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The American Horror Story: Roanoke Finale Is the Show's Most Ambitious Episode Yet

Did anyone survive?

Sadie Gennis

Spoilers for the finale of American Horror Story: Roanoke beyond this point.

We've been through so much over the past few weeks: a documentary show, a reality show inspired by a documentary show and now a news program focused on the sole survivor of said reality show inspired by a documentary show.

Well, we wish it were that simple. Instead of just being the Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) special as many fans anticipated, the Roanoke finale switched up the format every few minutes. Let's break it down step-by-step, so we can all keep track together.

Paley Fest: The finale starts by taking a trip back in time to the spring of 2016, shortly after My Roanoke Nightmare aired. To celebrate its acclaimed debut, the cast attends a Paley Center panel moderated by, of all people, RuPaul's Drag Race alum Trixie Mattell. The auditorium is filled with crazed fans decked out as Piggy Man and waving bloody cleavers, because that's the kind of pandemonium five episodes of a docu-series with cheesy dramatic reenactments inspires (rolls eyes).

YouTube: Before we have time to dig into why the Paley Fest scene matters, all of the sudden we're watching a YouTube video uploaded by a Lee (Adina Porter) superfan who expresses her horror at Return to Roanoke, which she deems too crass for her liking, adding that it lacks the artistic integrity of My Roanoke Nightmare.

Next up, it's another YouTube confessional, this time from the surviving Polk brother who's determined to avenge his family. And if you thought he was joking, he pulls out a gun to prove this is no laughing matter.

Crack'd: In what might be the best format of the finale, we're then thrown into an episode of Crack'd, Ryan Murphy's spot-on take on Snapped. Through this lens, we get a glimpse into how Lee's two murder trials went - one for the murders she committed in Return to Roanoke, and the other for the murder of Mason.

In the first trial, Lee managed to get acquitted since the jury determined she wasn't in her right mind thanks to a combination of the Polks' hallucinogenic weed and the severe emotional turmoil she endured while being held captive. And even though there was less evidence in Lee's second trial, it wound up being far more complicated due to the testimony of Lee's daughter Flora.

Under oath, Flora explained that she witnessed Lee beat Mason to death with a rock while she was hiding in the woods with Priscilla. Fortunately for Lee, Flora's insistence that she was hanging out with a ghost didn't make her the most reliable witness, and Lee was once again acquitted.

​Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Roanoke

The Lana Winters Special: After all this, Roanoke finally gets to what we've all been waiting for: the return of Lana Winters, Asylum's own final girl.

Lana doesn't waste time before pressing Lee on why she decided to do this live, tell-all interview. Lee explains that she hasn't spoken to Flora since her trial and she's just praying her daughter will watch the interview and see how much she loves her. That's when Lana hits Lee with the twist: Flora had gone missing an hour ago.

Lee stands up to go search for her daughter, but she doesn't get very far before the Polk storms the building with his machine gun. Lana attempts to talk him down like she did her son in the Asylum finale, but this Polk isn't having it. He knocks out Lana with the butt of his gun and goes to kill Lee, but right before he can finish her off a cop bursts in and kills the Polk.

Spirit Chasers: After showing amateur ghost hunters in the penultimate episode, AHS decides now is the best time to go all-in on the real thing, giving us Spirit Chasers, a paranormal investigation series that sets its sights on the Shaker Mansion. And because these people are certified ding-dongs, they decide to break into the house during the Blood Moon.

Before you know it, spooky things begin to occur, one of which is the shocking appearance of Lee, who has returned to the house in her search for Flora. It's been two weeks and she knows there's nowhere else her daughter can be. She warns the Spirit Chasers - which includes the actor who plays Cricket - to get out of the area as fast as they can, but they refuse to listen. As you can expect, this didn't end well for them. Each one of the team is taken out swiftly, leaving just Lee, who finally finds Flora upstairs.

The dramatic conclusion: The media catches on to the fact that Lee is with Flora in the house, and soon news of this "hostage crisis" is all over the airwaves.

Inside the house (which I believe is the first footage that isn't a part of a show-within-a-show this season), Lee does everything she can to make amends with her daughter. As she explains to Flora, she only killed Mason because every daughter needs their mother. But Flora can't be swayed and reveals she plans to have one of the ghosts kill her so that she can stay with Priscilla forever and help protect her from the Butcher. Lee proposes a compromise: Priscilla will kill Lee instead. That way, she can stay and protect Priscilla from the Butcher and Flora will get to live her life.

And so it goes: Lee dies, the house burns down, and the cops take Flora into custody. But little do the officers know that while they're standing around, watching the farmhouse turn to ashes, the Butcher and her people are fast approaching. It's still the Blood Moon, after all.

What did you think of the Roanoke finale?