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American Horror Story: 1984 9.9 Review – “The Final Girl”

November 14, 2019 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
American Horror Story: 1984 Finale
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American Horror Story: 1984 9.9 Review – “The Final Girl”  

As this very short season comes to a close, I found myself waiting for the theme of the season to be revealed. Every season is about something that goes beyond the setting and character types we get each year. Whether it’s the horror of the family dynamic, the price of seeking fame, or a deep dive into the benevolence of alien life—every season asks larger questions. But this season? Not really. Having finished the final episode of American Horror Story 1984 I’m wondering what the point of it all was. Spoilers follow.

As always, we had a swell cast full of fun people being outrageous. Most period pieces are about showcasing the time in question, focusing on all the things that endured (or didn’t). This season had tons of that, and the finale brought that into sharp relief by setting this final episode in the present day. In addition to simply telling us the year—the ep shows us our beloved Finn Wittrock getting out of an Uber (or is it a Lyft?) and snapping a few pics with a smartphone. Shades of Hypodermic Sally echo as we realize how much a trapped ghost would have loved having an iPhone.

It doesn’t take long for the show to tell us that the newcomer to Camp Redwood is a living dude named…Bobby Richter. I bet you have questions. I know I did. Like how does the kid think his last name was “Richter?” That’s not the name his family was using when he was born. And there’s no reason to presume his Aunt (who we know raised him) knew about it. We’re told later that little Bobby (whose Aunt didn’t bother to change his name despite, apparently, knowing his history and that there was a prolific killer after him) heard this news from his Aunt on her deathbed. This deathbed convention being the latest in the many, many, MANY borrowed tropes of this season. Like the mysterious money being sent from a secret source.

In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of anything that happens in this season that hasn’t happened in a horror film, or even a comedy horror film. Bodies in wood chippers remind many people of Fargo. Personally, I crack up laughing when I see one because I’m thinking of Tucker & Dale versus Evil. We do know that the Night Stalker was right about most of the scheduled bands being One Hit Wonders. Sorry, Kajagoogoo. Sure, aerobics are kinda dumb and Judd Nelson never got his Oscar. But he did star in TWO Cabin by the Lake movies and that’s almost as good. I miss Slice soda too. They had tart apple soda and it was great—but I digress.

All that lead up to the big music and food fest finally culminated in…nothing. No musical cameos. No well-cast doppelgangers doing covers? And no Billy Idol. I might complain about that a few more times because there was so much lead-up and no payoff whatsoever. It’s like Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica all over again. The festival never happens, and the revelers drive away angrily, but without incident.

Bobby Richter is looking for his dad, Jingles. No one has seen him. Does this mean that he really did ascend to another level of afterlife? Have he, Lavinia, and his brother Bobby found happiness in their own version of Heaven? We see that Trevor eventually died. Through a kind act by Brooke, he is able to live for eternity with Montana. Both of these folks ended up kind and helpful after this, and after realizing what selfish shitheels they’ve both been.

Remember in “Asylum” when Lana Winters goes from sympathetic lead to grasping opportunist in the space of one episode? We marveled at how someone could become so hated in just a few scenes? Montana and Trevor seem to be the reverse of this. Can we really accept them as decent people now that they’ve stopped killing and started doing helpful things—like protecting Bobby? No, not really. Trevor and Montana are both pretty awful. For better or worse, they deserve each other. Montana does deserve credit for bestowing Ramirez with the moniker “Beezlefuck.” That’s good stuff. Later, Brooke is shot and Margaret killed, though clumsily.

Ghosts have become a bit more savvy about where people are allowed to die. When Dylan McDermott (who was largely wasted in this meaningless half-red herring role) dies, he’s ousted from Camp Redwood. Courtney dies and stays on site. We see that Jonas, Margaret’s other campmates, Chef Bertie (yay) and others have all formed a kind of community. This teaming up allowed them to throw a Death Party on Ramirez, so he gets killed roughly eleventy billion times until we get to another horror trope: They were fooling around when they should have been paying attention. This is the cornerstone of franchises like Friday the 13th, or most horror situations involving a babysitter. Only this time, it’s Chef Bertie delightfully trying to get something going with Chet. And she almost succeeds. Sadly, a serial killer interrupted. Those guys ruin everything.

Despite Ramirez’s release, Bobby manages to escape and find his way to Red Meadows. We expect him to see Donna there, but don’t really expect him to be grabbed and almost forcibly committed on the say-so of one nervous receptionist. Did I miss something there? Should we know “Jess” from something? That just seemed bizarre that a guy asking for a doctor and looking nervous would just be grabbed and almost hauled away. But anyway…Donna believes herself to be the Final Girl. That would have been cool. But there’s more. Brooke is alive, and she’s the one who’s been sending Bobby money every month.

Everything gets wrapped up so neatly; every character gets some variation of the fate they deserve. Is the message of the season that we all get what we deserve in the end? Other seasons have overtly denied that concept—like Murder House and Freakshow. Bobby, Brooke, and Donna get to live their lives, though I’d argue that Donna doesn’t deserve anything like that. The journalist who was killed (Stacey) was never seen again. Lavinia and Benjamin find peace, but I’m loathe to say that either of them deserves it given all the murders they did. Margaret gets to live at the camp when she clearly doesn’t deserve to.

Maybe the theme of this season is that there is no “ending” per se, that things keep going and change over time just because our perceptions of them. Montana says the ghosts will live on if people tell their stories. Donna says a life well lived is its own reward. Brooke is in favor of forgetting the past and forging ahead. Can there really be TWO Final Girls? If so, does that make the episode title a lie? I say the idea of people just moving on and forgetting about something so huge and life-altering seems impossibly far-fetched. But then, that’s American Horror Story for you.

The music tonight was on par with the rest of the season. No Idol though, which as I’ve mentioned, is bullcrap. Bogus. Most non-triumphant. The final music of the season though, that horrible power ballad from Mike and the Mechanics about telling people things while they’re still alive? That really punctuated the line they’ve been straddling all season. Was that a brilliant homage to the past, or a sappy bunch of oversentimental garbage. In the end, it barely matters. You know I’ll be back next year.

See you’s then!

The final score: review Good
The 411
Another season of American Horror Story is behind us, and we're once again left to ponder what we've been given. Was this season a celebration of the 80s or a scathing indictment? Was it a masterful homage or a cheap rip-off of slashers? Were the musical cues about respectful nostalgia, or are we laughing out loud at what passed for music in the synth-fueled 80s?