AHS 1984: “Red Dawn” Review (Spoilers)

The long night is finally over!  After an explosive and intense episode last week, “Red Dawn” proved its name true by finally bringing the dawn of a new day, along with the consequences of everything that transpired during the night.

(Spoilers Ahead: You’ve Been Warned!!!)

Shift in Direction
In many ways, last week’s “True Killers” felt very much like a climax to everything that had happened in the past few episodes.  We got a showdown between Mr. Jingles and Richard Ramirez, and Margaret was revealed to be the true killer behind the 1970 Camp Redwood massacre.  In its wake, “Red Dawn” felt like an epilogue to that as it dealt with the aftermath.

The episode opens with a flashback to 1980 as it’s revealed that “fake” Rita made the shocking discovery that her father was a serial killer.  Already a psychologist, it convinced her to study the minds of psychopaths and ultimately led her to release Mr. Jingles as a form of study.  She makes for a fascinating “villain” as she truly believes what she’s doing is justified in the name of science.

As Rita discovers that her father was a serial killer, it raises a very fascinating nature vs. nurture debate. Are killers born or made?  Perhaps we’ll never stop debating this.

Following his demonic resurrection, Richard Ramirez extends an olive branch to Mr. Jingles (who is killed via arrow, but also resurrected).  Just when Brooke thinks she’s safe from the infamous Ramirez, Montana reveals her true intentions and attempts to kill Brooke herself, something that probably would have been easier for her to do from the start.  Unfortunately however, Montana has a serious monologue problem, and which gives Brooke ample time to escape during these lengthy speeches about revenge.

Amidst all the tension, Brooke releases it by losing her virginity to Ray.  Unfortunately this may cost her the ability to be the final girl (if we’re going by traditional slasher rules).  But she is horrified to discover later that Ray is actually dead and she’s made love to a ghost, so we’re not sure if this truly counts as losing her virginity (perhaps we’ll have to consult Violet and Tate from Murder House).

So it’s later revealed that because he’s dead, Ray had no blood pressure, but then how is he able to do other things, so to speak?

Finally Dawn
As dawn finally begins to break, Margaret goes all Godfather Part II by killed Chet on a small boat out on the water.  As this happens, Brooke and Montana are having their altercation, which ends at daybreak and Brooke getting the upper hand.  She kills Montana just as a school bus filled with children drives up, just in time for them to see everything and become traumatized for the rest of their lives.

The episode ends with the police taking Brooke away in handcuffs, as Margaret claims that she went psychotic and killed everyone.  Montana and Ray realize that they are forever bound to Camp Redwood and start to settle in their new roles as ghosts there.  And after stealing a police car, Ramirez and Jingles embark on a serial killer road trip to LA.

When you were just defending yourself but end up looking super guilty when the police arrive.

Only the First Half?
The season probably could have ended with this episode and it would have been just as effective.  These first five episodes all felt like one continuous story beat, which is a series first for American Horror Story.  It worked perfectly for the slasher subgenre, because the “real time” aspect allowed tension to build.

Now that this long night is over, we can only speculate what may happen in the next five episodes.  It will most likely deal with the consequences of everything that transpired here.  Brooke may have been arrested but the truth with eventually come out about Ramirez, Jingles, and Margaret, none of whom we’ve seen the last of.

While the season probably could have ended with this episode, it’s very possible that the second half of the season will feel like the sequel to the first half, which is actually kind of a brilliant idea (assuming they go with it).  It would be a fun way to do two slasher plots in one season, and for the next five episodes to be in the same “real time” format as the first five.

The series is also really doubling down on their mythology surrounding ghosts.  Like the spirits who are tied to Murder House or Hotel Cortez, those at Camp Redwood are free to move about and interact with the living, even capable of having sex with and killing them.  But they are physically unable to leave the place they’re tied to.

Speaking of Murder House and Hotel Cortez, who else hopes Ramirez and Jingles’ road trip to LA takes them there?!

It’s hard to know where the season will go from there, or if it should even continue.  We’re very much at a crossroads here.  The first five episodes have been a solid slasher sequence, and the next five could very easily solidify that or derail it completely.  We’ll have to find out next week, which will be the series’ 100th episode!

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