American Horror Story recap: Two enthusiastic thumbs up
Unlike previous American Horror Story seasons, 1984 has featured a notable lack of familiar faces: not just in its core cast, but even in one-off cameos. Whither the witches of Coven, the lunatics of Asylum, the latex demons of Murder House?!
Well, wonder no more! Tonight’s episode starts strong with a cameo appearance from multi-season alumnus Lily Rabe, sporting perfect victory rolls and a vintage red lip. It’s 1948 at Camp Golden Star (later, Redwood) and she’s the cook, dishing up nutritious grub for the kiddos, and giving her own sons a chance at some quality time in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, her older boy, Benjamin (sidenote: as in, Jingles?) is a sullen, chubby kid who’s more interested in peeping at the canoodling lifeguards than keeping an eye on his baby bro, Bobby. When Bobby goes swimming unaccompanied, he has his own, uh, intimate encounter with a motorboat (GROSS). Benjamin is suddenly an only child and his mother blames… well, everyone, actually.
“You killed him, every one of you!” she screams.
Roll credits, and we’re back in the ’80s — just in time to see them end. Brooke (Emma Roberts) is detoxing from her near-execution in a hotel room with Donna (Angelica Ross). In between episodes of Doogie Howser, she notices a newspaper advertisement for the Camp Redwood concert and flies into a rage: Margot didn’t just frame her for murder, she says. She made her miss the ’80s, which is so much worse. She wants revenge! And also, a couples skate!
Cut to a very retro roller rink, where Donna and Brooke are approached by another familiar (to us) face: Dylan McDermott, most famous for his turn as the crying, masturbating paterfamilias of the Murder House, is now Bruce, a mustachioed, sideburned, peanut-noshing casanova who’d love to accompany the ladies to Redwood. They decline, because stranger danger, but after Bruce helps them through a spot of car trouble (funny, the distributor cap was loose! for some reason!) they have a change of heart. This is very stupid of them, because like roughly 95 percent of all characters in the American Horror-verse, Bruce turns out to be a hitchhiking serial killer.
After a harrowing escape-and-recapture, Brooke wakes up in a pickup truck, with Donna tied to a long rope behind. Bruce gives Brooke a choice: hit the gas and drag Donna to death, or die. She chooses the former— but she puts it in reverse first, and then shoots Bruce either in or near his wiener (either way, not great for him!) amid the resulting chaos. And then she cuts his thumbs off, which is going to put a serious crimp in both his hitchhiking and crying-while-masturbating game. Sorry, Bruce. That’s a hard row to hoe. (And a very insensitive turn of phrase on my part, since hoeing a row is also basically impossible for a guy without thumbs! Actually, pretty much all farmwork and gardening is off the menu. Hmm. Bruce, how are you at soccer?)
Meanwhile, back at Redwood, the ghosts are all aflutter. All three of the Mister Jingles LARPers from a previous episode are still there and still dressed in their raincoats, although Montana (Billie Lourd) is wearing yet another new outfit. Again, how does fashion work in the afterlife??? Anyway, Jingles (John Carroll Lynch) has arrived and is chatting with the ghosts. They want to commit another massacre in the hopes of luring paranormal experts to the Camp, one of whom will hopefully know how to put their souls to rest. But there’s a problem: they’re not the only ones haunting the place:
“There’s someone else, a woman,” Chet (Gus Kenworthy) says. “She wears a white nightgown and she’s constantly terrorizing us.”
And this is how we learn that Jingles is, in fact, the same Benjamin from all those years ago — and that his mother was the original Camp Redwood killer! (Sidenote: The 1980s slasher influences have been thick on the ground since the season premiere, but this is more like a blatant rip-off of Friday the 13th.) Back in 1948, Mom massacred the camp’s counselors before being stabbed to death by her own son. So she was the first to haunt the camp, and possibly the source of all its evil. She even put the murderous impulses into Margot’s head back in 1970 — and all because she wanted to punish her older son for surviving when his brother, her preferred child, didn’t. She is also, uh, not subtle about her motivations.
“This will never end because I will spend every moment from now to eternity making sure you burn in excruciating agony,” she tells the now-adult Jingles. “It’s what you deserve!”
