American Horror Story “Chapter 3” Review (Season 6 Episode 3)

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On the latest episode of “American Horror Story,” “My Roanoke Nightmare” continued as the search for Flora heated up, another familiar face cropped up, the fourth wall was broken for the first time we know of, and things ended on one hell of a bonkers note, in “Chapter 3.”

As we began, the authorities were brought in, with the locals helping out in the search for Flora, though the cops somehow remained skeptical of all the goings-on with the Miller family. As a grid search was performed, Lee stumbled across a bloody circle on the ground, containing a cut-up dead pig and pieces of Flora’s doll arranged jigsaw-style. Crying out for the others, Matt and Shelby came running, as they were closest.

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The three come across a seemingly abandoned-looking farm in terrible condition and naturally, take it upon themselves to check it out for themselves before calling the authorities, because that’s what you do in the horror genre. Even after seeing yet another one of those jigsaw pig/doll art installations on the ground, they go on into the house, which is fly-ridden and has what appears to be a goat’s head in the fridge, looking kind of ripe.

Finding no one in the house, they proceed to the barn, where they find, as you do, two filthy kids suckling on a huge sow’s teats. Can I get an ew? Finally, someone goes to get the cops, and a more thorough search is done, as it is determined that the Polks had been living there illegally, but fled when they got wind the cops would likely be coming somehow, leaving the two kids behind to fend for themselves.

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Alas, no Flora is found, and all a social worker can get out of the kids is but one word: Croatoan. The search continues, fruitlessly, for over 72 hours, with Mason arriving and blaming Lee for everything, naturally, even going so far as to accuse her of playing the long con and hiding Flora somewhere until after the search is done, at which point she’ll go and get her and the two will run off together.

Matt suggests they all get some rest, having been at it for too long, and no sooner have they done so than Matt gets a call a few hours later, informing him that a body has been found. Thankfully, it’s not Flora- but it is Mason, whose body is hung within a circle and mounted on one of those stick figure-like wooden structures, looking to have been burnt to a crisp. Even worse, when Matt checks the security cameras, he sees Lee following Mason out- then coming back hours later, alone.

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Lee naturally denies any wrongdoing- or is she simply unaware she did anything in the first place? As we will see, she won’t be the last to get a little forgetful about their actions, to put things mildly. Before anyone can do anything, a unexpected visitor shows up at the house- an effete figure who goes by the name of Cricket (Leslie Jordan, returning to the show for the first time since Season 3: Coven), who claims that the spirits sent him there- from New Orleans.

Claiming he can help, an internet search shows that he is a psychic that has helped cops find scores of missing kids all over the country over the years.To prove his worth, he goes right to the cupboard-like closet that Flora was hiding in and makes reference to Priscilla- a detail that only the Millers were privy to. Cricket claims that Priscilla is a child that died in the late 1500’s and has been haunting the area ever since, but that she has not harmed Flora- yet.

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Cricket manages to talk them into staging a séance, calling out to Priscilla, but instead conjuring up an angry woman he dubs the “Butcher.” It’s the character played by Kathy Bates, who chastens them for being on “her” land. Wielding a cleaver, she tells Cricket, who is the only one who can see her, that she will stop at nothing to defend her “colony” and proceeds to chops one of the candles in the room clean in half.

The “Butcher” claims that Priscilla has Flora, not her, and expresses a clear disdain for both. However, she says that neither one is within the bounds of her territory, and so long as they stay off of it, she could care less and won’t pursue them. But if they return, she won’t hesitate to kill Flora herself. Calling them all trespassers who have no business there, she then proceeds to break all the windows in the room, as Cricket shouts that mysterious word “Croatoan,” until she leaves.

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Cricket says he knows where Flora is, and can find her- for the tidy sum of $25,000. Sensing a scam, Matt kicks him out, but not before Lee pulls a gun on him and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t talk. Matt manages to intervene, but not before Cricket can whisper something that makes Lee’s blood go cold. Cricket leaves, but claims that they’ll invite him back voluntarily, as they know he’s telling the truth.

We then find out what Cricket whispered to Lee: “Emily says hello. She wonders why you quit looking for her all those years ago.” It turns out that, yes, Lee had another child once upon a time, and that this isn’t the first time one of her kids have gone missing. It’s at this point that we have a bit of fourth-wall breaking, as the “real” Lee (Adina Howard) shuts down the interview segment and wants to know how they know about Emily.

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Tearfully resuming shortly thereafter, Lee tells the sad tale of the child she had at 17, Emily, who went missing when Lee ran into a grocery store when Emily was four to grab a few things, and came back to find her gone. Emily had yet to be found, to this day. (Shades of Gaga’s child-snatching shenanigans in “Hotel.”)

Needless to say, Lee comes up with the money Cricket asked for and he says before they engage, they need to find out all they can about the enemy, so they go back into the woods, where Cricket receives a “spiritual download…like a paranormal zip drive” from the dark forces- or what we mere mortals know as an exposition dump.

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The “Butcher” turns out to be one Thomasin White, who was the wife of the founder of the Roanoke colony, John, and also its Governor. When supplies run low, he returns to England to get more, leaving Thomasin in charge, who rules over the colony and what supplies they have with an iron fist.

This, in turn, leads to a mutiny, in which a group of settlers apprehend her and put her in a spiked iron mask, including her own son Ambrose (Wes Bentley), who tries to stand up for her, but caves when they threaten to kill him. In another bit of business reminiscent of the “Blair Witch” back-story, they chain Thomasin up and leave her for dead in the woods, and proceed to head to another part of the area more inland.

