The body count continues to rise, but so does the strangeness as Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk introduce the supernatural (with a fun twist) into their slasher saga.
As expected, "American Horror Story: 1984" isn't going to just be what it appears on the surface, and we suspect we're just beginning to dig into the true weirdness that awaits.
And yet, it remains a campy delight (in both meanings of that word). In fact, with the way the bodies have been piling up in these first two episodes, it really needed to start taking a left turn into weirdness or we were going to run out of bodies to kill here in a hurry ... or would we?
While it might seem that having a story about two serial killers converging on a summer camp seeking to kill two different people could certainly be enough to create an interesting twist on the summer camp horror staple, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk were not content to just play in that realm. Instead, they decided to lean even further into the "Horror" of the title and throw in at least one element of the supernatural.
Is there more to come?
Of course, in most slasher films, the killer is almost some sort of undead entity ... or perhaps undying. They seem to get "killed" over and over and over again, and yet resurrect with alarming frequency, warranting more sequels to milk that cash cow until it is so dry you have to combine your slasher with another one to try and bleed your fans some more.
In this 1980s horror story, though, both slashers appear to be normal flesh-and-blood individuals. One is based on a real serial killer, the Night Slasher, and the other has spent the last 14 years locked up. So we've got a whole new twist that is somehow delightfully subverted in a way that turns the tables on the killers.
As always when dealing with a season of "American Horror Story," things go quickly off the rails and we find ourselves overwhelmed with more questions than answers. Mostly "what the hell is going on," but we can do better than that. Below are the questions consuming our waking minds this week as we promise not to peep in any more holes outside the shower room.
Why did Margaret reopen the camp?
Perhaps the biggest developments in this hour came with Margaret, who proved that whatever happened to her back in 1970 did more to her than just push her into religion. The fact that she wound up developing a bond with the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, even after he'd admitted to committing multiple murders was startling. The fact that she told him God could be used to allow you to do whatever you wanted is frightening. So why did she reopen Camp Redwood?
Was it her intention to lure Mr. Jingles to the camp to exact revenge on him for what happened in 1970? Or was it perhaps for some other bad behaviors of her own? She has certainly proven controlling and fanatical in her dealings with the counselors, and we've got a lot of questions about the staff, too. Could there be even more to Margaret's dark side than a temper?
Why did Margaret cut the power in the camp?
As an example of her dark side, so to speak, Margaret cut all the power in the camp, engulfing it in darkness. Why would she do that with serial killers on the loose? She'd already been warned by Dr. Hopple about Mr. Jingles, so why would she want to make it easier for him, or them in this case, to go around killing people. Does Margaret want the counselors to die, as they are sinners in her eye?
Why did Mr. Jingles come to the camp?
By that same token, why did Mr. Jingles come to the camp? Clearly it's because he saw that it was reopening and that Margaret was the one who opened it. Is it simply to finish unfinished business and finally kill her, or is it something else? There are two killer in camp now, could there have been more than one back in 1970, as well?
Obviously, we've seen Mr. Jingles kill -- and this week he viciously killed Dr. Hopple, but so far we've only seen him kill people directly related to his incarceration. Is there more to this serial killer than meets the eye?
How did Rita survive Mr. Jingles?
As an example, we'd like to point out all of the people who've been confronted by Mr. Jingles and survived. Brook was chased by him and escaped unscathed. This week, Rita was trapped in the infirmary and came out relatively unscathed. How would she have pulled that off? Perhaps there's more to Rita than meet the eye? Perhaps her affiliation with Margaret goes deeper than boss/employee. At this point, we trust no one.
More importantly, every time we see Richard confront someone -- like Brooke on the dock -- we also see him attack and kill or try to kill. Many times with Mr. Jingles, we just see him and cut away. Why the different treatment? Why are Mr. Jingles' actions being kept more mysterious?
Who killed Blake?
In a throwaway moment that may have no connection or meaning beyond this -- so admittedly it may be a terrible question -- there seems to be some uncertainty as to who killed Blake. Sure, he was totally spying on Trevor's massive johnson in hopes of casting him in a gay porn (after Xavier tried to replace himself with his well-endowed new friend), but why did we not see who killed him?
The kids who found him came to the conclusion that it wasn't Mr. Jingles. But is it possible it also wasn't the Night Stalker? Whoever it was left their blade through his head and eye when there was no real reason to do so, unless perhaps they wanted the body to be found. Is it as simple as Richard did the deed and we're overthinking it? Or is there even more going on here?
What is the Hiker really?
Perhaps the biggest and craziest moment of the night came when the Hiker came running out of the woods, slamming into Richard and saving Brooke from his chase. "You're not supposed to be here," he intoned again. But this guy died last week. We saw his dead body on the door before it disappeared, leaving everyone to think she was crazy. But apparently not.
Because Richard brutally gutted him and slashed his throat, leaving him for dead, only to encounter him again a little later, saying the same thing. In all honesty, we love this twist on the trope where instead of the killer or monster resurrecting over and over again, it's a victim. This creates a whole new dilemma for the killer who can't accomplish their only goal ... to kill.
Then, after Richard's heart-to-heart with Margaret, she found the Hiker in the woods, too, and recognized him as Jonas, a counselor from Camp Redwood when she was there in 1970. And he was really there, in the flesh, looking no different and thinking it's 1970. So is he a ghost? Time traveler? Something else entirely?
This adds a whole new element of wonder to the whole story, because Margaret claims she saw Jonas (the Hiker) dead, one of the victims of Mr. Jingles. And he claims he saw her -- at this we got a flash of her standing and bloodied seeing him through a window. Jonas feels her abandoned her to Mr. Jingles after seeing all the bodies. But what if that's not what happened at all?
Did Mr. Jingles really commit the 1970s murders?
What if it wasn't Mr. Jingles who committed the murders in 1970 but Margaret? That image certainly looked like someone who just finished killing a bunch of people. So how do you reconcile us seeing Mr. Jingles cut off Dr. Hopple's ear? Copycat killer? Or maybe they worked together in 1970 to kill and they were setting things up to do so again?
Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch, but Margaret has admitted to a much darker side than we've seen before, and she may well be unhinged. Did she cut off her own ear? Did Mr. Jingles come to stop her? Maybe he doesn't mind the killing of adults, but draws the line at children? Margaret is certainly bound and determined to have the camp survive the night so the children can show up in the morning.
Why is that so important to her? How is it still so important after all the blood that has already been spilled? A rational person would shut down immediately and allow a full investigation. At the same time, why then did she forbid Richard from any more killing? Maybe she really does want to create a safe haven for children. Maybe she's crazy in that way.
Who is at the doors?
This is perhaps the most obvious question, as it's the cliffhanger we were left on, but who is banging at the doors. The gang split up to find Rita's keys in the infirmary and Trevor's in the cabin. By the close of the hour, someone was pounding on each of those doors.
Could it be the Night Stalker and Mr. Jingles, one at each? Could Margaret be at one door? How about Chef Bertie, who we didn't see this week, or even Dr. Hopple's associate Art. Or maybe someone random and totally new, like when Blake showed up out of nowhere to threaten Xavier into filming more gay porn. It's nice to know we can still expect the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink strategy out of our "AHS" experience.
"American Horror Story: 1984" continues every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
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