October's annual full moon goes by a few names: the Harvest Moon, the Hunter's Moon, the Blood Moon, the Travel Moon, and the foreboding Dying Grass Moon, which, according to American Horror Story Season 6 sage Elias (Denis O'Hare), is when colonial spirits from the lost colony of Roanoke like to "slip through the veil between the shadow world and ours." To murder. Of course to murder! They're bloodthirsty ghosts imbued with the magic of (possibly) the Devil herself. What did you think they were going to do when they slipped through the veil? Hit Cabo?
American Horror Story: Roanoke "Chapter 4" continued to tease out the backstory that clears the fog on this mysterious "reality show" and ties the season, directly and thematically, to AHS installments of the past. The Dying Grass Moon is real, takes place in October, as depicted in the show, and kicks off a six-day lunar cycle that prepares most of a America for a dimly lit Halloween. On AHS, it's the time when The Butcher (Kathy Bates) can consecrate her homeland with fresh mortal blood. If we can read between the lines, it may also be a peak moment in another cycle -- one that makes Lady Gaga's "Witch of the Woods" extremely horny. Yes, there seems to be more to tonight's sensual, satanic moment between the pop star and Cuba Gooding Jr., and it could change American Horror Story forever.
Fans suspected that, considering how each previous episode of the season paired up with past AHS themes (Murder House's Piggy Man and the pig head killer rumored to be Evan Peters; Asylum and the evil ghost nurses; Coven and Leslie Jordan's return as Cricket), that The Witch's backstory could be rooted in American Horror Story: Freak Show. Not quite. We did hear from Elias that Matt and Shelby's home was built by "Edward Phillipe Mott," a callback to Season 4's Gloria Mott, Frances Conroy's heiress, and her son Dandy, the wannabe serial killer. Gaga stood apart from the past.
At least, the show's direct past. Last week, I thought "The Witch" was a clever moniker for Satan, and that Gaga could emerge as the all-powerful being of the American Horror Story universe. Season 4 doesn't refute that theory, although Cricket directly dismisses the idea that the Roanoke colonists practiced "devil worship." No, when this 16th-century bunch of loons smashed a little girl in the head with a rock, they did it in the name of something much older, much scarier, much more punk than the Beelzebub. "Yeah, we get it, things were so cool back in your day," said all the millennials in Roanoke.
That spirit was Gaga's Witch, a druid from somewhere in Europe who emigrated to early America, only to become the suspect of a witch hunt. After taking a knife to her captors' throats, she became one with the forest, a combination of "Old World and new," a force to be reckoned with. Why she's "DTF" at this current moment has yet to be explained by either her past or present.
But she's ready to go, and seizes the moment with Matt with the faintest, sexiest inside-a-dirt-bunker voice ever. "Chapter 4" went hard on the gore -- thank the censor powers that be that Walking Dead cleared the bar needed for American Horror Story: Roanoke to rip Cricket's intestines out with a meat hook -- but didn't skimp on this racy moment of seduction either. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lady Gaga went at it, though it's important to note: Matt still had his pants on when snapped out of the spell by Shelby's shrieking cries for help. Will The Witch ever get some?
This could be more key than you think. As touched upon by Sarah Paulson's medium character in Murder House, then potentially inverted when Gaga coddles her demonic baby in the sixth episode of Hotel, The Witch may be looking to hook up with a mortal man in order to spawn the Antichrist -- a religious myth with close ties to Irish druid lore.
One eagle-eyed Redditor throws fuel on this theory fire. Apparently the closed captions for tonight's episode name Gaga's Witch "Scáthach," a mythological Irish warrior who entangles herself in plots of bloodshed and baby-making. The name roughly translates to "shadowy one" (and, as a another commenter adds, sounds vaguely like the the Hebrew name of the Angel of Death in Asylum: Shachath).
Mostly, "Chapter 4" leaves us with more questions about The Witch than answers. Was Elias actually alive and well when he encountered Matt and Shelby, or was he a ghost servant who staged his own "death" to drive them towards The Witch? Though the colonists dismembered Cricket before he could rattle off his spell, could the Louisiana medium still relay his words to Matt and Shelby from beyond the grave? He was killed during the Dying Grass Moon, after all. Was the Uber driver related to Francis Conroy's Myrtle Snow from Coven? Does it matter? American Horror Story: Roanoke may just be a reference fest for the sake of boggling our minds.
Whatever Gaga's spirit is really after, Matt and Shelby should be all but defenseless against her master plan. Maybe it's the Antichrist, maybe it's something more sinister, but expect it to ripple through the reenactment flashbacks and into the talking head present day. Creator Ryan Murphy promises a major "twist" by the sixth episode, and I can only imagine the hunger for sex has everything to do with it. But everything is up in the air. The only solid revelation we saw in "Chapter 4" is that the "CROATOAN" ward works -- as long as it's not used during the Dying Grass Moon. Or against Satan. Or to will oneself to Cabo. Never works.
American Horror Story returns next week with an episode that doubles down on the paranormal phenomena. The show also returns next year with Season 7, per a new announcement this week. So if the Antichrist does arrive, she/he/it may cast a shadow for years to come. Maybe that's when Evan Peters finally shows up?
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.