American Horror Story “Chapter 5” Review (Season 6 Episode 5)

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On the final episode of “American Horror Story” before creator/producer Ryan Murphy’s much-hyped “crazy twist,” we seemingly wrapped up the story of the Millers in “Chapter 5.” But did we really? Given the brief promo at the end of the episode, it could go either way. But more on that later.

Instead, the big to-do here was the reappearance of fan favorite Evan Peters, as- drum roll, please… Edward Phillipe Mott, the man responsible for building the so-called “Big Shaker” mansion that Matt and Shelby Miller purchased in the season opener. As much as everyone was anticipating the return of Peters, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the real MVP here…Doris Kearns Goodwin?

Yep, if you have had me make up a list of the most unlikely people to ever crop up on “AHS”…well, quite frankly, she wouldn’t have even been on it, not being an actress and all. But for those of us who knew who she was in the first place, it was quite a shocker to see the staid, steady presence of Goodwin, filling us in on the history of Mott Mansion, much as she has with real historical events in documentaries and talk show interviews over the years.

It also lent a much-needed air of authenticity to the proceedings, which the show could use in light of all the theorizing about what the big twist will be- though you have to wonder if Goodwin knew exactly what she was getting into, and if she was aware her segment of the show would feature a line like, “But first, let us Rouge each others’ nipples.”

(Side note: is that even a thing? I’m straight, so color me unaware for certain, but I can never be sure if some of the stuff that happens on this show, as it relates to homosexuals, is a real thing or if Murphy is simply trolling us straights for sh*ts and giggles, you know? Whatever the case, it seems like it’s totally made up for “shock” effect, but I stand to be corrected if I’m wrong.)

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Anyway, Goodwin related the extended tale of Mott, who came from old money and was known for his extensive art collection and his scandalous proclivities, which included leaving his wife and child for his African-American servant, Guinness (Henderson Wade, “Extant”) to live in North Carolina in a house he built from the ground up.

Naturally, the building wasn’t without incident, with several workers injured on the job, including one who fell from a great height while working on the outside of the house. Mott himself heard the requisite pig noises outside, along with other weird occurrences. One night, he is seemingly assaulted by a group of people, who pull down the covering of his canopy over him, forcing him to wrest his way out of it or smother to death.

When he gets up to investigate, much to his shock, his beloved art collection has been completely demolished, which he attributes to someone on the staff, much to his consternation. When no one fesses up, he has them all stripped naked and tossed into the root cellar outside, where they remain until their unfortunate deaths.

Meanwhile, Mott wonders if Guinness is the guilty party, having defaced Mott’s art in a jealous rage after he told Guinness that he valued his art over all else, including his illicit lover. Before he can do anything about it, though, Guinness flees. Lucky for him, as shortly thereafter, Mott is apprehended by the Butcher and her cronies, as we see it’s a Blood Moon out, and we all know what that means now- the evil spirits can harm anyone in their grasp.

Sure enough, they haul Mott outside, drive a huge wooden spear through his chest, then toss him into a fire they have built outside the house. Alas, when Mott turns up missing, the disappearance is blamed on poor Guinness, who is sent to jail for the crime he didn’t commit. Then again, he never told anyone about the other servants suffering down in the root cellar, so maybe it serves him right.

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This ends the sad tale of Mott, as Goodwin informs us that she might not believe in ghosts (though she admits they would make her job “a lot easier”), but damned if she would stay in that house- especially during the Blood Moon. I’m sure Peters fans, once they picked their jaws up off the floor after having seen their beloved make out with a dude in a tub and the like, were all like: that’s it? But Peters would be back later on, so they had no need to worry.

