Our long national nightmare has finally come to an end, just in time for a new national nightmare to begin. American Horror Story has finally premiered its sixth season, revealing the show’s newest theme as My Roanoke Nightmare. Find out what woodland scares went down in the premiere and what to expect from the coming season of American Horror Story!

Well! That … was certainly a thing. In any case, the cat’s more or less out of the bag now, as while American Horror Story Season 6 lacks a formal subtitle as of yet, it seems as if the next run of Ryan Murphy’s murderous anthology will unfurl with a meta “My Roanoake Nightmare” narrative. That means double-fun for the cast, as Lily Rabe plays real-world yoga instructor Shelby in talking head interviews, with Sarah Paulson taking the part in “dramatic re-enactment, and ditto for her husband Matt (André Holland in interviews, Cuba Gooding Jr. in the “show”).

In a nutshell, the premiere follows the Los Angeles couple after a violent assault on Matt and subsequent miscarriage for Shelby leads them toward a quieter life in Roanoke, Virginia, successfully bidding on a creaky mansion to share their rural bliss. Wouldn’t you know it – the house is seemingly haunted with all manner of creaks and spooky noises, something the upscale couple initially theorizes as the work of disgruntled hillbillies (including Chaz Bono!) they’d outbid for the house.

One hailstorm of human teeth later, about eight bottles of wine and a quick near-drowning in the house hot-tub (?) later, and Shelby’s about at wit’s end with their impulsive purchase. Of course, this being Horror Story rules, Matt has to question his wife’s claims of supernatural shenanigans, almost as dismissively as the local do-nothing police.

We do get to meet at least one more player from the “My Roanoke Nightmare” program, as Angela Bassett rolls up as Lee’s disgraced, tentatively sober police officer sister Lee (The 100 star Indira Varma in testimonials). Of course, with Matt off at work, hours away, it doesn’t take long for Lee and Shelby to get at one another’s throats, at least long enough for some mysterious hillfolk with torches to surround the house!

Matt watches the invasion helplessly over security webcams rigged up around the house, as Shelby and Lee break from their bickering to follow sounds of a man screaming downstairs. Instead, the duo find only a mysterious video of a man cowering before a pig-masked figure, before invaders finally breach the house and lock them in the basement. After only 20 or so minutes, Lee and Shelby emerge to an empty house, and an intricate maze of Blair Witch-style woodwork and twig sculptures hanging everywhere. Spooky!

American Horror Story Season 6 Roanoke Premiere Recap

Having raced home, Matt has no idea what to believe, whether from police, his wife or his sister, though he follows Lee’s lead in asserting that they won’t give up their home to bitter locals. Thankfully Shelby makes what has to be the only sane decision all hour; gettin’ the heck out of dodge. Just for kicks, one of those crazy hillfolk (Kathy Bates, from the looks of it) gets caught in the grill of Shelby’s speeding car, before getting up, and wandering back into the woods.

One merry chase through the trees later, Shelby ends up lost, and finds the earth pulsating beneath her feet! Swaying trees! More torches! Wes Bentley, and a guy who appears to have been scalped! Roll credits! This is a real television program, people.

So … yeah! I’d guess that “Roanoke” will serve as our official title, but the premiere declined to make that leap officially. Otherwise, I’ll admit to some fun with discovering the cast and concept of Season 6 in media res, especially as the “My Roanoke Nightmare” format allows for an interesting guessing game of what stars might play one another.

Other than that, I’m hard-pressed to imagine how the rest of Season 6 might unfurl, or how closely it might adhere to the meta format (Are the “actors” acting as themselves? Would the lack of a talking head mean that character dies?). Still, it’s a refreshing change of pace for Sarah Paulson to play straightforward, and both Cuba Gooding Jr. and André Holland both make reasonably strong additions.

You’ve got my curiosity, American Horror Story Season 6. Now never do this again.

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