While the premiere of American Horror Story Season 6 (or should I say “?6”?) answered a few of our most burning questions, it left us with so many more. The biggest reveal was the title and theme of the season, American Horror Story: Roanoke. We followed husband and wife Matt and Shelby as they moved to the forests of North Carolina, leaving one tragedy behind only to find themselves on the verge of more. We quickly settled in and let ourselves begin this meta-journey. As the end credits came up, we began asking the questions:
Would the format of the reality show-like “My Roanoke Nightmare” continue on? Would we eventually find ourselves at the original Roanoke colony? Will this storyline continue through the entire season? How will this connect to the other stories in the “American Horror Story” anthology? What aren’t they telling us?
So we returned to the old farmhouse again tonight to find out…
***MINOR SPOILERS FOR “CHAPTER 2” AHEAD***
Right off the bat, we learned that the reality-television format of “My Roanoke Nightmare” continues literally from where it left off last week. The interviews of the “real” characters are interspersed with reenactments by other characters.
We started to see resolve build between Matt and Shelby as they initially decide to fight for their home, then begin to doubt that decision pretty quickly. Shelby, in particular, started to have a fire begin to rise inside of her as she started to take more control and assert herself as the tensions were heightened and mysteries began unfolding.
In true “American Horror Story” fashion the various layers, as numerous as they usually are, began to be weaved together. Each season typically has several storylines that branch out and intertwine with each other, and this looks to be no different. We learned that there are real dangers out there in the forest, and they don’t depend solely on the darkness. While we’re still left wondering the true nature of the beings outside, several possibilities are starting to slowly take shape.
We also discovered safety from the outside terrors won’t be found hiding behind locked doors, as the fortress of a house has its own history and horrors covered up within. I was surprised with how much history of the house was revealed in episode two (I can’t get enough of Denis O’Hare), but I firmly believe that the producers have more waiting for us behind the walls and shadows of this looming structure.
This episode also showed off what AHS does best, focusing on the stories and interactions between its central characters. We learn more about Matt’s sister, Lee, and are introduced to the daughter we heard about last week and we get some of the creepiest scenes through her. We also see more of the relationship between Lee and Shelby and how Matt does his best in taking care of both of them. The chemistry between Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s Matt and Sara Paulson’s Shelby is undeniable. And you really feel that Matt and Angela Basset’s Lee are real siblings with a deep past. As each character begins to witness their own terrors, they begin to grow closer together. Chances are, they’re going to need each other as they go deeper down the paranormal hole.
AHS also shines when it keeps to its core story, focusing on the main settings and characters. Previous seasons have often led us to wild side stories, locations, and diversions that sometimes felt out of place. This episode kept us in the house and the immediate surrounding forest. It helped build a sense of isolation, dread, and even a little bit of claustrophobia. The rest of the world barely exists, and outlying characters came to the house, restraining us, like the characters, in the middle of the tension and impending danger just out of reach.
This season is following a formula that’s worked so well each season. The foundations have been laid, characters are starting to be filled in, backstories told, and mysteries creeping in from all corners. As we learn about the horrors of the house, we’re also seeing how they tie into the mysterious forces that wait out in the forest.
But will some of the fan theories come to fruition? Will we have multiple full stories this season? Some have suggested that we’ll see several “episodes” of the paranormal true story show. And if so, will all of the stories connect together somehow? What is real, and what isn’t? Will “Roanoke” deal with the mysterious lost colony, or only with the region itself? And when do we start seeing the brilliantly artistic opening title sequences we’ve been treated to in previous seasons? We keep asking questions, and we can’t wait until next week to ask some more.
“American Horror Story: Roanoke” airs Wednesdays at 10pm on F/X.