It's ghosts versus killers versus killer ghosts as American Horror Story sets up for its final spandex showdown.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY, (from left): Evan Peters, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, 'Home Invasion', (Se

We’re down to the penultimate episode of American Horror Story: 1984! And just like the slasher films that inspired it, this season is setting up for a super-serial showdown that combines every trope in the blood’n’guts box. Multiple murderers! Satanic super-freaks! Glamorous ghosts in tattered nightgowns! And of course, a Final Girl to survive all the slicing and dicing and stabbing and shooting… unless, in classic AHS fashion, they decide to just kill her off, too.

For now, Brooke (Emma Roberts) is still alive and — as Donna (Angelica Ross) explains — probably our likeliest Final Girl candidate. (Side note: Two characters running through the rules of surviving their own horror movie? How very mid-’90s meta!) But they’re already in trouble: first, an intrepid National Enquirer reporter named Stacy (Stefanie Black) recognizes them at a diner and threatens to expose them, forcing Brooke to offer a quid pro quo in the form of the real Redwood massacre story. And remember Bruce (Dylan McDermott)? He somehow survived his run-in with Brooke and Donna and is following them, hell-bent on avenging his losses (dignity, thumbs). Amusingly, he’s now driving one of those pink Mary Kay convertibles that were once a coveted prize for the company’s best salesladies. (The owner of this one is locked in the trunk, which is conveniently lined with red upholstery. Really hides the bloodstains! Excellent resale value!)

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 — Pictured: Zach Villa as Richard Ramirez. CR: Kurt Iswarienko FX
| Credit: Kurt Iswarienko/FX

Meanwhile, up at Redwood, the endless cycle of murder, ghost drama, and more murder continues. Margaret (Leslie Grossman) discovers her headline band slaughtered on their tour bus, which is fine with her as long as the mess is cleaned up. (“Nobody is going to miss Kajagoogoo,” she says, and honestly, she’s probably right; even their big ’80s hit wasn’t exactly a banger.) Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa) is attacked by Ghost Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), who is in turn attacked by the ghosts of all the people he killed back in 1984. Jingles begs the ghosts to leave him alone just for a minute so that he can kill Ramirez and save his infant son, but the ghosts are unsympathetic and uncooperative. Not only are they still pissed about being murdered and trapped in summer camp purgatory, but if Ramirez dies at Redwood, that means they’ll have to watch him drawing pentagrams on every surface and blathering on about how he used to party with the devil until the end of time. (Side note: For all the 1980s pop culture references, the relationship between the ghosts of Redwood is clearly based on MTV’s first season of The Real World, right? Discuss.)

Also, Jingles takes this moment to reveal that Montana (Billie Lourd) was the one who originally invited Ramirez to camp and encouraged his serial killing, which just makes everything that much more awkward.

At the same time, Brooke is showing Stacy around, telling her all about that fateful night in 1984 — but also planning to kill her before the story ever makes it to print. Brooke tells Donna that she’s a killer now, her innocence lost during her long stint in prison, but Donna disagrees and stops Brooke from carrying out her plan. While the women hash out their differences (“I’m a cold-blooded killer!” “Are not!” “Am too!” etc.), Stacy runs for her life. That’s the good news; the bad news is that her life only lasts to the next jumpcut, when Margaret, Ramirez, and Bruce (who’s absolutely star-struck at having met his hero, the Nightstalker) grab her and slaughter her before she can leave.

Bruce is thrilled.

“So that’s the plan? We kill everyone we meet? I LOVE IT!”

Not quite, Bruce… but also, actually, sort of? Sometime in between the Kajagoogoo incident and her reunion with Ramirez, Margaret Booth decided to put Camp Redwood on the massacre map one more time: by killing all the artists who show up for the music festival, making Redwood an official mecca for pop culture enthusiasts everywhere. Think “the day the music died,” except with way more feathered bangs and synth beats. People will come from miles around to mourn, and Margaret will be one of the most prolific serial killers in history.

The question now is who will stop her, because it looks like Mr. Jingles is out of the game. After being murdered repeatedly by the ghosts of his victims, he’s set adrift on the lake to die again — only to get dragged overboard, Friday the 13th-style, by the ghost of his dead baby brother. Cut to Jingles waking up on the bank in something less like purgatory and more like heaven: his brother, face fully intact, is picnicking by the lake with his mom (Lily Rabe). She tells Jingles that he can stay here, be happy, and let go of the past. And as the scene comes to a close, he seems tempted to do just that — even though his baby son will probably die, and even though Margaret Booth is planning to kill again as we speak. But maybe Jingles was never meant to be present at the end of this horror story; maybe, for a final showdown, a Final Girl is what we need. It all ends next week with the season finale! Til then, lights out, campers.

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AMERICAN HORROR STORY, (from left): Evan Peters, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, 'Home Invasion', (Se
American Horror Story

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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