It's an all-night rampage at Camp Redwood, as everyone's killer instincts emerge.

By Kat Rosenfield
October 17, 2019 at 12:31 AM EDT
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Tonight’s episode of American Horror Story is titled “Red Dawn,” and you know what that means! At least, I hope you know what that means because I myself have never seen Red Dawn and am going to miss all the easter eggs, if there are any.

We open with a flashback: it’s 1980, and Donna, a.k.a. Rita (Angelica Ross) is on a sort of stakeout, watching her dad on a date with a woman who’s not her mom. She follows them inside, thinking she’ll catch him having an affair, but instead discovers that he’s sneaking out at night to engage in a lil’ light disemboweling. When she confronts him, he stabs himself to death. 

This certainly explains Donna’s fascination with killers, but back at Camp Redwood, the recently-resurrected Night Stalker (Zach Villa) tells her that her damage goes deeper.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured: Emma Roberts as Brooke Thompson. CR: Kurt Iswarienko FX
Kurt Iswarienko/FX

“You think you were studying evil? You are evil,” he says. And when she balks, the ghost of her dearly-departed dad appears to offer a second opinion: yep, he says, it’s true. She’s got the soul of a killer, just like her old man. 

What will Donna do with this new information? We’ll see (although it’s a slasher series, so “murder” is always a good guess.) In the meantime, we check in on the rest of the campers: Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Margaret (Leslie Grossman) head across the lake in a boat, supposedly in search of help, but of course, it turns out to be a ploy by Margaret to get Chet alone and kill him. RIP, Chet! At least until you come blasting out of the lake like Jason Vorhees on steroids… literally.

At the same time, Brooke (Emma Roberts) spots an old pal running through the woods: it’s Ray (DeRon Horton), evidently resurrected as a ghost since we last saw him getting his head fully removed from his body by a baseball bat. The two end up in an intimate moment, confessing their regrets. (Sidenote: Ray says he wanted to be a doctor and only got derailed when he started to run with the wrong crowd, but, uh, didn’t he also murder his friend by accident because he couldn’t tell if the guy was alive or dead? I’m just saying, how good of a doctor would he have been, really.) Cue the obligatory sex act, which ends on the worst possible note when Brooke goes to the refrigerator for a post-coital beverage and finds Ray’s original head on a plate inside. (The bright side: the sex doesn’t count if the guy turns out to be dead, so she’s totally still a virgin. Them’s the rules.) 

For Brooke, it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire: she flees from Ray only to wind up with Montana (Billie Lourd), who isn’t dead (yay!) but does want to kill her (boo!). While Brooke is justifiably freaking out about having touched a ghost-penis, Montana hits her in the head with… okay, so I thought it was a hammer, but then it turns out that Xavier has a hammer, too? Maybe there are two hammers. And because all the following things are happening either simultaneously or in close succession, this next part is best left to bullet points:

  • Xavier (Cody Fern) is chasing Donna around with a hammer since she is technically responsible for setting loose the killer who ruined his face. 
  • Donna escapes but runs into Mister Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), who refuses to kill her. 
  • Jingles finds Margaret, who he does want to kill, but is shot full of arrows by Xavier before he can finish the deed.
  • Xavier gets off a one-liner (“When you put me in that oven you cooked up your worst nightmare, a–hole!”) and a victory dance (hopefully not representative of Cody Fern’s actual dancing skills, please God) before Margaret stabs him to death and takes his ear.
  • Sometime later, Jingles wakes from the dead to find the Night Stalker looming over him, asking if he accepts Satan as his master. 

Cut to a bright, sunny morning at the blood-spattered camp (a red dawn, if you will! Ha! Ha!), and the first busload of happy little campers is pulling up… just in time to see a triumphant Brooke stabbing Montana to death. But obviously, this looks pretty bad out of context. So as we wind down this episode, Margaret blames someone else for the killings and gets off scot-free, again. Brooke is off to prison, probably. Ray and Montana are now Camp Redwood ghosts (or gods, if you want to take Montana’s view on it.) 

And finally, a pro tip: if you die in a crappy place like, say, a summer camp run by a Jesus-worshipping serial murderer, and you’re offered the chance to accept Satan as your lord and savior? Take it! Because unlike the ghosts of Redwood, Satan’s minions aren’t bound to the soil where they died; they’re laughing all the way to Los Angeles in a stolen cop car, Thelma and Louise style. Do we smell a serial killer bromance in the works? [Inhales deeply.] Awww, yeah. 

With a satisfying cap like that, American Horror Story could’ve ended its ninth season right here. But the show must go on (for another three episodes, anyway), and so we’ll be back next week. Til then: Lights out, campers!

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An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and a hotel.
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