So, here we have it. The first episode (“Chapter 1”) of the sixth season of American Horror Story has come and gone.
I have to say I’m intrigued for a few reasons. As a city boy who grew up in Jersey and relocated to Virginia, very close to Roanoke, I can identify with the main characters, who are Sarah Paulson as “Shelby” and Cuba Gooding Jr. as “Matt.” Or are they? Seems that they are the actors playing the actors who are portraying the real “Shelby” and “Matt,” who are played by Lilly Rabe and André Holland. Confused? So was I at first.
That is until you realize that so far, the true story of “My Roanoke Nightmare” is being played out as a dramatization right up there with anything you would find on Discovery’s I.D network or “A Haunting” or any number of reality shows that do that sort of thing. As an avid watcher of those kind of shows, that is another angle that has piqued my interest.
I’ve read a lot of negativity about this approach, the biggest complaint being we know that the main characters live because they are telling the story. My my, we are a blood thirsty lot. I say, so what?
Also heard criticisms about the first episode being nothing more than a bunch of talking heads, scary noises and not much else. I say again, so what? A lot of pilot episodes of shows are all about the “set-up” for the rest of the season. Sometimes they have action, sometimes talk. One thing about this series is, they’ve done both. They are switching up from previous seasons, so I say chill and enjoy the anticipation. I wasn’t particularly fond of the first episodes of “Hotel” or “Coven” but I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did.
I’m not going to go into details of the episode because you’ll be able to read that all over the place. But I do have a few observations.
It was great to see Angela Bassett as “Matt’s” sister “Lee,” (well in the recreation. For the “real” part of the story “Lee” was played by Adina Porter) show up so early. Usually we have to wait a few episodes to see her. It was refreshing to have her play one of the “normal” people in the show for once. Well, if you can call a pill popping ex-cop, normal. But it’s a different role for her in this series.
Next, Ryan Murphy starting things off by thanking Mercedes Benz for their sponsorship of this series. Kind of made me feel that we had been sold out. That’s a little too “corporate America” for the creators who have, up to this point, been fully non-conventional and groundbreaking with this series. And they gave away a car? Where was I? probably working on this site too much to notice, but hell, I still feel cheated. Congratulations…and damn you Maranda W. of Oklahoma.
I also feel slightly cheated about the teasers. They said all but one were phony. Well, I saw a lot of references to them in just the first episode. The loss of the baby, the farmhouse, the bald head of the dead serial rapist (check out the “Post Opt” teaser), the descent down the cellar stairs, the “Blair Witch” like stick figures, even the hot-tub scene (I know it’s a stretch but it reminded me of the “Blind Date” teaser). I’m sure others will pop up as the season gets under way. And I say I feel “slightly” cheated, because I believed them…silly me. Should have realized that we couldn’t believe anything anyone who is connected with this series had to say. That’s what made this all so wonderfully frustrating. I just hope that unlike the original “Blair Witch,” this lives up to the hype.
So with all this misdirection, can we be sure that this season is actually labeled “My Roanoke Nightmare”? Or are there going to be more twists and turns? I certainly hope so because if this just plays out “as is” for the rest of the season, it would be very disappointing. They are calling this a “true” American Horror Story, so is it based in fact, or as many movies claim, “based on true events”? That is always a very loose statement. Is the “true” part because the story is based on the true events of the Roanoke “Lost Colony?”
Just a little history. The Roanoke Colony, also known as the Lost Colony, was established on Roanoke Island in what is today’s Dare County, North Carolina. It was a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement. The colony was founded by Sir Walter Raleigh.
The colonists disappeared during the Anglo-Spanish War, three years after the last shipment of supplies from England. Their disappearance gave rise to the nickname “The Lost Colony.” There has been no conclusive evidence as to what happened to the colonists.
Now I’m assuming all these figures with torches and pitchforks are these lost colonists and all the stick figures are supposed to represent the 177 people who were lost. Assuming. You know what they say about doing that.
Guess we have to wait as the story unfolds and wait for the appearance of Kathy Bates and Lady Gaga. Seems Wes Bentley showed his face briefly. Hey and how about that inspired bit of casting? Chaz Bono as one of the “Polks”? Brilliant!
Personally, nothing against the rest of the cast, but Evan Peters and Kathy Bates have been the highlight of AHS for me, so I’ll be waiting with…dare I say it…bated breath for their arrival! Ouch. Both Bates’ and Peter’s characters have been so diverse during the run of this series and it’s a pleasure to watch them “flesh” them out.
I can’t say it was the greatest first episode out of the series, but it will make me come back next week. And hopefully you’ll come back here next week as I discuss “Chapter two.”