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The dead are back for round two on American Horror Story

Photo: Kurt Iswarienko (FX)
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Maybe it’s a nod to the approximately fifty ads for Zombieland: Double Tap that played throughout tonight’s episode, but with a little help from Satan, the dead were rising at Camp Redwood tonight. And some of them were happier about it than others.

Donna (the psychologist formerly known as not-Rita) got a somewhat sympathetic backstory, though not quite sympathetic enough for Mr. Jingles to mercy kill her. Jingles’ sudden lucidity in the face of knowing not only had he been imprisoned for years for a crime he did not commit, but he had actually become a mass murderer at least partly based on that information was, if not necessarily completely sensical, at the very least interesting. It played off the essential question of the episode, are killers born or made, nicely, if more soberly than say, Xavier turning Mr. Jingles into a human pincushion with his Robin Hood skills (side note: wouldn’t it be a little dangerous to put actual archery into your rendition of Robin Hood if you’re doing dinner theater)?

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Of course, while that might be the driving force, the thesis of this week’s episode, the greatest question it gifted its audience, possibly the best question offered by any episode of AHS, is if you lose your virginity to a ghost, does it count? Of course, virginity is a social construct, and a ghost that has the capacity to have sex with a human is obviously a pretty special ghost, but the question remains. The moment before Brooke realized she had just slept with Casper was almost sweet, and a nice breather between blood baths. It was a reminder AHS could use more pauses.

The most interesting murder (name of the next big true-crime podcast?) of the evening was definitely the demise of poor, poor Chet, who was already suffering a massive stab wound when Margaret rowed him out for a little soul-saving with a side of murder. To add more injury to injury the ex-jock was pummeled, had his ear cut off while he was entirely conscious, and then was dragged to the bottom of the lake after Margaret crushed the fingers that were so desperately holding on to the edge of the boat. It’s hard to call something overkill on a show where almost every character has been nearly killed before they finally bit it, but his trip to a watery grave is definitely a contender for the biggest overkill of the week.

As dawn breaks and the bus of campers finally descended on Brooke getting really, really into what was a murder of self-defense, there’s a reminder of another scary aspect of a killing spree in 1984 — no forensics. It’s hard to believe with Mr. Jingles having just escaped from the mental hospital and several of the deceased missing their ears that all the carnage will be pinned on Brooke, but with Margaret, one of the only other living witness to the night’s events, seemingly intent on blaming her, she’ll likely be charged with at least a few murders.

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There’s almost no time spent with Brooke post-arrest, which seems to point to her breaking point being a one-off rather than a turning point that transforms her from meek aspiring nobody to a bloodthirsty overalls enthusiast. Her character still hasn’t really developed past a tragic figure, though the reveal that her murderous fiancé was once her grade school rival who turned the whole class against her until she dumbed herself down was painfully sad. Her desire to be nobody doesn’t seem to jell perfectly with getting to know herself after not knowing who she is for so many years, but you can’t expect complete self-actualization from a person just trying to escape one or more crazed killers.

With a new day and a new reality (the somehow resurrected dead are stuck at the camp, but willing and able to murder anyone who dares drop-in) opens up a whole lot of new possibilities for this season with only a few episodes left.

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Next week is AHS’ 100th episode. Though the teaser did give a retrospective of the last eight seasons, there’s nothing that suggests any crossovers in the near future. But, could it really be a 100th episode celebration without at least a cameo from Sarah Paulson? She’d make such a great outraged mother, demanding a refund and money for a psychiatrist to treat her would-be camper traumatized by Brooke’s manic stabbing.

Stray observations

  • Even reanimated corpses brought to life by Satan himself know about seatbelt safety.
  • That EMT takes the fact Ray has no blood pressure in stride. Does she think they cover a lack of pulse in the living in med school, but not paramedic training?
  • Those kids are definitely never going to drink the bug juice, no matter where they go to camp next.
  • Brooke tosses that boom box like it’s an iPod shuffle. Those things were heavy!
  • Possibly the biggest mystery of the episode is who put Ray’s head in the fridge. And did they predict finding it there would give Brooke TV’s worst post-coitus reckoning since Buffy?
  • Those are some jaded cops and detectives to be so unfazed by the headless bodies, body-less heads, and general carnage next to all the canoes and supplies for friendship bracelets. It seems unlikely that they were all around the last time the camp was the site of mass murder, so is it just growing up around the stories that’s enough to make them act like a stack of body bags is no big deal?
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