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If you know your “Blair Witch,” then you probably know what happens next. A forest creature (Lady Gaga, looking mighty freaky) appears and makes Thomasin as deal- her soul for her life- and revenge. Thomasin bites- literally- chomping down on a pig’s heart and taking the Gaga Witch up on her deal. Man, pigs don’t fare well in this show, do they? If I didn’t already not eat pork, I probably wouldn’t by the end of this season!

Now the “Butcher,” Thomasin tracks down the settlers who betrayed her and gruesomly hacks them up with the cleaver we saw crop up in the door in the last episode. She does spare one- her son- after he apologizes, begs for her forgiveness, and promises never to go against her again. Seeing the logic in moving inland, she removes the colony from its current location and they set up a new one, right where the Millers are living.

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Cricket says that if the Millers don’t leave soon, the “Butcher” will kill them all. He calls out for Priscilla, but the “Butcher” shows up again, this time with her entire colony of settlers, looking ready to do battle in earnest. Cricket attempts to make a deal- if they find and surrender Flora, not only will the Millers leave this place, never to return, but they’ll burn down the house, ensuring the unlikeliness that anyone ever will.

If they don’t, then things will only get worse, and more will come, as they saw with the search for Flora, and the settlers will never have peace. Shelby balks at all of this, particularly the whole notion of burning down the house, but Lee and Cricket inform her that Matt already agreed to it, behind her back, which goes over about as well as you might think it would.

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Shelby turns to rebuff Matt about it, but he’s gone, so she goes looking for him, leaving Lee and Cricket to deal with the settlers. Finding yet another dead pig, this one disemboweled, she then spots some hillbilly types that look to be the missing Polks, standing around, looking at something and grunting to themselves- and possibly pleasuring themselves as well, from the looks of things.

Lo and behold, it’s Witch Gaga, who smiles up at Shelby as we see that Matt is behind her, seemingly in a trance, going to town on her with his disco stick. Leave it to “American Horror Story” to up the ante on Gaga’s inherent weirdness. Shelby naturally runs off in disgust, while we viewers recall that OJ has now hooked up with both Marcia Clark and had a Bad Romance with Gaga. Only in Murphy-land, folks.

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The “Butcher” agrees to Cricket’s deal and he and Lee go to look for Matt and Shelby. After a fashion, they find Matt, sans anyone else, wandering around in a daze, as one assumes most would after a woodsy tryst with Lady Gaga. He can’t recall what happened at all. The three resume searching for Shelby, eventually tracking her back to the house, where she goes off on Matt for his actions.

As the episode ends, we see that she has also called the cops on Lee, likely telling them about the security footage and her possible involvement in Mason’s death, as they show up and arrest Lee on the spot. Meanwhile, Matt has no idea what Shelby is talking about when she confronts him about hooking up with another woman in the woods, though he allows that he agreed to give up the house in exchange for Flora’s safety.

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This was another nutty episode, capped off by that insanity at the end. Perhaps fittingly, it was directed by chip-off-the-old-David, Jennifer Lynch (“The Walking Dead,” “Surveillance”), giving it a suitably surreal vibe and doing her dad proud in the process. The fourth-wall breaking bit would seem to lend credence to the popular theory that we will get a look “behind the scenes” after the main story is told, with the evil perhaps spreading to the production of “My Roanoke Nightmare” next, and affecting the actors and crew.

I also heard a cool theory that each episode is meant to mirror one previous season of the show. Obviously, “Murder House” is all over this season in general, but particularly in the first episode, with the revelation in episode two that the house used to be a medical facility reminiscent of Season 2: Asylum. Now, with episode 3, we had an appearance from Jordan, who hasn’t been seen since Season 3: Coven.

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If this theory is correct, then episode 4 will mirror “Freak Show”- perhaps with an appearance from a rumored Finn Wittrock?- and episode 5 will mirror Season 6: Hotel, perhaps with a visit to the same hotel in that season, as Shelby and Matt head back to L.A.? There’s also the continued possibility that Billie Dean Howard is involved with the “My Roanoke Nightmare” show and might even be the “actress” playing Shelby in the re-enactment.

Whatever the case, creator Ryan Murphy has already said that things will change drastically in episode 6, with the show turning on its head somehow, so at the very least, expect something crazy around then. Or crazier, I should say, if such a thing is possible. I like the notion of this season “mirroring” other previous seasons, and if true, it will provide an even larger connection to the whole notion of everything tying together somehow, which I love.

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Might this be the season that breaks the whole “the best seasons are the odd-numbered ones” thing for me? Could be. So far, I don’t hate the structure of this season, but I will be glad when we move on to something else, as clever as the idea of a “Paranormal Witness”-style approach is. Like I mentioned in a previous review, I suspect this whole thing will play better once we know the big picture, and so far, we don’t really, so until then, all theories are speculation at best.

Still, I must admit, this has been fun, trying to figure out where all this is going, and if the idea was to keep people guessing and engaged, then in that case, Murphy and company have already succeeded. Of course, the overall success of the season will undoubtedly hinge on that all-important twist, so we’ll see how it goes. Until then, so far, so good.

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What did you think of the latest episode of “American Horror Story”? How are you liking the season so far? Are you enjoying the pseudo-“Reality TV” format? Or will you be glad when it’s over? Any other crazy theories on what the twist will be? Sound off down below, and see you next week!