Still deep into the night/early morning hours subsequent to last week’s events, American Horror Story: 1984 episode 4 “True Killers” kicks off with a romantic flashback that reads like a true horror love story for the ages: Boy meets girl. Boy shows up at girl’s midnight aerobics class. Boy brutally murders someone to show off to Girl. They have sex in a locker room next to the decomposing body, then make a pact to kill another person. The two lovebirds are Montana and “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez, the real-life serial killer at the center of this murder spree alongside Mr. Jingles. At the end of last week’s episode, we were left hanging on the information that Montana and Ramirez not only knew each other but are romantically involved.
The flashback begins with Montana teaching an all-male aerobics class at midnight when Ramirez shows up and they begin to flirt. Montana is then yelled at by another participant in the class for not focusing on the rest of them before said participant storms out. Cut to Montana alone in the locker room, discovering the man’s corpse hanging. Richard asks if she liked his “surprise” for her, which leads into them having kinky foreplay as the murder clearly turned them both on. Afterwards, Montana asks if he would kill for her. She reveals that she wants Brooke dead because Montana’s brother was Sam, the best man at Brooke’s wedding who was shot dead by Brooke’s fiancé because he believed they slept together. Richard agrees, promising that Brooke will suffer. This is entirely unbeknownst to Brooke, who believes she’s meeting both of them for the first time when we encounter her in the first episode- she thinks Montana is an exciting new friend, and Richard is some crazy killer who broke into her apartment randomly.
“Boy meets Girl. Boy shows up at Girl’s midnight aerobics class. Boy brutally murders someone to show off to Girl.”
Next, we go to Xavier and Trevor trying to save Chet’s life from the stab wound he received falling into the spike pit in last week’s episode. Chet starts to lose consciousness, leading Xavier to think he’s dead; but Trevor says there’s still a pulse and the best way to jump start the heart is to stab him with an epipen a la Pulp Fiction (1994). Chet screams and sits up immediately, punctuating the scene with a gory shot of blood spurting from his wound. Xavier then remembers Blake (the porn sugar daddy) drove to the camp and his Cadillac should still be parked back by the showers.
He runs to the car while Trevor goes to Margaret’s cabin to attempt to save her but she refuses, insisting the children coming up the next day will be safe under her care. She appears delusional, convinced that God will protect them and knowing that Ramirez will take care of Mr. Jingles based upon their previous interaction.
Xavier, on his way to the car, stops in at the cafeteria to convince the cook, Birdie, to come with him. She’s busy making sandwiches for the campers arriving the next day and refuses to believe anything is amiss – cue the notorious jingling of keys. Xavier hides under the table as Jingles enters the cafeteria. Birdie refers to him as Benjamin (his real name) and tells him it’s nice to see him again. She makes him a sandwich, which he eats, but when he hears a noise under the table he finds Xavier. The two fight and Jingles knocks Xavier out, stabs Birdie, and then stuffs Xavier in the oven, which has been set to broil.
Cut to: Brooke, who is alone and trapped in a cabin. She is able to break down the door and runs into the woods where she dodges a swinging log with spikes, but is immediately caught in a netted bear trap. Donna emerges and explains that she couldn’t observe Jingles like a caged animal in the zoo, the only way to really understand him was to watch him hunt in the wild, referring to him as an “apex predator”. Donna leaves Brooke hanging (literally) on the question of if Jingles will take an easy meal or does he need the hunt.
Cut back to Xavier breaking out of the oven, badly burned. Birdie is still alive but in great agony and she passes him the knife, asking him to put her out of her misery. He obliges, although with great difficulty. We are now at a count of three “true killers” per the title of the episode – Richard and Montana as a team conspiring to kill Brooke, and Xavier becoming a killer not out of his own desire, but out of kindness to another human. Montana then finds Brooke caught in the trap and runs off, saying she’s going to look for something to cut her down, but in actuality to tell Ramirez where Brooke is.
In a quick flashback to when Margaret was a camper, Mr. Jingles is carving her a little wooden bear for her while the other kids tease her, calling them both freaks and saying they belong together. It’s strongly implied that they have a deeper relationship than we may realize. She mentions that bears mate for life and asks, “Are you my bear, Benji?” To which he responds, “I’d do anything to protect you.”
“We leave Camp Redwood for this week with a scene of Ramirez’s corpse beginning to float in the air as his wounds heal themselves.”
In a climactic moment, Richard Ramirez arrives at Brooke’s trap at the same time Mr. Jingles does. A full on battle between the two teams ensues, Mr. Jingles and Donna the psychologist versus Montana and Richard Ramirez. Brooke escapes in all the chaos, and Mr. Jingles kills Richard Ramirez.
Back at the campground, Margaret prays to God to help her do his will as she reopens the camp dedicated to Him when Mr. Jingles walks in. He says he’s back to finish what he started, which seems to surprise Margaret. In response to her confusion, the episode cuts in a flashback of Mr. Jingles being taken away in handcuffs from the camp and getting electroshock therapy in jail, insisting that he didn’t do the murders. In real-time, Margaret says he’s forgotten everything that happened. In a continuation of the earlier flashback which showed Margaret being teased, we now see that the teasing directly fed into Margaret becoming the killer herself. Margaret was the real Mr. Jingles! Because of their close relationship, he was the perfect man to take the fall for her since he couldn’t stop the bullying. As he grapples with this revelation, she shoots him calmly, saying he was just a guy in the wrong place at the right time.
The remaining members of the gang meet up, but Trevor runs off to help Margaret when he hears the gunshot. He enters Margaret’s cabin, where she stabs him, relishing the moment, telling him Mr. Jingles is killing him just like he killed everyone else. Margaret tells him it’s been 14 years since she last killed, but now God has given her the strength to accept her true self—the final true killer of the episode! Margaret then meets everyone else at the car, which is on fire because of course it is, and them that Trevor was killed by Jingles while trying to save her.
We leave Camp Redwood for this week with a scene of Ramirez’s corpse beginning to float in the air as his wounds heal themselves. His eyes then open and transition to complete black as he smiles, all while Donna is watching.
Where do you all think the season is going after another episode full of twists? With no more Benjamin, an apparent zombie or otherwise undead Richard Ramirez, and a new Mrs. Jingles, who will survive the night? Let us know your predictions on Twitter, in the official Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!