American Horror Story “Chapter 4” Review (Season 6 Episode 4)

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On the latest episode of “American Horror Story,” the “My Roanoke Nightmare” arc continued, as they filled in some blanks on the past of the property at hand, we learned some more about Lady Gaga’s witchy woman, and we got an update on Flora’s current whereabouts- though not her ultimate fate- in “Chapter 4.”

As tends to be the case this season, we picked up right where we left off with the show, as an incensed Shelby continued to confront Matt about what she’d saw him doing in the woods- and who he was with. He was so convincing in his complete and utter lack of knowledge of what had happened that she finally forgave him, but the witch in question would not be so forgetful, as we discovered later on.

Later on, the Pig Man attacked Shelby in the shower and chased her and Matt throughout the house until, out of nowhere, Dr. Cunningham (Denis O’Hare) showed up and casually axed him in the back, then shouted “Croatoan” at him, at which point he disappeared. “He’ll be back,” Dr. C. said ominously, and told them about the “dark magic and power” of that word- for now.

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Turns out that Dr. C. has been alive all this time, and had retained ownership of the house until recently, when a raised property tax caught him off guard and he lost custody of it, at which point Matt and Shelby took over, unfortunately for them. His only gambit had been to keep it out of the hands of anyone else, so no harm would come to them, but obviously, that had failed.

Dr. C. lived there for six months total before opting to leave the house altogether but holding on to the property nonetheless, as he still wanted to write a novel on it and the area’s past. He showed Matt and Shelby his extensive notes to that end, pointing out how everyone who lived there is dead or missing at this point.

We see one example- the family alluded to in past episodes- the Chens, who lived there circa 1973. In no time, they began to experience weird goings-on, including strange noises, appearances of pigs, an attack on their daughter by the Pig Man and, scariest of all, The Partridge Family. Despite praying to their Taiwanese ancestors, the evil there proved too strong, and the family was killed, on the night of the so-called “Blood Moon,” by Thomasin and her followers.

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Next, we got the rumored connection to a previous season, “Freak Show,” via a mention of Edward Mott, who was the one who built the house, way back in 1792. This is, of course, Dandy’s ancestor, from that season, so the notion that each subsequent episode will reflect a previous season continues to hold true. Mott was also the first resident in a long line to come up missing without a trace.

Another was the deadly nurses, Bridget (Kristen Rakes) and Miranda (Maya Rose Berko), who filled in the blanks of what happened to them to Dr. C. personally. It seems that Thomasin and company grabbed them and decapitated one while using ropes to tear the arms off another, killing them and, like the Chens before them, tying them to the land forever, as anyone who dies there is bound to it, not unlike “Murder House” and “Hotel.”

The incidents continued up until Dr. C’s arrival, including a group of hunters in 1952, who turned on one another and shot each other under mysterious circumstances. All of these occurrences happened over a six-day period, in October, during a lunar cycle that culminated in the aforementioned “Blood Moon,” at which point, anyone living there or in the area was subject to actual attacks by Thomasin and her clan, who were made flesh and could actually hurt people after that.

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Before that, anyone living there was relatively safe, beyond being harassed by the ghosts in the area. But anyone who stuck around and didn’t take the hint was summarily dismissed during the Blood Moon, at which point Thomasin and company could actually kill them. So, let that be a lesson to you, people- if things start going sideways where you’re living, you best get while the gettin’s good!

To that end, Dr. C. says their time is almost up and they need to leave ASAP. Matt and Shelby refuse to without Flora, who they mention is with Priscilla (Estelle Hermansen). Priscilla is known to Dr. C., who says he can take them to her, but they have to hurry, as the Blood Moon is scheduled for tonight, and if they kill her, she’ll be stuck there forever, as will they if they meet the same fate.

No sooner are they in the woods than Matt sees Witch Gaga and is instantly transfixed. Shelby doesn’t take this lying down this time and gives chase, but naturally loses her. She then runs afoul of the hunters who died there, who are looking pretty grisly, with various parts of their heads blown off. She tries yelling the magic word “Croatoan,” but this time it doesn’t work. Instead, it’s Dr. C. who rescues her, saying they need to move fast as the “veil between worlds is lifting.”

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They find Flora playing games with Priscilla on the outskirts of the woods, with various others standing about, including the Pig Man, the Chens, the hunters and the nurses. Suddenly, a horn-like sound rings out and what appears to be a group of Native Americans attack them, shooting arrows into poor Dr. C. Everyone scatters, with Shelby losing Flora in the melee to escape.

When she and Matt return to the house, Cricket is waiting for them, saying it’s time to do things his way. Although the deal with the Butcher is now off, due to the events of the previous episode, and the fact that she now has the power to actually hurt them, he still has an idea as to how to rescue Flora, who is still alive, he says. He needs to go back into the woods one last time to ascertain a weakness of their enemies via his psychic powers.

When he returns, shaken, he says he now knows the source of their real power- it’s Witch Gaga. She approached him in the woods and blinded him with some sort of powder (shades of “The Serpent and the Rainbow”), then transports him back in time to show him the history of the land. It turns out that this is indeed the “real” Roanoke, and the colony was hardly lost.

