SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Lady in White,” the seventh episode of “American Horror Story: 1984.”
Last week’s episode of “American Horror Story” took all the “1984” characters and jumped them forward in time by five years. It seemed to be setting up a reunion back at Camp Redwood, which was about to be reopened. But when the seventh episode, entitled “The Lady in White,” began, it did so catapulting viewers back in time even further. Because in order to understand where pivotal players are going this season, one must understand from where they came.
Visiting Camp Redwood — or as it was known in its early ears, Camp Golden Star — in 1948 at the start of the episode introduced a young Jingles aka Ben, his even younger brother Bobby, and his mother and the camp’s cook (played by “American Horror Story” veteran Lily Rabe). Jingles’ mother had even more uptight rules than Margaret (Leslie Grossman), although her ominous “Don’t let Bobby out of your sight” warning before sending her boys off to swim in the lake proved to be more than necessary.
Soon enough, little Bobby was killed by a motorboat while Ben was off spying on a lifeguard and counselor who were fooling around in the woods. The death was particularly awful: Bobby was splashing around in the water when the motorboat went out on the lake, driving right over him and flooding the lake with his blood. His mother ran down as they recovered his body, covered with a sheet, and nobody does anguish as well as Rabe. Distraught over her son’s demise, she screamed blame at everyone, from the lifeguard who wasn’t at his post to her older son. While this showcased Jingles’ earliest connection to bloodshed at the camp, there is much more to his tale to still unravel.
Before the episode continued the saga of Jingles, though, it jumped forward in time again to 1989, where Donna (Angelica Ross) helped Brooke (Emma Roberts) stumble into a hotel room after saving her from lethal injection in prison. For a still-unknown reason, Donna was now worried about going to hell after she dies and wanted to help Brooke escape, start a new life.
Brooke didn’t really trust Donna, but when she saw a newspaper ad about Margaret reopening Redwood, she vowed revenge on the woman who stole her life, and Donna agreed to help her. Their first stop was a roller rink where they ran into another “American Horror Story” alum in the form of Dylan McDermott as a serial killer named Bruce.
Of course, his true nature wasn’t revealed immediately, only hinted at through creepy behavior such as asking two random female strangers for a ride and then fixing Donna’s car that had mysteriously broken down in the parking lot (but he rigged it that way, right?).
In the car, Bruce talked about the urban legend of driving around with no lights on and killing whoever flashes you, so the ladies pulled over and told him to get out. He refused and when a cop stopped to ask them if everything was all right, Bruce shot the cop.
He then got out of the car, allowing Donna to peel out and leave Bruce in the dirt — where he shot the cop again. But miles down the road, Bruce caught up with the women, ramming into their car and knocking them out. When Brooke came to, she was in the driver’s seat of a truck they rear-ended when Bruce hit them, and Donna was tied to the truck. Bruce gave Brooke a choice: she could drive the truck and drag her friend to her death, or he would kill her.
But Brooke was amazingly clever. She revved the engine, threw the truck in reverse, backed over Donna without hitting her and threw Bruce into the windshield. When she hit the brakes, she grabbed his second gun and shot him in the leg. He stumbled out of the car, where Donna started to choke him out. But that wasn’t enough for Brooke who has been changed by her time in prison and her near-brush with death, it seemed: Instead of just killing him, Brooke tied him up and cut off his thumbs. Then she and Donna set off for Camp Redwood together again.
Meanwhile, over at the camp, Jingles came upon the three teens he killed back in 1984. The ghosts were naturally pretty angry at Jingles. As Xavier (Cody Fern) reminded him, “You and Margaret are both psychos and we got caught in your crossfire!”
The ghosts had a plan, though. They were going to be released from their awful purgatory state by slaughtering Margaret’s whole music festival, which they figured would bring every paranormal expert from around the world, and surely someone could figure out how to release them. They also told Jingles there was another presence there from whom they wanted to get away.
And this was where the flashback at the start of the episode tied into the rest of the mythology. Because that other presence that no one had felt or at least acknowledged until now was none other than Jingles’ mom, now seen as the titular Lady in White Similar to La Llorona in Mexican folklore, Rabe’s Lady in White was despondent over her dead child — so much so that she went on the first killing rampage the camp ever saw, slaughtering the counselors who she felt let her son die. She even stabbed Ben — but he stabbed her back, defending himself. When she died, she began haunting the grounds.
Jingles asked to be taken to his mother, so Xavier took him to a shack, where he found an old-fashioned toy that must have belonged to his brother. His mother appeared, driven insane by the loss of her son. She told Jingles she searched for Bobby every day but could never find him. She kept trying to destroy herself until one day she felt a vibration. It was her baby back at camp, but it was the wrong baby: It was Benjamin in 1970. She confessed to him that it was she who put the idea into Margaret’s head to kill all those counselors. She wanted to take away the one thing her living son cared about.
She screamed at him that the wrong son died that day, and he agreed. He said he’d been so wracked with guilt ever since Bobby’s death that he became a monster. But he told his mother about his own son, who he had named after his baby brother, and who would never be safe until Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa) was dead. It seemed like an appeal to his mother for help, but all she could do was pity his son for having him as a father, telling Jingles his son was better off dead.
The next day Margaret and Trevor (Matthew Morrison) arrived for the festival, and Trevor immediately saw Montana (Billie Lourd). It seemed he was both scared and aroused because he followed her into the tall grass, and when she told him she was dead, he said he didn’t care. He forgot what he was missing until he saw her. Cue some ghost sexy time.
That night, Ramirez made his way back to camp and slaughtered the singer Kajagoogoo, in town for the festival, much to the dismay of Margaret’s assistant (Leslie Jordan). Meanwhile, Jingles still couldn’t get any peace: While sitting by the lake, the ghost of his mother first admonished him for sitting where his brother died and then told him if he truly wanted to protect his son, he would kill himself so that his deal with Ramirez would be over. And Jingles listened: He apologized to his brother and then stabbed himself in the gut. In the final moments, his ghost took the knife out of his own abdomen and stalked off to find Ramirez.
“American Horror Story: 1984” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.