There’s no denying that the sixth season of American Horror Story was polarizing. Leading up to the premiere of the sixth season, there was a lot of secrecy surrounding what the theme of the new installment would be. Ryan Murphy and the show’s other producers released a number of misleading trailers, most of which had nothing to do with what we’d come to know as the topic of the season: the mysterious Roanoke colony.
Of course, the sixth season’s theme didn’t really become clear until several episodes into the season, mostly because of the show-within-a-show structure that Murphy et. al. adopted this time around. From the onset, Roanoke felt a little like Murder House: A traumatic experience prompts a married couple to move across the country and into a very, very haunted house on Roanoke Island. As they’d soon discover, their new house is haunted not only by the lost Roanoke colony but also by a number of other souls who had the unfortunate luck of moving into an extremely, ridiculously haunted house.
I’m sure there are many people who enjoyed this season, and while I applaud the attempt to do something really different from anything the anthology show has done before, it really didn’t work for me. It felt poorly written and extremely gimmicky. I mean, consider that the sixth season is framed, first, by a show called My Roanoke Nightmare. I would’ve disliked that on its own, but six episodes into the season that initial show ends and is replaced with a follow-up, reality-style “sequel” to My Roanoke Nightmare, starring both the “real” characters and the “actors” who had been playing them in the faux-dramatic reenactments. But wait, there’s more: Let’s not forget about the bloggers who stumble into the midst of the My Roanoke Slaughterfest, the new coverage of Lee’s trial, and the interview with Lana Winters from American Horror Story: Asylum.
It really felt like the people writing the sixth season assumed that the audience was stupid and, therefore, it wouldn’t take much to impress us. The show-within-a-show or movie-within-a-movie trope is so overdone at this point that it’s almost offensive to me when an anthology show bases the premise of an entire season on it while expecting me to be impressed.
Admittedly, I didn’t care for last season — American Horror Story: Hotel — until halfway through, which is how long it took for an actual storyline to take shape. It’s so disheartening to see such a great show fall so far. I’m always so excited for new seasons, but I’m starting to feel a little leery about future installments. It’s like the saying goes: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Having said all that, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still planning to give the seventh season its fair shake. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like the show-makers will be as secretive this time around, at least when it comes to the theme of the seventh season. Previous years have seen a number of hints dropped throughout the final episodes of one season to indicate the theme of the next season, but I’ve not yet heard with any certainty what Roanoke‘s hints were. However, Ryan Murphy has already divulged a few details and based on what he’s said, the seventh season couldn’t possibly be worse than Roanoke.
Freak Show characters will return for season seven
When Freak Show — the fourth season — started out, I was very impressed. The characters were interesting and there seemed to be a clear plot that would develop over the course of the season. Unfortunately, that plot fell away after just a few episodes, leaving the remainder of the season flopping and gasping for breath like a fish out of water.
The main problem I had with Freak Show was that, instead of having one main plot that lasted throughout the season, it consisted of a number of shorter storylines that lasted just a few episodes each. That wouldn’t be such a problem if each new plotline wasn’t more ludicrous and ridiculous than the last, leading to a finale in which Dandy Mott essentially walks around and shoots all the characters dead. It was very anticlimactic, an unceremonious end to characters with such potential, and extremely unsatisfying.
According to Murphy, we’ve not yet seen the last of the Freak Show characters since some will be returning in the seventh season. Of course, there weren’t many characters left standing after Dandy shot everyone, but we know that Sarah Paulson’s two-headed lady, Evan Peters’ Lobster Boy, and Angela Bassett’s Desiree are still alive. As well, Pepper was still alive and in Briarcliff Manor, the titular asylum from season two. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember there being other characters still alive, but I feel any of those four could easily appear in season seven.
Lady Gaga’s Witch of the Woods is the first Supreme
One of the best parts of Hotel was Lady Gaga’s character and her award-winning performance. In Roanoke, Gaga was downgraded from the titular character to one that was shown for maybe three total minutes over the entire season. Granted, her character appeared to have played an important part in the overall storyline; she played a forest-dwelling witch who essentially created the Butcher and set the Roanoke colony’s demise — and, by extension, the many deaths that occurred over the course of the sixth season — into motion. But her character was mysterious and interesting, so I would’ve liked to see much more of her.
Fortunately, it seems that’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ since Murphy recently admitted that Lady Gaga’s Roanoke character was actually the very first Supreme. If you recalled from Coven — the third (and my personal favorite) season of American Horror Story — Supreme is the title held by a single witch at any given time due to her being more powerful than any other witch of her generation.
There’s another reason why this is important: If Murphy felt it was important for us to know that Gaga’s Roanoke character is the first Supreme and has direct ties to the third season, even though this was never stated in the show, we will probably see her again in the future. Sure enough, Murphy has also confirmed that an upcoming season will be a Coven tie-in. Unfortunately, this won’t be taking place in the seventh season, so hopefully it comes to pass in the eighth.
Seventh season theme will be announced in early 2017
Although we can be fairly certain that some Freak Show characters will factor prominently into American Horror Story Season 7, we shouldn’t expect an announcement of the official theme until sometime in the spring of 2017. Being that it’s currently the final days of November, that’s only a few months away, so we won’t have to wait long.
Could water be involved?
In the hours following the Roanoke finale, a crytic video clip was posted on the official American Horror Story Twitter page. It shows an image of water, presumably the ocean, with the words “Sweet Dreams” at the top. Then the footage cuts to a dark forest with the dolls made from twigs as seen earlier in the Roanoke season. The tweet’s caption says, “The monsters are all gone.”
— AmericanHorrorStory (@AHSFX) November 17, 2016
On the one hand, this could be referencing how the “monstrous” horrors portrayed in the sixth season have come to an end. However, some fans of the series have interpreted the tweet as a reference to the seventh season. Personally, I believe the video clip and tweet were created in such a way as to encourage speculation about the seventh season while also applying to the sixth season’s end. So take this with a grain of salt, but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind.
What did you think of American Horror Story: Roanoke? Were you as disappointed as I was, or did you find the dramatic changes to the season’s structure to be refreshing? Did you like the meta show-within-a-show concept? Who were your favorite characters? Were there any twists you didn’t see coming? Share your thoughts and comments below.