Warning: Spoilers ahead
Return to Roanoke episode 2 begins with a three-way murder by evil Kathy Bates. In an effort to exact her revenge as a slighted actress, Bates slaughters the set assistant, camera guy, and the crazed producer who started this whole mess– played by Cheyenne Jackson. Seems like Jackson is left telling himself ‘oops’ as he is cut down by the evil Bates’ ax, after his choice last episode to publicly mock her and film it all.
Protip: never mock Kathy Bates!
While the double-cast of characters and re-enactors stumble around the house wondering where the dead Evan Peters is, we actually get a glimpse at why people love American Horror Story so much in the first place. A solo scene of Kathy Bates giving a monolog of split personality regret and madness. This is where Bates shines, strong, complex emotions that make you truly feel for a character. Even if they’re evil.
This is the kind of performance that AHS regulars were used to getting out of Jessica Lang. Every episode, Lange gave depth to her characters and drove the force of almost every season she was in. We cared about the Boston asylum nun, we were rooting for and against the corrupt supreme, we were fascinated by Elsa Mars, and we were laughing with each one of Constance’s one-liners.
These kinds of performances are what built the house AHS lives in, and it was a real treat to see windows of those performances in last night’s episode.
After Bates’s monolog, which ends with a Blair Witch moment, we go back to the haunted house and the double cast. A ghost is found in the basement, and strange things begin to happen. Everyone has body and phone cameras now, pulling them out to oh-so-conveniently film everything they see!
Evil Kathy Bates shows up to slash at Shelby’s shoulder, but have no fear! Cuba Gooding Jr. is here to fight her off and save the day. But with a profusely bleeding woman, the remaining cast decides that they’d better find a way to get help. Their producer, Jackson, isn’t responding and the phone lines are disconnected, so Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, and Lee set off into the woods to find the filming trailer. What they find instead is the dead film crew, dead Evan Peters in a tree, and absolutely no phones.
They wind up getting captured by cannibal hillbillies. Not surprising.
Meanwhile, Shelby, Matt, and Gooding are in the house. But they’re not alone! In the middle of the night, Matt goes down to the basement in a trance. He has sensed it, the Gaga. She hungers for him! Screeching forest witch be damned, Matt claims that he has fallen desperately in love with her– which explains why he is now estranged from his wife Shelby.
In response to this, Shelby gives a very eloquent, articulate acceptance by bashing Matt’s head in and smacking Gaga-witch like she’s a raccoon going through her trash bucket. Seems reasonable.
The episode ends with the cannibal hillbillies conveniently filming as they eat and cook Lee’s leg in one setting. In the other, colonial ghosts are now holding home movie cameras, and conveniently film as the REAL ghost Butcher kills evil Kathy Bates.
As this episode concluded, my sister and I both wondered the same thing. How are they going to stretch this season out for three more episodes? Season 6 is scheduled for a 10 episode run, and we’re only on episode 7. Yet this feels like a climax shift. We have Paulson and Bassett ready to escape, Gooding and Shelby, defending the house. We’re all lined up for two big climactic moments.
Maybe they’ll just play cards for a while? Have a nice little forest picnic before the blood bath continues?
Either way, it will surely be captured on film. Everyone has a camera this season, and they film everything they can.