'American Horror Story: Roanoke' S6E10: Chapter 10

★ ★ ★ ★

Rather than be the solid episode it maybe could have been, Roanoke's final chapter strayed from the strong storytelling it showed at the beginning into the regular pacing of senseless gore that concluded the series. The fact remains that Murphy's decision to maintain the television series format of Roanoke up until its bittersweet ending was a bold move — and one that worked in his favor. At first.

Building up Lee's rise to O.J. Simpson-level infamy, the courtroom drama that unfolds in a corny reenactment crime show is a humorous addition to the episode that highlights the incompetence of those involved in her trial. Evidence gets thrown out due to "hallucinogenic pot" and more, spoofing the procedural nature in which the evidence shown in the Simpson trial in American Crime Story was thrown out. A theme throughout American Horror Story is an utter lack of trust in government institutions, the law, and police forces, feeding the disbelief and paranoia of characters as they find themselves cut off from the real world with no help to be found. It's shown to hilarious extents in this season that, despite everything, the police don't learn their lesson and pay the price for it.

It's this portion of the opening sequences, before the Lana Winters Special, that most effectively illustrates Lee's position in present time (rather than the fan forum that adds little besides a sense of dread that is useless to institute now). The same goes for the YouTube scene, which, like Chanel-o-ween from Scream Queens, comes across as a jab toward fans rather than a substantial contribution to Lee's social standing. And, to make matters worse, it's followed up with one of the Polks who no one cares about.

AHS: S6E10

The reappearance of Lana Winters in American Horror Story is a more than welcome one given her popularity since Asylum, and is the first Asylum reference to be used in present time. Unlike Billie Howard's appearance last season, Lana Winters does not come across as a random addition. Rather, Lana's reputation in the reporting field as well as her correlations with Lee are what make her an enhancement to what the episode is trying to achieve. It's a shame that this portion of the episode was simply used as a transition for revealing that Flora was missing and that it was cut short by the Polk (who no one asked for) as Lana and Lee's intimidating dynamic with one another made for fascinating dialogue. Nothing was more chilling than Lee turning the table on Lana and getting her to speak about the son that she killed.

Here, American Horror Story could have broken away from the found footage format like it finally did in the last minutes of the season, but the show instead decided to introduce the Spirit Chasers plot devices. Walking Dead fans may have picked up on Emma Bell (Amy)'s appearance in the episode, and as entertaining as that was, the three characters introduced lack character. Rehashes of the teens from "Chapter 9," the motives are similar but less warranted and the deaths are far less captivating, coming across as jokes rather than something to feel for. (The unseen deaths at the end of the episode follow suit.)

That leaves the strongest portion of the episode, Lee's final moments with Flora. Flora, as children go in the world of American Horror Story, is ready to die so she can be with Priscilla, but Lee stops her and begs her to let her take her place. It's reminiscent of Murder House's deep understanding of family and sacrifice (that Hotel didn't grasp) as Lee resigns herself to sparing her daughter and ridding the world of the Roanoke house in one fell swoop. Adina Porter does what she does best and uses emotional subtext to her advantage. There are many layers to the way she approaches the lines she is given and she understands Lee's manipulative (though well-meaning) personality.

Like in Murder House, there's a bittersweet lack of hope gained with Lee's death as she gives up her life in order for Flora to have one. Definitely not a choice Vivien had in regards to Violet, the parallels between their goodbye to life is obvious as mother and daughter find comfort in death and, to some extent, a potential for forgiveness. The ending doesn't sit as strongly as Murder House's Christmas party did, but it's Roanoke's Asylum-like commitment to realism that gives it a hint of uncertainty as to whether or not the world will learn its lesson that ghosts are a very real thing.

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