By now, what happens next should be pretty familiar: everyone converges on the camp, again, and people start dying, again. Honestly, this entire season is like one of those chemistry models where the molecules expand and contract, flying apart and then coming together — except every time they come together, some of the molecules pull out tiny molecule-sized knives and stab some of the other molecules to death, often for no particular reason. So:
Margot (Leslie Grossman) and Trevor (Matthew Morrison), as well as one of the bands, arrive onsite to prep for the Camp Redwood concert. Trevor spots Montana’s ghost lurking nearby and goes off to hook up with her. (Side note, yes, forgot to mention: In the aforementioned analogy, some of the live molecules also sometimes have sex with the dead ones.)
Richard “Nightstalker” Ramirez (Zach Villa) turns up and murders the whole band, but does not have sex with them, at least as far as we know.
And down by the lake, Jingles’ mom shows up to complain that he’s not allowed to sit where his brother died — but then has an abrupt change of heart when he starts talking about how he wants to protect his own son, also named Bobby. The problem is, the Nightstalker’s deal with Satan gives him an advantage over Jingles… unless Jingles kills himself, right here, right now, and then he’ll be an invulnerable ghost!
This is Mom’s recommendation, anyway, and personally, I’d take it with a grain of salt considering that it’s coming from a woman who was calling her son a “parasite” and vowing to torment him forever just before the last commercial break? But Jingles seems to find it convincing, so he guts himself, and now he’s a ghost, too. So, we’ll see how that goes next week. Til then, lights out, campers!
American Horror Story
An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and a hotel.
Why American Horror Story: 1984 Is Called The Show's Worst Season
American Horror Story: 1984 is considered one of the series' worst seasons to date despite its inventive slasher storytelling and popular setting.
Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story: 1984is considered the weakest season out of the nine he has created in the series so far, but why? American Horror Story season 9 pays homage to classic slashers and an extremely popular setting—the 1980s—which has been proven to work in the horror space within the last decade. When 1984 was initially announced, however, it was revealed that several of the recurring cast members would not return, which caused longtime fans to grow skeptical. Then, after 1984 released episodes in fall of 2019, its viewership dropped dramatically in comparison to other installments. There are numerous reasons why this happened, and why it's often considered the weakest in the horror anthology.
American Horror Story season 1, Murder House,ignited the popularity of Murphy's horror series, and featured an exciting cast who would come to return for several seasons or make surprising guest appearances down the road. In its early years, Jessica Lange was the figurehead, but the veteran actress left after season 4, Freak Show. However, it's still common to see names from the beginning and early seasons such as Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Denis O'Hare, and Frances Conroy still involved in recent years. As the series progressed, Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Cody Fern, and Leslie Grossman became new staples in the ensemble cast. In fact, they encompass the primary cast members of AHS: 1984, but—much to fans' dislike—favorites like Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson did not return for season 9.
Related: American Horror Story’s Complete Timeline Explained
1984 follows the story of a group of young adults who go to a summer camp while a serial killer is on the loose. While this highlights one threat, another lurks in the history of the inconspicuous location. In the 1970s, a different killer slashed through campers, and just so happens to revisit the camp in 1984. Season 9 includes several iconic themes familiar to 1980s horror classics such as slasher killers, camping, sex, crazy plot twists, and acid wash denim. In episode 4, "True Killers", there are two twists and numerous major reveals that are all lumped together in less than an hour. It's overwhelming as well as confusing, to say the least, and the season doesn't stop there. For that reason, and others, 1984 never managed to pick up with long-time fans of the series, and its ratings dropped over time.
One of the biggest reasons that AHS: 1984 is considered one of the worst seasons is due to Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson not returning. However, this does not inherently make or break a storyline. It's entirely possible that fans could be equally as disappointed if they were included. Plus, Ryan Murphy had other shows in mind for some of his most popular actors. Sarah Paulson starred as Nurse Mildred Ratched in the 2020 Netflix original series, Ratched. Another reason why 1984 is disliked is because it's considered to be predictable, but that's somewhat the point of the use of '80s horror tropes. Just as Wes Craven's Scream satirized slasher movies in 1996 for their overuse of predictable situations, Murphy furthered that critique by including popular storylines from the sub-genre's greatest hits.
AHS: 1984 is actually an underrated gem. Its story is creative and unique while playing on the ridiculous nature of the slasher horror sub-genre. Ray accidentally killed someone and attempted to cover it up, which is reminiscent of I Know What You Did Last Summer. When Margaret confesses to actually committing the murders back in 1970 and Lavinia's (Rabe) son, Bobby, dies while two counselors are having sex, parallels are drawn to Jason Voorhees's mother in Friday The 13th. 1984 is a brilliantly delivered season that was poorly received due to the somewhat serious tone its story gave off; this decision was undoubtedly meant to satirize slasher movies while also respectfully paying homage to tradition. However, fans were justified in complaining about the use of souls being trapped on the campgrounds, as it's a theme used several times in the series' history and has become bland with repetition.
