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American Horror Story 1984 9.2 Review – ‘Mr. Jingles’

September 26, 2019 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
American Horror Story: 1984 - 'Mr. Jingles'
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American Horror Story 1984 9.2 Review – ‘Mr. Jingles’  

So much to parse in this week’s episode, “Mr. Jingles.” Let’s begin by pointing out that Mr. Jingles didn’t get much more backstory development this week. I’m kind of unclear why this ep was named for him. Plot wise, some major hints were dropped this week. So major in fact, that I’m already wondering whether or not they’re red herrings. Let’s get into it. Spoilers yada yada.

Dr. Hopple high-tails it over to the camp to find a highly suspicious Margaret refusing to shut down the camp despite Richter’s escape. This is where we learn that Margaret carries a gun. No booze, no “clove” cigs, and no coitus, but guns? Sure. Margaret doesn’t strike me as the Good Guy with a Gun type, but she is sure she can take out Jingles should the situation present. It feels abundantly obvious that Margaret is in on these killings, and the opening credits haven’t even rolled yet. Oh yeah, and Hopple dies. RIP. We see that Margaret’s idea of “lights out” is to cut all power and phones to every part of the camp—except her cabin. Not very safe, is it?

Back at the camp, Brooke gets the news of Crazy Ed’s murder. I guess a cameo in The Fugitive doesn’t pull much screen time even when you’ve got a famous name like Swayze. We hear Montana’s tale of forced fat camp and learn of Brooke’s Red Wedding. Ugh. Brooke explains that she’s still a virgin, which seems to make Montana pretty hot. We have to wonder if there’s anything else that inspired Brooke’s sad line, “Nobody ever believes me.” She’s got a resting bitch face on her—maybe people just assume she’s a liar. What we do know is that her wedding dress was hideous.

During the dark time of the night, Xavier goes off to fetch a towel and is grabbed by “Blake,” the sugar daddy from an earlier threatening phone call. Xavier’s story is sad but dramatically typical. Gay for pay, doesn’t want to do it, taken advantage of by an obvious predatory. Xavier is grateful but tired of being used. While the fellas are pulling a Porky’s outside the boy’s shower — Daddy Blake is killed with a totally phallic object, and essentially impaled into a glory hole. Given what we know of Blake, I’m fine with that. G’nite, Daddy! Am I mistaken, or did Tom Sellick do some gay porn? I really want to say that he did. Oh, and it’s not “Coma Chameleon,” you dingbats!

Brooke’s second struggle and chase with Ramirez ends in the last thing we’d ever expect. The Hiker reemerges from the woods to tackle the Night Stalker, alive and ranting that “You’re not supposed to be here,” and “Wait, I don’t die like this.” Ramirez kills him…then a few minutes later has to kill him again. Are the woods the setting of a time warp? Is the Hiker dead? Are all the campers dead? Not Richard though, he’s definitely alive.

Let’s look at this, shall we? Brooke was in a shootout and has fought off a serial killer. Xavier overdosed in a park; Chet had the kind of disappointment people commit suicide over; and something happened to Montana that led her to carry around a knife, even to bed. We don’t have much time to think about it, because the guys find Xavier’s dead daddy, and everybody is down to GTFO with all haste. Margaret, Chef Bertie, and the Hiker (whose name turns out to be Jonas—which is totally biblical) survived a camp massacre. Speaking of Bertie—where has she been all week?

This is when shit gets suitably real. Rita is confronted with Jingles while Margaret finds Ramirez in her cabin demanding information. Confoundingly, both women live. We don’t see how Nurse Rita makes it out alive, which I find suspicious as hell. The inexperienced nurse who doesn’t tend to bloody people after hours and mysteriously survives the Jingly one? Nope. Shenanigans! Margaret is clearly attracted to dangerous men, which gives us even more suspicion about her and her dearly departed husband. This whole scene is disturbing and highly unflattering to Christianity on the whole. Of course, it’s not too keen on Satanism either. AHS rarely has a kind word to say about any religion.

We learn a few things from Margaret and the Night Stalker’s exchanges. He wants to know what’s up with the Hiker and why he had to be killed more than once. Fair question, but no one seems to know. Margaret is aware that he’s been dead for 14 years, but that’s all. Ghost? Zombie? Time warp? Something else entirely? Arthur Arden’s patient annex? We also learn that Freedom = God + Trauma. Margaret explains that God can be an excuse for anything bad that you do, just like it can excuse anything that was done to you. That’s garbage, of course, but we all know of real-life people who believe as Margaret does.

The attempt to flee the camp is crushed by a quick car accident, leaving everyone stranded. Even Margaret’s car is smashed. As they try to speed out of town, Xavier confesses his connection to Blake. Chet confesses to his steroid use, to the surprise of literally no one. As they all barricade themselves in an unsecure space, there’s a frantic pounding on the door. Aaaand, scene. Is it Ramirez? Jingles? Margaret? Someone else entirely? We know that there are at least two killers.

Let’s talk about these woods. If indeed Jonas the Hiker is a ghost, then the woods must follow standard ghost rules that we’ve seen in the Murder House and Hotel Cortez. That could mean they can escape their surroundings on Halloween. It could also mean that the blood moon will have significance, or some other noteworthy traumatic event. Jonas has no idea what’s going on, probably because he’s the only ghost in the place. We know that in other ghostly AHS scenarios, ghosts are informed of their new parameters by other, older ghosts. We won’t get a Halloween show this season since it’s summertime, so what could the new magical date be? The original massacre makes the most sense.

Our last question — is Margaret the original camp massacre killer? We know she has a dark raincoat like the killer, though that could certainly be a mislead. Jonas’s flashback certainly implies a less-than-hysterical Margaret back in the day — filthy like Brooke was after she was chased last week. If Margaret is the actual camp killer — that would mean that Jingles is seeking revenge against her rather than finishing the job he began in 1970. Can someone really hold still and quiet while a body part, even one made of cartilage, is cut off? I really don’t think so.

Music this week included Pointer Sisters (and Nurse Rita rocking out to it), Greg Kihn Band, Billy Idol, and something highly funky that I could not place. Movie reference-wise, this was mostly Porky’s and any number of summertime slashers we’ve already discussed. One thing though—when Ramirez dug his curved knife blade into the dock—I wondered if it will leave a mark that is noticed later as proof of Brooke’s story. This happens in the incredible Bette Davis film, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte which is a companion piece to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

The kids should be arriving by next week, and we’ll just have to wait and see how that changes the dynamic. I’m also hoping they introduce a bunch of focal characters since the murder count so far has been kinda low. Two deaths this week in a show with at least two killers? Booooo! Okay, I’m mostly kidding. But I want a whole lot more craziness. I’m just waiting for the telltale AHS lens shift that brings the season into new focus. But when? Wheeeen?

See you’s next week!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Slasher movies have been popular for so long, since Dementia 13 really. When we turn on a new one, we always think we can guess who is gonna die first. Often, it's the black guy, the funny fat guy, or the lonely girl. Last week, the death of the doomsayer was predictable AF. This week's opening death—not so much. Then there's Jonas…