TV Reviews

AHS 1984 Episode 3: “What the hell kind of camp is this?”

In typical American Horror Story fashion, multiple twists raise a multitude of questions for the rest of the season.

Slashdance

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

Turns out that nobody is quite what they seem in this week’s episode. One particularly large twist is the reveal that Rita (Angelica Ross) is not in fact Nurse Rita at all, but in fact Donna Chambers, a psychologist who is studying serial killers for her doctorate. In flashback, we discover that Donna met with Richter (John Carroll Lynch) and wants to study him within his natural environment. To this end, she orchestrates his escape so that she can observe him murdering at Camp Redwood in order to explore his psyche and determine the cause of the upsurge of serial killers in modern times. Revealing her sinister side, Donna injects Brooke (Emma Roberts) in the neck with horse tranquillisers, removing her from the action for the rest of the episode.

Elsewhere, nice guy Ray (DeRon Horton) is harbouring a dark secret. It transpires that he was once a fraternity guy. At one hazing ritual, a pledge fell down the stairs and Ray tried to dispose of the body by making it look like a car accident. At the last moment, however, he discovered that the pledge was, in fact, alive. Or at least was, up until the point that they hurtled off a cliff.

The final mind-blowing reveal of this episode is that Montana (Billie Lourd) is connected to the Night Stalker (Zach Villa), first kissing him and then demanding, “Why haven’t you killed her yet?”.

Elsewhere:

  • Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Ray fall into a trap filled with wooden spikes, resulting in Chet being impaled through the shoulder.
  • “Jingles Day” is occurring around Camp Redwood, where various unnamed men are dressed up as Mr. Jingles as part of a yearly tradition. Two of these men are despatched by Mr. Jingles himself, while the final is accidentally killed by Trevor (Matthew Morrison).
  • Ray, despite his original good guy persona, turns out to be a coward, first proposing for the company to split up so that he does not die, then abandoning Chet in the trap, then by driving off on Trevor’s motorbike when the Night Stalker appears. Fortunately, Mr. Jingles beheads him with one swift swing of an axe as he attempts to escape.

Questions

What does Donna Chambers actually want? Can we believe anything that we know about this character? Sure, we saw during flashback that she wanted to study Mr. Jingles, but can we trust that, or is this another deception? And what does she want with Brooke?

What is the Night Stalker and Montana’s connection? Obviously the Night Stalker and Montana share some history. Was the journey to Camp Redwood planned by Montana, or does she just happen to know the Night Stalker when he appears? Have they been working together this whole time?

Who does Montana want the Night Stalker to kill? The most obvious answer is Brooke, who has been attacked multiple times by Ramirez and is clearly a focus of his. However, the only reason that Brooke is even at Camp Redwood is because Ramirez failed. Does this mean that he wouldn’t even be there had she not escaped his clutches? If it is Brooke that Montana is after, what does she have against her? Maybe she is involved in some way with Brooke’s wedding. Alternatively, Montana could be talking about Rita/Donna, or Margaret. Neither of those look especially promising, but American Horror Story likes a twist.

Why doesn’t Richter remember the massacre? You would think that slaying an entire campload of teenagers would stick in the mind, but when questioned Richter displays no memory of the event, though does express an intense desire to stab Margaret (I mean, honestly, same). Could this be because of a psychological condition, something supernatural, or simply because it was not Richter who did it, but rather Margaret, as suspected last episode.


Mark’s Maundering Musings

This episode was perfectly filled with twists and turns but not in such a bizarre way as the previous episode with random apparitions of ghosts, nor the frustration of people not believing Brooke when she was obviously correct. With everybody now on the same page about a serial killer being on the loose, the stakes were much higher.

As predicted, Ray was the first out of the core cast to bite the bullet, but not before he revealed his true colours. However, with the multiple deaths of the timeless 1970s camp counsellor, there’s no ruling out a return from Ray in future episodes.

In an unexpected turn of events, final girl Brooke was pretty much nowhere to be seen.

With nearly everybody’s tragic backstories revealed, the only morally white characters so far appear to be Trevor (whose backstory we have yet to discover) and Brooke. I’m hoping that Trevor stays relatively squeaky clean, even if he did accidentally kill an innocent bystander.

Honestly, I cannot express how hooked I am by this season. American Horror Story has definitely gone down some bizarre and wacky routes in more recent years, drawing more upon the paranormal and supernatural trends in horror, leading to some downright inconceivable twists. This time, however, things seem to be far more grounded in reality and I cannot wait to see what happens next!


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