The Butcher, In The Motel Room, With The Meat Cleaver
This all seems fishier by the week, folks. We are only mid-season and what would have been the final showdown in a lesser, less sneaky series has already happened, draped in the nobility of an 18th century flashback (or “re-enactment”, as it is duly titled) and quotes from Daphné du Maurier to Mark Twain. Something is definitely off with this documentary, even though the way they keep recaping what happened before and how they feel makes it a decidedly perverse hommage to its apparent form. And remember, we had a glimpse backstage and it felt weird, “weird” being of course a relative notion in the AHS universe.
The aforementioned flashback allows us to reconnect to Evan Peters, playing Edouard Philippe Mott, a wealthy decadent land owner and slave trader suffering from acute social phobia, which led him to leave his wife and heir in hectic Philadelphia (natch) to build the house on Sappony Road. He lives there surrounded with paintings, because “art never judges”, unlike his domesticity: Mr Mott shares more than a master and servant relationship with his mixed butler, Griffith. “Let’s rouge each other’s nip***s” he said in another feast of outlandish accent.
During one night of unproper conduct in the master bedroom, scary noises are heard in the house: all paintings have been defaced, precipitating Mr Mott in a fury leading to the death of everyone under his roof. Tomasin the Butcher was not prepared to let go of her land as soon as the 18th century, even though she left him build the house for some reason. Impalment adds one item to the already abundant catalogue of deaths met by this season’s characters, and that’s not mentioning the “being hammered to death after having been half eaten alive” moment happening later on.
Mr Mott helps our family in peril because his social phobia stay acute in death and he’s not willing to share the house with three other souls. They escape by a tunnel digged by the slaves, and CGI is used to great effect for candle light to reveal Mr Mott’s ghost face. Not surprisingly, the North Carolina woods are not the safest place for Californian yoga teachers…
Frances Conroy plays Mama with a fierce Souther drawl and a complete poker face when she sums up the Polk situation to Matt and Shelby, captured by the inbred family during their precarious escape: she cures human flesh and they have a deal with The Butcher. They provide her with victims to be bled and she leaves them growing cannabis in the outback. The deal is 200 years old, which must make the Polk family the oldest dealers in the free world.
When all seems lost, the Butcher’s family feud reignites like a sacrificial pyre, allowing Matt, Shelby and Flora to escape with Lee’s help after she has finally be cleared of any involvement in her ex-husband death by fire. Happy ending, even though Shelby is haunted by her Roanoke nightmare, with the Butcher splitting her head open with the meat cleaver.
These initial episodes likely were the longest prologue a series ever dared to deploy. Five down, five to go, to grip us in what one guesses will be another way completely. That’s brave. One can’t wait to see the next episode and will review it as soon as he’s aired. Until then, let’s all rouge our nip***s!