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American Horror Story: 1984 doesn't actually like the ’80s

Photo: Kurt Iswarienko (FX)
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If there is a trope we can officially let die, it’s the accidentally prophetic person in a period piece. Whether they’re completely nailing some future event actually in the past for the viewers, or making a hilariously wrong prediction about life to come, it’s the equivalent of pointing out in a movie that they’ve just said the title of the movie. Now, that’s nothing to murder the National Enquirer reporter over, but still. That said, Trevor is kind of right—compared to the ’80s, early ’90s fashion is a little boring.

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The MVP of tonight’s episode, surprisingly, is newly thumbless Bruce. Bruce is great, the kind of comic relief this whole season could have used. Bruce has incredible facial expressions when he sees ghosts and ghosts getting murdered, and murderer ghosts. Bruce leaves the scene of a potentially dangerous crime when asked to avoid being killed, something almost everyone else on the show is very bad at. And Bruce respects the protection of Satan around Billy Idol.

The central question of the episode might be, can people escape their past, which eventually morphs into, what happens when you don’t want to? Trevor’s decision to kill himself to stay with Montana (and possibly just as importantly, the ’80s) is so predictable that even though the episode ends with Montana vetoing that idea and literally and emotionally pushing him away, the AHS powers that be didn’t think it was a spoiler to reveal he is dead in the finale in the promo. While wanting to stay young and beautiful, even in a purgatory he has been explicitly told is hell on earth is super on-brand for Trevor, Montana’s sudden shame around being any kind of inspiration for Ramirez is a little odd. Beyond the killing spree she’s been on since death, Montana was more than happy to have Ramirez kill for her to get rid of a minor annoyance, and she must have known he was the one who was killing girls in LA who weren’t responsible for the death of her brother before they left for camp. Her attraction to him wasn’t just inspired by his ability to help her get revenge, she was turned on by his bloodlust. It’s possible every serial killer has a line, and killing kids is over hers, but is that enough for the kind of introspection that turns her actions, that she very recently thought were bad-ass, into something monstrous?

Brooke’s almost murderous turn was turned around pretty quickly with a slight assist from Donna. She was so full of resolve, so pumped up with righteous anger and the insistence prison had changed her, that it seemed almost like a letdown when the reporter, and possibly Brooke’s soul, was saved by Donna’s intervention. Maybe the show is saying not that you can move past the horrors in your history, but we can escape the darkness within with a little help from our friends?

Though Kajagoogoo seems to be handing their rebirth well, and the counselors and company are at least trying to make the best of their not-quite-dead life by torturing the man who killed them, Mr. Jingles seems to have crossed over to the other side, with the help of Gollum’s taller, grayer, creepier brother. Apparently, just below the lake is a kind of paradise where Bobby is alive and their mother is nicer than she ever was in real life. Though it’s unlikely poor Mr. Jingles will get to stay and feed the ducks indefinitely, it was a nice change of pace, if only for the soft lighting.

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Next week, it’s the season finale, and not everyone will be making it out alive. Possibly no one will be making it out alive? Except for Billy Idol. He still has the protection of Satan, after all.

Stray Observations

  • There’s a pretty big hole in Margaret’s plan to make Camp Redwood into a kind of living (but not really) wax museum for ’80s bands—any guests who comes for the musicians would also encounter the counselors, who would tell them this is a magical place where the dead never really die. You probably don’t want word of your property being a literal purgatory to get out.
  • What kind of life rights did Ryan Murphy have to wrangle to be able to massacre a still very much alive ’80s band? Or did every member just get a text from their various nieces and nephews explaining they had just been killed on cable?
  • There was something so terribly, horribly off about hearing “Fortunate Son” soundtracking a moment in the late ’80s instead of the late ‘60s or ’70s. Clearance Clearwater Revival playing on screen should only mean one of three things for a TV/film character —they’re going to fight in Vietnam, they’re having a flashback to when they were fighting in Vietnam, or they’ve decided to flee the country so they won’t have to fight in Vietnam.
  • Donna’s promise to Brooke that killing Margaret will wipe away all their sins might be putting too much faith in a single act to balance her own scale. Brooke killed one person in self-defense. Donna’s release of Mr. Jingles (plus the kidnapping of the nurse) lead to the murder of at least a half a dozen people, and she let Brooke sit in prison for five years even though she knew the truth of her innocence. Those are a lot of sins that need to be scrubbed out.
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