Caralynn Lippo
September 22, 2016 2:36 pm
FX

We’re only two episodes into the latest season of American Horror Story – subtitled “Roanoke,” and/or “My Roanoke Nightmare,” depending on who you ask. But we already we have so many juicy theories to clarify and complicate what we’re actually seeing on screen – like who Evan Peters is actually playing and where TF he is, whether Shelby is actually a witch, etc. forever.

As a diehard AHS fan, it’s fun to subscribe to any and all these theories until they’re proven otherwise. Just kinda makes watching the show that much more fun, y’know?

The latest AHS fan theory blowing my mind has to do with Kathy Bates’ character. Specifically: Is she real, or is she an actress playing a character?

Adult Swim / giphy.com

Say what, now? If you’re confused, let’s back up a little bit – because this actually makes a lot of sense, when you think it through.

We’ve got “Talking Heads” Shelby, Matt, and Lee – played by Lily Rabe, Andre Holland, and Adina Porter – explaining the events from a present day standpoint. Then, we also have “Dramatic Reenactment” Shelby, Matt, and Lee – played by thus far unnamed actors who are portrayed by Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Angela Bassett. The latter group acts out the events that the Talking Heads are reflecting upon. It was a wee bit confusing at first, but you get used to it after a while. It’s definitely different.

That bring us to Kathy Bates, who we glimpsed as a super creepy woman in old colonial garb during the season premiere, when Paulson’s Shelby hit her with a car, but we got much more up close and personal with her during last night’s terrifying opening scene.

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We watched as she led a group in some kind of ritualistic sacrifice of a man with a pighead, as a horrified Shelby (who’d stumbled upon the scene) looked on. Someone who we’re about 97% sure was played by Lady Gaga lurked behind Bates’ character, brandishing the scalp of some other dude who’s having a real bad time in freaky-deaky alt-universe Roanoke.

A good Redditor by the name of gigi_allin96 pointed out something that, in our collective excitement to glimpse Lady Gaga’s and Kathy Bates’ characters, we all seem to have forgotten. Namely, that these two characters are appearing in the reenactments.

In other words, Gaga and Bates are playing actors playing roles in the “My Roanoke Nightmare” show-within-a-show – they are not playing the *actual* ghosts/demons/creatures/hillbilly hooligans that the IRL Shelby reported seeing.

It’s enough to make your brain melt a little bit.

Obviously, this begs SO MANY questions. One big one: Since we’re seeing the majority of the story unfold in “dramatic reenactments,” will we ever actually see the “real” version of the forest demon thing that Gaga is playing or the real colonial badass chick that Bates is playing?

Alternatively, if you subscribe to this earlier theory we covered which suggests that, actually, the whole thing is backwards – the “Talking Heads” are the actors reading off a script of what really happened and the “reenactors” are actually the real people who were tormented – then this whole new theory is null and void. Because if that’s the case, anyone existing in Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr’s section of the storyline would also be the “real version.” Ryan Murphy mayhaps might’ve hinted at that possibility, too, so it’s looking promising.

Still with me? Okay, good.

This season so far has been a treasure trove of cool easter eggs and other fun developments. The more restrained storytelling is certainly doing a favor to the unfolding of WT-actual-F is going on at that Roanoke house, and I can’t wait to tune in next week for Episode 3. More please!

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