SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen Season 6, episode 3 of “American Horror Story,” which aired on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
On the latest episode of “American Horror Story”: An ex-husband was burned to a crisp, there were “Coven” references abound, and Matt was caught having sex with a demonic Lady Gaga. And that’s barely the half of it.
But to start from the beginning, we find Lee, Matt, and Shelby desperately searching for Lee’s daughter Flora, whose hoodie was found high in a tree in the forest during the last episode. As more strange occurrences surround the family, the cops are starting to get suspicious… but what’s equally suspicious is how unhelpful the police have been. Even Lee concedes that they haven’t exactly been doing their jobs adequately.
The search goes on for days, as volunteers join in to help sift through the forest. Shelby happens upon — what else? — some horrifying imagery in her search: A dismembered doll’s body, topped with a pig’s head. Heading in that same direction, the three find a seemingly abandoned, disgusting old farm. Just as they’re about to declare the farm empty, they find two dirty, clearly malnourished young boys, who are drinking milk straight from a pregnant pig.
The police bring the boys in for questioning, and confirm that the hillbilly family lived at the farm. They conclude they must have abandoned the boys with confidence that they could fend for themselves, which obviously wasn’t quite the case. The boys can give no information about Flora, and only repeat one word: “Croatoan.” History buffs might know the name as a small Native American group that were rumored to have something to do with the Lost Colony of Roanoke, which is brought up later.
Lee’s ex-husband, Mason, charges in at this moment, understandably distraught over his missing daughter. When he, Lee, Shelby, and Matt are back at the house, all sleep-deprived, Mason accuses Lee of hiding Flora, and threatens to bring up his theory with the cops. After all, she kidnapped her from school, so might she be capable of this? She vehemently denies his claims, and in his anger, he shoves her to the ground. Matt and Shelby manage to de-escalate the situation, and they all head to bed for some much-needed rest. Little do they know that their night is just beginning.
Late in the night, Matt gets a call from the cops, and he informs Lee that they found a body. Lee, a former cop, is terrified: Flora has been missing for 72 hours now. They head out to the forest, and see possibly one of the most gruesome scenes ever shown on “AHS”: A body, still smoking, burned beyond the point of recognition, hung up for everyone to see. Lee is able to ID the victim, thanks to an item retrieved from the body, and it’s not Flora. It’s Mason.
Later, as Matt and Shelby are reviewing their security footage, they see Lee leave the house that night, and return four hours later. Shelby theorizes that it was Lee who murdered Mason in her desperation to keep Mason from going to the cops. Lee enters the room and begins to defend herself, but just then, a short, well-dressed man walks right into the house (and as he points out, they probably should be locking their doors at this point). He’s a psychic named Cricket, played by Leslie Jordan, who “AHS” fans might remember appeared in “Coven.” Additional “AHS” fan-bait: Cricket revealed that he was from New Orleans, where “Coven” was set.
Cricket says he saw the case on the news, and knew he was the only one who could help. Shelby believes him, Matt is unsurprisingly skeptical, and Lee is desperate. In the end, Cricket begins to search the home, and is drawn to the closet where Flora was speaking to Priscilla during the last episode. In it, he finds a bonnet, and informs Lee: “Your daughter is not dead. She wasn’t taken by the living. Your daughter is with Priscilla.”
With Shelby’s permission, he conducts a ceremony to bring out the spirits and hopefully find out where Flora has been taken. And Kathy Bates’ character, who we later learn is named Thomasin, appears seemingly out of nowhere. Not even Cricket’s prayer card can protect them. Thomasin wants them off what she believes is her property, and their candle is sliced right in half, and the windows broken. But there is some progress made: Thomasin confirms that Flora’s with Priscilla.
Just as they’re getting somewhere, Cricket asks them for a cool $25,000 to keep investigating. Furious, Lee pulls a gun on him, but Matt manages to calm her down. As he’s leaving, Cricket whispers to Lee, “Emily says hi.” And just who is Emily?
In the interview, the filmmakers behind our true-crime production try to find out. Lee’s shocked that they even know about Emily, but the man behind the camera informs her that all subjects can expect rigorous background checks, and death certificates are of public record. After some fourth-wall-breaking intervals, Lee explains that Emily was her first daughter, who went missing after Lee left her in the car when she ran into the grocery store for a few minutes. If it’s not bad enough that Lee is living a nightmare, it’s one that she’s already endured.
Desperate, she pays Cricket, who tells Lee of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Lee pushes back against him: they’ve all heard the ghost story, and Roanoke isn’t even nearby. Nevertheless, Cricket goes into detail of Thomasin’s backstory.
We go back several centuries, and life is hard in Thomasin’s colony. There are mouths to feed, and her husband (John White, historically one of the colonists) has left for supplies, leaving her in charge. A rebel locks a spiked cage onto Thomasin’s head (not too unlike the ones Bates’ character in “Coven” affixed to her victims), and even her own son, played by Wes Bentley, can’t save her. She’s banished to the woods, left to die of thirst and starvation.
After days in the forest, a wild boar finds her, and Thomasin prays and accepts her death. But at the last moment, she’s saved, as Lady Gaga’s character appears and kills the beast. She presents what’s presumably the animal’s heart to Thomasin, who devours it, and heads back to the colony. There, she kills the rebel, and spares her son in exchange for his loyalty.
With Lee educated on Thomasin’s story, she, Cricket, Matt, and Shelby again head out into the woods. There, they find Thomasin and some of her “muscle,” as Cricket puts it. Cricket tells Thomasin that they would leave the property, and even burn down the house, if Thomasin gave Flora back. Shelby is blindsided, but apparently, Matt agreed to this. But Matt is now gone, and Shelby goes to find him — and stumbles on yet another horrifying scene.
She finds Matt having sex with Lady Gaga’s character, and she stares up at Shelby with glee as two of the hillbillies watch, pleasuring themselves. In the interviews, Matt says he has no memory of disappearing, or having sex with the witch, but it doesn’t seem to matter very much to Shelby.
Shelby goes back to the house on her own, and she seems more upset with the fact that Matt agreed to burn their home down. He denies having any memory of the situation she recently found him in, and just then, the cops arrive — and arrest Lee. When Matt turns to Shelby, asking what happened, she looks at him coldly: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
As many questions as “Chapter 3” answered, it raised so many more. We now know why Mason wasn’t in the interviews. With Cricket not being interviewed either, does that mean that he doesn’t make it out alive? Where is Evan Peters? Is Flora in the Upside Down? Weigh in with your thoughts below.