AHS: 1984 episode 2 recap and review: Jingles all the way

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured: Leslie Grossman as Margaret Booth. CR: Kurt Iswarienko FX
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured: Leslie Grossman as Margaret Booth. CR: Kurt Iswarienko FX /

AHS: 1984 brought the scares to episode 2, which dives deeper into the slasher terrorizing the camp. Here’s everything you need to know about Mr. Jingles!

Hello mother, hello father! At Camp Redwood, you might get slaughtered! That’s a cute little jingle (pun intended!) I wrote within the first 45 seconds of Wednesday night’s episode of AHS: 1984, aptly titled for its main (but not only) villain: the man, the myth, the legend, the key-carrying, ear-collecting Mr. Jingles himself!

And why did I write a song about murder, you may ask? Because this season, only two episodes in, is so insanely ridiculous, campy, fun when it shouldn’t be, and plain old wack-a-doo that, honestly, it felt right! It seemed, in the moment, that even the tortured and nearly permanently endangered seasonal inhabitants of Camp Redwood would’ve endorsed my decision and sang along!

This episode — which took place basically in real-time, as it seems much of the season might from here on out — illuminated the darkest parts of the backstories of some of our new friends. So now we know why they’re so messed up. Learn along with me!

We open on a new face — that of Karen Hopple, Chief of Psychology at the nearby, apparently low-security mental institution, arriving at Camp Redwood with a clear air of mania. She’s there with a warning for Margaret Booth: Benjamin Rector has escaped.

She’s also there to remind Margaret — a woman who has lived all of her adult life with the trauma of being the lone survivor of a mass murder and also one single ear — that Rector (aka Mr. Jingles) is certainly coming back to the camp to act on his obsession with her and finish her off. A valiant effort, but Dr. Hopple has failed to take into account the wonderful fact that Margaret Booth is now perhaps as wacky jacks as Mr. Jingles himself; Margaret refuses her warning, assures her that the camp will open on time as scheduled, and proclaims, “Mr. Jingles will not survive me.”

Having failed miserably, Dr. Hopple attempts to leave the premises, but she is held up when her car gets an unexpected flat tire. From a truck behind her emerges a giant man in a black raincoat who is literally jingling as he walks, but ole Hopple invites him to help her anyway! As you know already because who wouldn’t, Jingles takes this opportunity to murder Hopple while saying out loud into the night air, “I am a monster.” We know, actually — thank you though!


Back at camp, the kids are still drinking in their cabin, with the exception of Brooke, who is still looking around hauntedly. As she panics, she catches a news story on TV, where she learns that a gas station attendant had been murdered not far from the camp — which we, the astute audience, know to be the work of one Mr. Jingles.

The anchors, however, speculate that it could be related to the killings in LA, which are the parallel and just as horrific workings of the Night Stalker. This is enough to send Brooke into a full spiral, because she’s now totally sure the guy who attacked her back at home is, indeed, following her and is, indeed, responsible for more murders. While she’s not wrong, she’s also not right. Even though she is. There are just two different guys chasing her. Life as a woman!

Margaret soon barges in and ruins the panic party. She kicks the boys out of the girls’ cabin, but not before giving a tiny speech about how she won’t let fear dictate her life. She also manages to slip in a paragraph wherein she completely shames these hot, horny teens for wanting to have sex and having filthy mortal bodies.

With the boys gone, Montana gives Brooke a small pep talk, ensuring her not everyone is out to get her, but Brooke insists that she’s not making it all up. Montana urges her not to imagine the worst, to which Brooke replies, “You don’t have to imagine the worst when it’s already happened.”

Cut to: a flashback! One year ago, Brooke was literally in the process of getting married when her extremely-soon-to-be husband accused her of cheating with his best friend the night previous. Brooke insisted nothing had happened (which we know to be true because she is still a virgin, and also, we believe women!). But he does not believe women, and actually, instead of believing women, he shoots a bunch of people at his very own wedding. Then he shoots himself and tells her it’s her fault. (This is exactly why women should only marry each other!)

Back in the present, Brooke confides in Montana that she never would’ve cheated, but since nobody ever believes her and sometimes even women are bad to other women, Montana ignores her clear distress and tries to kiss her instead. Brooke leaves, shaken up, to clear her mind.

On the other side of camp, the boys and Trevor, activities director, are on their way to the showers, talking about which of the women they have “dibs” on — which made me sort of excited for them to get maybe murdered soon. As Xavier heads back for his forgotten towel, a Business Man named Blake tackles him into a car, only Xavier doesn’t call him Blake, he calls him “Daddy.”

We learn that Daddy/Blake had found Xavier in a park, high and totally desperate, and helped him get on his feet. But not without a price: Xavier starred in a gay porn under Daddy/Blake’s guidance. Now, Daddy/Blake is back, as he’s decided Xavier owes him some more. In an attempt to save himself (and, honestly, kind of as a favor to this soon-to-be understudy), he tells Daddy/Blake he can give him someone better. Someone bigger. Someone who, perhaps, directs activities professionally?

Before scurrying away, Xavier leads Daddy/Blake back to the showers. Daddy/Blake finds himself absolutely and immediately obsessed with Trevor’s, uh, main asset. But while he’s peeking into the stalls, an even bigger threat appears behind him and stabs him right through the head, which is the opposite of porn.

