The title of this episode says it all. Episode 3 of American Horror Story: 1984 “Slashdance” is an 80s SlashFest of action, drama, and gore. Continuing the trend of the first two episodes, this one starts off directly at the end of the previous episode, putting the viewer immediately back in the action of this long, twisted night at camp with Brooke, Ray, Chet and Nurse Rita in the infirmary cabin. They realize that it’s Night Stalker attacking them, not Mr. Jingles.
In the boys cabin, Trevor, Xavier, and Montana hear Mr. Jingles coming for them. It’s revealed to be local townies messing around in Mr. Jingles outfits and masks commemorating the anniversary of the massacre, a night wherein kids apparently pull pranks and screw with people in Mr. Jingles cosplay. As they explain this, the real Mr. Jingles comes up behind them, stabbing one in the stomach then slitting his throat, then slitting the other’s throats and cutting off his ear.
Chet and Ray, running away from the terror, fall into a ditch in the wood lined with spikes and Chet is impaled through the shoulder. Simultaneously, Mr. Jingles runs into another impersonator in a mask in the woods, who geeks out over how “ruthless” the real Mr. Jingles is, while using his inhaler and generally being a stereotypical nerd. Surprisingly, Mr. Jingles lets him go. Perhaps he sees something of himself in the young man, but nothing more is given for the viewer to go off of to understand his motives in sparing him.
“…an 80s SlashFest of action, drama, and gore.”
Back by the main road (if you can call it that in such a desolate area), Brooke is alone with Nurse Rita. She attempts to leave to get help with Nurse Rita agreeing to stay behind, as Brooke goes to get in car, Nurse Rita jabs her in the neck with a tranquilizer and Brooke falls to the ground, helpless. The show flashes back to one week earlier, when Nurse Rita was meeting with Dr. Hopple (if you recall, the Dr. Loomis of this story who has already met an unfortunate demise) in reference to Rita’s PhD research. Dr. Hopple insists that Benjamin Richter (aka Mr. Jingles) is pure evil, with nothing human behind his eyes. Nurse Rita resists, referencing Ted Bundy by saying that she interviewed him in Florida the week prior and got two confessions out of him of unsolved murders. Rita apparently has talked to them all: John Wayne Gacy, the Freeway Killer, the Trashbag Killer, the Butcher Baker (note that these are all real serial killers) and, “all their lips are sealed until Donna Chambers arrives and opens them.” Donna (f.k.a Rita) finally convinces Dr. Hopple to let her talk to Mr. Jingles.
The show switches into a very Mindhunter vibe for maybe the most pivotal moment of the episode as Donna sits down with Mr. Jingles and tells him she doesn’t believe he’s evil, she believes that everyone has the capacity for violence and the need to inflict pain/kill over and over again is “activated” by outside circumstances. She guesses the Vietnam war and pornography are causing a recent uptick in serial killings. When Donna seeing the humanity in him appears to make him receptive to her, she says that he can’t help her while he’s in prison. She brings out a newspaper and shows him they’re reopening Camp Redwood. Insisting that sacrifices must be made in the name of science when he tells her he won’t be able to stop himself from killing people, she tells him how to break out of the asylum and instructs him to meet her back at camp.
We flash forward now to Donna tailgating the actual Nurse Rita while driving (presumably towards Camp Redwood). After a tense moment between the ladies as “real” Rita accuses Donna of stalking her (a smart girl, she references all those horror stories where a single girl ends up dead… spoiler alert?) but quickly calms down as Donna tells her she happens to be heading to Camp Redwood too and they can travel together. Rita asks Donna to watch her car while she goes to the bathroom, but when she comes out and Donna is gone. Rita drives off but doesn’t get far before Donna appears rising up from the back seat. We flash forward yet again to Brooke asking what Donna gave her, which triggers her to reveal “I’m not a nurse, my degrees in psychology” as she drags Brooke away.
Back in the ditch with Ray and Chet, a panicked and scared Ray says he only came to camp because he was in trouble in LA. In yet another flashback, we see Ray one year earlier at a college frat at party partaking in activities that can only be described as hazing. Ray sneaks out a Pledge who isn’t doing well to gives him 10 min to “get it together,” but the Pledge immediately falls down a flight of stairs leading Ray to think he’s dead. He decides to take care of it to keep everyone out of jail, and since he believes the death was accident, it shouldn’t matter how the accident happened, right? Wrong. Ray brings the Pledge’s body to a cliff, straps his limp body into drivers seat, starts the car and hits the gas just as the Pledge reaches for him but it’s too late, Ray can’t stop the car as it goes over the cliff. He ends up dropping out of college because he couldn’t take the guilt. He thought he had gotten away with it but a few days prior, the LA Times had reported the car was found so Ray knows its only a matter of time before they find his watch in the car and he’s incriminated. Faced with the fear of this, Ray climbs out of the ditch and runs away, leaving Chet still impaled and stuck.
“This episode was plot-heavy [but] moved much quicker due to the quick cuts, twists, and high body count.”
Back at the campground, Trevor, Xavier, and Montana run into the infirmary cabin with Mr. Jingles and his infamous jangly key noise close behind. Instead of running into him, they find the real Rita tied up. She struggles and tries to yell, and despite their best efforts to keep her quiet she escapes loudly and runs right into Mr. Jingles’ path. He stabs her down the throat with an oar as Xavier, Montana and Trevor watch in hiding, realizing she was the real nurse. Ray then runs into the trio as they flee the infirmary. He tells them that he and Chet got separated and when he says he last saw Brooke with “Rita” (aka Donna), they tell him she isn’t the real nurse. Ray insists he’s not going back to camp with two murderers on the loose, so Trevor tells him and Montana to take his motorcycle to a phone booth to call the cops.
Xavier and Trevor find Chet, and while they try to save his life they find out that Ray, by now known to be a total coward, ran from Chet and left him to die. Xavier successfully frees Chet from the spike and they get him out of the ditch, albeit in bad shape. The three hide from Mr. Jingles and as he looks down in the ditch, Trevor runs out and pushes him in the ditch- clearly, he’s dead. They quickly realize it was yet another Jingles impersonator as they find the mask on the ground.
In a final twist at the end of the episode, Ray and Montana encounter the Night Stalker by the motorcycle. Ray flees yet again on the motorbike, leaving Montana alone with Richard Ramirez. Finally getting what he’s deserved for running from everything, Ray drives right past Mr. Jingles who steps out of the woods and swiftly beheads him as he goes by. Montana, alone with the Night Stalker… grabs him and makes out with him as soon as he’s close enough to her. When they pull away, she ominously asks him, “Why haven’t you killed her yet?”.
This episode was plot-heavy, much like episode two, but I found the developments here much more meaningful and the pace moved much quicker due to the quick cuts, twists, and high body count. Maybe next week we’ll finally see the first full day at Camp Redwood!
“In a final twist at the end of the episode, Ray and Montana encounter the Night Stalker…”
Have you been following the frenzy that is American Horror Story: 1984? What do you think about this new blood-soaked season? How does it compare to some of your favourite seasons past? Let us know your thoughts on Camp Redwood, Mr, Jingles, and The Night Stalker over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club. If you need to catch-up our revist a previous episode, click HERE to read all of our American Horror Story: 1984 recaps.