American Horror Story recap: All you need is God and trauma
A 1980s Red Wedding illuminates Brooke's backstory, as two serial killers wreak havoc on Camp Redwood.
Things were already off to a scary start at Camp Redwood last week, what with the arrival of two different serial killers on the scene before the credits rolled. But this week, only one is on the marquee! The big baddie known as Mr. Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), so-called for the second-most terrifying possible reason: when he comes to kill you, his arrival is heralded by the clinky-clanky atonal music of a jangling keyring. (The first-most terrifying reason, obviously, would be that he sings the 1 877 KARS 4 KIDS theme song while he murders you… and death doesn’t come anywhere near quickly enough.)
To recap: Jingles was the original Camp Redwood killer, and last week, he broke out of loony lockup with the goal of finally finishing off his Final Girl, Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman). The one person who knows about this is Dr. Karen Hopper, who arrives in time to warn Margaret that death is coming — but Margaret, Lord love her, is determined to open the camp.
“I refuse to let fear dictate my life,” she says, which would be an admirable philosophy in virtually any other scenario except the one where a violent serial murderer is literally, definitely coming to kill you. Sure girl, don’t let fear dictate your life! Just maybe let it dictate your next 24 hours?
Anyway, Hopper leaves, frustrated, and ends up caught and killed by Jingles on her way out, no good deed unpunished, etc.
Meanwhile, Brooke (Emma Roberts) sees a report on TV about the murder at the gas station, but everyone else misses it, leading her to scream, “I’m not making this up!” (But if we’ve learned anything after nine seasons, it’s that when a character on AHS protests their innocence this hard, you should automatically be suspicious.) Cue the backstory that fuels Brooke’s hysteria: a year ago, on her wedding day, her jealous fiance accused her of cheating and shot her alleged lover, her dad, and himself. This flashback is set to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” although between the puff sleeves and the bloodied satin, there are definitely shades of “November Rain” here, too. (From the ’90s kids in the audience: thank you!) Brooke insists she never cheated, but:
“Nobody ever believes me,” she says.
“I believe you,” Montana says, and then tries to make out with her. (Sidenote: I thought Montana was the Madonna of this motley crew, but clearly, she’s the Billy Zabka.)
Meanwhile, the boys decamp to the showers, and Margaret cuts the lights, plunging Redwood into darkness and cueing the breaking-loose of all hell. Xavier (Cody Fern) breaks away from the group and is accosted by his “daddy,” a porn-producing sleazeball who wants to blackmail Xavier into a life of gay-for-pay. Xavier has a better, and, uh, bigger idea: Trevor (Matthew Morrison), who just happens to be showering in front of a discreet peephole at that very moment. (The question of whether Trevor actually wants to make gay porn: irrelevant, apparently.) Hence, the last thing Blake sees in this world is Trevor’s penis.
“That’s no c–k, that’s an act of God!” he whispers, right before someone (Jingles, probably?) drives an awl through the back of his head and out his eyeball. (Some people might suggest that this is not a bad way to go out. I mean, not me. Just someone. Maybe you.)
This is where we’re duty-bound to remind everyone that this is American Horror Story and that so far, this episode has pretty much made sense — which means that it’s well past time for someone to start a) dying, b) dying and then coming back to life, or c) time traveling, or d) all of the above. And are we going for the grand slam? We sure are! The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa), accosts Brooke, only to be bodyslammed by the mysterious, amnesiac hiker, who was definitely dead last week but is not anymore, or, better yet, was dead the whole time.
“You’re not supposed to be here! … Wait, I don’t die here!” he yells, as Ramirez disembowels him, and then kills him, and then kills him again, because the guy keeps dying and vanishing and reappearing and dying again. The Night Stalker is confused by this (welcome to AHS, buddy), and goes looking for answers in Margaret’s cabin. And hoo boy, does he get them — along with an impromptu counseling session. The hiker is a victim of the original Camp Redwood massacre, circa 1970, and definitely shouldn’t be here. But everything happens for a reason, says Margaret, and that reason? God.
“You know what’s great about God?” she coos. “You can use him to explain why something happened. But you can also use him to explain why you did something horrible. All you need to have the freedom to do what you want is two things: God and trauma.”
While Margaret confronts the ghost of Redwood past (and may or may not drop a hint or two that there’s more to her survival story than we know), the counselors discover Blake’s body and try to flee from the camp, only to crash their van when Rita (Angelica Ross) runs out in front of them. Mister Jingles is after her, and she wants to leave, too — but with the van totaled, there are only a couple cars left. In the last moments before the credits roll, the counselors are locked inside the infirmary, searching for Rita’s missing keys. And someone, be it the Night Stalker, or Jingles, or maybe a whole new serial killer, is banging on the door.