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REVIEW: ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ Episode 9: “Final Girl”

by Rex Meyer Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for this episode and previous episodes of American Horror Story: 1984. After eight weeks of insane plot twists, literal backstabbing, ghostly reincarnations, and gore galore, American Horror Story: 1984 aired its ninth and final episode in what is now the show’s shortest season ever. As the ghosts of Camp Redwood say goodbye to the '80s and the showdown between Brooke and Margaret comes full-circle, a surprise appearance by a series veteran and an unexpectedly sentimental ending brings the season to a satisfying conclusion. Although the year 1989 ended in a bloodbath for the dead inhabitants of Redwood, let’s flash forward 30 years later to see what became of the campsite after the fact. 

Image from IMDb
In 2019, Mr. Jingle’s now grown-up son, Bobby, arrives at a dilapidated and abandoned Camp Redwood. Played by the steamy Finn Wittrock, Bobby comes to seek answers on why he has been receiving checks from an anonymous source. Once he enters the campground, he encounters Montana and Trevor, who tell him that his father, Benjamin Richter (aka Mr. Jingles), drowned in the lake. Since the ghosts of Redwood have remained in purgatory with no contact to the outside world, they are ignorant to the cultural changes that have occurred since 1989. Bobby’s interactions with Montana and Trevor come from an entirely new perspective that contrasts well with the two established characters stuck in their cartoonish '80s attire. Bobby does not initially believe the two are ghosts until they prove it to him by killing themselves and resurrecting in front of his very eyes. Now that Bobby finally believes they are ghosts, Montana and Trevor disclose what exactly happened on Halloween night of 1989. Frustrated by Trevor’s attempts to prevent the festival-goers from entering Camp Redwood, Margaret shoots him off the premises and leaves him to die in the streets. Montana weeps for Trevor to crawl back to the camp so he can reincarnate as a ghost. Brooke suddenly appears and helps Trevor get back to the campsite. When Montana asks Brooke why she helped him, Brooke simply responds with, “because I’m not like you.” Flash forward to 2019, Montana tells Bobby that Brooke’s act of kindness changed her views on killing. Montana’s story arc was definitely one of the best aspects of the season. Her transition from being a cold-blooded killer to a witty antihero was not only gratifying to watch, but also amusing as viewers get to see how she and the other ghosts unite to kill Margaret.  Back in 1984, Bruce, the most pointless character of the season, gets a machete to the throat by Trevor, who lets him die off-camp so he cannot return as a ghost. Meanwhile, Ramirez is tricked into following Montana to a cabin, where she promises that Billy Idol is waiting to meet him. Unfortunately for Ramirez, Billy is nowhere to be found. The ghosts of Camp Redwood immediately leap out of the shadows and take their turns hacking Ramirez to death. Furthermore, the ghosts vow to repeatedly murder him for 30 years since his pact with Satan allows him to reincarnate. I’d go as far as to say this blood-spattered scene was probably one of the goriest scenes AHS has ever produced. While the average viewer might be turned off by the copious amounts of gore, horror fans will appreciate the over-the-top theatrics in this scene. Overall, Ramirez’s deaths were sweet to watch as he finally atoned for all the horrible crimes he committed. 
Image from IMDb
Back in 2019, Montana directs Bobby to meet Donna at the local asylum after being attacked by Ramirez at Redwood. She explains to him that Margaret was murdered on Halloween night in 1989. A flashback showcases the eagerly anticipated showdown between Margaret and Brooke. Sadly, the scene was not very climatic and left me wanting more. The choreography was average and the scene itself just felt short and pointless. For a season that was very fast-paced and had a tight narrative, the climax did not live up to expectations. After Margaret shoots Brooke in the abdomen, Chet and Trevor grab Margaret and take her outside to be executed. They proceed to chop off all her limbs and insert them into a wood-chipper. Her minced body parts—which look strangely like a cherry slushy—shoot all over the campgrounds so she can not reincarnate as a ghost. Just like the death of Ramirez, her death was incredibly gory and ridiculous in the best way possible. The excessiveness of the scene made it hilarious to watch and amplified AHS’s campier side.  Bobby and Donna trace the anonymous checks they had been receiving to Prinevill, Oregon, where they discover Brooke alive and well. Before we go any further, I must point out that Brooke looks extremely good for age (remember, 30 years have passed since 1989 so she would be around 50 years old). Of course, the show is self-aware in that aspect, as both Bobby and Donna mention how silky her skin looks. Anyway, Brooke states that she survived because Ray’s ghost helped her exit the campsite to get medical assistance. Brooke also admits that she sent the checks because she admired Bobby’s father (Mr. Jingles) and wanted Bobby to have a normal life. After this meeting, Bobby decides to return to Redwood one last time.  Upon his entrance to Camp Redwood, Bobby stumbles upon the ghost of Margaret. She tells him she can lead him to his father. Knowing that she framed his father, he unsurprisingly distrusts her intentions. Margaret reveals that she is able to exist as a ghost because she died right before the wood-chipper blended her head. Soon after, Margaret tries to kill Bobby, but is killed by Mr. Jingles; however, Bobby’s reunion with his dad is short-lived when Margaret resurrects and kills Jingles to be the “final girl,” aka the female survivor who lives to tell the story.  Finally, Lavania Richter, Jingles’ mother and Bobby’s grandmother, appears and summons the other ghosts who besiege Margaret. Lavania tells Bobby he is handsome and the two say their goodbyes. In a typical '80s-film fashion, the episode closes with a bittersweet ballad as Bobby waves goodbye to Lavania, his father, and young Bobby one last time. 
Image from IMDb
American Horror Story: 1984 was a wild season that paid great tribute to the horror films of the 1980s, as well as the cultural landscape of the decade. Like many slasher films, the knives were sharp, the kills were extravagant, and the music pierced the heart of '80s nostalgia. Making Emma Roberts the lead was one of the best decisions the creators could have made, and the equally compelling supporting cast provided both laughter and terror that made the season’s thin storyline worthwhile. Although unpredictable in its execution, the finale presented a heartfelt conclusion that tied up all loose ends and commented on the lasting legacy of the '80s. With its over-the-top campiness and extremely gory death sequences, AHS: 1984 was a fantastic season that made a huge gamble by entering new, uncharted territory, where it could have easily met its demise but ultimately prevailed in the end.
Images: IMDb Featured Image: IMDb

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