American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare ended not with a bang, but with an immense explosion — both physical and of motherly love — no one saw coming.
Starting out, let's agree that the cast of My Roanoke Nightmare is a gaggle of insufferable fame whores. They're really not likable when their lives aren't in danger. In a cast reunion show we're presented in retrospect (everyone is dead, after all), a still living Rory (Evan Peters) needs a hug from some woman in the crowd with a sweet ass. Dominic (Cuba Gooding Jr.) needs one too, because why not. Audrey (Sarah Paulson) is jealous of the woman's sweet ass. Agnes (Kathy Bates) is super nuts. The real Lee (Adina Porter), a murderer, is another audience member's life hero. Truly, the most horrific thing about AHS: Roanoke is how absolutely whacked humanity is in its never-ending quest for entertainment.
Turns out My Roanoke Nightmare: Three Days in Hell aired for the world to see, which means the world witnessed as these people were tortured and picked off on a reality TV show that drew in "record ratings." The world, then, also witnessed Lee commit three murders. Conveniently for Lee, she has a great excuse: she went through absolute hell. Her ear was pickled, her leg was eaten, her peers were picked off one by one; trauma, extreme duress, unimaginable exhaustion — diminished capacity is one hell of an excuse to do whatever you want.
Also, the redneck cannibal family that was the Polks — "was" being the operative word, lest we forget nearly the whole fam was decimated by the collective efforts of their walking meals — had ganja like no other, chock full of hallucinogenics and god knows what else.
Needless to say, Lee was acquitted of all charges. All of this and more was illustrated in Crack'd, another true crime show we're presented not unlike Oxygen's Snapped.
As we know, Lee was also controlled by Scáthach toward the end of "Chapter 9," killing Monet (Angela Bassett). She was, however, totally responsible for Mason's murder.
Ironically enough, it was Lee's daughter Flora who let the cat out of the bag about the one murder Lee couldn't explain away: her ex-husband Mason. As we flash back to Lee's murder trial, Flora testifies against her own mother. She explains how she hid in the forrest next to that damned old colonial home of Shelby and Matt's, witnessing Lee and Mason arguing, Lee proceeding to hit Mason with a rock until he was nice and dunzo.
But Flora goofs. She also mentions Priscilla, her little ghost friend. She's immediately written off as impressionable. She made it up in her head, Lee's resourceful lawyer claims. The kid saw Lee's confession from the Polks' camera on tape and now remembers it as real life. Society doesn't believe in the supernatural. Flora is not a reliable source.
We learn that the jury was split, but eventually decided Lee was not guilty.
"I couldn't send a woman to jail based on ghost stories," one juror said. Totally valid, if this wasn't AHS.
In other glorious news, Lana Winters (also Paulson) is back. Hallelujah, the Asylum queen herself has strolled right out of retirement to interview Lee post-trial, Roanoke Nightmare, and Three Days in Hell. It was because of Lana — who she was and what she's been through — that Lee agreed to interview with her.
Lee feels connected to Lana. They both went through a lot and did a lot for both themselves and the people they loved. In Lana's case, mostly for herself. The woman did kill her son. Still, she's a national treasure.
Lee has one goal in doing the interview. Flora hasn't spoken to her since her trial, making Lee miserable.
"I love you, baby, and I'm never gonna give up, never stop, until we are together again," she tells Flora from behind the camera.
That's when Lee finds out Flora was reported missing by her grandparents just an hour before the interview.
Lana accuses Lee of stealing Flora, though it's pretty clear Lee is freaked and has no clue the kid is AWOL. Before she gets the chance to tell Lana this, the last remaining Polk brother comes barreling in with an assault rifle to murder Lee. Lana attempts to reason with him. Just your typical, "This isn't justice, this is revenge, killing Lee won't bring back your mom" stuff.
There's a brief moment our hearts stop beating when we fear Lana will be shot. After all, Lana IS American Horror Story. She is everything. She is all of us.
Anyway, Polk Brother just ends up knocking her out with the butt of the gun. Whew, close one.
He's about to shoot Lee point blank when a cop/security officer/concerned citizen runs in and shoots him. This is all on live TV, mind you. Lana probably woke up, wiped the single tear of sweat off her brow, and celebrated the ratings she'd be getting for the rest of the evening.
Next thing we know, we're watching an episode of Spirit Chasers, a sort of knock-off of Syfy's Ghost Hunters. Our suicidal hosts Bob, Dave, and Tracy have joined Ashley Gilbert (the actor who played Cricket) to break into the house, documenting all the delicious paranormal activity they can get their greasy paws on.
Don't get too attached to them, obvs.
Lee shows up out of the blue. Against all reason, she has returned to the House Which Must Not Be Named to find Flora, and once again, it's the Blood Moon. Goody. According to Lee, it's two weeks after Flora went missing, she's looked everywhere, and she's finally resigned herself to the fact that Flora is probably at the house with Priscilla.
Remember how we said, "Don't get too attached to them?" Bob, Dave, Tracy, unnamed Camera Man and two policemen are goners in the next scene. We can thank Pig Man, the Creepy Ring-Reminiscent Girl, and The Butcher herself for all of these deaths. So predictable.
The one positive? Lee has found Flora. As she's calling for her daughter in the house, Flora reveals herself. "Mama?" she says sweetly and not at all like a little girl whose mother has killed her father and forsaken her entire family.
After the murders of the Spirit Chasers, the world watches as the cops flood the Roanoke house. It's a stand-off, police presumably under the impression Lee has killed said Spirit Chasers and their fellow cops, and negotiations are reportedly under way.
The final moments of the episode come down to Lee and Flora. Flora wants to burn the house down to help her friend Priscilla and stay at the house to protect her from The Butcher and co. Lee, in a last-ditch effort to save her daughter, tells Flora she'll stay at the house and look after Priscilla instead of Flora. She will sacrifice herself and be Priscilla's ghost mommy for her own daughter.
"In time," Lee says, "you may feel differently about me."
Suddenly, the house is on fire. Flora walks out to meet the police as Lee and Priscilla sit upstairs together. A massive explosion blasts out, and Flora waves to the ghostly versions of Lee and Priscilla who have just appeared right outside the house as she's driven away.
How AHS turned My Roanoke Nightmare into a testament to motherly love is beyond us, but this finale was pretty satisfying.