Last night’s penultimate episode of FX’s American Horror Story: 1984, titled Rest in Pieces, put all of the surviving main players from 2019’s horror offering center stage, all poised to make bold and bone chilling moves guaranteed to haunt their – and our – nightmares for many nights to come.
This episode continues the theme of Richter being the Horror Story equivalent of Good Old Charlie Brown; alive or dead, it seems as this episode begins that the guy just can’t catch a break. In the heat of battle between Richter and his arch-nemesis Ramirez, Bruce pops up and is promptly enlisted by Ramirez to assist him in eliminating once and for all the original hard luck ghost. Yes, ghost, because after the events of last week’s episode, Richter is no longer a man of flesh and blood but rather a chain rattling, bump in the night specter intent on having vengeance for his fallen family.
Many things are juggled in the universe of American Horror Story and, in the best and most typical soap opera fashion, we leave Richter’s own solo pursuits and drop in on Donna and Brooke who share this episode with a tabloid reporter who has ferreted out their true identities and wants the scoop on the nasty goings-on’s at Camp Redwood. Brooke is not having any of this and, on the sly, decides the most prudent thing to do is to take said reporter off of the dance card by killing her. All seems to be building up to this newest murder until Donna, acting as a voice of reason, convinces Brooke to take a harder look at Margaret, instead, and thus granting a temporary reprieve to this new face who, upon running off, meets her maker instead through the devices of the trifecta of Bruce, Ramirez and Margaret. Margaret cuts Ramirez and Brue in on her plans to off the bands that are set to perform at Camp Redwood – save Billy Idol, natch.
One of the endlessly fun things about Horror Story is its tonal shifts; it travels the emotional spectrum between camp and drama with doses of very dark humor sprinkled in for sheer variety. In the eighth instalment romance was on the menu, albeit of the undead kind as poor Trevor pours out his heart to Montana’s spirit in a scene that Shakespeare never wrote but really should have. Pathos? Check. Heart-wrenching unrequieted love? Bingo. Potential betrayal? Likewise. Montana is wracked about her own involvement with Ramirez and the moments between the two star-crossed lovers is wonderfully performed by Billie Lourd and Matthew Morrison.
Remember a few paragraphs back when I compared Richter to a supernatural Charlie Brown? The proof is in the pudding of Richter’s imprisonment by the vengeful spirits of the counselors who circumvent his much justified revenge on this season’s Big Bad, Ramirez. Confronted by the spirit of his young brother, Bobby, Richter is dragged into the dark lake where he is reunited with Lavinia and Bobby who persuade him to stay with them in the briny deep.
This is a penultimate episode in every sense of the word, from beginning to end. Corners are tidied and neatened and characters are placed in impossible situations in the best tradition of the old Saturday afternoon matinee cliff-hangers. Next week’s episode is appropriately enough titled Final Girl and it will be indeed interesting to see just how final the word “final” really is. I’ll be tuned in and white knuckling my poor remote in hopes of a cheery outcome, but of course this is American Horror Story and cheery episodes are nothing if not an anomaly….