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Instead, they moved there of their own free will, leaving their previous settlement behind. There, they achieved great success, with plenty of resources and food- but at a high cost. In order to achieve this, they had to make a sacrifice to the gods, in the form of a human. We see that Priscilla was one of the victims of this sacrifice, as Thomasin kills her with a rock.

However, in time, people start to object to this approach, including her own son, Ambrose (Wes Bentley). He confronts her at a meeting, saying that Satan has taken hold of her via the witch, and that they need to leave here while they still could. The witch takes Thomasin aside and tells her that if she kills everyone during the Blood Moon, then they will all be her slaves for all eternity.

Thomasin gathers them together, and claims to have renounced the witch and Satan, and asks for their forgiveness, which they give her. As a “peace offering,” she gives them a bunch of tiny green apples, which, in no time, they begin to choke on. As they do, Thomasin slaughters them all, beginning with Ambrose, with her trademark cleaver. Afterwards, she willingly hands over the cleaver to the witch, who slits her throat.

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Cricket claims he knows a spell that can defeat Thomasin and the others, but in order to get it, he had to promise her something: Matt. Not so much forever as for a time, as they can only be together during the Blood Moon. While Matt “distracts” her, he’ll do the spell, but first he needs some supplies, so it’s back to his hotel fort the time being. Cricket tells them to stay put and he’ll be right back, a declaration that never ends well in the horror genre.

Sure enough, on the way, his Uber driver (who Cricket hilariously tries to hit on- “Have you ever heard the term ‘gay for pay’?” Lol.) almost runs down a fleeing Flora, who has somehow eluded her captors and made a break for it. Cricket gives chase- and never returns. As day becomes night, Matt and Shelby pass out, with Matt waking up a short time later, hearing a noise outside.

So naturally, horror being horror, he goes to investigate, albeit with a gun, at least. He hears whispering and notices a light coming from the root cellar. He goes down inside and finds Gaga waiting for him, who says “Debts must be paid,” by which she means it’s time to get horizontal. Honestly, this is a much better deal than the ones the others got. I’ll take that over being butchered or disemboweled any day of the week.

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As Shelby wakes up and goes looking for Matt, Matt learns about Gaga’s past, before she became what she is now. It seems she was a human once, a descendant of the Druids and Romans, who tried to stowaway on a ship bound to the New World from England. Many died on the trip over and when she was discovered, the soldiers blamed her for the situation, as it was considered bad luck to have a woman on the ship.

Declaring her to be a witch, they decide to burn her at the stake when they arrive, and lock her up until then. She catches the eye of one of the men and kisses him, then stabs him with a dagger and escapes, killing off the rest, with the massacre ultimately blamed on the Indians. (No wonder they were so pissed!) As this happened during the Blood Moon as well, it created a new kind of magic, a combination of the Old World and the New.

She asks Matt to join her forever, and he admits in the present-day interview that he would have, had Shelby not called for him at that moment. He leaves the cellar and finds the settlers there, with Flora, as Thomasin informs them that there is no deal anymore and that Flora will be killed. As she goes to do so, Priscilla intervenes on Flora’s behalf and she escapes, running to the relative safety of Matt and Shelby, who rush her into the house.

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Thomasin angrily smacks Priscilla and then shouts for Cricket to be brought out. The Butcher, living up to her name, cuts into his stomach, then has Ambrose disembowel him as a horrified Matt watches from the upstairs window. Then she looked at Matt, as if to say, “You’re next” and they headed for the house, which is where the episode ends.

As most of you know already, there is only one more episode before things are supposed to take a turn for the unexpected, so I think it’s safe to say that the whole “My Roanoke Nightmare” thing will be wrapped up in the next episode, or close to it. As they already filled in the blanks of what happened in the past with the family and the nurses, it looks like my prediction that we will shift into the past and do precisely that is wrong.

So, given that, it would seem that, either the theory that the Roanoke haunting will expand to the cast of the re-enactment is a serious possibility, or the one that they will shift to something different altogether. The involvement of Billie Dean Howard could still be on the table, though, as I mentioned in previous review. I guess the real question is: where are they filming this re-enactment? Is it in the area in which it actually happened? Or somewhere else, like L.A.?

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If the former, then the Roanoke thing is likely, but if not, then my guess is that the show will become something else altogether, something none of us could possibly see coming. Personally, I’m hoping it will be the latter. While the whole breaking-of-the-fourth-wall thing could be neat, I’d actually get a kick out of it being something else entirely.

That would certainly shut up the naysayers who have objected to the inherent structure of the season to date, given that we know- or think we know- that everyone concerned survives, or they wouldn’t be narrating the story in the first place. Save Cricket and Dr. Cunningham, that is, but then, they weren’t involved in the narration.

I will reserve making any further predictions until the next episode, as I think we’ve covered most of the big ones out there in previous reviews. It does seem that the one that has the first five episodes reflecting elements of each previous season has already more or less come to pass, what with the mention of the Mott family in this episode. We’re just a “Hotel” reference away from that one coming true, so I think it’s safe to say that prediction was a winner.

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Until then, feel free to make some predictions of your own, if you’ve heard about some ones I haven’t previously mentioned. I can’t wait until episode six, but I am interested to see how the whole “Roanoke” thing wraps up next week, and how Matt and Shelby get away- if indeed they do, and there isn’t some twist we don’t know about.

Make with the comments down below and I’ll see you next week!