×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of AHS: Roanoke Explained

American Horror Story's sixth season was just as wild, unpredictable, and gory as it was hyped up to be. And even though it only ran for a short 10 episodes, the show was just as complicated and layered with twists as any of its predecessors, with an ending that virtually no one could have guessed. Here's what happened at the end of American Horror Story: Roanoke.

Almost everyone's dead

The season started out as one thing—a reality TV-style depiction of the real-life thrills of Matt (Andre Holland) and Shelby Miller (Lily Rabe) and their sister Lee (Adina Porter) as they moved into an all-new sort of murder house in Roanoke, North Carolina—but ended up being something else entirely. Halfway through the season, as the first run of its show-within-a-show My Roanoke Nightmare came to a close, its creator-producer Sidney (Cheyenne Jackson) responded to the fanfare that surrounded his runaway success show by coming up with an even bigger idea: sending everyone involved in both the real-life story and its dramatization back into the house for a second season of Blood Moon mania.

The finale episode finally revealed why he would deign to do such a thing, knowing the truth of the manor, as the entire lineup of survivors and their screen counterparts serviced their legions of frenzied fans at PaleyFest. There's no way that he could let such a pop culture phenomenon go. If that sounds a little meta, that's because it kind of is: American Horror Story Ryan Murphy seemed to be giving his own position as showrunner a nod in this respect because he's had to be clever about how to bring back his cast favorites for new seasons that relate back to one another while still remaining fresh and original.

As the events of the season unfolded in increasingly gruesome detail, the cast of My Roanoke Nightmare Season 2 got picked off one by one—sometimes they killed each other and even themselves, but mostly they were taken out by the forces of evil that had lingered on the property since the Butcher first earned her killing stripes generations before. As the penultimate episode for the season showed, Lee was the only one to walk away from the new Blood Moon in the end ... although she wasn't exactly unscathed.

Another kind of conviction

The finale, much of which was also styled as documentary-style news coverage of Lee's post-Mott House life, tells us that Lee was ultimately unsuccessful in sweeping her bad behaviors under the rug and that investigators did indeed find her taped confession to killing Flora's father taken at the Polk place. Plus, she slaughtered people—including Monet (Angela Bassett) and those poor YouTube kids—for all the world to see, sometimes even on livestream.

Even though Flora was always her main motivation for escaping the clutches of doom that surrounded her, the child ended up resenting her mother for the crimes and even testified against her at the trial. (A lot people tended to forget, it seems, that Lee wasn't the sole survivor of the Mott house murder at the time; little Flora had also been involved in its history as she made pals with a little girl ghost named Priscilla who'd kept her safe out in the eerie ghost-addled woods before being sent away. So when Murphy said there'd be just one survivor and Lee made it through Season 2, it still wasn't over until the finale.)

Lee ends up being exonerated for her husband's murder on account of the fact that nobody can believe the child's testimony about seeing her mom kill her dad—she speaks of the girl ghost with such conviction, and everyone's apparently still a skeptic about that particular part of the My Roanoke Nightmare story. Plus, Lee's got the defense of being affected by the strand of marijuana grown by the Polks, which should be enough to save her from being convicted of the multiple murders she committed on the property itself; the strong strand could've easily made her a slasher psychopath, right?

Even upon her release, though, Flora wants absolutely nothing to do with her. So, in an effort to bridge that divide yet again, she turns to national TV again and agrees to do an on-camera interview with celeb journalist personality Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson).

An unexpected returnee

The interview starts out normally, with Lana talking to Lee about Roanoke 2.0 and why she chose her, of all the high-brow interviewers who'd submitted requests: in short, Lana has also killed someone she loved out of necessity, as we saw in AHS: Asylum when she took out her own son, Bloody Face. Things take a dark turn once Lana reveals that Flora actually went missing prior to the interview—and that everyone believes Lee has kidnapped her.

Considering this is a live broadcast with hypothetical millions tuned in, Lana seizes the opportunity to press Lee about her daughter's disappearance, but then things get even crazier when the last Polk brother (did you forget about him?) shows up with an assault rifle, bound and determined to end Lee for her documented violence against his family. In his mind, Lee killed his mom and the rest of his crazy brood—and of course, she and the rest of the Roanoke stars are still responsible for child services taking away their babies back in the day.

Lana tries to talk him down from killing her or Lee, offering up her platform as an opportunity for him to change the narrative about his family's history, but he knocks her out with the butt of his gun, and Lee manages to escape.

Back to where it all began

Lee seems to know right away where Flora would go if she got away: back to the Mott mansion. Flora had a real attachment to the ghoul girl Priscilla, and Lee knows exactly why she'd be drawn back to the place. Coincidentally, she's not the only one who decides to head back to the house that night. Even though it's been closed off to the public, the stars of the faux ghost-hunting show Spirit Chasers decide to break in with one of the original My Roanoke Nightmare actors Ashley Gilbert (Leslie Jordan), who'd portrayed Cricket Marlowe the medium in the first season.

Exploring the place, especially on the Blood Moon, has proven to be a terrible idea again and again, but for some reason, these guys think they're immune to the haunts of the house and, of course, they're dead wrong. They succumb to brutal ends, and Lee and Flora are the only ones left alive in the place (again). Flora tells her mom she wants to stay there with Priscilla, who can protect her from the Butcher. She'll eat berries and other woodsy items for sustenance, she says.

Lee's obviously opposed to the idea, and since Lee really is, as Lana tells press, in it to save Flora, she offers herself as a sacrifice instead. If Flora will go and live with her grandparents in peace from here on, Lee will die on the property and spend eternity protecting Priscilla from the Butcher.

The police arrive just in time to welcome Flora into their squad protection as the house explodes with Lee inside. And with that, Flora is the lone survivor of the story, and Lee has managed to redeem herself in her daughter's eyes at long last. (Note: Lana Winters has also made it through the season undead, so she can be revived for another key moment in future seasons of American Horror Story, we must assume.)

What's the point?

One of Roanoke's overarching themes was the longevity of the dark forces that shape the series, even overpowering and corrupting the modern technological devices that tend to make us feel comfortable and secure. The takeaway of this show, it seems, is that there is no safety in numbers, and the onset of the selfie/live-streaming generation only means things are better documented when they go wrong. The resilience of these ancient evils in the found footage-style docu-series proves that some things will never change, and thus, the possibility of an "American Horror Story" lives on even now. The rules are the same in the 2000s as they were in the olden days depicted during prior seasons.

There's also a potential for future importance being placed on Flora. Her screentime was overall pretty limited throughout the series, but she's obviously been deeply disturbed by everything that's happened to her and her family. Could she be the next big character to emerge as an authority on these issues in future seasons? Don't count her out just yet.

It's probably also a safe bet to assume that, much the same as Murder House made a comeback in AHS: Hotel, we might not be done with Roanoke just yet. Sure, the house is gone, but Scathach (Lady Gaga), who's widely perceived as the original Supreme, still has immense powers that will outlast any of Lee's explosive resolve. Since the witchcraft theme continues to hold extreme importance to most seasons of AHS, we can probably expect to see her come back a time or two down the road, too.