Tuesday, October 4, 2016

American Horror Story 6x02 and 6x03 Review: "Chapter 2" & "Chapter 3" (We Might Already Be Hitting The Plateau) [Contributor: Melanie]

“Chapter 2”
Original Airdates: September 21, 2016

It’s really no coincidence that an E! News interview with Ryan Murphy came out last week where he swore up and down that this season of American Horror Story is going to have more twists in it. And maybe it does. But this week proved why this season is great in concept but kind of meh in execution. At the present, this is barely any different than the first season, with just a new lens attached to it. Instead of omniscient camera work, we’re watching a documentary secondhand. And unless they’re going to do something nifty with that, this is going to get real boring, real fast.

Stories like this are good in short bursts, like the hour-long segments of A Haunting or Ghost Adventures, but the idea of following one across a season seems a little taxing. After all, there are only so many ways that things can go bump in the night. And, at present, we know our three main characters make it out of the house alive as they’re here to be interviewed. Though that could be the turn Murphy hinted at in episode six.

The point is, I’m not totally bashing it yet, but I’m also not incredibly hopeful either. Neither of the episodes the past two weeks were particularly inspiring, and the very obvious lens we’re watching the story through is becoming more and more apparent as the episodes go on. One thing I’ll likely save for a discussion later in the week is the overall nature of fall horror television and if it isn’t an incredibly misplaced notion.

But for now, the episodes thus far...

The episode opens where the last one let off, with Shelby running through the forest, horrified by sites of blood-soaked colonials performing a strange ritual in the woods. She witnesses them executing a man who deserted the colony with stolen goods. They place a pig’s head over his own and burn him alive. She’s spotted by the group and races off only to find herself back on the road where she passes out. She’s taken to the hospital where her story is not well received by hospital staff or police. Shelby decides it was the racist rednecks attempting to scare them off and decides they cannot leave without a fight.

Lee’s daughter comes to stay at the house for a weekend. While Lee is making lunch, her daughter begins conversing with an unseen person named Priscilla, but Lee brushes it off, despite the slightly disturbing things her daughter says about her imaginary friend. That night, Matt and Shelby hear more sounds outside. Shelby goes out to confront the possible harassers, and becomes separated from Matt on the edge of the woods. They come across another scene of sacrifice: a burning totem with a pig’s head attached at the top. They call the police, finally with concrete evidence to show them, and the police agree to post an officer at the house 24/7 and puts out an all-points bulletin for the group of farmers Shelby accuses.

Later that night, Matt is awakened again, this time by a ringing phone. When he goes to investigate, he finds a meat hook by the phone and a voice on the other line. He then experiences a hallucination where two nurses kill an elderly patient after she refuses to take medicine, which has been poisoned. When Matt gets the cop but has nothing to show for it, Lee begins to worry that Shelby and Matt will develop a reputation for falsely calling the police, causing them to react lazily when they call for a real emergency (a real "Boy Who Cried Wolf" scenario here). When Lee’s husband comes to pick their daughter up and she tells him her imaginary friend threatened to kill the family, he tells Lee she will never be allowed to see her daughter again and leaves. Matt and Shelby then find her slumped over in the kitchen, sobriety broken.

Matt puts Lee to bed while Shelby witnesses apparitions in the kitchen. Matt says he’s seen the same women, and they follow the apparitions to the storm cellar in the backyard where they find a tape of a previous owner, Dr. Elisa Cunningham, who details the sordid history of hauntings on the property. While they investigate, Lee sees the apparitions as well. When Shelby and Matt take the matter of the home’s history to the bank, they refuse to refund the money or retake the property. Lee arrives back at the house with her daughter and Shelby calls her ex-husband to explain the situation while Lee and Matt talk. Eventually, the young girl is pulled away by an apparition and the group goes looking for her, first in the house and then over the grounds. All they are able to locate is her hoodie, stained red, hanging on one of the pine trees.

“Chapter 3” 
Original Airdate: September 28, 2016

In episode three, the family organizes a search party of volunteers to locate Lee’s missing daughter. During the search, Shelby — who is still feeling the effects of her last excursion into the woods — stumbles upon what appears to be a dismembered body. It turns out to be a strange little Frankenstein’s Monster made out of a doll and pig. A similar body is found at a nearby house and, upon investigation, the farmhouse is infested with rotting animal parts. Shelby, Lee, and Matt find two boys suckling off of a dead sow. They get the police and bring the boys to the hospital.

The police believe the Polk family, to whom the boys belong, kidnapped Flora and fled with her. Mason arrives and attempts to get answers out of the boys but they only repeat “Croatoan” when pressed. A few days later, the search party is called off to rest while Lee battles with the possibility of her permanently missing daughter. Lee’s ex-husband accuses her of hiding Flora as a way to force custody, the fight escalates physically and Mason leaves. The group tries to sleep but Matt is awoken by yet another sound in the night. This time it’s the police calling to report they located a body. Lee identifies it as Mason.

Matt and Shelby examine the security footage and begin to suspect Lee is responsible for Mason’s murder. A man named Cricket Marlow arrives and claims to work with the FBI as a medium to locate missing children. He identifies Flora’s imaginary friend Pricilla as the spirit of a woman from the 16th century. He performs a séance, believing her to be abducted by vengeful spirits. They come in contact with a spirit known as the Butcher (Kathy Bates) who threatens them if they trespass against her colony. Cricket then says “Croatoan,” which banishes the spirit. Cricket then identifies that Lee had an older daughter, Emily, and says something to Lee about it. At this point real-time Lee asks for the camera to be turned off. The interviewer is revealed to be played by Cheyenne Jackson.

Marlow then reveals the Butcher’s real name is Thomasin White who was the wife of the Roanoke governor. When she was left in charge of the colony while he traveled back to England, 116 settlers disappeared. Ambrose, White’s son, and the rest of the colony abandoned her in the woods as they moved on to find a safer place to settle. A horned, female creature (Lady Gaga) saves Thomasin with a promise of service. Thomasin then moved the colony to the present-day location of Matt and Shelby’s house.

They decide to confront the spirits in the woods and Cricket tries to make a deal for Flora’s return. During this confrontation, Matt vanishes, only to be found engaging in sex with the horned creature with the Polks nearby. An argument ensues between Shelby and Matt — who has no recollection of the events — as the police arrive to arrest Lee.

What are your thoughts about this season's American Horror Story? Sound off in the comments below!


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