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‘American Horror Story’ Recap: ‘True Killers’ (and Motives) Revealed

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “True Killers,” the fourth episode of “American Horror Story: 1984.”

The ninth season of “American Horror Story” is four episodes in and already revealing who is truly pulling the strings (and stabbing the knives) when it comes to the murders around Camp Redwood.

The episode, aptly-titled “True Killers,” opened with another flashback in order to provide some insight into these key players. Montana (Billie Lourd) was in the middle of teaching a men-only midnight aerobics class when the Night Stalker (Zach Villa) found her. He literally watched her through the windows until finally he just had to let his “Rebel Yell” out. But when he spied a mouthy aerobics attendee yelling at Montana, he did what anyone would do to show his love — he gutted the guy like a fish and hung him up in the locker room for Montana to find. This was just the right kind of twisted for Montana, who hooked up with the murderer, only to reveal to him during some pillow talk that she needed someone else killed: Brooke (Emma Roberts).

Earlier in the season, Brooke’s backstory showed her jealous fiance gunning down his best man (and supposed best friend) at their wedding because he thought Brooke had slept with him. (He also pulled the trigger on himself.) It turned out that the best man was Montana’s brother, and she believed Brooke had slept with him and then lied about it, deserving the blame for his death. So now she wanted Brooke dead. Montana and the Night Stalker are definitely a match made in hell.

Back in the present day, Montana had to break it to the Night Stalker that he was not the only killer running amok at camp, though. Hilariously, when Ramirez heard Jingles (John Carroll Lynch) killed two guys at once, he incredulously exclaimed, “Is he a ninja?” But it led to an important question: How could someone do that? Who else is lurking around offing people? That answer was for a slightly later time.

First, Trevor (Matthew Morrison) and Xavier (Cody Fern) managed to save Chet (Gus Kenworthy) from all of his blood loss with a shot of adrenaline. “Are you sure it’s gonna work?” “Well, it won’t make him worse!” — this episode had some really funny moments. They left him behind when they remembered Blake (Todd Stashwick) had left his keys in his car, so they had a way to escape the camp after all. Their plan was to help Margaret (Leslie Grossman) and Bertie (Tara Karsian) escape, as well. Unfortunately, best laid plans and all of that.

After ominously caressing a Jingles mask she found, Margaret told Trevor she could protect herself and the incoming cancers because she had a gun. So Xavier went to get Bertie, who was making sandwiches in the mess hall and seemed pretty oblivious to the massacre that had been going on outside. As Jingle approached, Xavier hid under the table, and Bertie attempted to appeal to the man she knew back in 1970. She fixed Jingles a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and he seemed content enough to sit and eat — perhaps because she was actually treating him like a human being. This was, of course, only until Xavier dropped his flashlight. Jingles saw him hiding under the table and snapped, stabbing Bertie and knocking Xavier out and then trapping him in the oven.

Fortunately for Xavier, though, Bertie was a total boss. With her last breaths, she managed to save him and then asked him to put her out of her misery by stabbing her in the chest, which he did — and honestly, he seemed more horrified at his burned visage in the oven door reflection than he did at having to kill Bertie.

Meanwhile, after drugging Brooke, Faux-Rita (Angelica Ross) stashed her in a shed — from which it took Brooke about 30 seconds to escape. Perhaps the most incredible part of the episode was imagining that teeny Emma Roberts could bust down a wooden door. But anyway, as Brooke ran through the woods, she came upon Faux-Rita’s killer ropes course and wound up in a giant net, like this was a “Scooby-Doo” episode. Faux-Rita’s experiment was whether Jingles would take advantage of a victim served up to him on a platter or if he would pass on someone “too easy.” Well, he did give that one nerdy kid a pass, so… maybe there is a method to her madness?

But Montana found Brooke first and brought the Night Stalker back to kill her, just in time to come upon Mr. Jingles. As the two men fought for who would get to murder Brooke, Montana confronted Faux-Rita and tried to choke her out. They ended up having a pretty epic fight themselves at the bottom of a ravine — with Montana overpowering Faux-Rita and then running back just in time to watch Jingles skewer her boyfriend on a tree branch. And in the melee, Brooke escaped.

Anyway, after dispatching the Night Stalker, Jingles went to see Margaret, to “finish what [he] started.” Except it turned out he was greatly mistaken about the events of the 1970 Camp Redwood massacre. It was not, in fact, Jingles who was responsible but Margaret herself. She bonded with Jingles (shown in a flashback) and abhorred her fellow counselors, most of whom made for of her for being a square — so she snapped and killed them all. She cut off their ears (and her own) and framed Jingles by leaving the ear necklace in a box under his bed. With her bloody fingerprints all of it, but forensics in 1970 wasn’t what it is today. But Jingles had so much shock treatment over the years that he started believing he was the killer.

When Margaret haughtily told Jingles what really happened, he was naturally a bit angry, so he charged her with his knife, and she shot him in the chest. Margaret being the actual monster was not a huge shock. What was a shock was that when Trevor came to “save” Margaret, she stabbed him in the gut and killed him.

But wait! Like any good slasher camp movie, when Margaret turned back around from severing Trevor’s ear, Jingles was gone! He stumbled upon Xavier and let him live because now he knew he was never a killer.

Brooke came upon Xavier and dragged him to the parking lot, where Margaret informed them (plus Chet and Montana) that Jingles attacked her and Trevor died protecting her. Xavier seemed a bit confused by this, but he was considerably out of it from his burns, so he didn’t reiterate his claims to her (as he had mentioned to Brooke) that he had just seen Jingles. They also lamented that Blake’s car was on fire since that was their only means of escape.

But the game was not over yet because Faux-Rita came to just in time to watch the Night Stalker be resurrected and healed — by his Satanic belief or the campgrounds themselves? It was hard to know for sure, as he levitated and dripped blood from his palms into the soil. And remember, there was a counselor from 1970 wandering around just episodes ago, unaged and unaware that 14 years had passed. So something mystical is certainly going on in a bigger way.

It was also a little jarring for the show to seemingly burn through so much plot (and so many characters!) by the end of Episode 4. This season is 10 episodes long; what are the remaining six going to look like?

American Horror Story: 1984” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

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