We're only two episodes into the newest installment of American Horror Story, but fans are already hard at working trying to figure out what Roanoke's big twist will be. Creator Ryan Murphy recently confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that things would take a "huge turn" at Season 6's halfway point, and theories have been flying as thick as the show's buckets of fake blood ever since. Most of these theories center around the faux-documentary format and the idea that it might be disguising some narrative trickery. But what if it doesn't have anything to do with the framing device at all? What if it's not about the ghost colonists or the killer nurses or the dreaded Pigman; what if the twist is actually about our trio of plucky protagonists? What if everyone on AHS: Roanoke is already dead?
Say what? How would that even work? As crazy as it sounds, Season 6 has already paid homage to such varied horror influences as The Blair Witch Project (with those creepy stick figures) and Paranormal Witness (with that documentary format), so an homage to The Sixth Sense and its "he-was-dead-the-whole-time" ending isn't much of a stretch to imagine. In fact, it makes an odd amount of sense. Each of our three protagonists — Sarah Paulson's Shelby, Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s Matt, and Angela Bassett's Lee — have had near-fatal encounters: Matt was attacked in a game of knockout, Shelby suffered a miscarriage, and Lee was shot in the line of duty.
What if all of these near-fatal encounters were, in fact, fully fatal? Matt could have suffered massive and irreparable brain damage during his attack; Shelby could have died from complications with her miscarriage; and Lee could have been killed by that druggie's bullet. The three of them may have been stumbling through the afterlife unawares ever since.
In many ways, this would liken Roanoke more to the 2001 haunted house film The Others than The Sixth Sense, in which it turns out that (spoiler alert!) Nicole Kidman and her children are the ones who are dead, and the "ghosts" are merely the new residents of their home. (In this analogy, the creepy colonists are like the housekeepers in that film; people who know that they're dead and are trying to help Shelby, Matt, and Lee realize the truth through unconventional means.)
As intriguing as this theory is, there's a glaring problem with it — one that you've probably noticed if you're a die hard AHS fan. If all seasons of the show are truly connected, then surely Roanoke would have to follow the same rules as Murder House and Hotel… meaning, once a person dies, their spirit is tethered to the physical place where they died. Shelby and Matt couldn't have moved from Los Angeles to North Carolina if they were already dead.
So maybe they didn't die before they moved into their new home; but that doesn't mean they're all still alive now. The theory could still hold true in a way if all three characters end up dying — unbeknownst to themselves — throughout the course of the season. Heck, Shelby could already be dead, killed the night she stumbled upon the colonists performing a human sacrifice in the woods, and she just doesn't remember. That would certainly explain her sudden change of heart about running away. Maybe she decided to stay and fight for the house because deep down a part of her knows that she can never leave the property.
Way back in Season 1, Violet overdosed on sleeping pills and passed away; but she didn't even realize she was dead until Tate showed Violet her corpse stuffed in the crawl space of the house. Perhaps something similar has happened — or is happening — in Season 6. By the end of the season, don't be surprised if all our protagonists have realized that they're dead… and that their spirits have simply been added to the dead souls already haunting the cursed house.