American Horror Story Season 6, Episode 2 Recap: "M Is For Margaret."

Photo: FX/Youtube.
Another fine evening in Roanoke, North Carolina.

This episode picks up pretty much where the premiere left off — with Shelby walking in on a very scary forest ritual.

Kathy Bates, dressed in Puritan garb and apparently totally fine after being hit by Shelby's car, is condemning a man to die. Apparently, he stole from the community store house. The punishment? Death by being slowly roasted over a fire wearing the infamous pig head we caught a glimpse of in the first episode.

Terrified, Shelby runs away, somehow finds her way out of the forest in two seconds flat, and promptly faints in front of Lee's car. In the hospital, the doctors test her blood for hallucinogens. She's clean.

Despite being horrified by what she saw, Shelby tells Matt that they shouldn't leave the house. After all, everything they own is tied up in that piece of property. (I'm sure I'll be saying this again and again throughout the season but, DUE DILIGENCE, people. It's a thing.)

Back at the house, Lee's daughter has come to visit. This seems like a bad idea, but hey, a mom's gotta see her kid. The scene of Flora and Lee playing jacks on the floor smacks of Murder House (remember those twins?), a recurring theme this season. Lee goes to the kitchen to make lunch. When she comes back, Flora is gone — but just to another room, where Lee finds her talking to what looks like empty space.
Flora doesn't see it that way. She explains that she was speaking to her friend, Priscilla: "She says she’ll make me a bonnet just like hers if we make it stop." Make what stop, you ask? "She says she’s tired of all the blood.” Oh dear.

That night, Matt and Shelby are once again awoken by pig-type squeals. This time though, Shelby wants to investigate. She's done being the victim. The two run towards the forest (bad idea) calling out (double bad idea) for whoever is hiding to show themselves. As happens when you run blindly into the wild, they get lost. As real life Matt puts it: “You hear about people getting lost in the woods, but that’s how quickly it can happen.”

Suddenly they reunite, and come face to face with the consequences of the scene Shelby witnessed at the beginning of the episode. The fire is starting to die, and what remains are human entrails on a stick. (Question: Don't these people have phones that they can document these scenes with?)

Once again, the cops are skeptical, but agree to post a squad car in their driveway. Hurray! Everyone can feel safe now, right?

Nope. Matt gets woken up (AGAIN — there is no way I would stay in a house that woke me up every night. None.) by a ringing phone. He goes downstairs to pick it up, because in this universe people still have landlines that they place in inconvenient locations. A faint voice is heard from the receiver: “Please. They’re hurting me.”

He looks down. The phone wire is cut. What comes next is probably one of the scariest scenes this show has ever put together — and that's saying something. Two nurses (the same Shelby saw wandering the house in the premiere) stand over an old lady, who is pleading with them to stop hurting her. They laugh at her, mocking her pain: “You’ll take it and like it." The old lady moans. Fed up, one nurse picks up a gun and shoots her in the head. She then picks up a spray can and paints the letter "M" on the wall. "M is for Margaret," they cackle. (Note that this seems like a nod to the words the Manson Family killers spelled out in blood on their victims' walls, which makes sense given the rumors swirling around this season.)

Matt is understandably flustered and runs outside to wake up the useless sleeping cop. As you'd expect, he finds nothing out of the ordinary. The Millers are getting a bad rep as "cooks who like to cry wolf." Next time, the cops won't be so quick to show up.

Amidst all of this drama, Mason (Lee's ex-husband) arrives to pick up Flora. She’s playing hide and seek. Her parents pace the house looking for her, only to discover her chatting away in a hidden nook at the top of the stairs. When they open the small door, she stares blankly: “Where’d she go?”

There is no one there, but Flora insists she was just about to let Priscilla play with her doll. "I said I would trade," she explains. "So they wouldn’t kill us. They’re going to kill us all. And save me for last.”

Mason drags her away, telling Lee she can kiss her parental rights goodbye. The news pushes Lee right off her already precarious wagon.

After putting his sister to bed, Matt joins Shelby by the window. There is a strange woman standing outside. Once more, the two leave the dubious safety of their home to investigate. They find an old-style cellar in the ground where the figure was standing, and open it. Inside, they find what looks like a bunker, and a camera, complete with a new home video, which they promptly play.

We find out that the man in the first video is called Dr. Elias Cunningham, and that he moved into the house in the 1997 to write a true crime novel based on two murderous nurses who killed their elderly patients. Bridget and Amanda didn't just kill anyone, however. They used the letters in their victims' name to spell out their favorite word: MURDER. Unfortunately for them — and grammar obsessives — something happened before they can finish, leaving the word unfinished. (Is there anything more unsatisfying than having "MURDE" painted on your wall? I ask you.) Those same forces have driven Cunningham out of the house and into the cellar-bunker. The last scene of this Blair-Witch-style project is of the professor back in the house, confronted by an unknown shape before all goes black.
This story triggers Matt's memory, and he finds the letters, hidden behind cheap wallpaper. The story is true.

The Millers know want out of this real estate nightmare. Sadly for them, the bank doesn't care. (Say it with me kids: DUE DILIGENCE.)

“I didn’t think it could get any worse," real life Matt says, providing helpful foreshadowing. Just then, Lee drives up to the house. She has kidnapped Flora.

Guessing that this will cause Mason to go batshit crazy, Matt and Shelby talk Lee out of this crazy scheme. Shelby lets Mason know his daughter is safe, and Lee goes to say goodbye.

Except Flora is gone, tempted outside by Priscilla, and the only sign of her is her yellow sweatshirt, billowing in the wind at the top of a very tall tree.

The Takeaway: Some major characters are still missing (Where are Gaga and Evan Peters?) as are the credits, but the recurring Murder House themes and Easter eggs, combined with that eerie, anxiety-inducing pacing, give me hope for the rest of this season. This show seems as though it's getting back to its roots — and it's about to get bloody.
Some Life Lessons:

Lesson #1: When living in a haunted house, carry a camera phone at all times. You never know when you might need to snap some very creepy goings-on.

Lesson #2: If you are searching for something scary in the forest, do not call out. You may not like the answer.

Lesson #3: Do not bring your child to a house plagued with terror.

Lesson #4: Do not kidnap your child.

Lesson #5: Do not explore dark, old-looking cellars in the backyard of a property plagued with inexplicable supernatural happenings.

Lesson #6: If all of the above applies, you should probably cut your losses and GTFO already.

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