No Way *That* Happened to Evan Peters on 'American Horror Story'

evan peters on fx american horror story
FX Networks

Rest easy, Evan Peters fans. 

Though last night's episode of Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell ended with what looked a gruesome murder, certain clues -- both visual and textual -- hint that the actor's new character, Rory Monahan, could still be alive. Not necessarily for long, but still. The beginning of American Horror Story's sixth season included lots of Peters speculation. His first role, as Edward Phillipe Mott, was... brief. And what, an hour later he's supposed to be gone again? C'mon. Ryan Murphy's not that cruel. We hope. Let's investigate why Rory might not be dead dead.

evan peters and sarah paulson on fx american horror story
FX Networks

Remember his screen test?

Shortly before his death, Rory took a phone call about a screen test for a Brad Pitt movie -- one that would require him to leave set for an unstated amount of time. Almost immediately thereafter he and his new-ish wife, Audrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson), made plans to tell Cheyenne Jackson's Sidney character about the development.

We never saw this happen -- but does that mean it never happened? Ostensibly, we're watching found-footage fragments that have been been pieced together by an unspecified producer or editor. Rory told Audrey his agent would handle all the logistics, hinting that any deal-making and contractual negotiating would occur off-screen.

Does Sidney seem like the type of chill guy who would say, "Totally, man, go to LA. Come back when you're done"? No. He's creative! He's a dick! He's the type of deranged producer who would capitalize on the chance to get scares and controversies right out of the gate. It'd be more like: Sure, you can go, but only if we get to kill you off the show first! And, when blood or a fake corpse is found upstairs, what better person to sell the staged death than Saturn Award-winning actress Audrey Tindall? 

Sound messed up? Yeah, but also keep in mind Rory's the kind of tool who answers the phone by saying, "Herro!" and who writes wedding vows that include such lines as, "Audrey, you are red and blue, you are the color of the sun: so bright and hot -- so hot, sorry, mom!" He's just as much of an inappropriate, opportunistic prankster as Sidney. Not the type to make a subtle exit.

evan peters on fx american horror story
FX Networks

Rory's death looked like a classic horror-movie death

Recall how the murder unfolded:

  • Audrey sees the Pig Man and comes running downstairs.
  • Rory consoles her and opts to scope out the scene of the crime.
  • Rory finds nothing in the bathroom.
  • Rory finds nothing in the master bedroom.
  • Rory investigates the master bedroom's closets.
  • After shutting an empty closet, one of the dead nurse sisters magically appears.
  • Sidney's hidden cameras capture footage of two nurses stabbing Rory to death.

Beat by beat, the death is almost too cinematic and predictable to be true. It's all staged perfectly to either allow for him to be killed off Return to Roanoke early, or to freak out everyone else in the house from the get-go. The last two moments, especially, play onscreen like a cheesy jump scare taken straight out of a Paranormal Activity or Insidious movie -- in the same vein as the ones we saw Sidney's people booby-trapping down in the kitchen.

As for Rory, why would he investigate a serious threat like a home intruder alone and unarmed? And why would everybody scream when they see a ghost on this show except him? He dies quietly, alone, out of sight -- but on camera. It's all so convenient for the actor who needs to leave set ASAP and for the seedy producer who wants a show that's shocking as hell.

Given the sleazeball that Sidney is, viewers should question everything they see in the next four episodes -- including that crew member's gory chainsaw death and Diana's car accident. Every "real" detail here could be part of Sidney's gimmick to air something sensational and nab even more viewers than My Roanoke Nightmare. (Don't forget: Paulson hinted there's something of a second twist around the corner.)

andre holland on fx american horror story
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Will Rory be the lone survivor?

If what that final title card claimed is true -- that only one Roanoke participant made it out alive -- does that mean Rory's going to be the lone survivor, because his death will have been staged and he'll have decided not to return from his screen test? I'm inclined to say, Hard no. Partly because he's contractually obligated, as Audrey notes, to be on the show. Also, that sounds boring as hell. Also, the lone survivor slot likely belongs to one of the real actors, not the re-enactors. 

"The next four episodes, we are figuring out, Okay, who's the one person who's going to make it out alive? And, What are they going to do to do payback against a network that put them all in a situation where they all are going to be killed?" Murphy told E! Online last night. "You cannot trust [Matt, Shelby, and Lee]. What they said and what they explained in their version of [My Roanoke Nightmare] is not actually the truth."

It's tough to say who will dodge death. Personally, I love the theory that one of the original trio's members (André Holland, Lily Rabe, and Adina Porter's characters) made a deal to deliver fresh souls to the real Butcher. The implication being everyone else, including Rory, whether last night or down the line, must die.

evan peters on fx american horror story
FX Networks

OK, fine, fine, fine, what if Rory really is dead now?

We get it. Maybe you think the above line of thinking is a stretch.

If Rory's really dead, the hyper actor still had the good fortune of dying during the Blood Moon. Meaning, you might get to see his ghost roam the halls of the haunted Roanoke manor. You also might get to see more of him in flashbacks -- like the meet-cute-y one played during Audrey's first confessional. And -- big and -- if you're in that camp of sticklers that believes his ghost won't reappear because he wasn't killed by the Butcher herself, you might get to see Peters come back as someone else entirely. (Like we said, it wouldn't be the first time in AHS history that one of this saga's actors has played multiple characters in the same season.) 

So don't despair. In one form or another, it's highly possible you've not seen the last of your new favorite red-headed bro.

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Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment and hopes Evan Peters comes back as one of the feral Polks. Find him on Twitter @srkfitzgerald.