American Horror Story: Season 6 Episode 3 – Chapter 3
It’s no secret that we don’t like this season much, even when compared to the show’s more dire failings of the past, but at least this week delivered on a few key expectations. We got the (show’s fictional) answer to what really happened to the Roanoke Colony, we got a clearer understanding of who Lady Gaga’s character is, we saw behind the documentary wall for the first time, and more. Below you will find our spoiler-heavy review of this week’s episode.
We’ll begin with the addition that made us happiest this week. This was the appearance of one of our favourite actors: John Pyper-Ferguson. We’re huge fans of his turn as Stanton Parish in Alphas (so much so that he topped our all-time TV villains list), as well as his more recent role in Suits. There’s a really distinguished quality to his acting that we adore and it’s one that lends itself very easily to villains. Hence the decision to cast him here as the ‘colonist’ (which is all he is credited as) who betrays Thomasin White (Kathy Bates, playing the fictional wife of the real Governor of Roanoke, John White, who did indeed leave his Colony behind to go back to England for supplies), in turn putting her on her path to becoming The Butcher.
Other familiar faces included Wes Bentley and Lady Gaga, whose character we got a clearer look at this week. She appears to be playing a native who holds some dark magic ability, given that she was able to free Thomasin and turn her into a menacing force, and that she was able to trick Matt into bedding her, without his knowledge or consent. If you ask us, it’s a mighty strange way to under-use Gaga, who proved herself to be a searing lightning bolt of an asset in American Horror Story: Hotel. There’s undoubtedly more of Gaga’s black witch to come, but we get the feeling that it will never live up to the kind of role that Gaga deserves.
Ryan Murphy did state that this season would feel like a “greatest hits” of American Horror Story actors and actresses, and this week was the first time that the show lent on that promise. Not only did we have the aforementioned Bentley, but we also got Leslie Jordan as a psychic called Cricket, who was enjoyable here as a dastardly hustler with good intentions. As keen-eyed fans with know, Jordan played Quentin Fleming in American Horror Story: Coven.
Jordan’s inclusion is not an obvious pull from the enormous back catalogue of American Horror Story actors and actresses, so it does make us wonder which other minor characters they might mine from. Straight away, Alexandra Breckenridge springs to mind. Her character of Jessie in The Walking Dead is no more, so we’d love to have her appear this season, which might rectify a little just how brutally short her turn in American Horror Story: Coven was.
Mention of the word ‘CROATOAN’ was the other slight deliverable this week, which came via Cricket and the two feral boys. We like that the word has now been raised, at least, given its pivotal role in the real life Roanoke vanishing. For those who are unaware, this word was found carved into a tree, when the English returned to find the Roanoke Colony vanished without a trace. It’s also the word that the writers had Violet attempt to use on Chad in American Horror Story: Murder House, to harm him, without success.
The other great leap this week was the show stepping outside of the documentary camera for the first time, by showing us the documentary crew with Lee, in between takes. This does a couple of things – firstly it highights that the show is willing to break its own self-imposed rule about presenting itself as a documentary. This means that the season might later on break away fully from this, which we would like to see happen.
There’s only so far you can go with continually knowing that the lead characters will survive, so we’re guessing that there will come a point where the main characters move beyond the documentary and are thrown into further danger, in the present. This would allow Lily Rabe and the others to get a chance at the meatier acting content; i.e. the scares. Cuba Gooding Jr. did heavily imply that there will be a big twist this season, where what we thought we knew about this season is turned upside down, so maybe this is what he’s referring to.
The lack of effort this season is still a resounding obstacle for us. We’ve been with the show from its pilot until now and even the lows that we’ve endured along the way held more inventive passion behind them that this season is offering up. There’s a long way to go to even make this season remotely worthy of sitting next to the majestic Season 5, or for that matter even levelling with the weakest season prior to this (American Horror Story: Freak Show, for us) but at least this week took a small step in the right direction.
Image credits: FX