TV Reviews

AHS 1984 Episode 2: Everybody’s Got Trauma

The second episode strays a little further from slasher, but poses a few questions for the rest of the season.

Mr Jingles

Starring Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Cody Fern, Matthew Morrison, Gus Kenworthy, John Carroll Lynch, Angelica Ross and Zach Villa

God can be used as an excuse for anything apparently; at least in the eyes of Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman) when seducing the Night Stalker Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa). According to the gospel of Margaret – who is clearly incredibly unhinged, by the way – anything is permissible in life provided you have both God and trauma. Ramirez’s trauma comes in the form of his mother inhaling chemicals while pregnant with him, suffering seizures after being hit on the head by a swing and hearing far more about death than a child should from his war-traumatised uncle.

Booth and Ramirez’s spiritual connection comes after Ramirez’s arrival at camp, where he encounters Jonas (Lou Taylor Pucci), who – if you recall – was already murdered in the previous episode, while in pursuit of Brooke (Emma Roberts). Curiously, Jonas protests, “You’re not supposed to be here. Wait, I don’t die here.”. Undeterred, Ramirez brutally despatches Jonas, only to turn another corner and encounter him again and kill him, again. Margaret later identifies Jonas as a fellow campmate in 1970. He recalls seeing her in the aftermath of the massacre, covered in blood and fled the scene. Margaret’s belief is that Jonas is a ghost, as he has not aged at all since the encounter, and that the Bible has ghosts, so obviously that’s the logical explanation.

Brooke also confides in Montana (Billie Lourd) about her own trauma, as her would-be husband murdered both Brooke’s best friend, father and himself during their wedding ceremony in a fit of jealous rage. In return, Montana shares her own (slightly less dramatic) trauma in the form of once being groped on the street as well as being sent to fat camp as a child.

Xavier (Cody Fern) reveals hidden layers, as he meets with a mysterious man, Blake (Todd Stashwick). Turns out, the threatening phone call that Xavier received in the previous episode was Blake, who had previously paid Xavier to appear in a gay porn, having saved Xavier from a drug overdose. Blake is keen to involve Xavier in more films, but Xavier offers an exchange for another man in his place. Drilling a hole in the camp showers, Blake is overwhelmed at the sight of Trevor’s (Matthew Morrison) enormous member, which is also quite the talking point among fellow showerers Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Ray (DeRon Horton). Hopefully, the sight was worth it, as Blake is unceremoniously stabbed through the eye, presumably by Mr Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), for his troubles.

Elsewhere…Margaret refused to close Camp Redwood even when Karen (Orla Brady) warns her of the danger of Mr Jingles having escaped from the asylum and having an unhealthy obsession with her. Karen doesn’t make it out of the camp. Strangely, however, nurse Rita (Angelica Ross) does survive an encounter with Mr Jingles, though her escape is not seen by the audience.


Musings

Brooke: Brooke has clearly had an entire novel of emotional trauma under her belt. You can already foresee her trajectory through the course of the series as meek and virginal to empowered badass, though I do wish the other characters would cease the tired trope of not believing her whenever she attests that a serial killer is there – especially when there are two. It is such a tired trope at this point, that it just makes the other characters annoying and the sense of loss at any of their demises would be completely diminished.

What is Margaret’s deal? I mean, clearly she is insane, as demonstrated by her point blank refusal to close Camp Redwood, as well as justifying murder but not sexual promiscuity. Her facial expression in the flashbacks was very telling, as she did not appear to be particularly traumatised by Mr Jingles attack, but rather stone faced. The show is casting a lot of suspicion upon Margaret. Would it be too obvious if she were the real perpetrator of the Camp Redwood massacre and merely framed Mr Jingles for the crime? Regardless, it can hardly be claimed that Mr Jingles is innocent, considering he has been spotted in at least three murders at this stage of the series. There is definitely more to Margaret than meets the eye.

Ghosts?? I was unaware I was in an episode of Scooby-Doo, but what frustrates me is that the slasher genre is such a wonderful era of horror film. Why mess with the concept by introducing supernatural elements? Especially supernatural elements that are not proving to enhance the horror, but rather to be more confusing and slightly inconvenient. I really wish that Ryan Murphy would have stuck with just one horror concept, as the ghost revelation entirely took the wind out of my sails with the enjoyment here. Fingers crossed there is a logical explanation for his appearance, but it’s not looking too hopeful. Alternatively, I might be inclined to believe that Margaret is a ghost as well. Similarly, since we did not see Rita escape Mr Jingles, she might also be a ghost at this point.

Pacing: What’s going to be tricky about this season is that it all takes place in one location. How are they going to keep the pacing going throughout without it losing its sense of horror? Slasher films in the middle of nowhere are typically over once daylight comes, so I’ll be intrigued to see how they maintain the momentum throughout the entire run.

Ray: He survived this episode, but it’s only a matter of time until one of the more established characters meets their end, and my money is definitely on him first.

Who is behind the doors? At the close of the episode, both groups are menaced by frantic knocking at the cabins they are in. Xavier is clearly convinced that they are going to die (they obviously are not). So who is it at the door? For it to be either of the killers would be painfully obvious, but maybe it is one of the characters we have previously thought of as dead?


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