“Chapter 2” of American Horror Story: Roanoke advances the mystery established in “Chapter 1,” while continuing with the show-within-a-show docu-series format. This week, viewers got to see Kathy Bates and Denis O’Hare in action, with quick glimpses of Wes Bently and Lady Gaga.
One new layer of mystery added was that Matt and Shelby’s home used to be an assisted living home and, naturally, run by two murder-crazed sisters (revealed via “found footage” featuring Denis O’Hare’s character, Dr. Elias Cunningham). However, the exposition explaining this backstory felt excessive and rather corny for episode two. It is revealed that the sisters only accepted residents to their home with names that began with the letters “M”, “U”, “R”, “D” “E”, with hopes to kill each and spell out “MURDER” with red paint on the kitchen wall.
Of course, there’s some sort of curse to these letters, and later residents are unable to remove it from the walls. Instinctively, Matt and Shelby go to peel back the wallpaper and, to much fright, discover the letters “M-U-R-D-E” painted underneath. While Cuba Gooding Jr.’s and Sarah Paulson’s performances are of a high caliber (as always), their characters and storyline are lacking some interest so far. The season is beginning to mirror the first (Murder House), but it hasn’t had a “wow” factor thus far to set it apart.
The standout performance in this episode came from Angela Bassett’s Lee, who finds herself struggling to keep her young daughter in her life without her ex-husband gaining sole custody. This storyline flirts with the cliché of a child, Lee’s daughter, being able to talk to a ghost or unknown force (who wants to kill them all). Despite said cliché, Bassett prevents it from being the storyline of a garden variety direct-to-video horror film.
The season will surly gain more traction once Bate’s, Bentley’s and Gaga’s roles are expanded. And viewers have still yet to see any sign of Evan Peters or Cheyenne Jackson. Knowing Ryan Murphy, the show will pick up in the next few episodes.
American Horror Story: Roanoke stars Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lily Rabe, Andre Holland, Denis O’Hare, Wes Bentley, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson and Angela Bassett. It airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on FX.