In a season that’s relied heavily on flashbacks to fill the viewer in on unexpected plot points, it’s no surprise episode five of American Horror Story: 1984 titled “Red Dawn” begins with… well, another flashback. We start off with Donna in 1980 who is stalking what seems to be her boyfriend or husband sneaking around with another girl. She breaks into a home, where we realize it’s her brother she’s mad at. She busts into a room where she expects to find him in the middle of sex but instead finds a girl chained up, covered in blood, in a serial killer’s den. The man who emerges out of the shadows is none other than her own father. They have a tearful exchange, ending when her father kills himself right in front of her because she found out his dirty secret. Before taking his own life he insists he had no choice but to kill, that it was an impulse like a wild animal. This scene puts Donna’s storyline into context, with such a traumatic event it makes sense that it triggers her to study what drives serial killers since she was convinced that her dad still had good in him. This sets her off on the path of study that culminates in her breaking Mr. Jingles out of jail.
When we cut to the present, we are back with Richard Ramirez threatening Donna. He mocks her studies and blames her for the slaughter that is taking place that night. He says Satan told him everything, then reveals her father standing behind her appearing from the woods. He asks her to follow in his footsteps because being a killer is in her DNA. Back with the group, Xavier attempts to turn the burning car into a torch to burn down the entire campground, but Margaret stops him by knocking him out. Nobody bats an eye, however, because she insists she had to do it to protect him. The group takes Xavier’s badly burned, passed out body to a cabin where they want to stay for the rest of the night, but Margaret convinces them that there’s a campsite across the lake that she needs to go to to ask for help and see if they have a car. Montana volunteers Chet to accompany her, leaving Montana, Brooke and the concussed Xavier alone. Montana almost chops Brooke with a hatchet, but can’t bring herself to do it and Brooke runs outside insisting that she sees Ray (who had his head chopped off in a prior episode).
“After a five-episode night full of gore, the sun finally rises over Camp Redwood […]”
Ray is definitely back…but something is off. He is super foggy and confused. At this point in the storyline, it seems as if the campground is bringing people back to life. We clearly saw him die, plus the ghost of the Hiker/Jonas and Richard Ramirez reincarnating after dying. This is a fascinating turn, especially to happen at episode five instead of being revealed as the big twist at the end of the season.
On the lake, Margaret violently attacks Chet with an oar after prying him to “confess his sins” (i.e., she’s convinced he’s gay which, being a devout Christian, she considers a major offense). She then rips his ear off before kicking him into the water, where he drowns because she attached an anchor to his feet. Margaret is truly becoming unhinged and seems intent on taking down the remaining counselors one by one. Meanwhile, Brooke and Ray hide from Mr. Jingles and have a deep chat, which leads to them hooking up. Afterwards, she admits that she was a virgin – Brooke, having possibly the worst night of her life, has now lost her virginity to a dead guy. Apparently, having sex with ghosts is a well-documented trend in American Horror Story, as Connie Britton (Nashville)’s character conceives the antichrist this way in season one and that character comes back to kick off season eight. Back in this show’s timeline, Brooke discovers what has happened very quickly when she goes to get a glass of water but instead finds Ray’s decapitated head in the refrigerator.
In another cabin, Donna finds Montana and Xavier, where she proceeds to admit everything and says it’s all her fault because she unleashed Mr. Jingles. Xavier has a meltdown because it’s her fault he’s so badly burned (and his acting career is over) and he comes at her with the hatchet. Montana joins in, starting to give into her more devilish instincts. Brooke returns to the cabin understandably shaken, but she doesn’t get far into an explanation of what just happened to her when Montana knocks her out with a blunt object. Brooke comes to with Montana screaming at her and kicking her. Montana reveals their hidden connection (the dead brother) and that she sent Ramirez to kill Brooke. Montana begins strangling Brooke, but Brooke fights back and stabs her with a sharp rod. The episode cuts to Donna, hiding from Xavier in a cabin, when Jingles comes up behind her and says she should have never brought him here. Mr. Jingles is confused and full of doubt due to the revelation that he didn’t kill the kids back in the 70s, Margaret did; a fact he shares with Donna while cleaning his wounds. Donna asks Jingles to kill her, saying she can’t live with this darkness. Jingles refuses, vowing to only kill once more.
Mr. Jingles then finds Margaret after Brooke and Montana have a brief scuffle, and he begins choking her until Xavier shoots him full of arrows, citing a dinner theater production of Robin Hood as the reason for this hidden talent. It appears Mr. Jingles is finally dead. Xavier runs over to check on Margaret, who stabs him in the chest with a knife she’d been concealing before cutting off his ear. After Margaret leaves to find Montana and Brooke, Mr. Jingles comes back to life with Ramirez watching over him. Ramirez asks him if he will accept Satan as his lord and savior. This episode is the first time all season that Ramirez has been outspoken about the reason for his immortality, and it’s another really interesting twist to come about halfway through the season.
“[…] Ramirez has been outspoken about the reason for his immortality, and it’s another really interesting twist […]”
After a five-episode night full of gore, the sun finally rises over Camp Redwood as a bus of little campers makes its way into the camp. In the broad daylight, Montana and Brooke continue to struggle with Montana cutting her with the knife before Brooke overpowers her and stabs her repeatedly in the chest, right as the bus arrives. Obviously, Brooke is led away by the police who are on the scene while Margaret, who sees everything, stabs herself in the leg before running to the police, saying Brooke was responsible for all the killings and had attacked everyone, including her. At this point, I still don’t quite know what angle Margaret is going for. She killed all of her fellow campers years ago because they bullied her, but why is she back and unleashing a reign of terror once more? Why is she a sociopathic liar, but also intensely religious? Is this all a mad zeal for God’s approval or does she have a bigger plan beyond Camp Redwood? I am excited to learn more about her character as the season wraps up.
In a real cliffhanger ending, Ray arrives into the scene where a paramedic takes his vitals, but he has no pulse (since he’s a ghost) and is subsequently taken to the hospital. The ambulance only makes it to the camp property line before Ray reappears on the ground and the hiker Jonas tells him this is his home now. In another spot of the camp, Montana appears as a ghost now, killing a cop that was left behind on the scene. When Ray and Jonas seem shocked, Montana tells them to lighten up, saying they can be gods here. She seems to have really come into her own as a dead person. And we cut to the interior of the police car, where the only two that seem to be able to die and leave camp lines (perhaps due to a pledge with Satan), Ramirez and Jingles, are on their way to Los Angeles.
What do you think will happen next week? Is Los Angeles prepared for Ramirez and Jingles? Let us know your predictions on Twitter, in the official Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!