After months of waiting and rabid speculation, American Horror Story finally returned to answer some questions (what is the theme?) and raise even more (what the hell did I just watch?!). But before we get into the ins and outs of the most mind-boggling AHS twist yet, let's start with the basics.
Ryan Murphy and FX have hyped that Season 6 is going to be like nothing American Horror Story has done before, so for this game-changing season they settled on the theme of... documentary spoof!
This season, American Horror Story is giving us My Roanoke Nightmare, a fake docu-series in the vein of I Survived, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant or (my personal fave) Sex Sent Me to the E.R. In the premiere, Lily Rabe made her surprise AHS return as Shelby Miller, a yoga instructor married to a traveling salesman, Matt. And since no docu-series would be complete without cheesy reenactments, viewers were also gifted with Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. as the actors playing Shelby and Matt in the show within the show. (By far, the most shocking part of the episode was witnessing Marcia Clark have sex with O.J. Simpson.)
As Matt and Shelby recount straight-to-camera, they decided to settle down and start a family in Los Angeles. But shortly after arriving, Matt is assaulted as part of a gang initiation and winds up in critical condition. When Shelby visits his bedside, Matt miraculously wakes up upon feeling her touch. Unfortunately, at the very same moment, Shelby miscarries.
The grieving couple decides to pack up and move back east. They outbid a group of "hillbillies" and spend the majority of their savings on a large dilapidated farmhouse in the woods, but almost immediately Shelby senses trouble. Matt, however, writes off all the signs of danger as racist attacks from the locals or — when Shelby witnesses human teeth rain down upon the house — a freak hailstorm.
Matt's refusal to listen to her concerns, combined with his overprotective behavior, means Shelby is actually relieved when Matt leaves for his next business trip. But her quality alone time is cut short when Shelby is nearly drowned by a mob of angry villagers straight out of a Mary Shelley novel, complete with pitchforks and torches.
Of course, there was no evidence of such people when the cops investigate, but Matt is forced to take the threat of danger seriously when a skinned pig shows up on their porch. Before Shelby can discover the bloody omen, Matt buries it and comes up with a plan: he installs security cameras all over their property and sends his sister Lee (Adina Porter in "real life" and Angela Bassett in the reenactment) to watch over Shelby while he's gone.
However, Shelby's drinking is a problem for Lee, who is barely hanging onto her sobriety after getting fired from the police force due to her painkillers addiction. Whatever's haunting the farmhouse (which appears to include two sexy female nurse ghosts in addition to the pilgrim villagers) is quick to exploit this weakness, rolling an empty wine bottle into Lee's room at night and pitting the two women against each other.
At the same time, Matt receives a security alert on his iPhone notifying him that — you guessed it — a mob of angry villagers is marching on the house. Lee and Shelby soon stop fighting with each other long enough to notice something's up and follow noises down into the basement. (Never follow creepy noises! Never go into the basement! Don't these people watch horror movies?!) There, they discover a television playing a home movie made (presumably) by the house's previous owner. In it, a man is hunting down a pig-human hybrid in the nearby woods. "I finally found you, you son of a bitch!" the man whimpers before the video cuts off.
After watching the tape, Shelby and Lee discover they've been locked in the basement. When they finally manage to make their way back upstairs, their entire house has been filled with Blair Witch stick figures — something Matt arrives just in time to witness.
Despite all this, Matt and Lee refuse to acknowledge anything too messed up is happening. So when no one else supports her idea to pick up and run, Shelby runs off on her own, only to hit an old ghost woman (Kathy Bates) with her car. Sadly, Shelby doesn't realize this isn't a normal woman and chases her into the woods in the hopes of taking her to the hospital. Soon, Shelby loses the woman... and her way.
Completely disoriented, Shelby stumbles upon more of the Blair Witch stick figures hanging from a tree and promptly freaks the eff out. Her state of mind only gets worse when she realizes the ground is literally pulsing beneath her, as though it's alive. And so she runs again, only to then find herself surrounded by a group of torch-wielding randos, including Wes Bentley, and a screaming man with his brain exposed.
Cut to black.
So that was the American Horror Story premiere in a nutshell. Huh.
After all that hype, I can firmly say that I doubt anyone saw this docu-series twist coming. So props to Murphy & Co. on that, and figuring out a way to truly surprise us, even six seasons in.
What did you think of the season premiere?
American Horror Story airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.