‘American Horror Story’ Recap: Was ‘Mr. Jingles’ Framed?

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched, “Mr. Jingles,” the second episode of “American Horror Story: 1984.”

Last week, the main characters in “American Horror Story: 1984” decided Los Angeles was not the best scene in the summer of 1984, owing to the Olympics being in town and also crazed serial killer the Night Stalker (Zach Villa) on the loose, so they hightailed it up to Camp Redwood… to now be faced with not only the crazed serial killer from LA but also Mr. Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), the escaped mental patient who went on a murderous rampage at the camp in 1970.

Of course, at the start of Episode 2, they didn’t know that either of those killers was in their camp — yet. Brooke (Emma Roberts) tried to tell them about Mr. Jingles, but nobody believed her, which was unfortunate for Dr. Hopple (Orla Brady), the psychiatrist from the mental hospital who came to warn Margaret (Leslie Grossman) about Mr. Jingles escaping and ask her to close the camp. Margaret refused to live in fear and said the camp would remain open, so poor Dr. Hopple was gutted like a fish on her way off the property.

Did you catch Margaret frantically asking Hopple if she went into Margaret’s bedroom? What is she hiding back there?

Back with the counselors, Brooke confessed to Montana (Billie Lourd) that being attacked by the Night Stalker wasn’t actually the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Apparently, at her wedding a year ago, Brooke’s husband-to-be accused her of cheating on him with the best man and then shot the best man, Brooke’s father and finally himself. It also came out that Brooke is a virgin, so there’s another horror cliche. But this being “American Horror Story,” there have to be some twists coming… maybe Brooke isn’t the Final Girl she seems like she’s being set up to be.

While Brooke was busy reliving her worst nightmare, Xavier (Cody Fern) came face-to-face with his sugar daddy, a rich jerk named Blake (Todd Stashwick) who had found Xavier strung out and cleaned him up, then forced him to do gay porn, and now came back for more. Xavier promised “Daddy” to get someone better for him and took him to spy on the other guys in the shower — because remember how Trevor (Matthew Morrison) is exceptionally well-endowed? As Blake got an eyeful of Trevor, he also got an eyeful of Mr. Jingles’ knife. Or maybe that was the Night Stalker. With multiple killers running around, it’s hard to say.

Maybe it’s like in “Jaws” — if you hear the music, it’s the shark; if you don’t, it’s not the shark. If you hear the jingling keys, it’s Mr. Jingles; if you don’t, it’s the Night Stalker. Something to think about.

Later, Brooke was sitting by the lake when a body surfaced and the Night Stalker attacked her. They ran through the woods when suddenly the hitchhiker reappeared, and the Night Stalker eviscerated him. Sort of. He reappeared again, without a new scratch on him, requiring the Night Stalker to attack once more. Apparently there are also ghosts on this season of “Horror Story,” too.

While all this was happening, Mr. Jingles was off killing Nurse Rita (Angelica Ross) — or so we think — and everyone else was discovering Blake’s body. It made them realize there were actually multiple killers on the loose and they all ran for Xavier’s van, just as the Night Stalker paid Margaret a visit.

Margaret was quite taken with Richard aka the Night Stalker, despite the fact that she claims to be a woman of God and he claims to be a worshipper of the devil. She showered him with compliments, patched up a wound on his head, got him to open up about his horrible childhood and taught him all about how “God and trauma” will let him have the freedom to do whatever he wants. But then she stifled his freedom — at least momentarily — by asking him not to kill anyone else.

Margaret actually made contact with the hitchhiker, who turned out to have been a counselor at Camp Redwood in 1970 during the massacre and remembered Margaret as a younger woman. He also still thought it was 1970 and didn’t seem to know he was dead. But he told Margaret all about the night he died — it turned out that he saw that Margaret survived the attack and ran away anyway, then Jingles killed him out by the road. Or someone killed him. He was hit by a car and someone stepped out from behind the driver’s seat to finish the job, but he didn’t actually see the person’s face. Margaret asked him to confirm if he knew it was Jingles, but he couldn’t. Everything about his interaction with Margaret was highly suspicious. Was Margaret in on it with Mr. Jingles? Or maybe Mr. Jingles is back for revenge because Margaret framed him for killing all those people 14 years ago?

Meanwhile, the counselors tried to drive off in Xavier’s van, but when he swerved to avoid Nurse Rita, the van crashed into Margaret’s car and was out of commission. It was good to see Nurse Rita was still alive and kicking — or was she? — although it was highly suspicious not to see her encounter with Mr. Jingles. But now the new plan was to leave in Trevor and Rita’s cars — though Trevor has a motorcycle because of course he does — so the group splits into two to go get their keys.

Rita and Brooke took Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Ray (DeRon Horton) to the infirmary, while Trevor took Montana and Xavier back to his cabin. Once there, both groups were then terrorized by an unknown person outside the door and that’s how the episode left things this week.

It was a high-octane episode for sure; the plot moved along at a breakneck pace. And since this pace probably isn’t sustainable over 13 episodes, this must be how “Horror Story” gets to the twists. On its surface, this season seemed so straightforward, but it’s only the second episode and already things are shifting off-kilter.

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

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