SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen Season 6, episode 4 of “American Horror Story,” titled “Chapter 4.”
If there was any doubt that the cruelty of Kathy Bates’ Tomasyn knows no bounds, that’s out the window. In the fourth episode of “American Horror Story: Roanoke,” we see her murder her own colony, and commit one of the most gruesome killings in “AHS” history.
But to start from the beginning, Matt and Shelby are at odds. Shelby’s furious with Matt for not telling her about the agreement he made with Lee, who was arrested during the last episode, to burn down the house in exchange for Flora. Plus, Matt still doesn’t remember the scene Shelby found him in at the end of that episode, with Matt having sex with Lady Gaga’s Witch of the Woods. Luckily, love wins out: Shelby believes Matt, and all is well for about 30 seconds.
When Shelby goes to take a shower, she finds the half-naked man wearing a pig’s head that we saw earlier, who runs after her, apparently trying to kill her. She and Matt are saved by, surprisingly, Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare), the man they saw on the tape in episode 2, who scares the pig man away with the magic word “Croatoan.” He tells them that he used to own the house and serve as its “guardian,” but lost the property when he couldn’t pay the bills. For once, Shelby is the skeptical one: Matt, seeing Elias’ knowledge of the house, trusts him.
Elias informs them of even more of the house’s history, and its poor victims. He recounts the tale of a Taiwanese immigrant family who, despite their prayers, were killed by the colony. Even the killer nurses who used the house as a tortuous elderly home were terrified when they lived there, and died horrifically: the colony ripped one sister’s arms off and left her to bleed out, while Tomasyn beheaded the other. The stories go decades back, but they have one thing in common. They all happen within one six-day period in October.
That period in the moon cycle, Elias tells them, is the one time of year where the colony can actually kill (and one has to wonder if FX debuted this season earlier than usual just to sync up with the moon cycle). Armed with new knowledge, the three venture out into the forest, where Shelby sees the Witch of the Woods. She bolts after her, and comes across three hunters with disfigured heads and faces. She yells “Croatoan” in vain, until Elias manages to pull her away.
As they stumble in the forest, they come across something else: Flora. She’s playing with people from the colony — most notably, Priscilla, the dead child who took her in the first place. Elias steps up and begs Priscilla to return Flora, and for a second, it seems like things might be looking up… until multiple arrows fly into Elias’ chest, killing him. Matt and Shelby take off, running back to the house, still without Flora. Back there, they find our old friend Cricket, who asks them, “you ready to do things my way now?”
The psychic heads back into the woods, where he meets someone even scarier than Tomasyn: the Witch. She blows a powder into his face that blinds him, and takes him back centuries ago (only after Cricket offers sex with Matt in exchange), when Tomasyn’s colony was still alive. They lived among the corn husks, and though Tomasyn’s people were fed and generally taken care of, something insidious was happening: dark magic. Tomasyn, having pled her allegiance to the Witch, was making human sacrifices, and even killed young Priscilla in cold blood.
Not everyone was okay with this. Tomasyn’s son (Wes Bentley) pushed back against his mother’s new ways, leading a group of others in doing so. The Witch encourages Tomasyn, essentially, show them who’s boss, and that she does. Later, she gathers the dissenters for dinner, claiming that she’s eschewing her human-sacrificing ways for their old morals. Just as they’re rejoicing, she offers them apples as a symbol of their renewed bond, which they all eat happily.
Unfortunately for the colony, Tomasyn had poisoned the apples, and even as they’re dying from that, she goes around the table and butchers them all. When she’s done with that, she offers her neck to the Witch, who slices it clean.
The colony’s backstory is grim, but Cricket tells Matt and Shelby he has a way to put an end to their horror. Matt and Shelby are obviously relieved, and Cricket has to head back to his hotel to grab some supplies for whatever he’s planning. He hops into an Uber, and barely has time to hit on the driver (“Have you ever heard of the term ‘gay for pay’?”) before Flora runs out onto the road in front of them. The driver slams on the brakes, and Cricket rushes out after her.
When Cricket doesn’t return, Matt and Shelby are worried, but head off to bed. While Shelby’s asleep, Matt wanders the house, and finds himself drawn to the cellar, where they found the video tape of Elias. He even figures Elias could be alive down there — showing that Matt’s clearly not as rational as he once was. There, he finds the Witch, who’s already set the mood: candles, dim lights, the works. She’s here to collect on Cricket’s promise.
And Matt doesn’t exactly resist. It seems as though the Witch has put a spell on him, and she opens herself up to him, and not just physically. He sees her backstory: once an English girl, she was found by soldiers, who imprisoned her and where going to burn her at the stake. Instead, she murdered the whole gang, and became a powerful merge of the old and new gods.
Matt snaps out of it when he hears Shelby scream his name, and runs out to find her standing outside the house, approached by the colony — and they have both Flora and Cricket. Tomasyn is about to slit Flora’s throat in front of them, but Priscilla steps in just in time, hitting Tomasyn and allowing Flora to escape to the arms of her uncle and aunt.
The three run back into the house, but there’s still blood that needs to be spilled. From their window, Matt and Shelby watch Tomasyn disembowel Cricket, and even by “AHS” standards, it’s hard to watch. Tomasyn looks up at Matt and Shelby, and makes her warning clear: She’s out for blood, and it’s the one time of year she can actually get it.
With Flora back, however, the couple can presumably finally leave the house, if the colony lets them. Will they escape? What’s going to happen with Lee, who we didn’t see in this episode? Is Evan Peters the pig man? Weigh in with your thoughts below.