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American Horror Story has too many killers in the kitchen (and everywhere else)

Photo: Kurt Iswarienko (FX)
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American Horror Story: 1984 is starting to resemble that Spider-Man meme of all the different Spider-Men pointing at each other in recognition. If the camp is completely overrun with killers, do they start canceling each other out, in the same way an overload of poison can cause your body to reject it (at least, according to Catherine Zeta-Jones quoting a Napoleon biography in The Terminal)? That remains to be seen, at least for a little while, because this week’s episode was all about getting the facts straight. And even though the twists were rarely shocking, there were enough of them to keep any viewer pretty busy.

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The night’s biggest reveal, and yet somehow the least shocking, is that the camp counselor who will not stand for bad language is actually a big supporter of murder and mutilation. Yes, it was Margaret, not Mr. Jingles, sporting pigtails instead of oversized khaki shorts, who actually murdered the cabin full of counselors. Her eventual murder spree was telegraphed a little when her peers bullied her in a very unoriginal way and she gave them an aptly named death stare, and telegraphed a lot when she responded to Mr. Jingles (then, a very kind seeming Benji who whittled animals for her) cutting his finger not by getting a bandaid, but sucking at the wound. You’d think camp counselors would have had to take a basic first aid class that would frown on that kind of thing. Of course, the revelation does bring up the sort of questions that would really interest fake Rita. Was Benji driven to kill because people become the monsters they are told they are, because years of abuse at the mental hospital had driven him insane, or a combination of the two? Did he spare that sad bullied boy because he always had a soft spot for the bullied, or because as someone who didn’t have a killer instinct, he needed his murderous impulses to be stirred up in some way? Maybe these can be supplemental queries for not Rita’s paper “Serial Killers, and How I Became an Accessory to One.”

The night’s second big twist, the reason behind Montana’s thirst for revenge against Brooke, was surprising but stretches credulity even on a show where the resident Satanist was just resurrected by nothing more than the continuous chant of Satan Satan Satan (seriously, not even some fake Latin?). It’s not just that it seems unlikely Brooke wouldn’t have heard of Montana, if she and her brother were as close as she described, and her brother was close enough to Brooke to platonically spend the night before her wedding with her. It’s the fact that Montana believes they did sleep together, and yet she puts the full weight of guilt on Brooke for causing her fiancée’s homicidal rage. Yes, grief-fueled vengeance is rarely completely rational, and like all the characters Billie Lourd has ever played, Montana doesn’t seem 100%, sanity wise. But still. Plus, what was Montana’s plan if a homicidal maniac didn’t happen into her aerobics class one night, Rambo outfit and all? Would she have stewed in her hatred forever, eagerly combing the obituaries just hoping karma came for Brooke?

The wheel spinning vibe of a night with a lot of backstories and not a ton of forward momentum was probably best captured by Montana and fake Rita’s fight. Montana had absolutely no reason to attack her; she knew she’s unstable, possibly ready to kill (definitely willing to leave someone to die). Even if it was argued that the same girl who gleefully hooked up under a vivisected corpse in a pool of blood felt some kind of sympathetic rage towards fake Rita on behalf the real, recently deceased Rita, why would she sneak up on her, undetected, only to whisper in her ear to alert her to her presence, giving her enough warning to mount an attack? The fight seemed pretty evenly matched in terms of their size, strength, and dependance on whatever the forest floor offered for weapons, so that offered a little dramatic tension, but it’s hard to get invested in a fight when there’s really no one to root for.

Next week, secrets are revealed, murderers come back from the dead, and the last few people who haven’t done anything in a murderous rage might get a little more murder happy.

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Stray Observations

  • Maybe it’s because AHS has had some gruesome, gruesome deaths and injuries over the last eight seasons, but even though Xavier’s first glimpse of his oven-crisped face is shown as obviously traumatic for the pretty boy, it just didn’t seem that bad?
  • Chef Bertie’s offer of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to Mr. Jingles, letting him know she remembered it was his favorite, was reminiscent of April Kepner rattling off a list of facts about her life and family when she was confronted by the Seattle Grace Hospital shooter on Grey’s Anatomy. Maybe they both watched the same Oprah episode?
  • Matthew Morrison has a really excellent “surprised by his own sudden death” face. Yet another theatrical muscle he never got to work during Glee.
  • The entire Richard resurrection scene was a little too much, but the green smoke made the whole thing almost comical.
  • A whole decade before Pulp Fiction, people still knew (or in this case, hoped) a shot of adrenaline into the heart will wake someone up. But before anyone tries this at home, they should remember to really dress any wounds before someone sits bolt upright and starts spraying blood everywhere.
  • Midnight manaerobics. That is all.
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