If you've been keeping up with American Horror Story: Roanoke, chances are you've noticed all the striking similarities to season one. There's the young married couple who's buying a new house in an attempt to "start over." There are creepy nurse ghosts, and both the main female protagonists have gone through a miscarriage. Here's the problem, though: people got so excited about finding the season connections, they mistakenly stitched two totally isolated stories together. We're talking about the "Piggyman," an urban legend from season one, and this strange pig-man entity that seems to be stalking the couple on Roanoke. I mean, it's not hard to see the comparison. Both are literally men wearing a pig's head. If you look back at the episode in season one, though, and compare it to what we've seen in the past couple weeks, you'll realize they're not related at all.
The Legend of the "Piggyman" From Murder House
We all remember the episode, especially because it sort of scarred us for life. Going into dark bathrooms — especially with a drawn shower curtain — suddenly became 100 times more frightening. The story comes from a man (Eric Stonestreet) with crippling anxiety, specifically when it comes to urban legends. "I haven't had the courage to look in a mirror in the past week," he says. When Dr. Harmon (Dylan McDermott) asks why, he tells the old tale.
"God, it's . . . it's terrifying. OK, story goes he was a hog butcher in Chicago during the World's Fair of 1893. And, before he would go into the slaughter pin, he would put on this mask. This pig . . . mask that he made from one of his other kills. And he would snort, [snorts], you know, like a pig. Make 'em think he was one of them. Then one day, he slipped and he fell, and the pigs . . . the hogs tore him apart. They didn't find one piece of him anywhere. So, everyone assumed . . . Not too long after, his former customers started turning up dead. Gutted, skinned, and hung upside down in a bathtub to drain like a hog in his shop. And they say if you stand in front of a mirror and say, 'Here piggy, pig, pig. Here piggy, pig, pig,' that he'll return for the slaughter."
As he tells his story, we see flashes of his worst nightmare: an imagined scene where he utters the cursed phrase, opens his curtain, and there he is. The "Piggyman" is waiting, and he hacks him to death with a butcher's cleaver.
The Pig-Man Entity on Roanoke
So, what about this horrifying creature on the newest season of AHS? We don't learn a lot about him until the second episode, but by the time we get his story, it's clear he has nothing to do with season one. At the beginning of the episode, "Shelby" (in the dramatic reenactment) happens upon a sacrificial ceremony in the woods. A man has been tied on a stick, like he's on a spit ready to be roasted. Kathy Bates's character, an old colonial woman, claims he is a "deserter" who tried to run off with stolen provisions from the colony's storehouse. She demands penance for his betrayal. She calls him "a cloven beast, rooting in the mire and muck, as unclean as his festering soul." They place the hollowed-out pig head on him, and she yells, "Speak, pig, speak!" He squeals, and a new shot reveals that his hands have been cut off, leaving nothing but bloody hoof-like stumps. She calls for him to be purified, and his body is placed over the fire.
It's not just an obvious difference in origin that sets the two apart. Even the timing is off. As we learn in season one, the "Piggyman" legend dates back to 1893. If we're following our timeline for this season, the colony at Roanoke disappeared sometime in 1590, placing this ritual sacrifice around that time. The two pig men are centuries apart, more than 300 years. Plus, the "Piggyman" traces back to Chicago, while Roanoke was all the way in North Carolina. So, there you have it. It's fun to stitch the seasons of AHS into a big, complex quilt, but we have to be careful: not everything is always as it seems.