AHS: 1984 episode 4 review: Do you ear what I ear?

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured: Billie Lourd as Montana Duke. CR: Kurt Iswarienko FX
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured: Billie Lourd as Montana Duke. CR: Kurt Iswarienko FX /

In AHS: 1984’s fourth episode, major secrets are revealed, main characters’ intentions are not what they seem, and the salacious spree continues to rock Camp Redwood.

With last night’s episode in the books, we’re officially halfway through this season of American Horror Story, and remarkably, we’re still living the same night with the same characters we met back in episode one. But even though the clock has only budged a few inches, pretty much everything we thought we knew about our gang and their intentions has changed — especially after tonight. Everything’s different now. Everything.

We open on the “Then,” presumably just a few days before the gang escaped to Camp Redwood. Montana is leading a man-only “Manaerobics class,” and it turns out she is a really great teacher who I suddenly trust deeply. As she shows the class her Billy Idol-inspired moves, the Night Stalker, wearing pretty serious Madonna fingerless gloves, is watching through the window.

The killer soon skulks in, acting very scary as per usual, and proceeds to writhe around in a corner until Montana confronts him, informing him that her class is serious and he should please leave unless he complies. He tells her he’s there to train, but she calls him out, asserting that he mustn’t be dedicated to training if she’s going by the wimpy knife in his holster. Her knife knowledge impresses him greatly, sadly.

As they flirt over weaponry, a super queen in the class becomes livid that Montana isn’t playing Cyndi Lauper and starts to yell at her. The Night Stalker does not like this, so he does the only reasonable thing: He disembowels the man and hangs him from the ceiling of the locker room as a surprise for Montana! When she walks in to find the lovely gift, she is disturbed for approximately one second before deciding it’s hot instead, and thus she rides the Night Stalker on a locker room bench with a dead inside-out body behind them, setting the mood I suppose.

During their pillow talk, Montana asks the Night Stalker if he would ever kill her, and then, more importantly, if he’d ever kill for her. We get another mini-flashback-within-a-flashback to something we’ve actually seen before, only this time, with more clarity: We’re at Brooke’s fateful wedding, the very wedding that ended in murder-suicide because her groom was convinced she’d slept with his best friend — the best friend who was shot at the alter. He’s Brooke’s would-be husband’s best friend from college, who just so happens to have been Montana’s brother! The Night Stalker promises that once he finds Brooke, she won’t ever see another morning.

Back in the present, in the parking lot of Camp Redwood where we left the group at the end of last week’s episode, Montana berates the Night Stalker for not getting to Brooke yet, and she puts on the gas by telling him that there’s another serial killer on the loose. He’s gotta protect his rep and get to her first!

Meanwhile, the dumb-dumb boys — Xavier, Trevor, and Chet — are holed up in the infirmary, trying to find a way to revive Chet, who is passed out after having been staked through the chest. Trevor gives him a shot of epinephrine straight to the heart, which honestly was not the kind of activity I was expecting him to direct! Chet wakes up and spills Ray’s secret: that he had killed someone in college.

Xavier, remembering his own secret, suddenly has an aha moment: The porn director who had come to find him still has a car parked on the campus! The boys plan to meet at the car right after Trevor heads out for Margaret and Xavier heads out for Birdie. They leave Chet because who cares.

Outside, Margaret comes upon a couple of dead bodies leftover from last week’s mini-spree. Trevor runs over to her and explains that Mr. Jingles did this, and he’ll do it more if they don’t leave the premises. He begs her to leave with them, but she manically insists that everyone will be perfectly safe because she has a gun. Not great news. Then she picks up Jingles’ mask that was still on one of the murdered kids and draws a cross of blood on its forehead. Again, not the best.

On the other side of camp, Xavier bursts into the mess hall to find Birdie listening to music and making some sandwiches. Xavier tells her they have to go, but she’s being pretty cavalier, until they hear the jingle of Jingles. Birdie confronts him, calling him Benjamin, and says it’s nice to see him again in her canteen. She invites him to sit down for a PB & J — she never forgets a sandwich order!

Birdie is the hero of this season, I have just decided. Jingles sits down and Xavier, who dipped under a table the second Jingles walked in, spies on their reunion. Birdie admits to Jingles that she decided to come back to help Margaret run the camp after she’d realized that the woman was probably still reliving that terrible night. She wanted to help her start fresh.

As Jingles eats his sandwich exactly how a murderer would, Xavier tries to escape, but Jingles hears. He goes after him, pushing Birdie to the ground in the process, and Xavier gets knocked out. Jingles takes him back to the kitchen and decides it’s time to make an Xavier casserole: He locks him in oven and turns that baby all the way up. Talk about hot! (I’m so sorry.)

Elsewhere on campus, Brooke wakes up in a shack slash closet. She remembers she’d gotten there thanks to Not Really Nurse Rita, and she tries to escape very poorly, but does eventually end up breaking down the door. She scurries around in the woods, looking for probably anyone to help, even though 85 percent of the people at the camp are actively trying to murder her. She encounters a few boobie traps on the paths out of the camp, and gets caught in a net in a tree.

Rita strolls up and spills the tea: She set the traps, she’s not Rita, and she’s here to watch Jingles murder. But she’s not a murderer, too, she insists — she’s a scientist! She tells Brooke that she’s going the lab, but promises her she’ll be remembered as a feminist hero. After she’s murdered. Thanks to Not Rita. Women supporting women!

