Well, that was pretty confusing, but I actually liked it. It was entirely in keeping with the generally snarky attitude of the entire season’s meta approach to televisual media.
We start off the episode with the courtroom proceedings at Lee’s trial and some shameless overacting from the lawyers, as they plead their case. Lee is pronounced “Not Gulity”. Flora, who testified that she witnessed her mother kill her father, was not a believable witness, because she believed in ghosts.
We get more backstory on Lee, but this time told from the point of view of a cheesy MTV: Behind the Music style show called Crack’d, (which was hilarious) and a parody of some type of ConFest, thrown to celebrate the original Roanoke Nightmare, which totally captures the self serving bullshit of the celebrities featured at such events. Each one of the stars of My Roanoke Nightmare are at their obnoxious best, as they showboat to try to garner as much attention from the audience as possible. My eyeball rolling didn’t even reach maximum levels during this stage of the proceedings. Clearly the show runners were just getting started.
The episode itself is total crack-meta as it switches from one television genre to another, as shows within shows. From those opening scenes, we move on to a Barbara Walters type of show, with its overwrought and ponderous interviewing style, with Sarah Paulson reprising her role as Lana Winters, the newswoman from Asylum. She is interviewing Lee about having been found not guilty of killing Mason, and hilariously has the tables turned on her by Lee. That interview itself turns truly batshit insane when the last of the Polks, Lot, shows up with a machine gun, and tries to assassinate Lee in the middle of the interview.
From there, we get a callback to the last episode with some intrepid spiritchasers, called appropriately enough, Spirit Chasers, visiting the Roanoke House during the Blood Moon. I had as little empathy for these obnoxious twits, as I had sympathy for the ones who died in the last episode. That last group didn’t deserve the horrible things that happened to them, but these guys were warned frequently, they watched the second season of Roanoke, so knew what to expect, and the house itself is cordoned off against trespassers with barbed wire. These assholes chose not to believe any of it, and got themselves (and some hapless policemen) murdered by the Butcher’s followers.
Although, when you think about it, the most common trope of all horror movies is people making stupid decisions, so the show simply ends as it began. Matt and Shelby find a ramshackle old house in the middle of fucking nowhere and decide that would be a good place to live. The Spirit Chasers make the boneheaded decision to trespass on haunted land, where at least a dozen or more people have died. I don’t even believe in ghosts but, just like in that Stephen King story 1408, I don’t have to believe in ghosts to know that staying overnight, in a place where dozens of people have died horribly, is a good idea.
The spirit chasers meet Lee in the house. She is there hunting Flora. This is the part I find confusing because how did Lee know that’s where Flora would be, and how did Flora get there? Uber? How did she get inside the house? She’s, like, twelve years old! and the place is surrounded by a barbed wire fence! In fact, this moment is so confusing, that when Lee showed up, I thought she and Flora were dead and being reunited as ghosts. I was disabused of that idea because they showed up on the thermal sensors the spirit chasers were using.
It turns out that Flora came back to the house after her mother’s acquittal, to stay with Priscilla. One of the few truly emotional moments is Lee’s reunion with her daughter, and her utter dedication in protecting her daughter, no matter what. Lee, the ultimate survivor, sacrifices her life to keep her daughter from killing herself, so she can stay behind and protect Priscilla, in Flora’s stead, from The Butcher.
As the house finally burns to the ground, Flora sees the ghosts of her mother, and Priscilla, waving goodbye to her. Lee, as she has stated so many times this season, would indeed do anything for her daughter.
Now, I have read a rather shitty review which focused the episode on Sarah Paulson’s character and I was greatly offended by the writer’s complete inability to give Lee her due as the actual star of this season, instead of focusing their review on a White character from a previous season, who only shows up in the last episode of this one. This season wasn’t about Lana Winters, as her story has already been told, and I didn’t appreciate seeing Lee being reasoned out of her own story. I can see the parallels from Lana’s story to Lee’s, but that’s no excuse to remove Lee’s adaptability, determination, fortitude, and search for love and redemption, via her daughter, as the primary focus of this season.
I’m not saying Lee wasn’t a problematic character, but that’s why I liked her. One of my biggest complaints about TV and movies (among many, many, many, complaints) is the lack of unlikable women. She’s the kind of woman who is hard to like, because she’s complicated, and I like that her complications make sense, and are consistent. She’s not just given random unlikable character traits to make you hate her. Quite frankly, none of the white people on the show came across as people I would like to get to know. But I’d be friends with Lee, if I could. She seems like the kind of person that, once she lets you in that zone, you’re in there forever. When Lee loves people, she loves them wholly and completely, the way she does Flora. But if you wrong her, or betray her trust, you will soon be experiencing fine dining in Hell.
The final scenes of the actual show (and not a show within a show) is a shot of The Butcher, the Blood Moon, and all the police, and emergency service personnel, gathered in the valley below, and completely at The Butcher’s mercy.
Yeah, that’s not gonna end well.
But we knew that when the season began.
Overall, I really liked this season. This is coming from someone who generally hates the overwrought dramedy of Reality TV. I think the seasons have gotten better and better over time. I enjoyed Freaks and Hotel, but those seasons suffered from a great deal of incoherence, and lack of focus, towards the end, with subplots being introduced that never got follow through. This season remained taut, focused, and nuanced, with a clear thematic goal of parodying Reality TV. I haven’t had this much fun with that sort of mockery since that Cops parody of the X-Files, titled appropriately enough, X-Cops.
And before I go, I have to give a shout out to Adina Porter. The first time I saw her she was playing a witch-con-woman on True Blood, as Tara’s broken, abusive mother. I loved her acting then, and she brings that same sense of steely fragility to her role as Lee, although I didn’t immediately make the connection when I saw her. Its funny how she keeps playing these broken widows, desperately trying to win back their daughter’s love, and she has mastered it. She is an incredible actress that I hope to see even more of after this.
Well, ta-ta til next season, people! I hope you enjoyed this one. Let me know in the comments.