Overall, this episode was a bit of a letdown, bringing in even more unnecessary hand-held recording and characters. The episode returns to the Roanoke farm and it’s haunting inhabitants, only to focus once again on the people drama. That being said, it did make more use of ‘The Colony’ than usual. Up to this point, ‘The Colony’ and ‘The Butcher’ only ever seemed to turn up at the end of an episode and leave again with no real issues. This time around they caused some real damage as the blood moon hit its peak.
Army of Roanoke
Left with only 3 surviving Roanoke housemates, this episode brings in a trio of brand new players; the teen vloggers. While dealing with a real aspect of online media and fame, this seemed like another attempt at being meta and bringing one of the AHS regulars into the show. Taissa Farmiga from Coven plays Sophie, one of three fan-site administrators. They and their readers are fans of the original Roanoke series and the legend of the farm and they act as in-show audience feedback. She and her ‘Army of Roanoke’ friends are here to record, via shaky cam, what’s really going on. Yet the purpose of their characters seems to be only to find the body count of previous episodes, including the company exec that wanted to leave in an early episode but was run off the road. They are your typical impractical ghost-hunters with their helmet cams, mixed with a parody of young people in their constant need to check their followers list. Supernatural‘s Ghostfacers episode did the humour a little bit better.
“This is Exactly How Every Horror Film Works”
The vloggers also seem to function as a stupid horror stereotype. That idiotic idea of ‘it’s dangerous but let’s go and see what happened’. When they upload videos of earlier findings on the site and things are obviously not what they seem, they continue to explore. The 20,000 followers they now have seem to bolster their arrogance, even when one of them named Todd is killed. Sophie in particular has no common sense as she moves towards the house. The group go to the police before this, but much like any horror, the police again are useless. Yet the youngsters have the common sense to record what they see live, so in the end, they served the purpose of proving to the police something has really happened at the house. Another feature of horror is one of the more annoying characters surviving to the end, and this is present here.
Reality TV Survivors
Thankfully Army of Roanoke only take up some of the episode, with the action returning to the original cast intermittently. It is revealed the actor we saw at the end of the last episode had been scheduled to come in a few days late to stir up drama. Lee and Audrey had already discussed going back to the Polk farm and the newcomer Dylan is on board. As it turns out Lee is also concerned about Monet now, and not just getting the footage of her confession back. Monet is rescued but Dylan and Lee go missing in the furore. The Polks themselves are scared of what the blood moon means and hightail it out of there. Lee is enchanted by the witch previously played by Lady Gaga and does some terrible things. Once again the dead are committing horrific acts but also compelling those still alive to do so.
Reality within Reality?
This season is a bit confusing because it’s hard to know what parts of the show are aired to viewers within the universe. It’s sometimes unclear what recordings are just what’s really happening behind the scenes. There are a few shots in particular that would have been impossible to capture, and some notifications similar to ‘this was found on Todd’s icloud afterwards’. It’s also hard to know what will happen in the last episode because as the sixth episode proclaimed, only one survives. My guess was that our survivor shows us the aftermath of the show, and imdb confirms this. This episode was the latest in a slow letdown of the show’s potential. The first half of the season was good enough with its new format, and it all fit together. This half is flailing around, ignoring all the groundwork laid in the history of the house in favour of ‘reality’ mocking and cast. The hope is that the final episode ties everything together. What do you guys think?