Last night marked the season finale of Ryan Murphy’s and Brad Falchuk’s superlative season of American Horror Story: 1984 and the end came not with a whimper but with a bang, a trick that’s not always easy to pull off with television season-ender’s.
Let the record show that last night’s episode, titled The Final Girl, plays around brilliantly with Time and Space. This is not the first, or probably the last, that Horror Story has used this device (the second season flash forward to Evan Peters was nothing short of brilliant and heartbreaking), but it’s always judiciously taken out of the toy box and then gingerly placed back in when the creators and writers are done with this particular trope. As the show opens, it’s now thirty years later and Richter’s grown son Bobby (played to pitch-perfect perfection by Finn Wittrock) shows up at a Camp Redwood that has essentially fallen down into ruins and returned to nature. You see, the son has routinely been receiving checks from an unknown person since he was but a child (recalling to this long in the tooth television watcher the setup for Governess Victoria Winters in the cult classic soap opera, Dark Shadows). Trevor and Montana make with the backstory of last week’s episode by explaining to Bobby that his father pulled a vanishing act after being dragged into the murky waters of the camp lake, never to return. They speak of that long ago 1989 and the confrontation that ensued; Trevor, determined to stop any more deaths on the cursed property, blocks up any traffic that might be attempting to enter Camp Redwood. Margaret attacks him and leaves him for dead off the property, only to have Brooke materialize and take him back to the camp grounds so that he may return as a ghost. Trevor, nobody’s fool, goes at Bruce and leaves him stranded away from Redwood to buy the big farm up in the sky. But the spirits that walk restlessly along the grounds of the camp know that the only way to keep Ramirez from returning is to effectively kill him. Over. And over. And over again. For thirty years.
All bets are off when, in present day (that’s 2019 to you and I, dear readers) Ramirez stirs again and sets his sight’s now on the son of his enemy, Richter, attacking Bobby. Bobby is intercepted by Montana and sent packing to the asylum where he encounters Donna. It’s here the deck of cards for Brooke begins to fold in on itself when Bobby and Donna trace the source of his monthly stipend to a very much alive Brooke who has survived the years thanks in part to Ray. As the show concludes, Bobby once again returns to Camp Redwood where a vengeful spirit of Margaret repeatedly tries to kill him, only to felled once and for all by his father, Lavinia and the ghostly counsellors.
What is truly intriguing and ultimately rewarding about this finale is that, at least by American Horror Story standards, we’re given a happy ending in spades and all of the actors equip themselves famously for the bittersweet father-son reunion of Bobby and Richter. The always marvelous John Carrol Lynch hits new highs with his acting in this episode and particularly in the closing minutes.
The season as a whole this year for American Horror Story has been nothing short of a real love letter to the slasher films we all grew up watching (sometimes when we weren’t supposed to be, right?), but with a real depth and empathy that the Friday the 13th series and most of the Halloween franchise steered clear of. The season had tremendous heart – some of it quite literal – and, at the end of the day, it truly presented a new high-water mark for a long running series and supplied it with enough fuel to go blasting into a new season.