I belong to a very lucky subset of people that have really bad reactions to painkillers. Fun for me! So while I’m in recovery for a knee that I sub-located while lurking in a detached basement silo to capture a pig monster(?) stealing my own daughter from her home so I can play the world’s shittiest game of Hide and Go Seek seeing how many more hours of TV I can claim credit for while repackaging some of my worst tropes into a sixth season, because everyone loved The People v. O.J. Simpson, right? Because of Cuba Gooding Jr.? He was absolutely the best part of that program, and of any program, so let’s just SHOW HIM THE MONEY-SLASH-ENTRAILS, GUYS! falling on a hardcover book while running after an Uber, you’ll have to bear with my nonsensical recap of this week’s American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare. It’s because I’m making the fun cost/benefit analysis between severe pain and spending hours in a bathroom puking.
What’s Ryan Murphy’s excuse?
Seriously, this second episode of AHS: MRN (yike-a-doodles, that’s a lot!) was really a womp-womp let-down after a sad trombone noise of a premiere. Most of the episode didn’t even deal with supernatural events. It was 80 percent “the sad state of American homeowners today who accidentally bid their entire life savings to show up some hillbillies” and 20 percent some other stuff. There was a lot of focus on how “Matt” (Cuba Gooding Jr. in the reeanctments) still believes the strange goings-on are all race-related, even in the overwhelming-ish face of evidence that no Johnnie Cochran couldn’t make it out to North Carolina this week.
Matt’s wife Shelby (Sarah Paulson, who is my personal hero no matter what) has somehow escaped the Kathy Bates old-timey woods cult that strung up one of the racist* hillbillies from last week and put a pig’s head on him, like he was the Robb Stark of porkchops. She gets home…somehow…and yet Matt will not allow them go rent a hotel room nearby. Or maybe Shelby’s the one this week who arbitrarily determines she will NOT be scared out of her own home, dammit! That happens a lot on this show; whenever the money issue stops making sense, somebody will get very self-righteous about their right to live on their haunted, oozing property.
Either way, this is definitely a nice environment for a kid, right? Cue the entrance of Lee’s (Angela Bassett) daughter, Flora, who comes for a nice visit to Vicodin-mommy’s house that she shares with a ghost named Priscilla. Priscilla wears a bonnet and likes to hang out in little attic crawl spaces and not be visible to adults. So exactly like the plots of Paranormal Activity 3-The Ghost Dimension, but without any of the jump scares, camcorders or audience reaction trailers. Priscilla tells Flora that the whole family is going to be murdered and Flora is going to be murdered last, which…okay! So let’s all stop worrying about where Flora is! I’m sure she’s fiiiiiine.
I’m not saying anything new here about Ryan Murphy’s ADHD, but if the guy JUST wanted to create fake trailers and dope-ass credit sequences, why not just stick to that? The weirdly plodding pacing of My Roanoke Nightmare is driving me nuts: it’s like Murphy realized what a hit O.J. was (probably because he didn’t write any of it) and decided he could just rely on the two leads from that program to sleepwalk through this one. It’s frustrating because, just like Game of Thrones, viewers KNOW they are only going to get a couple of hours of American Horror Story a year, and yet two of them have already been filled up with repetitious mundanity and zero Evan Peters. (Or…anyone, for that matter! We’ve had glimpses of Kathy Bates, Denis O’Hare, Wes Bentley and Lady Gaga, but so far they’ve been relegated to VHS cassettes or the occasional bonfire chant-along.)
Guess what, guys? I don’t care why you are staying at this home you bought! Or, rather, I do care, because it barely makes any sense, but you’ve already given me your reasoning and I’ve got to just live with it. Stop telling me every scene, through the mirroring effect of the talking heads narrating everyone’s thought process, seemingly in real time (“I’d heard of burning crosses, but THIS was ridiculous” -Talking Head Matt referring to the moment when he and his wife came upon a 10-foot-tall burning human-pig effigy, and who should ostensibly know better by this point in his narrative,) AND by just declaring stuff out loud, to each other. The latter happens a LOT, and for no reason, as Matt, Shelby and Lee are all kind of on the same, totally-in-denial page here. How much do I care about Lee’s tenuous sobriety? Zero popcorn kernels.
Think about how much time Lee’s plot line got to say, the BRAND NEW MYSTERY of the evil sister nurses who were playing the world’s most intense game of HORSE when they were using the property for their old folks’ home? I mean…
Except! Even with those nurses, it’s like “Okay, I saw season 1. Crazy shit attracts crazy shit. Let’s get to those missing colonists!” But no, first we have to go through ANOTHER narrative framing device of Denis O’Hare, who was a ghost-hunter-type who ALSO spent time on the property and conveniently left his VHS tapes before disappearing into Bear Grylls’ hair beard somewhere. So just to be clear, with the concept of My Roanoke Nightmare we have TWO paranormal investigation shows focused on the same couple acres in North Carolina, and yet the cops are like “It’s PROBABLY nothing and we are definitely, probably racist or something.”** At one point, someone goes “The cops aren’t going to even answer our calls anymore!” which I’m pretty sure is illegal, and I’m also pretty sure Lee then jumps to her one character note (besides: sometimes inebriated) and defends the police for just doing their job that they are literally refusing to do.
Which makes sense, because if the police were ACTUALLY doing their job? They’d have definitely arrested Lee and Shelby and Matt for kidnapping/aiding and abetting when Lee yoinks Flora back from her dad’s because she doesn’t want to wait for the custody battle. I mean, cops are doing their job, sure, but judges? Always siding with dads. That’s just a fun fact of divorce court.
Ask me how much I care about Lee’s terrible parenting, that amounts to “stealing your kid back to your haunted house and then leaving her unattended on the floor with some jacks and a ball (because 100 percent that is what kids are into these days).” The answer is: three guts worth.
Time to go vomit. Can’t wait till next week, guys!
- Only one this week: we saw the hillbilly with the pig’s head getting roasted on a spit in the woods. That goes along with my wendigo theory for last week, as we all know they are born out of cannibalism.
*Were they even, though?