And we are outta here! #RyanMurphy's horror anthology waves us off with a bloody tissue for another year, while another #AmericanHorrorStory season comes to a close once more. For those expecting the finale to be some televisual spectacle to be lauded in listicles and Buzzfeed articles for years to come, you might as well turn back now. The milk has gone sour, the crops have dried up, and die-hard AHS fans will be left with the bitter taste of rendered pork fat in their mouths. This is the story of Roanoke "Chapter 10," a.k.a. "this little piggy went to sleep."
So, where did it all go wrong? Would we have the usual all guns blazing showdown followed by emotional pay off, yes... and no. #FX's terrifying tale somehow turned into the least horror-story Horror Story you can imagine. I am aware I am opening to a whole host of internet hatred, so come at me bro, or read on, either way...
Spoilers ahead for American Horror Story: Roanoke "Chapter 10."
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American Crime Story
It is no secret that since American Horror Story: Murder House's conception in 2011, Ryan Murphy has gone on to other projects. 2015 brought along Scream Queens, the (somehow) camper sister of AHS; then in 2016 came the hyper-realistic American Crime Story. Next year will bring more Horror Story, maybe more Scream Queens, back-to-back filming of two American Crime Story seasons, plus his new show Feud. Talk about spreading yourself thin. Could the cracks be showing in the grandfather of the franchise as Murphy's interests wander elsewhere?
"Chapter 10" of Roanoke picks up the tale of Adina Porter's Lee Harris, pleading her innocence after the Roanoke disaster. We all know that Lee is guilty, but the first 10 minutes (of a mere 40-minute show) are all courtroom drama; it is a poorly plugged soapbox for Murphy's Crime Story skills. We came here to see butchers and cleavers, not Judge Judy and gavels. Couple this with the fact that this season of AHS saw the casting of Cuba Gooding and Sarah Paulson (who were both in Crime Story) and you wonder if we have just been watching one giant ad for something else. Talking of the lovely Ms. Paulson, it leads me neatly on to...
Leaning On Lana
I get that Murphy wants to connect all his seasons, but what did the return of Sarah Paulson as Lana Winters bring, other than to shoehorn in a secondary Paulson role? We understand that with the departure of Jessica Lange, Paulson has become the de-facto lead of Horror Story, but her dual role schtick is tired already. This season we actually saw her play Shelby, Audrey, and Lana, which is overkill by anyone's standards. I was also waiting for a final meta appearance of Sarah Paulson as Sarah Paulson, but it thankfully never came.
The whole "Lana Winters Story" just dragged up the Asylum season with no real climax to it. I had guessed that Lana would have played a pivotal role: possibly having Lee's confession tape to out her guilt on live TV, or become the final victim of a possessed Lee. It turned out that Lana was just there to have a chat about motherhood.
Even the exciting, morbidly realistic, premise of a live TV shooting was chopped down to 30 seconds and ruined by the perpetrator being a scabby-faced hillbilly. There is no denying that Paulson is a great actress, but we are dangerously close to relying on her talents — perhaps we should just rename next season American Paulson Story.
The biggest gripe of the finale was, "where is everyone?" From an opening scene reuniting most of the cast, we soon descended into a couple of peppered cameos from the likes of Denis O'Hare, and a singular line from Evan Peters. A refreshing change of pace was the return of kitsch little Leslie Jordan. While having Jordan as one of the returning actors from the rest of the season was just faaaaabulous, did he need to be part of (yet another) ghost hunting show?
Spirit Chasers was a tired rehash of the original premise of the show, and lured out the final haunted house stereotype that we hadn't yet seen. From vloggers to Paranormal Activity camera set ups, by the time we got to the final we were bored of borrowing from other horror films. All this and we still didn't even get to see the ghosts we wanted. The actors and parts we had invested our time in during the previous nine episodes of Roanoke were nowhere to be found in the afterlife. We did at least learn something: Shouting "CROATOAN" really won't save you from apparitions of evil.
Return To Return To Roanoke
That brings us limping into the final segment of the disjointed finale. At times you would be forgiven for thinking you were channel hopping at breakneck speed through "Chapter 10." With no less than five different TV show ideas butchered into the finale's short runtime, it was lost at what it wanted to be. It was only at the end that we truly returned to what the rest of the season had been about, and unfortunately, this was the most boring part yet!
There are only so many reasons you can think of for going back to one place, and returning to the Roanoke house was a tenuous link at best. What's next, going back there to search for One-Eyed Willy's treasure? The continuing Flora/Lee saga conveniently found her young daughter "kidnapped" back to the Roanoke house. The story somehow culminates in a 14-hour SWAT team stand off, but it was nothing to get excited about. The gory conclusion of the SWAT attack from Season 1 was the show at its best, whereas this was a lot of drawing in dirt.
Twist, What Twist?
A mother sacrificing herself for her child, quick someone call the papers, we have never seen that before. It was no surprise that Lee would end the finale stuck in the house on Haunted Hill for all of eternity, babysitting lil' Priscilla. Playing out the dregs of the horror trope barrel, it was clear from the get-go that "survivor" Lee wouldn't be surviving, because Horror Story isn't exactly known for its chipper endings or long list of survivors. There were also no prizes for guessing that the house would be destroyed, or that that would be that final shot of the Roanoke tribe returning for more "bludd." Yawn, is it over yet?
A season that promised us twist upon twist, upon twist, Horror Story: Roanoke failed to live up to its own hype. Ryan Murphy reportedly lurks on the AHS subreddit, so surely he must have spotted that theorists had already deconstructed his twists weeks before they aired? Roanoke felt like a balloon with a slow puncture, so by the time we got the finale we were left with the floppy husk.
The other big kick to the crotch is that the finale seemingly gave us very few clues about where the show will be going next. Given the mixed response to the past three seasons of FX's horror jewel, only time will tell if Horror Story will ever return to the golden heights of its formative years. If you want a truly great AHS finale, head over to Netflix and watch Season 3's "The Seven Wonders," that's how you end the show right. As it stands, even the maligned Season 5's "Be Our Guest" tops Roanoke's "Chapter 10." Sorry guys, American Horror Story: Roanoke, C+, "must try harder."
Cheer yourselves up by watching our video of the Roanoke "Name Game," and don't forget our poll below!