In AHS: 1984, Ryan Murphy has, in effect, built the perfect Ryan Murphy playground, a summer camp where no one dies. As long as the characters remain on Camp Redwood, it doesn’t matter how many times they are stabbed, drowned, burned, or garroted, they always come back whole, so Ryan Murphy never has to kill off a character. In fact, all the characters from the opening episode still remain on the series as we head into next week’s season finale.
What stakes remain? That’s a great question. Ostensibly, there’s a question about who will become the series’ final girl? There are a smattering of characters — Brooke, Nurse Rita, Margaret, Richard Ramirez — that haven’t been killed and turned to ghosts yet. Presumably, one or more of them will survive, leave Camp Redwood, and lead a corporeal existence out in the real world. But does anyone actually care? Maybe the “final girl” will be Richard Ramirez, because he needs to live so that he can be re-imprisoned and die a mundane death caused by B-cell lymphoma in 2013.
There’s also a vague notion about vengeance. The ghosts of Camp Redwood still want to murder Margaret, but only after they have murdered all the rock festival musicians (except for Billy Idol, whom Richard Ramirez will protect). Brooke and Rita also want to murder Margaret, although it is not clear to what end. I honestly believe they only returned to Camp Redwood to see if they could survive the inevitable bloodbath. Their literal goal is to become a horror-movie trope.
Mr. Jingles — who has died several times and been transported as a ghost into the past — is now apparently living (or not living) in the Camp Redwood of his youth with his deceased mother and little brother, who died in Redwood when he was a kid. Mr. Jingles seems content with that arrangement, although his infant son remains unprotected from the Night Stalker in 1989, which was Jingles’s only reason for returning to Redwood.
Bobby’s fate will presumably be the crux of the finale. Generically handsome Ryan Murphy regular Finn Wittrock appears in next week’s episode, and he will almost certainly play a grown-up version of Mr. Jingles’s son, Bobby, who will return to Redwood in the present day to avenge … something? His mother’s death? I’m not sure what the point of going to battle against ghosts is, but go on with your bad self, Bobby! Is there an end-point here? A goal? Will Bobby break the spell on Camp Redwood and send all those ghosts to hell? Great! It’s always nice when a character introduced in the final episode ends up saving the day!
None of this is new. American Horror Story is very good at premiere episodes. Each season, however, usually runs out of steam around the fourth or fifth episode and limps into a nonsensical finale that is little more than an afterthought. AHS: 1984 is no different, but it is remarkable that a series entering its finale hasn’t even bothered to define the desired outcome. Is there even a character for whom we can root?
At this point, all I really care about is whether Billy Idol will actually show up and if he survives or spends an eternity attending white weddings in Camp Redwood. Otherwise, it’s fun to riff on tropes and dress everyone in flashy ’80s attire and make a few fun ’80s references (loved the Small Wonder nod!), but it would be nice if there was a point to it all. It’s clear that, once again, American Horror Story is a journey to nowhere.
Header Image Source: FX