– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Image via FX

Image via FX

Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man. What an episode this was.

While I admired the first five episodes of the season for the unique and interesting format it presented, the actual plot moved along so slowly that I almost dreaded each coming entry. Episode 4 of this season marked an all-time low for the season, and was little more than an info dump for all the goings-on around the mysterious house. Episode 5 gave us some hope that there would be some big changes, and Episode 6 delivered on that hope.

You can imagine, going into this episode, my expectations were relatively high. Yes, I was very concerned that — like with the first half of the season — once the excitement over the new format wore off, I’d be left to realize that the show still moved along at a snail’s pace.

But no, this episode not only maintained the momentum of the last episode, but it escalated things considerably, bringing us our bloodiest episode to date this season. Unlike with the first half of the season, there aren’t a lot of moments where the characters are just standing around the house, waiting for stuff to happen. Back then, the amount of death that could happen was pretty limited considering the number of characters we had to work with. But now, between the house-owners, their doppelgangers, Rory, and the production team, the number of inevitable deaths increased significantly.

That’s not to say that the bloodier things get, the better things get, but with a larger number of disposable characters, you’re able to fragment the story better, and you’re able to keep things going with shocking deaths. It really was a genius move on the part of the show’s writers.

The episode starts off with a bang, as Sidney and his crew are butchered by…the Butcher — well, the Butcher’s doppelganger, at least. As we saw last episode, Agnes wasn’t so keen on being humiliated and left out of Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell, the hotly-anticipated follow-up to My Roanoke Nightmare. The actress had grown mentally unstable in the wake of her dark descent into the mindset of the Butcher, and this denial of attention set of her off on a murderous rampage. So, in addition to the actual ghosts that the main cast has to deal with, we have Agnes running around with her cleaver.

She puts it to good use, too, wounding Shelby, before making her escape. This necessitates the main cast to find the production trailer so they can call an ambulance for Shelby. Lee, her doppelganger, and Shelby’s doppelganger all head out to find it, and are horrified to find Sidney and the rest of the crew as fallen victims. Now, at least half of the cast know they’re no longer safe under the watch of a TV crew. Their misfortune doesn’t end there. On their way back to the house, they’re captured by the cannibalistic hillbilly family, and held hostage. As far as we can tell, Lee’s leg has been amputated for consumption, and she’s likely dead — though it’s unconfirmed.

If all that weren’t enough, things spiral out of control just as bad in the house. Shelby is left behind with Matt and Matt’s doppelganger, Dominic. Dominic is dead set in stirring up trouble for the sake of TV drama, and that sort of backfires. In the middle of the night, Matt gets up and heads down to the basement to have sex with the Wood Witch, whose doppelganger was portrayed by Lady Gaga in the first half of the season. Apparently Matt had fallen in love with her, and the only reason he came back to the house in the first place was to reunite with the witch. Seeing his opportunity to stir up trouble, Dominic reveals this act to Shelby. Shelby goes into a raging fit, and smashes Matt’s head open with a crowbar before she’s able to think.

In one final horrific scene, Dominic and Shelby see Agnes outside the house. However, her craziness is interrupted by the real Butcher and her followers. In true AHS fashion, Agnes is killed on the spot — her head cut right down the middle.

And just like that, our main cast of 8, including Agnes (excluding the production crew), is reduced to 4 (assuming Lee is dead). 

Wow. I have to say, this episode had me on edge the whole time. We still have three episodes left, so there’s still some room for it to head off a cliff, but as it stands, I absolutely love the way things are going. The pacing is breakneck, the character development, while minimal, is just enough to keep me satisfied, the twists are shocking, and acting is strong.

I can’t wait to see next week’s episode.

Grade: A

What did you think of this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.