We then get back to where we left off in the last episode, as Matt, Shelby and Flora try to figure out what they can do in light of their situation. Matt suggests that Shelby and Flora take his truck while he creates a distraction outside, but before he can, Flora is absconded with by an Asian-looking spider-like creature, which I assume was one of the Chen kids. Or was it the “Ring” ghost, making a cameo appearance? 🙂

Either way, Shelby notes that it felt as if “the house was coming alive all around” them, as the Pig Man and the hunters also put in appearances. Matt sees the angry mob outside light the cars on fire, as they then proceed into the house, while Matt and Shelby scramble to the basement once they retrieve Flora.

There, we get the return of Mott, who informs them of a secret passage he had built so that the servants and he could get the art out of the house on the fly, in case of an emergency. Fat lot of good it did him, but it does serve as a means to an end to getting the Millers out of there, though as we see, it’s kind of an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” sort of situation in the end.

That was really cool how, whenever Mott passed the torch he was holding in front of his face, we saw his visage turn into that of a ghostly skull-like appearance. Mott informs them that the main reason he came here in the first place was because it was isolated and he suffered from social anxiety, and by getting rid of them, he would ensure that yet another group of people wouldn’t be stuck there for all eternity.

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Mott leaves them outside the tunnels, where they spot a house. Not realizing it’s the same house that they found the feral children in, they head towards it, only to get knocked out and dragged into a work shed by the Polk family, who have since returned. We discover that they have Dr. Cunningham, still very much alive, albeit not doing as much kicking, as the Polks have sawed off one of his legs and one of his arms for good measure.

One of them informs the Millers that “Mama” saved Elias after his arrow attack, and it becomes clear soon after that they have all been feeding on him for sustenance. You couldn’t have, I don’t know, paid a visit to a local grocery store? Or hunted down a rabbit or what have you? Guess this bunch likes their meat on the feister side. Either way, this meat has gone “rancid” and it’s time for them to replenish…

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Except that, as Mama (another familiar “AHS” alum, Frances Conroy) informs them, they have a long-standing deal in place with the Butcher and her people that spans some 200 years. Basically, the Polks will be left alone if they stay out of her way and ensure that she has at least one blood sacrifice a year- even if they have to provide it themselves.

So, even though they resent the Millers for outbidding them on the house and leading cops to their house, which in turn led to their kids being taken away, a deal’s a deal, and they know that the Butcher wants the Millers, so they have no choice but to surrender them to her. After Dr. C. is dispatched for real this time, in a most gruesome fashion via a swift application of a hammer to the face, they gather up the Millers to return them to the Butcher and her ilk.

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Along the way, Matt jumps one of the Polk boys in the back of the truck, wrestling with him over his shotgun, which goes off in the process, taking out the driver and causing the truck to slow down and pull over. Shelby kicks the Polk in the back out of the truck and attempts to make a break for it with Flora, with Matt close behind.

Around this time, Lee, after having been relentlessly questioned by the police for 48 hours in regards to the murder of her ex-husband Mason and the disappearance of her daughter Flora, is finally let go, due to lack of evidence. She immediately sees the messages from Matt letting her know that Flora is okay and that they have her. She hitches a ride back to the house from the Sheriff, calling Matt along the way.

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Unfortunately, in calling her brother, she inadvertently alerts the Polks to his location and they are able to re-capture him and the rest of the Millers. As retribution for her son’s death, Mama takes a sledgehammer to Shelby’s ankle, “Misery”-style, with apologies to the OG Annie, Kathy Bates. This, along with their being tied up, ensures there will be no more attempted escapes, and it’s back on the road again to Mott mansion, where the Millers’ fates await them.

Upon their arrival, the Butcher somehow instinctually knows that Mama lost one of her sons, and commiserates with her about it. Saying that the Polks have kept their word in resisting the urge to kill the Millers in revenge, she lets them go, as the Millers are hauled out of the truck and led to their doom. The Butcher informs Priscilla that Flora will be killed first, as retribution for all the trouble she caused.

Just then, Lee and the cop arrive, with the Sheriff bailing on her immediately to high-tail it out of there when he catches sight of the angry mob outside the house. Meanwhile, having had quite enough of his mother’s antics, her son Ambrose (Wes Bentley) takes matters into his own hands and wacks her in the head, then drags her and himself into the fire.

