Hey everyone, it’s 1948! Bet you didn’t see this flashback coming or AHS favorite Lily Rabe returning to be fierce.
Forget Camp Redwood—this flashback is about Camp Golden Star, where a young Benji/Mr. Jingles struggles to make his mother (Rabe) happy, but she prefers her youngest, Billy. Unfortunately, by flashback’s end, he’s cut in twain by a motorboat propeller when Benji leaves him alone to peep on teenage sex.
Back in 1984’s present time, Brooke learns that the drugs Chambers gave her to orchestrate her death comes with a price—she’s going to experience withdrawals. Brooke doesn’t trust Donna (nor should she), but the two head for the camp festival together. Angry Brooke begins to blend with Emma Roberts’s past AHS characters—that is, the “cut you off mid-sentence and eye roll” performance, which is unfortunate. I hoped to see something new from Roberts this season, but she’s been written into a corner. I believe we’re supposed to sympathize with her character, but it’s hard to when all I see is her bully type.
Donna and Brooke build their trust, due in part to another creep, played by Dylan McDermott. And he’s good at it (watch The Clovehitch Killer for proof), so why not bring him back? He finagles his way into their car, then kills a cop when they try to report him. In a moment that comes extremely close to bad taste (even for this show), he intends to drag Donna to death behind a pickup, a death that’s difficult to separate from specific racial killings. Thankfully Brooke stops both the killer and the show from going thereby reversing the pickup (Donna ducks), gaining control of the weapons. Maybe this is a metaphor for Brooke returning to the past, to regain control?
Thematically, this episode is about obsession. Benji’s mother obsesses over her youngest, Benji does the same with Booth, and Trevor, upon seeing Ghost Montana, immediately professes his love for her. Murder is the common factor here—if that love isn’t returned, or lost, then it’s Curtains (1983). That was a slasher joke, and I’m not sorry.
The horror comes from unexpected places. the Lady in White massacres the counselors she deems responsible for her son’s death. She inspires Booth to kill her fellow campers, and seemingly persuades Jingles to take his own life. He doesn’t kill anyone in this episode otherwise, while Brooke cuts Bruce’s thumbs off in a grisly moment. I would’ve liked to have seen this nastier side of Brooke develop in prison, as opposed to her just being angry about her lost decade. I don’t know if it’s within her ability to mutilate people, even if said people are creeps. But prison narratives are my weak spot, so maybe I’m just projecting. Still, this definitely feels like a missed opportunity for her character arc.
Liz Friedlander directed “The Lady in White,” her first time on American Horror Story. She’s responsible for R.E.M.’s “The Great Beyond” music video, so she’s a welcome addition to my world. Once again, this hour zoomed by, but remove Rabe’s “Lady” character and it might seem that the show is trying to fill time in-between the migration of characters to Billy Idol’s big show. There’s a couple of important plot reveals and an Alice Cooper song, but I’m starting to ask, “Are we there yet?” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed this season, but I’m wondering what the inevitable bloodbath is going to offer. Death has no stakes with the exception of Benji’s younger brother, whose demise appears to be at the center of this camp “curse.” Perhaps everyone will converge next episode, then the season will finish out its time somewhere less expected?
American Horror Story 1984 airs Wednesday nights on FX