AHS 1984: “Final Girl” Review (Spoilers)

As another season of American Horror Story comes to a close, we can’t help be dwell on the emotional and poignant season finales of the past.  One thing that AHS has usually delivers in their final episodes is some sort of character-driven, emotional catharsis, that’s been built towards all season.

And in that respect, “Final Girl” succeeds immensely.  Ultimately however, it doesn’t really live up to the hype that had been building for the last few weeks, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.

It’s definitely one of the most bittersweet endings we’ve ever seen from AHS.

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

A True Retrospective
Opening in 2019, we meet the Mr. Jingles’ son Bobby, all grown up, and venturing into Camp Redwood on a mission to delved into his past.  After a great deal of research, he’s learned that his father died there, and after meeting and speaking with Montana and the rest of the ghosts, he learns everything that happened that fateful day back in 1989.

Much to the audience’s surprise, there was no giant music show, nor was there a massacre of biblical proportions.  Rather, Brooke and Donna returned and killed Margaret with the help of the ghosts.  Brooke appeared to be dead, but survived, much to the emotional dismay of Donna, who doesn’t discover this until 2019.

It’s quite fitting that both Donna and Brooke share the rank of final girl. They also both aged exceptionally well over the last 30 years!

Other than that, not a whole lot has happened.  Richard Ramirez constantly returns to the camp, only to be killed by the ghosts and resurrected by Satan in a disturbing, never-ending cycle.

Bobby goes back to Camp Redwood one last time where Margaret attempts to kill him, only for Jingles to intervene, which results in a legitimately touching moment between father and son.  Finally, the ghosts let Bobby leave so that he may live on and tell their stories.

One loose end the season does forget about is the continuity error with Hotel. In that season, Ramirez is supposed to be dead in 2015, but here in 2019, he’s still very much alive (each time Satan brings him back that is).

Disappointing Finale?
There is no doubt that many fans will most likely be disappointed by this season finale.  Not because of the emotional payoff we got, but because it seemed that the season was building towards an epic showdown.

For the last few episodes, we’ve seen Brooke, Donna, Margaret, Montana, Ramirez, Jingles, and many others all converging on Camp Redwood for what promised to be a bloodbath.

But instead, this final episode is merely told in flashback, and we learn that everything just sort of worked out calmly and quietly.  And while this is certainly a subversion of our expectations, perhaps it’s all for the best.

Initially we all thought the first five episodes were like one slasher film, and the last five would be the sequel.  But what if the last five were instead one giant conclusion, wrapping up everything that many horror films don’t get a chance to?

Margaret certainly gets what she deserves, but it’s all over very quickly and we don’t really get to savor it.

We failed to get the intense, climactic massacre that we wanted, but instead we got a poignant and bittersweet conclusion that we needed.

This may very well be coming from the writer in me, but Montana’s final line about telling their stories so they live on hit especially close to him.  Because what are, if not our stories?  Long after we’re gone, it’s these stories that keep us alive.

And in a sea of 80’s nostalgia, that’s currently very popular in pop culture, AHS really hit the nail on the head, in regards to why we love nostalgia so much, and why it’s so important.  When we enjoy entertainment set during the 80’s, this is us remembering those stories to keep that decade alive.

Well the clothes (and hairstyles) of the 80s were definitely kept alive this season!

Ending a Season
Ultimately, “Final Girl” works much better as an epilogue, rather than a climax, which isn’t inherently bad.  Some of the best season finales of AHS have been this way (especially Asylum and Freak Show).  The only major disappointment is that we didn’t actually get that epic climax, but perhaps it’s not fair to blame this episode for it.

Rather, if this was going to be the case, then the earlier episodes needed to do more to convey our climactic expectations, and we would have been able to enjoy both.  So, in a weird way, this episode works very well, but at the expense of the previous couple episodes.

But as we look back at 1984 as a whole, we’ll remember that it perfectly captured the spirit of 80’s slashers, while having tons of fun with it.  And we’ll remember that it’s the stories and the idea of the past living on that make nostalgia feel so special!

In an episode that we thought would be filled with vengeance and retribution, instead we got forgiveness, acceptance, and love.

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