American Horror Story 1984

Knock knock. Who’s there? Ugh, it’s Richard Ramirez.

Continuing last week’s door-beater mystery, Brooke and pals are under siege. They respond to the Night Stalker like he’s the undead, moving furniture to block the windows. This temporary solution is just that, as Ramirez slithers inside to slash up Ray’s arms while the others escape. Swole lad Chet decides to stay and help Ray, rescuing him from certain trope death (the person of color dies first). Chet will regret this compassion.

Episode 3 is about survival of the fittest. “Darwinism, man!” as Ray puts it. Of course, we’re playing under the slasher rulebook, so viewers have to check any logic at the door. There isn’t going to be much when it comes to the decisions made here, like why Chet (a former Olympian!) doesn’t just hogtie Ramirez after easily taking him down.

Elsewhere in the camp, Xavier and Trevor’s door is also being beaten on. A flaming object crashes through the window, and Trevor (I told you he’s capable) immediately puts a stomp to…a bag of poop? Yes, the “threat” is actually a group of “townies” impersonating Mr. Jingles. And they’re wearing legit rubber masks of his likeness? Is Jingles a household name to the extent that one can buy his face? Or is Friday the 13th‘s Tommy Jarvis around for prosthetics?

American Horror Story 1984 Review: "Slashdance"

Regardless, these chuckle heads end up meeting the real thing, which doesn’t go well for them. Neither does the cabin escape for Chet and Ray, who fall into a Vietnam War (American War, for our Vietnamese readers) style pit. Chet’s penetrated by a wooden spike. His chances don’t look good, especially with cowardly Ray as his only chance of survival.

Let’s talk flashbacks. Ray’s a frat kid who accidentally murders a pledge in hilarious fashion. He’s at Camp Redwood to hide, basically. Nurse Rita is here because she’s actually evil Loomis (or maybe just Rob Zombie’s version of Loomis?), and is responsible for Jingles being free. Why? For science! She wants our killer to be the last serial killer. She’s out for a cure, which ironically requires her to kidnap and stow away the actual nurse Rita. So “Rita” is Donna Chambers, who sticks a sedative into Brooke’s neck to serve her up for slaughter.

American Horror Story 1984 Review: "Slashdance"

I liked this twist for the motivation it gives Jingles. When interviewed by Chambers, he doesn’t recall the slaughter, so he accepts Chambers’s offer to discover why he did what he did (he suggests fructose corn syrup versus Chambers’s pornography theory). With this reveal, the moment he spares the Jingles impersonator is enhanced. A little humanity isn’t a bad thing for a slasher, and John Carol Lynch knows how to fuse those values with the creepy.

Which leads to my favorite moment of the episode. Trevor and Xavier rescue Chet from the pit, who’s been abandoned by (surprise) Ray. Once freed, key jingles are heard and the boys hide. But Trevor says—with the line of the night—this is “knife versus guns” and shoulder-blocks Jingles into his own pit! The boys celebrate enthusiastically until they discover the mask in hand. 1984 continues Halloween II’s wonderful trope of “dingus dressed as the killer gets got by the good guys,” as we discover it’s the impersonator that Jingles spared.

American Horror Story 1984 Review: "Slashdance"

Welcome Mary Wigmore to American Horror Story, as this is her first episode as director. The direction was well-done, with a bit more breathing room for moments to resonate. Wigmore plus words by James Wong made for a strong episode, though one a bit cluttered with flashbacks. “Last summer/year” is a hallmark of AHS, I just question why we’re getting so many so soon. Will there be reveals all season or are they going to save a few for later? Regardless, I enjoyed this one and the twists aren’t terrible. Maybe we’ll learn more about Montana on Wednesday?

And long live Trevor, our mustached, shoulder-blocking hero. May he survive a bit longer.

AHS 1984 airs Wednesday nights on FX.