So Episode 4 was busy. Very busy. As its title implied, True Killers seemingly showed this season’s entire hand, revealing origins for all its major villains. To say there were major revelations would be an understatement. More deaths, more flashback, and more 80’s nostalgia. But does True Killers leave any story left for AHS 1984 to tell?
True Killers Leaves Few Stones Unturned
Things open one year earlier, at Montana’s ‘intense’ ‘man-aerobics’ class. The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, shows ups, but Montana impresses him with her knowledge of knives. After Ramirez kills a bothersome client, the two make out before Montana asks him to kill the woman she blames for her brother’s death – Brooke. So now we have that connection. Flash forward back to Camp Redwood, and things only get worse for Brooke. Though she escapes Donna Chambers, she ends up caught in a net. Next she finds herself smack dab in the middle of a ‘Godzilla vs King Kong’ fight between The Night Stalker and Mr Jingles. As part of the undercard, Montana tangles with Donna Chambers in the background.
After years of shock treatment and drugs, Richter now believes he was the killer. Needless to say, he’s none to pleased to learn the truth.
Ultimately, Mr Jingles gets the upper hand, impaling Ramirez on a tree branch through the mouth. Jingles keeps himself busy for the rest of the episode. After mortally wounding Chef Bertie and baking Xavier in a locked oven, Benjamin Richter finally confronts Margaret. Courtesy of flashbacks, we learn Margaret befriended ‘Benji’ to protect her from camp bullies. Dissatisfied with his efforts, Margaret kills the counselors and frames Richter. After years of shock treatment and drugs, Richter now believes he was the killer. Needless to say, he’s none to pleased to learn the truth. But Margaret’s resourceful; she shoots Mr Jingles, leaving him for dead. By the episode’s conclusion, Jingles has survived, as does Xavier though horribly burned, and Margaret kills Trevor. Poor Trevor, we hardly we knew you. Still there’s one last big twist. Hiding in the woods, Donna watches as a supernatural force resurrects The Night Stalker.
AHS 1984 Takes Big Gambles with True Killers
Take a moment and catch your breath. A lot happened in Season 9’s fourth episode. At this point, True Killers seems to have tipped most of its big story points moving forward. I say, ‘seem’s, because with at least four more episodes, it’s highly unlikely that AHS 1984 spends the rest of the season at Camp Redwood. We still have three killers on the loose, and two plotting characters in the background. While we know Montana’s motivations, Donna Chambers remains an enigma. And Ramirez’s supernatural resurrection at least leaves some ambiguity as to how the show moves forward. Love it or hate, True Killers embodied Murphy’s ‘kitchen sink’ approach to story-telling.
AHS 1984 continues to balance the humour and horror in equal measures.
For better or worse, True Killers burned through a lot of story. But no one can argue the episode was boring. AHS 1984 continues to balance to balance the humour and horror in equal measures. That opening aerobic scene was pure 80’s cheesy goodness. And Xavier continues to drop some of the best lines this season. As for the slasher gore, Season 9 knows its sub-genre with a handful of more delightfully gruesome deaths. Flashbacks to the 1970 Camp Redwood Massacre are quick but brutal. And the ‘Freddy vs Jason’ clash between The Night Stalker and Mr Jingles was a well-choreographed set-piece. The Night Stalker’s death would have been right at home in 80’s classics like The Burning or Madman.
Where Do Things Go From Here?
Even the best seasons of American Horror Story have been guilty of overstuffing their stories. Has AHS 1984 already exhausted its story? Is the season in danger of throwing too many ideas at the audience? Considering the 80’s was a decade of decadence, Ryan Murphy’s predilection for excess may not be a bad thing. Moreover, American Horror Story’s established supernatural lore may offer some clues as to where this season goes next.