American Horror Story: Roanoke wrapped up this week with a finale that was both unexpected and completely necessary. It took the popular anthology horror series in a direction that abandoned what we have come to love, while also giving the viewers proper closer to a season that was far from consistent. The finale took the “show within a show” motif to a new level, giving us everything from a true-crime series and fan reactions to a Ghost Hunters spoof and the resurrection of Lana Winters, all to tell the story of Lee Harris after the events of Roanoke.
The episode starts off with all the characters reunited on stage for a panel to discuss their time on the show in front of fans. It wasn’t the best scene, but it did remind us of the cultural impact “My Roanoke Nightmare” and its sequel had. Fans expressed their love and personal connections to everyone from Lee to Rory. After this, though, it quickly jumps into a true-crime show that adequately summarizes life for Lee after the show. She was acquitted of all charges for the murder of the Polk family but the prosecutors were still hungry to put her behind bars. They quickly charged her for the murder of her husband, Mason, using her confession tape as evidence and Flora as their only witness. However, this backfired when the defense pointed out that Flora had been spending her time with a little ghost-girl which brought her credibility into question.
This part of the episode worked because it was so cheesy and unexpected, you couldn’t help but go along for the ride. It’s the same way Nancy Grace is able to suck people into whatever skewed narrative she is telling at the time. For some reason, people just love true-crime stories, especially when they involved murder and families. The best thing this did, though, was it reestablished a relationship between Lee and Flora. Even though it was severely strained at this point, it reminded us what Lee’s motive was the entire season.
Even after Lee’s legal troubles subsided, she was still seen as a murderer and a terrible mother in the public eye. In an attempt to reach out to Flora, (who was living with her grandparents) she did a live interview with Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson’s character from Season 2) on the Lana Winters Show. This was an intense scene featuring two women with similar backgrounds who were both out to prove something. Lana tried to back Lee into a confession, while Lee was looking to reestablish herself to her daughter. If this season of AHS, and this scene, in particular, didn’t establish Sarah Paulson as one of the best actresses in Hollywood, I don’t know what will. It was chilling to watch these two flex their muscles, especially when Lana Winters dropped the bomb that Flora had gone missing. Unfortunately, their interview was cut short by Lot Polk who barged in strapped with an assault rifle, looking for revenge against Lee. This is when I remembered I was watching American Horror Story: Roanoke. Of course, they had to ruin a great scene with unnecessary murder!
The rest of the episode took place back at the Roanoke mansion because it wouldn’t be season 6 of AHS without stupid characters wanting their turn with The Butcher. This time, it’s a few frat-boy ghost hunters filming yet another show! While at the house they are slaughtered by the Pigman (I’m actually glad he got one more scene this season) and the other ghosts featured this season, but not before running into Lee. She found Flora at the house because of Priscilla, the little girl she’d been trying to protect since the beginning of the show. After much debate, Lee decided to sacrifice her life to live out her days protecting Priscilla so Flora could grow up and live her own life.
This was the perfect closer to a season with no conceived “right ending”. We went from a show centered on the marriage of Shelby and Matt, to an unexpected reality show when all along the season was about Lee. She made it clear from the start she wanted to survive for her daughter. Flora was all she had in life and that’s what she was fighting for. In hindsight, the constant “terror” and numerous characters were all a distraction. The writers wanted us to feel lost and uncertain so the end would be that much sweeter and the unconditional love Lee had for Flora would be that much clearer. Like I said earlier, the finale of American Horror Story: Roanoke capped off the season in an unexpected but necessary way.