American Horror Story: Roanoke Recap: Small Medium at Large

Kathy Bates as The Butcher.
Kathy Bates as The Butcher. Photo: FX
American Horror Story

American Horror Story

Chapter Three Season 6 Episode 3
Editor's Rating 4 stars

It’s official: With his silver-frog walking stick, his Andy Warhol as a lesbian wig, and his candle-hewing psychic abilities, Cricket Marlowe is my new favorite person in Roanoke. (It’s not like I had an old favorite person in Roanoke.) Though Cricket tells us that he’s from New Orleans, where Coven was set, he shouldn’t be confused with Quentin Fleming, the warlock played by Leslie Jordan. This seems to be a totally different character with a different set of powers.

Thanks to Cricket lending a hand in the investigation to find Lee’s daughter, we not only learned a bit about the current mystery, but we also learned a whole lot about what was happening in the past with Kathy Bates and her latest absolutely indecipherable accent.

The only reason Cricket even descends on the scene is that he saw that Flora was missing on CNN. I have a few problems with this. First of all, where are all the news trucks and other attendant trappings of the media circus? If Flora were blonde and white, cable news would be all up in this story. A little black girl down South doesn’t grab the Nancy Grace demographic in quite the same way. Naturally, Flora’s father Mason also joins the search, but after a few days without finding anything in the woods, he ends up charred in some sort of human sacrifice.

The footage from the security cameras would lead us to believe that Lee did it, since Mason left the house with Lee hot on his tail, but it had to be something more ghoulish and sinister, right? It had to be the spirits or the pig man or listening to Kathy Bates’s accent, which is so terrible it made him spontaneously combust. But why would this guy leave the house in the first place? Why are all of these people doing stupid things like wandering around in those haunted-ass woods by themselves in the middle of the night?

Speaking of which, nothing in the world could lure me into that disgusting abandoned house that Lee, Shelby, and Matt stumble upon in the middle of the forest, especially after discovering that someone played Mr. Piggy Head with a baby doll and an actual pig outside. Inside, they find two feral children covered in more dirt that you will find in Donald Trump’s tax returns and teeth that not even a British mother could love. They’ve been nursing off of a pig for their entire lives. Isn’t milk supposed to do a body good? The weird thing is that the only word they can say is “Croatoan,” which doesn’t seem to be a place or a person but a way to ward off the evil spirits. That’s pretty crazy. Nell lived in the woods with nobody to talk to, but at least she could “Chicka pee inna me me,” or whatever the hell she said. But I guess we’re forgetting about those critters, at least for now. We have bigger Masons to fry.

When Cricket arrives, he does some bibbity-boppity-boo around the house and finds out that Priscilla, the weird little Roanoke girl, has got ahold of Flora. Priscilla is somehow separate from the Butcher, the woman played by Kathy Bates. She was the wife of the governor of Roanoke and when he had to return back to England to get more supplies, he left her in charge. The colonists eventually lost faith in her leadership and left her out in the wilderness to die while wearing the world’s worst orthodontic headgear. Luckily, Lady Gaga, hot off of her Fairy Queen Meat Dress Redemption Tour, gave her a pig’s heart to eat. The Butcher went all Khaleesi on that pig heart and in the process sold her soul to Lady Gaga. She’s not evil, she was just born that way.

This part of the story is pretty hard to tease out. Who were we actually seeing? If we follow this My Roanoke Nightmare scenario to its logical end, we were watching a dramatic reenactment of a story being told to Lee in a dramatic reenactment of a story that she is telling to the reality-TV crew producing the show. Got it? To make it even stranger, the camera pulls back far enough to let us glimpse the crew and the set where Lee is telling her story.

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. This whole fake Lifetime haunting series thing was getting a little bit stale, but now Ryan Murphy and crew are starting to toy with the conventions of it and deconstruct it in an interesting way. They’re showing us the artifice behind these stories in an attempt to poke holes in how they are perceived and, by extension, how we perceive all such narratives. I’m not entirely sure where it’s going quite yet, but it’s been the most interesting 30 seconds of the season so far.

Lee gets so upset that she has to turn the cameras off because the producer starts asking her about her daughter Emily. She is shocked to learn that he knows, just as she was shocked that Cricket knew about Emily as well. It turns out that Emily is the daughter she left in the car as an infant who disappeared. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: To lose one child may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose both looks like carelessness.

Hoping to get Flora back from the clutches of Priscilla, Lee forks over $25,000 so Cricket will point her in the right direction. He takes Lee, Matt, and Shelby out into the woods in the middle of the night — seriously, dude, couldn’t they do this on a sunny afternoon instead? — and he talks to the Butcher. They promise the Butcher that if she gets them Flora, they’ll leave her alone and burn down the house so that no one will bother ever her again.

While this is happening, Matt wanders off and Shelby finds him in the woods having sex with Fairy Lady Gaga while two hillbillies stand by jerking off. It is like American Horror Story: Bukkake. Matt has no memory of this, but Shelby is pissed. Matt wanders back to the house and Shelby is like, “Why did you tell them they could burn down our house.” Excuse me? She just saw her husband giving Lady Gaga his disco stick in the woods and she is mad because he wants to burn down the horror house that she didn’t even want in the first place? Then, she’s like, “Oh, and by the way, I saw your Pork Her Face, while you were slipping it to Lady Gaga in the woods and I’m freaking pissed.” But sure, she worried about the house first.

As the episode ends, Lee is being hauled off to jail for turning Morgan into a crispy critter, Shelby and Matt are headed for a breakup, Flora is still missing, Lady Gaga is perfecting the sex choreography to “Perfect Illusion” in the woods, and we still have no idea why this episode of My Roanoke Nightmare is like 17 million hours long. At least we have Cricket.

AHS: Roanoke Recap: Small Medium at Large