than something getting right in your face.
Adina Porter ended up being the star of this season, and she gave one knockout performance after another. Even though she died, Lee was a survivor ’till the end. She fought every step of the way to see her child again, and gave the ultimate sacrifice so that she could live and thrive.
However, this finale really got out of hand in its format. It was an edited together mess that didn’t serve as a satisfying final chapter. Also, the writers always set up rules, but never seem to follow through with them. If anyone who dies on the property is trapped there, why weren’t we seeing the ghosts of Matt, Shelby, Monet, Audrey, Rory, Dominic, or any of the Polks? Why did we only see Lee at the end?
My biggest complaint for “Chapter 10” was how it handled the public’s opinion of Return to Roanoke: Three Days In Hell. If everything we saw was the same as the public, why would people not be freaking out over ghosts? What about all the actors who died? For example, what did the public think watching Rory get stabbed to death by the ghost nurses? Lee’s defense attorney made Flora an unreliable witness when she used her “imaginary” friend as a reason her mind can’t be trusted. So does that mean the public think there’s a logical explanation for all the murders? THIS DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!!!!!!
Okay, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I hated this ending. I hated it so much because of how much I enjoyed watching everything leading up to it. I don’t want this crappy ending to inform my overall opinion of the season, but it’s hard not to. Maybe my opinion would be different had this aired right after ‘Chapter 9” as a two-hour season finale.
American Horror Story: Roanoke was a stellar season with a horrible finale. Despite my disappointment with the ending, my love for the show has been invigorated by this strange tale of Roanoke. I just hope Ryan Murphy can continue to put story first and outlandish antics second. See you all next season!
American Horror Story will return in the Fall of 2017 on FX.
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