Ultimately, it is considered the worst season for the same reasons it should be considered one of the best. Fans believe it to be too predictable, but that may have been the intent based on the slasher route. Satirizing and critiquing horror has been essential to the reinvention and reinvigoration of stale sub-genres in the past; 1984 was Murphy's attempt at doing what Craven did in the 1990s. Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters being part of the cast also wouldn't have improved the season that much. Each season arguably has its faults, but American Horror Story: 1984 deserves more credit than it currently receives.
More: American Horror Story: Every Time The Title Sequence Spoiled The Ending
GOTG 3: Will Poulter Comments On Adam Warlock Being Stronger Than ThanosAbout The Author
Mara Bachman works as a Horror Movie Features Writer for Valnet, Inc at ScreenRant.
American Horror Story: 1984
Ninth season of American Horror Story
Season of television series
American Horror Story: 1984 is the ninth season of the FXhorroranthology television series American Horror Story, created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. It premiered on September 18, 2019, and concluded on November 13, 2019. The season has been described as being heavily influenced by classic horrorslasher films such as Friday the 13th and Halloween.
Returning cast members from previous seasons include Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Cody Fern, John Carroll Lynch, Leslie Jordan, Tanya Clarke, Lily Rabe, Dylan McDermott, and Finn Wittrock, along with new cast members Matthew Morrison, Gus Kenworthy, Angelica Ross, and Zach Villa. 1984 marks the first season to not feature Evan Peters or Sarah Paulson.
Cast and characters
Main articles: List of American Horror Story cast members and List of American Horror Story: 1984 characters
John Carroll Lynch
See also: List of American Horror Story episodes
On January 12, 2017, American Horror Story was renewed for a ninth season, with a two-season renewal alongside Apocalypse, set to air in 2019. On April 10, 2019, series co-creator Ryan Murphy announced that the title of the season would be 1984. The season has been described as being heavily influenced by classic horrorslasher films such as Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween.
On June 24, 2019, FX announced that the season would premiere on September 18, 2019. The official trailer for the season was released on August 26, 2019. On September 12, 2019, Murphy revealed the opening credits for 1984 via his Instagram account. He explained that it was inspired by Corey Vega's fan-made concept, which strongly impressed him. As a result, he invited Vega to work with series veteran collaborator Kyle Cooper on the official sequence. Later that month, FX officially released the promo posters for the season, confirming the main cast's character names.
On October 17, 2019, it was announced that 1984 would conclude with its ninth episode, one less than the 10 episodes that were originally ordered. This makes it the shortest season in the entire series, and the third season after Murder House and Hotel to reduce its original episode count.
On February 6, 2019, Murphy revealed that Emma Roberts and series newcomer Gus Kenworthy would star in the season. In July 2019, Angelica Ross announced that she would have a series regular role in the season. Later that month, Billie Lourd, Cody Fern, Leslie Grossman, and John Carroll Lynch were confirmed to be returning to the series, with new cast members Matthew Morrison, DeRon Horton, and Zach Villa. In October 2019, filming pictures confirmed that original cast member Dylan McDermott would appear in the season. Later that month, series veteran Lily Rabe confirmed via her Instagram account that she would appear in the seventh episode of the season. In November 2019, it was confirmed that Finn Wittrock would return for the season finale.
On April 2, 2019, series mainstay Evan Peters, who had starred in all eight previous seasons, announced he would not appear in this season. On May 23, 2019, Billy Eichner, who appeared in Cult and Apocalypse, stated that he would not be returning in the season. On July 8, 2019, it was reported by Deadline Hollywood that Sarah Paulson would have a smaller role in 1984 than in previous seasons, due to her commitments to Murphy's Netflix series Ratched. However, in October 2019, Paulson herself confirmed that she would not appear in 1984 as originally planned.
On July 11, 2019, Murphy confirmed the season had begun filming.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the season an 87% approval rating, with an average rating of 3.9/5, based on 8 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "A near-perfect blend of slasher tropes and American Horror Story's trademark twists, 1984 is a bloody good time."
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by American Horror Story
- ^Benjamin's brother.
- ^Benjamin and Lorraine's son.
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