Sunday, June 16, 2024

Roanoke’s Ending is Ambiguous and Deadly

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Well, uh. It’s over. That was an ending, anyway. I’m not entirely sure what to say about this one, but I’ll do my best. Let’s start with a recap…


The episode opens with the cast and their real-life counterparts at Paleyfest. Once again we have like 15 minutes of Ryan Murphy fellating himself: apparently My Roanoke Nightmare was this HUGE cultural phenomenon and blahblahblah everyone loves it blahblah cosplayers yadda yadda. Yes, we get it. You’re wonderful and your show is wonderful. Let’s move on.

Just a note: I might be getting all of my shows-within-shows confused, because the episode consisted of like 4 different ones, so I might have the order mixed up. Uh, anyway.

Next there were some YouTube videos: one of a Lee fan talking about how huge Three Days in Hell was, that it set an all-time ratings record (?!), but she thinks the whole thing is sleazy because everyone DIED. I gotta agree, Lee fan. Then there’s the last remaining member of the Polk clan threatening to kill Lee, which uh. Is against the law. So you’d think someone would’ve arrested him. But whatever.

Then we jump to some show called Crack’d, kind of like a 48 Hours deal, but sleazier. They’re covering Lee, who first goes on trial for all the people she killed during the second show. She’s acquitted on a sort-of Twinkie Defense: the Polks’ super weed has hallucinogenic properties, so she didn’t know what she was doing.

An unfortunate shot of Lee’s lawyer.

Next the prosecutor goes after her for Mason’s murder. Flora testifies that she saw Lee kill Mason with a rock, but Lee’s lawyer brings up the whole Priscilla thing, and the jury ends up acquitting Lee despite the taped confession and everything, because even after everything these people don’t believe in ghosts.

Same, homie.

Next we move on to the much-anticipated Lana Winters Special. Apparently she came out of retirement to interview Lee. Lee refused to talk to Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, and (we have to assume) Oprah, but she agreed to talk to Lana because of what Lana went through in Season 2. Which is still my favorite, for the record, and this made me want to rewatch it.

Face off, center ice, Lana v. Lee.

Lana asks Lee what she would want to say to Flora, and as soon as Lee’s done with her heartfelt message, Lana drops the bomb that Flora was reported missing about an hour before air time. She accuses Lee of kidnapping her (again), but frankly that would be pretty stupid timing. Lee is freaking out, but before anything can be resolved, here comes the Polk kid shootin’ up the joint.

He takes out most of the camera people, and Lana tries to talk him down, but he hits her with his gun and knocks her out. He’s about to shoot Lee when a cop appears from somewhere and shoots him instead.

That’s the end of that, and we move on to another show, a Ghost Adventures/Ghost Hunters sendup called Spirit Chasers. We’re told that the survivors granted permission to show this “very controversial” episode of Spirit Chasers. Sigh. And it’s on.

We’ve got three people, plus Leslie Jordan playing Ashley…I wanna say Jordan…, the actor version, not the reenactment character. Who, after all, died. Anyway, they’re there at the blood moon, naturally, to see if what happened on Three Days in Hell was real.

In the middle of everything Lee shows up looking for Flora. She says she’s been searching for her for 2 weeks, and this is the last place she’s looked. Why didn’t she start there? Two weeks BEFORE the blood moon? Plot demands!!

The Spirit Chasers still see this whole thing as a dumb lark, but then they start seeing ghosts. Ashley dies first, then one of the dudes, and then the other guy and the girl leave. The girl stops (for some reason) because she sees approaching torches, and the Butcher gets her.

Cops are outside the fence (yeah, they put up a fence to stop this sorta nonsense), and the one guy runs to them and tells them to leave, run, get away!

After that we cut to some news casts saying that there’s a hostage situation at the house: Lee has been holed up with Flora for 14 hours and won’t come out. They (briefly) interview Lana, and honestly her whole cameo was just a dumb publicity stunt and a waste of her character. But, again. Whatever.

Cut to the house, where Flora doesn’t want to leave. She wants to “join” Priscilla, that is, to die, so she can protect Priscilla from the Butcher. Lee is desperate to save Flora, so she offers to stay instead. She says that Priscilla needs a mommy, and Lee can be that for her. Priscilla and Flora agree.

Why couldn’t Lee kill herself? I don’t know.

They set the house on fire, and Flora walks out. As the cop is driving her away, she sees Lee and Priscilla and they all wave.

The camera pulls out, and the Butcher’s people are standing on a ridge watching the fire. You kinda think they might walk away, but they head toward the burning house instead. There are still cops, firefighters, and EMTs, as well as reporters, so there might be another bloodbath. Luckily we’re spared from it this time.


Okay, first of all, I think this episode took the whole “show-within-a-show” thing TOO FAR. I guess they couldn’t abandon their concept now, and they needed an excuse to have cameras filming everything…except who was filming Lee and Flora inside the house during the stand off? I don’t know! Everyone was dead! The cameras were gone, except for the news cameras outside!

Sorry, I digress.

When you need like 4 different shows-within-shows to tell your story, you’ve taken a neat concept and turned it into a conceit. Who the fuck keeps airing all these snuff films?? Apparently Three Days in Hell was actually aired on TV, because there’s debate about whether people really died or not. But, as the Lee fan says in her YouTube video, YEAH they really died! Because where are they now??

I’ve lost count of the bodies dropped on this show, and that isn’t really the point. The point is more that people are really, actually dying in-universe, and yet it’s shown on TV for entertainment. Not only that, but Three Days in Hell set all-time ratings records! The most-watched show in the history of television!

I guess it’s basically the same thing as Romans flocking to the Coliseum to watch gladiators get slaughtered by the hundreds. Panem et circenses.

Is that what TV producers think of the American public? That we’re insatiably bloodthirsty and interested in bigger and greater spectacle, no matter how mindless or gory? I mean, it would (to a certain extent) explain the success of Game of Thrones, as well as other grimdark media we’ve been subjected to lately, like the new Superman flicks (update: he kills people now).

I would like to think better of us, but I don’t know. I’ve lost a bit of faith lately. Maybe that is all the people want: bread and circuses.

Depressing shit aside, this season was, overall…pretty good. It had flaws, like introducing brand new characters in the last episode basically just so there would be more bodies on the ground. It’s an EVIL HOUSE we GET IT THANK YOU. But at least the tighter 10-episode format kept us from having entire episodes like that.

Ironically, I think this finale was a wasted episode. This season could’ve done just fine in 8 episodes: cut out this one, and Chapter 4, which was boring filler nonsense. Is Ryan Murphy capable of self-editing? I honestly don’t know, and I say that after a shortened season.

I liked the first half better than this latter stretch. The docudrama format was cool, with Matt, Lee, and Shelby telling their story with the reenactors doing their thing. The back half was too gory and violent for me, basically just non-stop murder. It didn’t really answer any questions, like what exactly was up with the witch chick or why “Croatoan” seemed to work once and never worked again.

Next season is supposed to be less secretive, and back to the full order of episodes. Yay?

I guess I just miss the all-out wackiness of season 2.

In a more personal note, this is the end of my double feature reviews! You can still find me on Tuesdays over in Walking Dead land, because I know I’m a delight.

Images curtesy of FX

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