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Mott also returns, cutting Matt and Shelby loose and telling them to get out of there. As the Pig Man grabs Flora and prepares to kill her anyway, Lee rushes in, in one of the cars, and runs him down, telling Matt and Shelby to grab Flora and get in, which they do. As the Butcher emerges from the fire to chase them down, they get the hell out of Dodge and out of there.

They end up at a local hotel, where they await Shelby’s sister sending them some money so that they can fly back to LA and start over again, despite being dead broke- but not dead, period, at least. Shelby recounts a recurring nightmare she has, despite years of therapy, hypnosis and the like, of smoke emerging under the hotel room door and her opening it, only to find the Butcher waiting there to promptly cleave her head in two with her requisite tool of destruction.

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That would seemingly be it for the Miller’s tale, but in a brief preview for next week’s episode, we see another “AHS” alum, Cheyenne Jackson, apparently playing the director and/or interviewer of the “My Roanoke Nightmare” show, telling his crew to “never stop shooting, no matter what,” so there’s that.

As such, one assumes this could go a number of ways from here. Either Jackson’s character wants to go to the actual location of the Mott House to shoot whatever they find, or perhaps, in exchange for the money they don’t have, he’s paid the Millers to return to the scene of the crime to shoot a reality show for the cash they so desperately need.

It’s hard to imagine that they would do that, for any amount of money, though, so my guess is it’s the former, and we’ll be headed into the next leg of the show, which will be a sort of “Ghost Hunter”-type thing, in which a crew of filmmakers, led by Jackson, go to North Carolina to shoot whatever, “Blair Witch Project”-style.

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It’s also entirely possible that the actors we saw portraying the various characters in the re-enactments will be along for the ride, and that said scenes were filmed on location and the haunting of the area will extend to the cast as well, potentially leading them to be killed off one by one, not unlike something like “Scream 3” or in “Urban Legends: Final Cut,” among other horror films.

This would all certainly be in line with the theories going around about the breaking of the fourth-wall, and as this episode completes the theory that the first five episodes will reflect the first five seasons of the show, it’s pretty much the only move the show has, beyond something completely unexpected.

Part of me hopes that it is something we don’t see coming, but that brief glimpse at next week would seem to be confirmation otherwise. We’ll see, though. You never know. Be it as it may, this five episode “experiment” was fairly interesting, and though many complained that it was without much suspense, as we knew Matt, Shelby and Lee were going to make it out alive, or they wouldn’t be narrating the story, I think it will play much better in a binge-watch afterwards.

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Of course, a lot will depend on that all-important twist, which is supposedly the first of at least two major ones, with the last one occurring later on in the season, towards the end. Apparently, it will “blow the lid” off the series, setting up yet another completely different approach in the next few seasons, and going that much further towards tying all the seasons together.

It’s hard to say what that might be, but perhaps we will find that the entire series was a re-enactment of sorts and that’s why a lot of cast members were recurring over the years. If so, then the next step would be to show how all of this bled into their individual realities, perhaps with each of those concerned ending up getting terrorized IRL, much as one hears the cast and crews of films like “The Exorcist,” “The Omen” and “Poltergeist” were said to be “cursed” as well.

That’s not a terrible idea, and indeed, kind of a neat one, and it might be interesting to see how that would play out. Although, the biggest problem with that would be, once they go there, if other people don’t like it, it would be hard to undo it if they hated it. So, we’ll see what happens, but thus far, that’s the best educated guess on what will happen next I have.

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How about you? What did you think of Peters’ latest wacky role? How about Conroy? Where was Witch Gaga during all of this? Any wacky theories on what happens next? How about in terms of how the season ends? Or where it goes in the next few seasons? Do you agree with my theory? Or do you have some of your own? If so, sound off down below, and let me know what you think of “My Roanoke Nightmare” so far!