Back in the kitchen, Xavier is medium rare, but Birdie suddenly appears to let him out. She is looking extremely terrible after her own tussle with Jingles, and because she is a hero, as per my last email, she gently forces Xavier to put her out of her misery via giant knife through heart. He does not love this activity, but it has to be done. Before he leaves, Xavier pulls the knife back out and catches a glimpse of himself in the oven doors. Turns out, the only thing more horrifying than almost being cooked alive is being hideous.

As Montana trolls through the woods, she comes upon Brooke, who begs for her help. Montana promises to get her out of the net and Brooke recaps that it was all Rita’s plan. Montana runs off, vowing to find something sharp with which to cut her down.

In her office, Margaret pulls a gun and an old spooky wooden bear out of her desk drawer. We flash back to the fated summer of 1970, where we see Jingles (Benji, back then) carving the bear for a young Margaret. Some too-cool-for-camp bullies walk past as they talk/flirt and bully the two them for being friends, I guess, because bullies make no sense? Benji gets distracted and cuts himself with his carving knife, so Margaret does the regular thing and sucks the blood right on out of his finger. She asks him if he’s her bear, all cute and weird, and he tells her he’d do anything to protect her.

Back in the present, the Night Stalker has built a pentagram in the middle of the parking lot for the “master” to help point the way to Brooke, when Montana shows up and is like, “Uh, I’ll just show you.” He follows to find her hanging in the tree and goes to make a move, but Mr. Jingles crashes the party. And now we’ve got a murderer standoff!

Night Stalker hero-worships Mr. Jingles for his past crimes, but also attempts to murder him. The two murderers face off as Rita crouches in the bushes, watching, and Montana sneaks up behind her to let her know she knows her secrets. The two killers fight, the two scary liar women fight, and Brooke literally swings back and forth in the middle of all of it, stuck inside the world’s most absurdly dark hammock. The Night Stalker finally gets some slashes in against Jingles, but Jingles lifts him with one hand and pins him against a tree, impaling him on a branch.

Margaret prays in her home, reminding God that she’d opened the camp back up to bring light to the world. She asks for the strength to do His will, and Jingles walks in. Margaret tells him he’s the answer to her prayer. She asks why he’d come back, and he tells her “to finish what I started.”

We immediately flash back to Benji being arrested, insisting he had done nothing wrong. When he finally gets to the asylum, he’s forced into electroshock therapy by Dr. Hopple, who is telling him that he can’t be trusted to remember that he was the killer. The therapy eventually made him forget everything.

In the present, Margaret recaps for him and us: the girls in her cabin always smoked a ton of pot, made fun of her, and basically just ruined her life all summer. So she murdered all of them, obvi! Mr. Jingles, can’t believe that it wasn’t him, but we see 1970 Margaret cutting her own ear off and making an ear necklace, so it’s pretty safe to say he’s innocent and the woman who murdered children because of teasing is the real lunatic. We learn that Margaret had framed Jingles, putting the necklace in with his things so that he could take the fall for her, finally protecting her.

Although this story is too nuts to be made up, he still doesn’t believe that it wasn’t him. His mind is so ravaged by the electroshock therapy that he now can’t believe he wasn’t a killer. He is so mad at her for having put him away, ruined his brain, and made him believe that he was a killer that he has no choice but to now become a killer. He goes after her with his knife and she shoots him, affirming that he was never a murderer. He was “just a guy who was in the wrong place at the right time.”

In the field, Trevor and Chet are still trying to escape and they run into Montana. They all hear the gunshots across the campus, which leads Trevor to believe Margaret is in trouble. He goes back to find her just as she’s telling Jingles that she’s going to “lay my sins upon you one more time.” Trevor is delighted to find that she’s killed him but Margaret quickly kills Trevor, too, claiming that God has finally given her the strength to accept her true self. As she turns around after finishing Trevor off, she finds Jingles’ body gone from her floor.

Out in the woods, Xavier is stumbling around and runs into Jingles, who he begs to spare him. Jingles tells him that that was never him anyway, and Brooke appears, panicked. Again, Jingles has disappeared! Xavier and Brooke hear another noise and rush toward it, for some reason: it’s the only getaway car, burning up in flames! Margaret, Chet, and Montana are just staring at it. Margaret tells them that Jingles had done the deed right after her attacked her and killed Trevor. At the very least, she is a wonderful liar!

Back in the wrestling arena, where Rita is passed out and the Night Stalker has come unstuck from his tree and landed on the ground, things get very bad, very fast. Rita awakens to see something strange, and pokes around over to the clearing. She watches as the Night Stalker’s dead body levitates, all his wounds heal, his eyes turn black, and he becomes a regular alive human again.

And thus gets us to the halfway point of the season. Now that we know Jingles was really, I guess, a kindly old Geppeto until literally this exact night, several of our cast members are dead, and Margaret has become totally unhinged, will the night finally end? What will Margaret do next? Will the children ever get to camp? Will Brooke become evil now that everyone has basically tried to kill her, or will she remain a nervous virgin? How is the Night Stalker alive again, and is he just an actual demon now? Will Xavier’s damaged face lead to a more lucrative career in porn? Is Birdie still somehow the hero of the series? And why didn’t Montana just play Cyndi Lauper?

Next. AHS: 1984: The biggest moments from "Slashdance". dark

Tune in next week to find out (maybe), and check in with Culturess all week (definitely) for coverage of this season of AHS: 1984.