Chapter 6 (American Horror Story)
|American Horror Story episode|
|Directed by||Angela Bassett|
|Written by||Ned Martel|
|Original air date||October 19, 2016|
|Running time||41 minutes|
"Chapter 6" is the sixth episode of the sixth season of the anthology television series American Horror Story. It aired on October 19, 2016, on the cable network FX. The episode was written by Ned Martel and directed by Angela Bassett. One of the first major story arc changes of the series, the format of the series becomes a found footage horror depicting the aftermath of My Roanoke Nightmare and the development of a follow-up series, Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell.
My Roanoke Nightmare was a television smash hit when it aired in 2015. With minimal promotion from its network, it received 23 million views by its finale, topping the ratings of Sunday Night Football, Empire, and The Walking Dead. Eager to capitalize on the success of the series, the network commissions the producer of My Roanoke Nightmare, Sidney Aaron James (Cheyenne Jackson), to come up with a sequel. To that end, he ambushes the network executives in their conference room with a surprise on-camera pitch for the follow-up series entitled, Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell. He informs the network that it is his intention to bring the reenactors together with their real-life counterparts in the Roanoke house for three days during the Blood Moon. The network president raises some doubts that the audience had, namely that Mason's murder remained unsolved and that the presumed killer, Lee, was never brought to justice. After Sidney points out that the network owns the Roanoke house after he purchased it from Matt and Shelby for the reenactments, they relent and give him a green light for a 13-episode series. As Sidney leaves the building, his assistant Diana (Shannon Lucio) tempers this news by telling him that Shelby is unwilling to participate in the new series.
In Ojai, California, 10 weeks before the Blood Moon, Sidney interviews Shelby (Lily Rabe), who reveals that because of her involvement with the series, she's been receiving death threats and that she and Matt (André Holland) are separated. The reason for her separation is that she had a weekend fling with Dominic Banks (Cuba Gooding Jr.), the actor that played Matt. After Sidney pitches the idea of having possible reconciliation between her and Matt she begins to come around. However, she makes Sidney promise not to have Dominic back on the show. Sidney agrees to her condition but after he leaves her house, he checks with Diana to make sure that Dominic is still contracted to appear on the series. Two weeks before the emergence of the Blood Moon, Sidney has his TV crew install hidden cameras around the house along with various practical jump scares. Diana questions the necessity of them as she points out that they will look like cheap scares and the viewing audience responded to the first series because the scares were perceived as more realistic. As the two are arguing, they are interrupted by a crew member who brings them to a circle of ritualistically slaughtered fetal pigs. No one on the crew knows how they got there and the Polk family has been missing from the area for weeks. This leads Sidney to confront Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates), the actor who played Thomasin. On camera, he asks her about being committed to a mental institution and her assault charge stemming from chasing people around Hollywood Boulevard dressed and behaving as Thomasin, while holding a meat cleaver. She claims that it was a one time thing but he rebuffs her, showing her a picture of the slaughtered fetal pigs and saying that she has become obsessed with the role, uprooting herself from Los Angeles to Roanoke just to be closer to the house. He further serves her with a restraining order, barring Agnes from further interaction with the show. As he leaves, she screams at him, in character as Thomasin.
Lee (Adina Porter) is interviewed by Kristin dos Santos for E! News. When asked why she wanted to return to the series, Lee claims it is so that she can set the record straight about the murder of Mason. Sidney meets with the show's legal advisor who says that they are not responsible for any criminal behavior that Lee perpetrates. This reveals Sidney's true intention for doing the follow-up series: to expose Lee as Mason's killer and bring her to justice. However, the attorney is concerned over Monet Tumusiime (Angela Bassett), the actress who played Lee. Monet is an alcoholic and production would be blamed for knowingly providing her with alcohol. This meeting is interrupted by Diana receiving a call from set about an accident that occurred as they rush to the set. Upon their arrival, Sidney is shown a video of a worker mysteriously having his head chopped off with his chainsaw. Sidney, believing this to be a simple accident, decides not to suspend production and push forward, an action that leads to Diana driving off. She begins to record an affidavit telling her side of the story when she is attacked by the Piggy Man, causing her to roll her car, resulting in her death. It is revealed that the footage was found months later, and that her body has not been recovered. Meanwhile, Audrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson), the British actress who played Shelby, sits in a confessional where she reveals that she recently married Rory Monahan (Evan Peters), the actor who played Edward Philipe Mott. They are the first arrive on the set and consequently pick the biggest room. Just as they begin to settle in, Rory receives a phone call, calling him back to Los Angeles for a screen test. Before he leaves, he begins to film on his cellphone and sees who he thinks to be Agnes outside. She smashes the window, startling the pair.
When the rest of the cast and Sidney arrive to the house, Audrey vents her frustration to them. It is revealed that Agnes has been violently stalking Audrey for some time, going so far as to steal the Saturn Award that she won for her portrayal of Shelby. Audrey wants to leave but is convinced to stay by Shelby. Sidney distributes cellphones with only the cameras enabled and tells them that they should use them to film. He leaves and tensions begin to rise between all the participants. Later, the reenactors question the truth of their real life counterparts' stories. Matt enters the room and asks them when they shot their reenactments. They tell him they shot during the summer and he promises them that during the Blood Moon will be different. An intertitle reveals that during the three days, all but one of the participants died. The planned series never made it to air and what remains is assembled from found footage. Tensions continue to flare up in the house, as Shelby tries to reconnect with Matt, Monet blames Lee for her drinking problem, and the arrival of Dominic leads Matt to attack him. Audrey goes to shower but is attacked by the Piggy Man. Rory furiously looks around for what he assumes to be a plant from Sidney only to be stabbed to death by the two nurses. Later, Matt goes into the living room and sees that the word "Murder" has been completely spelled out. He returns to the kitchen and relates what he found to the others, stating blankly that, "R, is for Rory."
The episode was watched by 2.48 million people during its original broadcast, and gained a 1.4 ratings share among adults aged 18–49.
"Chapter 6" received largely positive reviews with much of the praise going towards the concept and Bassett's direction. It earned a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 8.7/10. The critical consensus reads, "The promised surprise twist is revealed in "Chapter 6" of Roanoke, creating a solid – and even scarier – turn of events while splitting the season in two." Emily L. Stephens from The A.V. Club gave the episode an A rating, stating, ""Chapter 6" isn't just the best episode of the season so far; technically speaking, it ranks with the best-executed episodes of American Horror Story, period."
- Welch, Alex (October 20, 2016). "Wednesday cable ratings: Third Presidential Debate wins the night". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
- "Chapter 6 – American Horror Story: Roanoke, Episode 6". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
- Stephens, Emily L. "AHS: Roanoke starts rolling and doesn't stop, no matter what". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 21, 2016.