Movies & TV / News

American Horror Story: 1984 9.7 Review – ‘The Lady in White’

October 31, 2019 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
American Horror Story 1984 - The Lady in White
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
American Horror Story: 1984 9.7 Review – ‘The Lady in White’  

Fans of American Horror Story are used to episodes that offer more questions than answers. This week though, we got answers to questions we didn’t even know we had. Was Ben Richter doomed from the start? Some might say so. In fact, I’m going to say so as I get into this spoilery review.

Richter’s dad died during the war, I’m thinking WWII. This left his overwhelmed mom working a crappy job to support her sons. At a time when gender roles were much more rigid, this arrangement was even more detrimental to growing children. Benji was chubby and bookish, and people around him were as shitty about it as you’d expect. Younger brother Bobby was the one Mother liked. The horror happens, and Bobby dies in a gruesome fashion that probably couldn’t have been prevented even if Benji had been staring at him the whole time. These opening scenes have all the earmarks of the summer camp slasher. We have a brutal death that drives someone insane with rage and grief. Counselors doing sex things instead of their jobs. A camp name change and quiet reopening.

Lavinia would have been more sympathetic if she wasn’t so horrible and selfish—and then she murdered a bunch of people. But I can’t help but see the narcissism inherent in her reactions to Bobby’s death. She blames everyone for not watching the kid—when as the mom—that’s kind of her job (pause for long debate about women in the workforce, and how moms can’t do goddamn everything). She compares herself to a goddess being punished, thus making the death of a child all about her. It never seems to occur to her that she wasn’t the only person who loved Bobby, or was grieved by her death. Then she tells her living son that she wished he had died instead, and saying he’s a “parasite.” Ew. This might be the most damaged and damaging character Lily has played yet. And I say that will a full memory of her in “Murder House.”

Brooke and Donna are working out their differences in 1989. Roller rinks are the order of the day, and they have fun skating badly and flirting with fellas. After 1,825 days in prison, Brooke can’t be blamed for having a little fun. Soon enough though, they’re picked up by a very “John Ryder” style hitchhiker. They also pass a poster seeking some missing women. Given Margaret’s lampshade comment last week, I fully expected her “lamp guy” to be Johnny (son of Bloodyface). He even makes a comment about “getting under your skin.” But no. I guess that’s for the best, since Margaret isn’t going to be getting any lampshade work done by that thumbless wonder. With that in mind, I think if you really want to hurt someone by cutting off a digit—the thumb is the way to go. The space bar alone would drive the victim insane.

What’s the point of bringing in Dylan McDermott, uglying him up with bad wigs and mustaches, and then leaving him tied to—oh wait. Maybe he’s going to join in the revenge game and become a wild card later on. We know he’s sadistic and brutal as evidenced by the ghastly choice he gave Brooke. (Seriously, watch the original Hitcher if you haven’t already) Who knows how he’s gonna react after being bested by two women. And how did he know Donna’s name and car? Why was he after her in the first place? Also, why did the cop that pulled up behind the ladies not have a partner? Is that realistic?

When modern Richter arrives back at the camp, he meets the bevy of ghosts that remain there. Montana seems to think killing will speed up their release from Camp Redwood. But that’s not in keeping with what we know about ghosts from seasons 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8. The only way this would be different is if the camp really was purgatory. That might explain why Bobby isn’t there. But how would we know the difference? How would they? Anyway, the ghost campers have decided not to murder anyone else until the festival begins. Unfortunately, a certain Night Stalker did not get the memo. Ghosts are such hedonists anyway, it’s not like he would have listened.

If Bobby is gone, why is his favorite toy still there? If Bobby is gone, why is his favorite toy still there? And why is the ball on a string and attached to the cup? Hahaha. Lavinia is a solid take on Pamela Vorhees, only with a sexier outfit. How is her white dress not blood-stained? Not really sure. I’ve not seen Mrs. Evers at the camp anywhere. Who else haven’t we seen at the camp? The real Rita, Jonas, or Chef Bertie. Where are they hiding? Or are they gone? If Camp Goldenstar / Camp Redwood really is purgatory, I’m not going to be pleased if they hold that off until the penultimate or final episode. This season is only nine eps long. So, any more major revelations need to drop soon, lest they seem cheap and desperate.

Has a dream you’ve had ever helped you formulate a plan, make a decision, or change your mind about something important? That’s what seems to be implied by the idea that Lavinia whispering to Margaret was the only push she needed to kill—because she was already pretty crazy. I don’t think I’m buying that, and I say this as a pretty crazy chick. Will there be more to that story, or is that all we get?

Okay, it’s time to talk about the most hilarious aspect of tonight’s episode. The senseless murder of Limahl, and all the rest of Kajagoogoo. The character design on this guy was perfect. Seriously, perfect. But the idea that they were only famous because Limahl made a deal with the devil? * chef kiss * Ramirez is at the camp to get revenge on behalf of Satan. So the battle between him and Richter should be pretty sweet. I can’t imagine Richter will let Ramirez win again. We can safely assume other 80s bands are due for slaughter. And if Billy Idol doesn’t show up for reals, I will be very disappointed after so much build up.

By the end of “The Lady in White,” it seems that Benji has made some progress with his terrible mom. Montana has a definite plan to murder everyone involved in Margaret’s festival, thus setting off a flurry of paranormal investigators. That might mean an appearance by Billie Dean Howard, if indeed, Ms. Paulson is showing up this season. It could even mean a version of Ed and Lorraine Warren, which would be fun despite my loathing for them in RL. Richter decides to off himself, which basically means he can be a ghost on his own terms rather than dying for Satan. Fair enough.

With two episodes remaining, there are a fair few consequences that need to be doled out. Obviously Margaret deserves a major comeuppance for all the people she’s hurt. Trevor seems to be getting off scot-free, and Ray has literally evaded consequences for killing someone before he got to the camp. Montana doesn’t seem to realize it, but she’s a terrible person who has caused tons of pain. Hell, we could even find out that she’s the one who told the fiancé that Brooke slept with her brother. The music was awesome this week, including some late Def Leppard, and a bit of Alice Cooper.

See you’s next week!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
As the big music festival at Camp Redwood approaches, we're treated to backstory going all the way back to 1948. In a lengthy homage to the original Friday the 13th (which is, in itself, an homage to Psycho), we meet Lavinia Richter—played by the great Lily Rabe. Elsewhere a decidedly un-Bloodyface Dylan McDermott reminds us why The Hitcher is a timeless film.