American Horror Story recap: It's an impale-a-thon
Ray and Rita reveal terrible secrets; several people are impaled.
Tonight’s American Horror Story episode is called “Slashdance” — and I was today years old when I learned that Ryan Murphy didn’t coin this particular ’80s pun! And a very happy 30th anniversary to the original, spectacular Slashdance, a 1989 thriller starring GLOW alumnus Cindy Ferda as an undercover cop on the hunt for a dance club serial killer. (It looks as good as… well, as you might expect.)
As for AHS, we pick up where we left off last week: with two serial killers terrorizing two separate groups of counselors at the clearly-cursed Camp Redwood. At the infirmary, the Night Stalker (Zach Villa) busts through one door, allowing Brooke (Emma Roberts), Rita (Angelica Ross), Ray (Deron Horton), and Chet (Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy) to escape out the other, although Ray gets slashed in the process. (Rita, evidently confused: “That’s not Mister Jingles!”) But at the counselors’ cabin, where Montana (Billie Lourd), Xavier (Cody Fern) and Trevor (Matthew Morrison) are cowering, things take a weird turn: instead of killing them, Mister Jingles throws a flaming bag of poop through the window and then laughs as they dirty their shoes trying to stamp it out.
Record scratch, freeze frame! That’s not a serial murderer, it’s a bunch of kids celebrating “Jingles Day,” a niche cultural event that involves dressing in a mask and hooded raincoat and pulling pranks to mark the anniversary of the camp massacre. Bad timing, fellas: the real Mister Jingles (John Carroll Lynch) does not appreciate imitators and promptly collects their ears for his trophy case. (One pathetic Jingles wannabe, who missed the action because he was unsuccessfully trying to pee through his twisty urethra, is spared… for a while.)
After last week’s revelation about Brooke’s checkered past, more and more backstories are coming out to play in this episode — and hoo boy, some of our crew have been hiding capital-S secrets! Rita is the first surprise: after injecting Brooke with a horse tranquilizer, she reveals that she’s not a nurse at all. She’s a Ph.D. student studying serial killers, Mindhunter style, and she’s the one who masterminded Jingles’ breakout from the asylum. Rita (real name Donna Chambers) has a shades-of-Valerie-Solanas theory about serial killers being on the rise because of porn, misogyny, and the Vietnam war. But to test it, she’d like to study Jingles in his “natural habitat”, a.k.a. murdering people at Camp Redwood. You know, for science.
And Rita isn’t the only one hiding a morally ambiguous past. After Chet and Ray fall into a staked pit, Ray confesses his own sins to the impaled, passed-out Chet. Flashback to last year and a frat party, where some very drunk pledges are being made to elephant-walk in a naked circle. (Sidenote: I have been reliably assured by an actual frat boy that this is a pernicious myth, but of course, that’s what an elephant-walker would say.) One extra-drunk pledge takes a plunge down the stairs and breaks his neck, the kind of thing that looks really bad on a fraternity’s permanent record. So, naturally, Ray puts the body in a car and sends it over a cliff, only to find out at the last minute that the dead kid wasn’t dead after all. Oops! I mean, he wasn’t dead before. He is most definitely dead now. And just in case it wasn’t clear what kind of person Ray is, he follows up this confession by climbing out of the pit and fleeing into the night, despite Chet’s pleas for help. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, abandoning one friend to a gruesome and lonely death is unlucky, but this? Just looks like carelessness.
Fortunately for Chet, Xavier and Trevor find him before Jingles does, and pull him alive out of the pit. (That makes two impalings if you’re counting; in the previous scene, the real Nurse Rita is found alive but then killed by Jingles, who rams the pointy end of a broken oar down her throat.) They also kill the poor guy with the twisted urethra, which is an unfortunate but honest mistake that you kinda had to see coming. (Also, a terrible waste of an excellent one-liner by Trevor, who shouts, “Welcome to your own petard, asshole!”)
Meanwhile, speaking of twist(ed urethra)s, Montana and Ray run for the parking lot, planning to take Trevor’s motorcycle and ride for help. But when the Night Stalker jumps out of the bushes, Ray doesn’t hesitate: he grabs the bike and rides into the night, leaving Montana to die. This being Ray’s third act of downright lethal selfishness, it is hard not to cheer just a little bit when Mister Jingles steps up to the side of the road as he drives by and knocks his head off like a tee-ball.
That leaves Montana alone, unarmed, staring down Night Stalker, who steps forward to kill h— no, wait, scratch that, they’re kissing. Kissing! (Sidenote: I know this is supposed to be a big WTF moment, but honestly, it’s kind of a relief to have AHS validate my feelings vis-à-vis the attractiveness of its serial killer.) And while Richard Ramirez claimed that the devil drew him to Camp Redwood, clearly he had a little guidance from the girl in the blue eyeshadow. Montana breaks off the kiss and glares at him.
“Why haven’t you killed her yet?!”
Until next week, we can speculate about which “her” she’s talking about. Brooke? Margaret? Chef Bertie?! (Please, no!) In the meantime: Lights out, campers.