This post contains major spoilers for Episode 3 of American Horror Story Season 6.
Last week, American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy revealed that the sixth episode of Roanoke would unleash a plot twist packing such quaking force that, really, he had to consider the before and after as two distinct chunks of show. That's Season 6, by the way. Six is important: not only did the numerical symbol tie together each of the show's mysterious theme trailers, the curling icon even appears in the architecture of the main location. "6" is everywhere. "6" is key. 6. 6. 6.
Is Murphy preparing us for American Horror Story: Armageddon? The idea never dawned on me until Episode 3, when Leslie Jordan's Zelda Rubinstein-like medium "Cricket Marlowe" appeared on Matt and Shelby's doorstep with information on the disappearance of Lee's daughter, leading all three house-dwellers to learn the true nature of Kathy Bates' phantom character. Back in the 16th century, Bates' "The Butcher" was the leader of the Roanoke colony. Determined to stay put on the coast, her fellow man -- including her own son -- exiled her to the woods, left to die in a steel cage of despair. Or, that was the plan, until Lady Gaga's unnamed, crazy-eyed character crept out of the shadows to nurse her back to life with the succulent juice of a beating heart. "Surrender thy soul to me," Gaga tells her. The Butcher complies. Five hundred years later, she's still serving her master.
Her master... The Devil?
In Episode 2, Gaga briefly appears behind Bates, in an enfeebled position that suggested The Butcher was in power and the singer-actress' growling servant was lower on the totem pole.
Episode 3 flips the dynamic, with Gaga in control, slobbering, but controlling and preserved from time. She's older than "The Butcher," wiser to the harsh woods, looking to rope people into her soul collection, and a card-carrying member of the Internal Organ of the Month Club ("oh, September is human heart!"). Maybe Gaga's just a thirsty witch looking to expand her coven -- that would fit right in with theories that Roanoke will emulate each previous season of AHS one episode at a time before the big twist. Or maybe Murphy's cooking up something more sprawling, a culmination of six years of work. Maybe Gaga is Satan herself, finally mounting her attack on our planet. Let's be honest: if pure evil is going to spawn in the United States, it's probably going to take shape in North Carolina (political humor!).
There have been whiffs of Satan in past American Horror Story seasons. Murder House literally ended with the birth of the Antichrist. In Asylum, we see Lily Rabe's Sister Mary Eunice inhabited by a Devil-like demon. Sarah Paulson's medium character from Murder House and Hotel also discusses the Antichrist, saying the harbinger of doom would be created by the union of spirit and human. Murphy has said time and time again that each AHS anthology connects in a broader, still-invisible sense. Satan, appearing in Gaga form this season, could be the supernatural connective tissue.
The pig motif running through Roanoke could also be a clue. Let's turn our attention to the Bible, source for all things Satan. In Matthew 8:28, Jesus encounters two men who are possessed by demons and not too happy with the carpenter's presence. Here's how the passage goes: "They began screaming at him, 'Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?' There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs. 'All right, go!' Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water."
There are more ambiguous references, too. Cuba Gooding Jr. "reenactment Matt" taking Gaga from behind in a random encounter in the woods is everything Christians fear when they hear "sex" and "God's children" in the same sentence. Meanwhile, PopSugar notes that the Blair Witch-like sticks from Episode 1 could actually be a reference to Satan defense wards used by indigenous Indonesians. Even passing references point to devilish activity. The first place we see reenactment Matt and Shelby is at a movie theater playing "Crimson Harvest" -- not a real movie, but a really Satan-y title. Then there's all the burning. Mason, we hardly knew ya!
General consensus with American Horror Story obsessives is that Gaga's silent assailant is definitely working on a superhuman level -- and that we've already seen her foul play elsewhere in the show. What if her "Satan" stand-in was indirectly involved with Mason's murder, spy footage be damned?
OK, if Gaga isn't Satan, maybe she's the spirit willing to procreate in order to produce the Antichrist? While I'd love to scrub that Gooding Jr. sex scene from my memory forever, the connection to past AHS mythology can't be overlooked.
Here's a Greek mythology deep cut that asks you to buy hard into Ryan Murphy's love for True Blood. But also doesn't sound crazy?
A hole in this theory: Gaga may not be sticking around for too long. But if she's simply possessed by The Devil...
It's too soon to tell what Murphy's mega-twist could be, although a scuffle with the camera crew looks inevitable. If Lady Gaga is Satan, and isn't bound by space-time like any other character on the show, there's reason to believe she could "twist" the entire world, and send the show hurtling in any direction. Hell, even the Charles Manson rumors feel viable with Abaddon, the Destroyer possibly lurking around.
Gaga, if you're out there, we offer our souls for a hint or two.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.