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‘AHS 1984’ Season Finale Recap: The Fate Of Mr. Jingles & Family In A Future Where “The ’80s Will Never Die”

Deadline — Anthony D'Alessandro

Spoiler Alert: This recap contains major reveals from tonight’s American Horror Story season 9 finale “AHS 1984: Final Girl” 

Tonight’s season 9 finale of AHS 1984 didn’t end like your run-of-the-mill ’80s slasher movie. There was no protag looking over their shoulder, worried the killer was still out there. There wasn’t a bad dream that the slayer was still alive. Instead, we end on syrupy note, literally Mike + the Mechanics’ Living Years, as we see the son of the father, completely cleaned of papa’s sins. And Billy Idol is a no-show, at least on the show which has served up singers playing themselves in the past, i.e. Stevie Nicks in AHS: Coven.

In Final Girl, written by Crystal Liu and directed by John Gray, we meet Bobby Richter, played by AHS troupe member Finn Wittrock. But instead of Wittrock playing a loose cannon, clown-obsessed rich brat like his Dandy Mott in AHS: Freak Show, he plays the sensitive guy looking for his past, specifically his long lost father, killer Mr. Jingles, aka Benjamin Richter, at Camp Redwood in 2019. Bobby has been receiving mysterious checks in the mail, and he believes it’s dad who’s been sending them to him. Bobby is met by the slain souls who haunt the joint, Montana Duke and her love interest, and former Mr. Margaret Booth, Trevor Kirchner (Matthew Morrison). He became a ghost after Booth killed him after he threatened to expose her for the murder of Kajagoogoo at the 1989 festival, and told her he was in love with someone else. It’s Brooke (Emma Roberts) who places Trevor in the arms of Montana, and that makes the warring frenemies square after the latter always had it out for the former for her brother’s death.

In the years since the 1989 Redwood Food and Music festival, which was expected to be a bloody melee, they’ve been aiming to rid the camp of any one ghostly slayer who brings ill will to it. The ‘game’ (as they call it in long-form improv) of AHS: 1984 has been that even though you’re killed at Camp Redwood, you can still keep on killing as a ghost. Because that’s the fun part of this season, and the departure from being a strict homage to Friday the 13th and Halloween — the innocent dead come alive to do bad again. But we learn some rules: if you’re killed, or if your body parts are outside the camp’s property lines, well, then you’re dead forever (evident in the hysterical quote tonight, “I can’t have you die on this property. You’re gonna rot in the Angeles forest, public land!!” says Trevor, who machetes Booth accomplice Bruce (Dylan McDermott), plus the fact that the ghosts are shooting Booth’s remains from the wood chipper outside the camp’s boundaries. But the one guy who gets to live in eternal purgatory at Camp Redwood is Satan worshipper Richard Ramirez, (Zach Villa), who is ensured to be killed by the ghosts every time his soul reawakens. Why do they have to kill him every time? Because he made a pact with the devil to come alive, flesh and blood, again and again.

Montana urges Bobby that if he wants answers about his father, to seek them out at the Red Meadows Asylum. They tell him this after Richard throws a knife in Bobby’s back as he’s trying to flee the camp. There, Bobby meets Donna (Angelica Ross), who gives him the D.L. on his father, Jingles; how he was innocent when he was first checked into the hospital, and how Booth framed him. She leads him to Brooke, who survived a bloody battle with Booth, and has married well and is living a peaceful life. It’s Brooke who has been sending Bobby checks, ensuring that he’d have a normal life, something she believed was possible for her, for anyone after Camp Redwood. She explains that Bobby’s dad tried to make a new life in Alaska, “but the camp pulled him back.” Hence her generosity toward Bobby: “I did it for me as much as I did it for you,” says Brooke. Hence, it’s Brooke who is the final girl out.

Bobby’s soul isn’t filled yet, and he ventures back to the camp. He’s met by Booth in the woods who, natch, attempts to kill him before she’s offed by Jingles himself, a sensitive ghost now. It’s here that Bobby sees his not only dad, but his grandmother (Lily Rabe) and former uncle, who was killed in a lake accident as a child.

As Montana tells Bobby in the end, “Tell our ghost stories to your children, the ’80s will never die.”

Overall, AHS 1984 was a fun romp, with it being the most critically acclaimed out of all the AHSs at 91% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The sass-a-frass comedy team of snappy Emma Roberts and deadpan Billie Lourd is one for the ages, and watching them in her post-Scream Queens doesn’t tire (her kneeslapper line tonight was “You can’t sing ‘Rebel Yell’ and not be a rebel”). It was funny watching Lourd go all method in her 1980s get-up, from teased blonde ’80s wig to leopard prints. The strongest suit this past season being wonderful parody, down to the pink and blues of an aerobics leotard, plus sending-up pics like the John Travolta-Jamie Lee Curtis aerobics movie Perfect. Co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk never tire in reinventing this series, which not only is finding legions of fans on Netflix, where old episodes sit, but continues to rack up big ratings, unheard of for basic cable series that have run this long, well over 100 episodes. Among all 172 scripted cable dramas and comedies this year to date, AHS: 1984 ranks 2nd in Adults and Women 18-34, behind only Game of Thrones/HBO, with the premiere ranking as the most-watched program for its night on TV (including broadcast) in nearly all key adult/men/women demos. For subsequent episodes, AHS: 1984 has ranked as the 2nd-most watched program each night on both cable and broadcast in Adults 18-34, and among the top programs on cable each night in most key adult/men/women demos.

 

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