ByStephen Patterson, writer at
Verified writer at Movie Pilot. Follow me on twitter: @mr_sjpatterson
Stephen Patterson

Warning: This article contains spoilers of American Horror Story: Roanoke.

American Horror Story baffled fans worldwide when the show runners decided to keep the theme of Season 6 secret. When the theme was finally revealed on premiere night, viewers were thrown into Matt and Shelby Miller's nightmare in the dramatic re-enactment My Roanoke Nightmare which was so successful it led to a sequel series being produced called Return to Roanoke: Three Days In Hell. The only survivor left standing was Lee Harris and the final episode featured a series of interviews, trial footage and new reality shows to finish the story of Lee Harris.

However, it became apparent that the story of Lee Harris wasn't completed with the use of this technique and for the first time since Roanoke's inception, the series changed to the typical narrative style of every previous season of AHS — the camera tropes were dropped and we were left with nothing but the story, void of the use of "footage."

This raised a question — why did the final few moments of the show need to be solely narrative based? Perhaps Ryan Murphy wanted the viewers to be thrown into the world that we'd only seen from behind the lens. By putting us in the scene, we can see what's going on for ourselves — but this leads me to ask, will we be returning to Roanoke any time soon?

Removing The Cameras Lifted The Veil Between Us and The World Of Roanoke

We got to see the real Lee before "Roanoke" concluded. [Via FX]
We got to see the real Lee before "Roanoke" concluded. [Via FX]

Every single moment of the Roanoke season was shown to viewers from behind a metaphorical lens — from the re-enactment My Roanoke Nightmare to Return to Roanoke to the several reality shows and interviews that were featured in the finale — everything was shown to us from behind the camera. This, of course had it's benefits — specifically because it added a sense of realism. For example, the use of the real Matt, Shelby and Lee re-counting the events through an interview really made the storyline feel real. Similarly, the use of the "found footage" style in Return to Roanoke was terrifying, having the same effect as horror films like Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch — it's as if it's really happening.

However, the camera affect has it's drawbacks — as viewers, we never felt as if we were part of the action — Roanoke had more of a'whodunit' vibe than previous seasons and it felt as if we were merely sitting down on the sofa to watch events that already had taken place, unlike the other AHS seasons. Moreover, the fact that we weren't sure if we could trust the events of My Roanoke Nightmare made things a little confusing and similar, during Return to Roanoke. the velocity oat which the cameras were moving may have signified the terror of the camera holder but it was a little annoying — it meant we never got to focus too much on the real Butcher or the real Scathach.

The final few scenes of Roanoke lifted that veil — they put us in the scene. It was something that the showrunners could have done with the footage technique because if my memory serves me correct, the spirit chasers had left their infrared camera recording in the area where Lee and Flora had their final conversation. But alas, the show runners opted to lift that veil for once, putting us in the house with the characters and the action. There was no longer an element of doubt or disbelief, because we were in the world for ourselves everything became believable and we witnessed first hand what the ghosts were capable of.

Lee did what she thought was best for her daughter. [Via FX]
Lee did what she thought was best for her daughter. [Via FX]

I also found it interesting that we actually got to see the real Lee once the cameras were gone — once she was free of film and public scrutiny, she admitted to making a mistake but her love for Flora was so evident. It goes to show how much camera and edited footage can really manipulate the representation of a person. The beginning of the episode showed interviews calling Lee a monster and by the end of the show we were able to determine for ourselves that this was simply not the case.

Want some more AHS finale scoop? Check out these articles:

Will American Horror Story Return to Roanoke In A Future Season?

Is this the last of the Blood Moon cycle? [Via FX]
Is this the last of the Blood Moon cycle? [Via FX]

I felt that the lifting of the veil was symbolic of the viewers now being a part of the Roanoke world — they'd come on this journey with the characters and moments before the story came to a close they were invited in. The removal of the camera technique must have been done for a reason because, as I already mentioned, the final scenes could've easily been done as "footage." It was a conscious decision to remove the cameras — the creators did the final scene like this for a reason — and the reason was to acquaint us with the world of Roanoke before the show came to a close. Now that we are familiar with the territory, American Horror Story could come back to the location at some point in a future season.

I personally would love to see a future season of the show go back into the Roanoke forest without the cameras. I would love to meet the real Butcher and the real Scathach without having the fear of the cameras changing direction as soon as we lay eyes on them. American Horror Story has returned to previous locations before, including the Murder House and Briarcliff Asylum and characters have popped up in more than one season, specifically Billie Dean Howard and Lana Winters — both of whom were played by Sarah Paulson.

The Ghosts Of Roanoke Could Be A Season In Itself

All of these characters are now ghosts of the Roanoke land. [Via FX]
All of these characters are now ghosts of the Roanoke land. [Via FX]

One thing that really bugged me about Roanoke is the fact that we never really got to experience the real ghosts. I think that was deliberate and part of the whole 'found footage' thing but it was rather disheartening. The casting of relatively unknown actors to play substantial parts solidifies that they were never meant to be of huge importance once Return to Roanoke began — it was more a story of survival than another attempt to meet the colonists. If we were to go back to Roanoke, then we would have that opportunity to see the real Butcher and Scathach.

Moreover, almost everyone involved in the production of both shows died during the Blood Moon, with the exception of Audrey Tindall who died on the land after the three days of the Blood Moon were over. There is something quite ironic about the actors being stuck in the same place as their real life counterparts for all of eternity and I would love to see these characters in real environment instead of a heavily edited TV series. During that final scene I was hoping that when Lee went into the forest with Priscilla that she would've met the others — Rory, Shelby, Matt, Dominic, Sidney and even Agnes because if we are to believe everything that we have learned throughout the series then they'll all be in the forest, following the Butcher's orders.

The last shot of Roanoke featured the burning house with reporters and police officers outside the premises, however even all of that commotion didn't stop the colony from approaching. This signifies that no matter what, the cycle will keep going and that the ghosts of Roanoke are destined to carry out this ritual on every Blood Moon for all of eternity.

Check out some of the most messed up moments from American Horror Story in this chilling video:

After a season full of camera based techniques to tell us the story of these interesting characters, the last five minutes were told through the reality of the situation. The conclusion of Roanoke raises the question of whether or not we will return to the location in the future and this decision certainly seems to suggest that we will.

Regardless, this season of American Horror Story was unlike anything that came before and it was definitely the revitalization that the horror anthology series needed. I throughly enjoyed the great writing and the wonderful characters and I would certainly appreciate the opportunity to meet up with them again — dead or alive.

American Horror Story will return to FX for its seventh season next year. Would you like to return to Roanoke in a future season? Tell me in the comment section below.


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