American Horror Story 1984

“There’s a change in pace,” sings Billy Idol. Following the last few episodes, this is more change of scenery, than storytelling. As is American Horror Story tradition, the second half has begun, and we start with Satan’s roommates, Mr. Jingles and rapist of the elderly, Richard Ramirez. My god, Jingles’s goatee-thing is horrific.

This is the tail-end of their run as partners. A montage shows Jingles hesitant on the scene, while RR is demonically aggressive with his kills. At their hideout, tension is obvious when Jingles stops RR from murdering a neighbor (the one hint that he’s abusive to older women). Their musical tastes clash, also—it’s Billy Idol v. REO Speedwagon. This culminates in Jingles alerting people of RR’s presence at a grocery store, where he gets a taste of mob justice in the People v. Ramirez (fairly close to the real RR’s capture). Mr. Jingles drives by slowly, drinking TAB and jamming to REO.

“Episode 100” spends its hour catching us up with character whereabouts. Margaret Booth comes out on top, being featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, wealthy from a new venture—turning murder scenes into tourist attractions. Spots include Gacy’s house, and Manson hangout Spahn Ranch (where a stunt man once kicked a few hippies). Gacy’s home was demolished in 1979, so I assume it’s just the property space? Oddly enough, Booth marries Trevor, who survived her knife attack. This is a financial marriage (he can’t testify against her if she’s his spouse), so of course, they hate each other. Trevor’s character might be the AHS one-note classic asshole from here out, sadly.

Back at Camp Redwood, the aimless spirits continue to murder people, which Montana and Xavier embraced relatively easy. Ray, not so much, who discovers that scapegoat Brooke is on death row. When he tries to tell a living person, the New Wave killers take her out. “Nothing we do matters,” Xavier says, and I have to agree momentarily. What’s really left for these characters to contribute? Maybe if they hadn’t come off as so disposable from the start I’d care, but it feels like their story—which was fine for the first five episodes—should have ended.

Brooke is indeed up for execution and locked up near RR who taunts her about Satan with a voiceover once she’s in her cell. Her response is “no thanks,” but with lots of middle fingers. “She should be so lucky!” he retorts after Brooke states that Montana is in Hell licking Satan’s balls.

With RR in prison, Jingles was free to do whatever, and he did. He’s found a wife in Alaska, and the two have a baby boy. Jingles works at Videoshack because it’s the 80s so we need VHS jokes. Nothing about Betamax, though. Tsk tsk. Where’s Satan at to dispute this family life, though? Is he too busy working the Gipper’s tongue to care?

Things change once RR calls on Satan to jailbreak him. He’s learned that Booth is going to use Camp Redwood for a festival with Billy Idol headlining, and he’s gotta go. Her business is tanking, so a return to her roots is necessary to fix declining income, which pisses off just about everyone, including Chet, who’s lungs are permanently filled with water thanks to her oar work. Satan hears the call and springs RR via possessed guard. At the same time, Brooke dies on a gurney from a lethal injection.

And so are Jingle’s new family. He comes home to find his wife dead, the baby stowed away with a festival flyer. He promptly drops the baby off with the mother’s sister. He’s going to hate the headliner, so it seems like a waste of money to me.

Don’t worry about Brooke. This is 1984, and character deaths don’t mean anything. Donna Chambers disguises as the executioner, using some chemical magic to fake the girl’s death. “Welcome to the land of the living,” Chambers says.

“Episode 100” is directed by TV vet Loni Peristere. This feels like a weaker episode as we veer into new directions, resetting previous momentum. And yes, as the title indicates, this is the series’s 100th episode, a fact that isn’t apparent from the episode itself sans title. There are nods to other seasons, mostly location name drops, which is a littler underwhelming for a milestone. I’m sure I missed other references (Jingles must be someone’s father), but references occur throughout the show’s history. Maybe something special would’ve distracted from the narrative if they called too much attention to the anniversary?

But happy 100, American Horror Story. You big weirdo. I’m happy you keep resurrecting, even if the corpse is often hard to look at. Now do an Area 51 season already.

AHS 1984 airs Wednesday nights on FX