Brooke, who has been tremblingly terrified the entire time we’ve known her, decides to go to the docks alone for a little break in the middle of the night. As she’s dangling her legs over the water, she kicks a body that floats on by, and while she’s actively being afraid of that, she turns around to find the Night Stalker right behind her. She runs away through the forest, where the hiker, presumed dead last episode at least one but possibly two separate times, is still lingering for some reason. He stalls the Night Stalker, but before he’s killed, he confusedly tells the murderer, “I don’t die here!” to which the Night Stalker replies, “I disagree,” which is honestly kinda cool.

Montana goes out looking for Brooke, who explains that she’d just seen the Night Stalker minutes before. We cut back to the serial killer, who has now taken to serially killing one man: He’s somehow killing the hiker again? As he tries to make sense of his single-double homicide, he finds a Camp Redwood ID on the hiker, which reads 1970. When the Night Stalker turns back to verify it’s really him, he’s gone again. He’s now a thrice dead ghost!

The boys, freshly showered, make to head back to their cabin but come upon Daddy/Blake, dead and still stuck up against the outside wall of the shower stalls like the world’s worst bulletin board decoration. Brooke runs toward the boys and starts to panic once again, and then Xavier joins them, and now we’ve got ourselves a bona fide group panic! Montana arrives to round out the chaos, and, upon seeing the dead body, declares that she finally believes Brooke: The Night Stalker must be afooot!

The gang debates whether they should call the cops, run, or just stay there freaking out when Trevor notices that Daddy/Blake is missing an ear. Not so fast, Night Stalker! You shan’t get credit for the work of another man!


Elsewhere on the campus of the world’s worst summer retreat, Margaret Booth heads back to her cabin and finds she has a visitor waiting for her, holding a weapon, with his feet up on her table, wearing black, and just generally being a definite serial murderer. The Night Stalker says some weird, male ego-y, murderer nonsense about how he’s the son of God. This makes Margaret very excited, until she learns that he’s the bad son, Satan, and not her friend, Jesus. He holds up the ID card and demands she tell him about the boy pictured.

Amidst this meet-cute, Margaret notices that the Night Stalker (aka Richard Ramirez) is hurt and starts to clean him up, almost certainly as a trick to get him to trust her — because women are great at tricking men who think they are in charge!

Ramirez asks again how the hiker had been killed only to come back to life, and Margaret asserts that it’s because of religion. She asks him about the worst thing that’s ever happened to him, and he says “Everything,” which, again, is a very Sad Man thing to have at the ready to say to a stranger. Ramirez gives a short recap of his life: His mom accidentally poisoned him in utero with chemicals from her factory job, he later suffered head trauma, he had seizures, and moved in with his cousin who killed people in the war and told him about it. All the typical terrible stuff that leads to people doing even more terrible stuff to other people.

But Margaret listens, too intently, and this makes him believe that she understands him wholly. She gives another personal symposium about how all you need to be the person you need to be is “God and trauma.” She puts him in a weird trance with her rant and insists that he doesn’t murder anyone else, which is a very helpful tip!

Back outside, the gang packs Daddy/Blake’s dead body into the van and attempts to leave Camp Redwood, but they barely pull out when Xavier loses control and crashes right into Nurse Rita, who had been in the infirmary alone, because apparently it’s super normal to do stuff alone in the middle of the night at a murder camp!

Rita confirms that, while alone, she’d heard a jingling. He’s baaaaack! They all agree that they absolutely need to escape, and so they talk for way too long about the exact kinds of vehicles everyone can offer and how many seats are in each. We have no choice but to stan logistical consistencies. Once they’ve settled on a game plan, Trevor remembers that his keys are back at camp, and Rita remembers that hers are in the infirmary. Not so fast, gang.

Simultaneously, ever the odd one out, Margaret is out in the woods alone and stumbles across the hiker, whose name, we learn, is Jonas. He tells her he thought she was dead, and so naturally, she must break to him that he is the one, in fact, who is dead. He expresses regret that he’d seen her the night of the original murders but didn’t help her. Instead, he ran away, and got hit by a truck  — truck that Jingles was driving! Lots of people died and he ran, though, so his fate as a ghost hiker camper is maybe justified.

The kids go back to the cabins/the infirmary to get everyone’s keys in classic Scooby-Doo formation: two groups. In the infirmary, Nurse Rita refuses to go in first because she’s correct, so for some reason, Brooke volunteers to go in first because she is not correct (and I guess she has learned nothing ever in her life). She rifles through Rita’s desk for the keys, but can’t find them because, we learn, Jingles has taken them! They don’t call him Jingles for nothin’!

As Xavier, Montana, and Trevor search for Trevor’s keys in the cabin, Xavier reveals that he thinks this is all his fault. He admits he’d known Blake beforehand, and Blake came for him, and therefore he’s to blame for the murder.

As the two groups of split-up campers sit around panicking and crying and scavenger-hunting for at least one pair of damn keys, both murderers, still currently roaming the property, each stumble across a group of prospective victims. They both shake and slam and rattle their respective doors and keys and collections of ears as they try to break in to claim more lives and keys and ears. And just as we’re sure we’re about to see a parallel showdown, that’s it. Fade to black.

Our campers are locked inside with no escape plan, no resources, no keys, and this time, no beer even! And with double the threat, the newly discovered additional menu item of ghosts, and a camp owner who possibly has empowered one or both of the villains onsite, it’s not looking great for our gang. But isn’t that always when the best stuff happens?! Tune in next week as we continue to follow all the horrors, traumas, and strangely hypnotizing sermons of Margaret Booth at Camp Redwood!

Next. AHS 1984: Recapping the wildest moments from the premiere. dark

Follow along with Culturess all week for coverage of AHS: 1984, and be sure to watch every Wednesday at 10pm EST on FX.