Review: American Horror Story: 1984 S09E04 — True Killers [2019]

Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ Iɴᴅᴇx —

a review by the Crow.

True Killers

SPOILER LEVELS at CONSIDERABLE

This week, on American Horror Story: 1984, we begin with an explanation as to what happened in the final scene from last week. At some point in the recent past (defined as “Then”), Montana and the Night Stalker meet at her night-time “men only” aerobics class. That same night, Ramirez goes on to murder one of her patrons after he is rude to her without her knowledge. This — as it happens — makes Montana exceedingly happy. After the two have sex, she tasks Ramirez with killing someone on her behalf, slowly and painfully. The target? Our very own “last American virgin”: Brooke.

It’s long been a suspicion of mine that the “White Wedding” scene from the second episode might not have been as throwaway as it seemed; and of course, the best man — who Brooke’s ex-fiancé suspected her of cheating on him with, and then murdered — happens to be Montana’s beloved brother.

Oh, how shocking a revelation it is. This serial features so many twists and turns in its plot that they fail to have an effect on me any longer. At this point, Bertie might very well have been Trevor’s aunt’s best friend’s dog’s murderer and I wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

We skip back to “Now”, and pick up from where we left things last week. I won’t bother summarising specifics, but I will be talking in some detail about the main subplot that the episode features.

We were all correct. Margaret was the one who committed the 1970 massacre after attempting to manipulate the lonely and unstable Richter into “protecting” her multiple times. He does end up “protecting” her, of course, when she frames him for her crimes. Following the dismissal of his pleas of innocence, Richter is submitted to electroshock and chemical torture during his incarceration, and slowly becomes convinced that the murders really were his fault. Once confronted by Margaret, his entire reality crumbles around him — fuelled by a shockingly good performance by John Carroll Lynch) — and he embraces the monster that the world, and especially Margaret has turned him into. And then he is shot thrice in the torso and left for dead by Margaret.

And thus, Benjamin Richter/Mr Jingles stands head and shoulders above the others as the best-written character on American Horror Story: 1984. He is tragic, menacing, seemingly unstoppable, and comes capped off by one of the best performances in the show so far.

His earlier encounter with the Night Stalker firmly proves he is a force to be reckoned with, as he dispatches the Night Stalker with the sort of “grace” one would expect from the likes of Jason Voorhees. Add to that the fact that Margaret fails to kill him, and that he disappears into thin air in a split second, and we’re looking at a slasher villain worthy of a place amongst the greats. His occasional acts of mercy only add depth to his character, and I — for one — would like to know more about the man’s personal journey. He even shares a tender moment with his old friend Chef Bertie, enjoying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — even taking the time to hack the crusts off — before being driven to murder by the sight of Xavier.

And yes, Chef Bertie was good people. She was probably the only good person at the camp, barring Xavier and Trevor. Or she might have been a pet-murderer like I mentioned earlier, if the show continues to tie knots into its plot threads. I had hoped Richter would spare her, but that doesn’t happen. The man is embracing the monster they say they is, until Margaret locks him into his new persona.

I also call for a moment of silence for Trevor and Xavier’s “pretty” looks. There are no unmarred souls left at Camp Redwood.

It’s revealed that Donna is the one who set up all the traps around the campgrounds. When she had the time, or where she gained the skills to set all these traps around the camp in under a week (unless she gambled on Jingles’ compliance), I do not know, but good work, I suppose.

The final scenes also convolute the happenings. After being murdered by Jingles, the Night Stalker comes back to life, fuelled by what seems to be Satan. It might explain his strange motions in his appearance at the aerobics class, but this whole subplot makes little sense to me. Unless, of course, it marks all of those who died coming back to life.

While Zach Villa is almost impeccable in the role he’s given, I have quite a lot of distaste for the way American Horror Story is glamourising a man as vile as Richard Ramirez. I think it’s almost irresponsible, in a way, and disrespectful to the victims of the man himself. I can forgive the silliness we’re watching, given that the serial is the dumbest thing I have seen in a while, but I cannot agree with this one point. I must admit, though, that the character’s reverence of Mr Jingles was quite fun to watch.

And keep in mind that missing in all of this is the only confirmed ghost: Jonas. What’s happening with him, we’re still in the dark about. Keep in mind, also, that Margaret’s story about how Trevor died doesn’t add up with what the others heard, so I fully expect the next episode to begin with a confrontation between Margaret and the remaining survivors.

Do I like American Horror Story: 1984? No, I don’t. The show continues to suffer from editing issues and a ludicrous plot that even slashers from the 80s would turn their noses up at. Those movies were simple, brainless, and delivered on the blood they promised their audiences. This serial suffers from a chronic problem of over-complicating every plot thread it finds, while discarding some interesting ones out of hand. At some point, I expect to find the whole cast reunited by some supernatural means, and the ridiculousness of that sentence should sum up how insane I think this show is.

There are some things to enjoy. With Trevor gone, I’m only invested in Xavier and Richter at the moment, and I do want to see more of Richter and Jingles. It’s evident that while he’s embraced the monster, he finds himself unable to commit to what “they” made him into. The music continues to flash me back to the soundtrack to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which is a good thing, no matter how subpar I felt that game was.

Am I interested in finding out how this ends? Not particularly. I only want to know what happens to Richter. While I’m duty bound to continue reviewing this series, I seriously doubt I’m going to enjoy doing so.

— Crow out.


Final Ratings

THE CROW: 5/10
THE RAVEN: 6.5/10


Here’s the official poster:

4 thoughts on “Review: American Horror Story: 1984 S09E04 — True Killers [2019]”

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