– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Image via FX

Image via FX

What a season of American Horror Story this has been. Things started off with a bang for me, but after a few episodes under the My Roanoke Nightmare format, the story began to lag. Characters were running around a lot, not accomplishing much, and with only a handful of them, things could only move forward at a certain pace.

But when the second half — and the new format — kicked in, things really blew by. Characters were picked off one by one, the story propelled forward at an amazing pace, and I, being the bloodthirsty viewer I am, was very content to see it all happen. Coming off of episodes 5 and 6, I worried that things would slow down back to a halt. With each passing episode, I tried to reassure myself this would not happen, and luckily for us, it didn’t!

“Chapter 8” was as slow as things got (and it wasn’t even that slow), and with this week’s “Chapter 9,” the pace only picked up all the more. At the front end of this episode, we are introduced to a trio of YouTubers, who want to make a viral video off the heat of My Roanoke Nightmare. Adding them to the current-surviving characters (including the re-introduced Wes Bentley), and we have a whole new batch of characters set for the slaughter. And boy are they slaughtered.

Part of the plot follows those three kids, and after their first video goes viral, they decide to return to the house on the same night everything is going down. 

Meanwhile, Lee, Fake Shelby, and Wes Bentley’s character all head to the Polk ranch to save Fake Lee and to find a means of escape. A run-in with the remaining Polks proves near-fatal for Wes Bentley, and before long, Lee is left behind, and Fake Lee and Fake Shelby head back to the house for shelter.

It’s all for naught, however. Lee has somehow become possessed by the crazy of the woods, and goes on a killing rampage, starting with the first member of the annoying GoPro trio, before heading back to the house to finish the job with Fake Shelby and Fake Lee. Stupidly, the remaining Millennials head away from the safety of the production trailer, and to the house, in hopes of preventing a killing. Obviously, they fail. Fake Lee is killed, and Fake Shelby is left for dead, and before the two Millennials can escape, they are impaled and burned alive by the Butcher and her followers. Wes Bentley’s character — who was left for dead — is also gutted, for good measure.

With all that carnage behind us, we’re left with two survivors — Lee, and Fake Shelby. All seems well, and my predictions of Fake Shelby being the final survivor seem close to becoming a reality, when she pulls an officer’s gun from his holster the next morning, in attempts to kill Lee for trying to kill her. The cops do their job, and fill the actress full of bullets, making our sole survivor that of Lee.

Man, what a nail-biter that was. Admittedly, the inclusion of the YouTubers was a bit much, but at the end of the day, it did wonders to keep the pacing up as the story wound down, and when you’re getting to that point in the story, keeping things interesting is very important.

All in all, it was a strong ending to the current arc, and I look forward to what they’ll do with their final episode. From the looks of it, Lee will be given the Oprah treatment in the form of a Lana Winters interview (who is a survivor of an earlierseason), and will also face a trial for the murder of Mason (though it’s unclear what evidence they have). I know there are probably a few extra twists and turns along the way that we’ll get in this capper, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Grade: B+

What did you think of this penultimate episode of the season? Let us know 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.