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"Chapter 1" is the first episode of Roanoke. It premiered September 14, 2016.

Synopsis

The FX limited series, American Horror Story, returns for a sixth installment.

Plot

The episode intercuts a "fictionalized" narrative with events "as they happened" for a reality-based television program. The re-enactors and the victims are played by different actors.

Shelby and Matt Miller give testimonials about their victimization in a gang initiation in Los Angeles for a television program called "My Roanoke Nightmare". Shelby miscarried her baby and Matt was seriously injured. They relocated to North Carolina to avoid further violence. During a picnic, they find themselves in a colonial-era farmhouse. They are intrigued by the property, which they purchase for $40K, outbidding a hostile family of locals. Shelby begins to feel a foreboding.

Matt and Shelby begin repairing the dilapidated house. A howling out in the woods interrupts them. Matt investigates the destruction outside, and assumes it is community hostility against them as an interracial couple. The next morning, Shelby hears an unusual hail against the property which turns out to be a rain of teeth; the teeth vanish after the onslaught.

Matt pursues a regional sales position, and Shelby worries about being alone in the house. She begins seeing and hearing startling apparitions. While bathing in an outdoor hot-tub she is pushed underwater by vaguely seen figures in colonial dress carrying pitchforks and torches. However, a lack of evidence leaves police skeptical of her claims. Shelby begins to fear the house and wants to move, though she keeps those concerns to herself. Matt keeps the secret also of a butchered pig left on their doorstep.

He persuades his judgmental sister Lee to move in to keep her company. He also sets up surveillance cameras around the property. Lee's background is in criminal psychology, though she was fired from her police job due to an abuse of prescription pain-killers. Lee's stark sobriety puts her at further odds with her wine-drinking sister-in-law.

The disturbing incidents continue, and eventually, Matt receives an automated alert from the security system. He sees the perimeter has been breached by torch-bearing, knife-wielding intruders, just as Shelby described. He futilely tries to reach his wife and sister by phone but is unheard as the women engage in a shouting match. When Lee hears an intruder enter the house, she and Shelby track shouts and cries downstairs to a found-footage video in which a man tracks a pig-headed creature. The power fails and the mob invades upstairs. The residents return upstairs to find it has been strung up with interlaced wooden dolls and totems.

Matt returns, and they show him the video, which he thinks is a fake to intimidate the couple and scare them away. Shelby wants to leave, Lee suggests they stand their ground, and Matt pleads that they have nowhere to go, as they've invested everything. Shelby leaves the house and drives off. She answers a call from Matt just before she collides with a woman on the road. The woman stands and walks into the woods, vanishing as Shelby pursues on foot. Shelby, now lost in the woods, finds a clearing with more of the hanging twine totems. The ground itself begins to undulate, as if breathing, and she runs deeper into the woods. She is surrounded by a torch-bearing mob and a man with his scalp removed to expose his brain collapses at her feet. 

Quotes

Notes

  • FANDOM: Episode recap and reaction
  • This season began with a special introduction from Ryan Murphy.
  • The opening credit sequence was abbreviated, and the title card simply reads "American Horror Story". This season facilitates the framework that we are watching an episode of the fictional program "My Roanoke Nightmare". The more traditional theme and stars were shifted to the end credits.
  • The "testimonial" actors playing Shelby and Matt are played by different actors than their "in action" counterparts. It is unclear (given the format) if the testimonials are the actual victims (and the action counterparts are re-enacting the scenes) or if the testimonials are actors reading a reconstructed account (and the action is what REALLY happened). (The latter would seem to be more likely, as the former presumes that no matter what happens to the victims (including death or injury) that they will be flawlessly able to give testimony later; given the history of American Horror Story this is unlikely.)

References

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