Each season, American Horror Story uses a bit of history to explore and explain its main plot points. In this particular episode, an actual historian walks us through the basics of Matt and Shelby’s home…which we now know was once called the Big Shaker Mansion.
Edward Phillip Mott (Evan Peters), a distant relative of Dandy Mott from Freak Show, bought the land and built the mansion in the late 1700s with his family, servants, and gay lover Guinness in tow.
A man suffering from social anxiety, Edward isn’t keen on having too many eyes on him. He fears judgment and lives through the portraits his lover paints for him. Life in two dimensions, he calls it.
“I love them more than I love you,” Edward quips while in bed with Guinness.
When the paintings are destroyed one evening by the Forest Cult, Edward loses control and takes his anger out on his family and servants. As he has no one else to blame for his ruined paintings, he imprisons everyone in the household. He even becomes hostile with Guinness who is angry at Edward’s cruel behavior.
That night, Edward is taken hostage by the Forest Cult. They impale him and burn him alive to consecrate the land. The only witness to these events is Guinness, who is later blamed for Edward’s death.
And then, we’re transported back to present day…
Picking up where we left off last week, Matt and Shelby are still in shock over seeing The Butcher and her crew disembowel Cricket. And while the Forest Cult is closing in on the home outside, an array of spirits are closing in on them inside.
They run from corner to corner, entryway to entry trying to find a place to hide. Suddenly they’re led to a passage where they meet Edward Mott on the other side. He leads them through an underground tunnel and into the forest where he leaves them to fend for themselves.
No sooner than Edward leaves them are they snagged by the Hillbillies in the woods. They’re taken back to the barn where they found the two young boys earlier in the season. The Hillbillies are actually a family called the Polks and the boys belong to them.
At the barn, they find that Elias has been tortured and dismembered by the Polks. He’s barely alive and the Polks put him out of his misery right there on the spot.
Momma Polk (Frances Conroy) explains to Matt and Shelby that she and her family help keep the Big Shaker Mansion free of occupants for The Butcher. They also aid her in securing a yearly sacrifice.
From there, Matt, Shelby, and Flora are taken by truck at gunpoint toward the house. While they manage to escape, they’re quickly taken hostage again and Momma Polk takes an ax to Shelby’s ankle.
The Polks cart the three to the mansion where the Forest Cult is waiting. The Polks leave them there to die. And it looks like they actually might die…until The Butcher’s son protests and attacks her.
Luckily for Flora, Shelby, and Matt, Edward and Lee swoop in and save the day.
The episode ended with Shelby, Matt, Lee, and Flora staying in a cheap hotel room. It gave the feeling of resolution but as any AHS fan knows, nothing is ever as it seems with this show.
Now for a bit of opinion: I really enjoy Evan Peters on this show. He comes across as a very committed actor and he never misses a beat in his performances.I hope we see more of him this season…
Tara Martinez is a New York-based writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.