When American Horror Story: Roanoke revealed its theme in the season premiere last week, it also cemented its connection to the FX anthology's first season, retroactively dubbed Murder House. In the penultimate episode of Murder House, Craigslist medium Billie Dean Howard (played by Sarah Paulson) tells the tale of the Ghost Colony of Roanoke and how a native elder banished the violent spirits of all 117 men, women, and children by uttering a single word: "Croatoan."
Except, we know from Violet Harmon's failed attempt to send Tate packing that "Croatoan" does nothing to banish restless spirits, which is probably why those spirits are currently running amok in Season 6. While Billie Dean's abilities may be questionable, there's no doubt that creator Ryan Murphy laid the seeds for My Roanoke Nightmare all the way back in Season 1. But the similarities between Murder House and Roanoke don't end there.
In Roanoke, Shelby (Lily Rabe; Sarah Paulson) and Matt (Andre Holland; Cuba Gooding Jr.) pack up and move to North Carolina following a harrowing assault that resulted in Shelby's miscarriage. Meanwhile, in Murder House, Vivien (Connie Britton) and Ben (Dylan McDermott) start anew in Los Angeles after Vivien's miscarriage and Ben's cheating scandal. It goes without saying that both of these houses are haunted by lingering spirits.
"Chapter 2" of Roanoke introduced several ghostly malevolent characters, including two murder-happy sister nurses named Miranda and Bridget. It's revealed via Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare)'s tapes that the girls liked to kill victims whose first initials spelled out the word M-U-R-D-E-R. But they ended their prolific career one "R" short — which means this is quite literally the MURDE(R) HOUSE.
Season 1 also had its own nurse-ghost motif, which was explored in the second episode. The nursing students in question — Maria and Gladys — fell victim to a serial killer named R. Franklin (Jamie Harris) and thus continued to haunt the residence. They would occasionally pop up throughout the first season to spook the Harmons, but they were never as malicious as Miranda and Bridget. (OK, Maria and Gladys do kill two serial-killer worshipers who broke into the Harmon household, but TBH, those kids deserved it.)
Of course, psycho murde(r) sisters aren't the only spirits haunting Shelby and Matt's property; they have an entire Ghost Colony to worry about. The opening scene of "Chapter 2" saw Shelby witnessing what appeared to ritual sacrifice ("cleansing") in the woods, spearheaded by a settler played by Kathy Bates. Lee's young daughter Flora also made an imaginary friend named "Priscilla," who then proceeded to lead her away from the house. Do the settler spirits need Flora to complete whatever ritual they started? It's certainly possible — and it's also likely that it has something to do with all of those pig heads/tails Shelby, Matt, and Lee keep seeing.
Murder House introduced us to "Piggy Man," an urban legend about a butcher who liked to wear a dead pig's head while slaughtering the animals. One day, however, the pigs got their revenge and Piggy Man was no more. In Roanoke, Dr. Cunningham's tapes reveal a similar-looking Piggy Man, and while this mystery man has yet to be identified, fans have already started speculating that it could be Evan Peters under that pig head. If so, it could hark back to Evan's time as the masked monster Rubber Man in Murder House. He, too, liked to terrorize the residents of the Harmon household.
The addition of Piggy Man in Roanoke is a notable one. Pigs are often regarded as symbols of fertility, and if the Roanoke continues to take its cues from Murder House, it's extremely likely that Shelby will become pregnant. Not to mention, it almost seems like she was purposefully lured into the woods by the spirits. That ritual that they were doing? It might have been a fertility ritual intended for Shelby.
Now, there's still the question of why the Roanoke settlers would target Shelby, and what purpose a baby would have in their overall plan — whatever that may be — but given the trajectory of Murder House, it's possible. (It's also very fucked up.)
With so many obvious connections between Murder House and My Roanoke Nightmare, we wouldn't be surprised if the two seasons were more deeply rooted to one another than we originally thought. It's almost like Roanoke, with its docu-series format, is a dramatic reinterpretation of the events of Murder House — only more heightened for reality television. What if Howard, who we now know works in television, has been pulling the strings this entire time, using the Harmons' story to fuel ideas for her own show, My Roanoke Nightmare? It's not that far-fetched. Stranger things have happened on AHS.
Then again, maybe we're overthinking things.