Friday, November 18, 2016

American Horror Story, Season 6, Episode 10, Chapter 10

It’s time for the conclusion of this season and after the last episode, is it possible to go any further?

Well we have an episode all about Lee – which is pretty extremely rare in itself and worthy of note

After seeing the lead up to season 2 of My Roanoke Nightmare – the huge fan hype for it, we then see the aftermath of it finishing

The show – with everyone dead (or not – it was TV after all) is very controversial and we continue the original format of this show – with lots of youtube clips, fan vids, reality shows et al

Including a “true crimes” style dramatised show following Lee – and the prosecutor who’s really had it in for her. With all the footage from the show, they have evidence of Lee committing many many murders.

Of course there are extenuating circumstances – not that people believe “the ghosts did it” – but it turns out the Polks were handing out hallucinogens in addition to being cannibals which was more than enough for the jury to acquit Lee given what she went through

After that, prosecutor-with-a-grudge goes after her for Mason’s murder – again. Because now he has her confession and an Ace: Flora. Turns out Flora saw Lee beat Mason to death with a rock and she testifies against her mother on the witness stand

And you thought that you had a difficult relationship with your parents!

Of course, the fact that Flora is a child and one who openly talks about her invisible friend… she isn’t a convincing witness and with a good lawyer she is discredited

But that hardly makes Lee happy – after all, everything she’s ever done has always been Flora. And her relationship with her daughter is non-existent. Flora is living with her grandparents and won’t talk to Lee.

This is pretty devastating to Lee. Over and over and over again it is made clear during this very good episode that her child is her life. Even as she becomes celebrated and reviled and a highly controversial and well known figure, that’s her obsession

And to reconnect to her daughter she agrees to an interview: with Lana Winters

Yes, American Horror Story: Asylum Lana Winters. Because Lana is very like Lee – she’s a woman who has endured a horrendous experience and don’t terrible things in order to survive.

I’m actually starting to love these little cameos for past seasons.

And Lana was awesome. She is sympathetic and then the interview takes a turn – she demands to know were Flora is. Yes, Flora has gone missing and Lee is a natural suspect. The interview is then interrupted by the remaining Polk with a machine gun. And I am a terrible person but I kind of laughed at the Lana’s excellent, super dramatic speech to talk Polk into putting his gun down completely failed and he hits her instead. He doesn’t shoot Lee because security shoots him

Cut to another bunch of people who have decided they absolutely have to visit the Roanoke House because the gene pool is improved this way. They’ve brought with them another actor – this the one who played Cricket – and the predictable happens. There’s no need to go into details – except it’s super super super creepy and everyone, including police called in, all end up dead. Many many murderous ghost and the Butcher all show up and slaughter them all. And lo the gene pool is improved again

How many people need to die before people leave this damn house?

However while there they run into Lee.

Seriously Lee? You went back a third time?  Why do you want to die so?

Ok, actually, this is the one time when someone went to the House where I actually understand this. Again this episode has done an excellent job of establishing Lee’s motives. Flora is everything and after 2 weeks of searching for Flora she’s headed for the last resort. On a Blood Moon. She’s looking for Flora playing with her friend Priscilla.

She finds Flora and begins the powerful, heart rending process of trying to connect to her hostile daughter who is not willing to trust her mother any more. Flora wants one thing – to stay in the house with her ghostly friend, protecting her from the Butcher and living on berries. Or she will die and be Priscilla’s ghostly playmate

This is not the life Lee planned for her daughter. After much painful attempts to try and get her to change her mind, Lee makes an offer: she will burn down the house, she will die and she will look after Priscilla and Flora can go live with her grandparents

Lee sacrifices herself

Ok, on the one side we have a Black woman who has been the complete focus of this episode. Her story has overwhelmed everyone else’s. She is the focus of this episode. Her emotions, her struggle, her passion and her love are perfectly displayed. She dies – but she does it for her child, she has, freely admitted, to being a floored mother but no-one can doubt she would give her life for her child or do absolutely anything for her child. That is powerful and tells the story of Lee to it’s end.

On the other hand this ultimate act of Black motherhood is to pass her child on to her grandparents. The ultimate act of Black motherhood is to leave her child and look after a white girl instead. That, that right there, is such a toxic painful trope right there. This is the Mammy trope writ large and gross.

Despite that element of the ending, on the whole this season of American Horror Story has been shockingly lacking in awful. Really, we normally rely on American Horror Story to give us at least one Friday Discussion each series! Hey, American Horror story we had a set up – we endure the awful for 10 weeks or so and got some good material to point out the homophobia, misogyny, racism et al.

Oh it wasn’t perfect, don’t get me wrong. I’ve already discussed Lee’s ending. And the gay characters appeared for one episode to die like 10 seconds afterwards (as ever).

But there was a large number of POC who were not demonised. There was a relatively respectful depiction of drug and alcohol addiction (Lee’s personal battle with addiction is a nuanced and emotional journey which lacks demonization despite her own harsh self-judgement).

I also really liked the format – it was original, interested and kind of twisty to see this reality/documentary/television based horror which adds a whole lot of question about what really happened and what was artifice for ratings. And then we have the contrasting kinds – from shaky cams by amateurs with a phone, to over-dramatised true-crime “documentaries” (showing excellently the bias of these shows. What always fascinated me since my mother’s a huge fan of these shows and can passionately declare “an innocent man was persecuted!” and “how dare he show his face!” depending on which show actually depicted the crime), to re-enactments and faked reality TV. I liked it, it was an excellent way to show how our media has split recently.

For, perhaps, the first time ever we actually liked this season.