Tonight’s fourth episode of American Horror Story: 1984, aptly titled “True Killers”, confirmed one of the biggest fan theories about who the real villain at Camp Redwood is. Though the season initially appeared to be a pretty straightforward sendup of ’80s horror tropes – following a group of hapless, horny twenty-somethings who head out to a remote campsite for the summer only to be systematically slaughtered by a pair of serial killers – but it’s quickly become clear that many of these seemingly innocent people are not to be trusted. And in “True Killers”, it’s revealed that Leslie Grossman’s Margaret, the God-fearing camp leader with a tragic backstory, is actually a mass murderer.
Fans have seen this coming since episode two, in which we learned a lot of eyebrow-raising facts about Margaret. Firstly, she was the sole survivor of a 1970 massacre at the camp, apparently carried out by Mr Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), who has now escaped from prison and returned to finish the job by slaughtering Margaret. At least, that’s her story. Margaret’s later shown getting uncomfortably intimate with Ramirez, while spouting some pretty concerning theories about how religion is great because it gives you an excuse to do any terrible thing you want. She also seems supremely unconcerned to learn that Mr Jingles has broken out of the psych ward and intends to hunt her down.
So… something’s off. And as episode four reveals, Margaret was the actual perpetrator of the 1970 massacre. She hated all of her fellow counselors, who bullied her for being a square, and Jingles was her only friend (he even made her a little teddy bear out of wood, which is honestly heartbreaking?) But when she finally snapped and slaughtered everyone, she framed her BFF Jingles by planting all of the victims’ severed ears (including her own, which, yeesh) in his room. The tragic final twist? Jingles was subjected to so much electroshock therapy in the psych ward that he started to actually believe he was the killer.
And that wasn’t the only fan theory that got confirmed this week. Ever since Brooke told the tragic story of how her wedding ended in bloodshed, viewers have been speculating about whether any of the other characters were somehow involved. After episode three ended with Montana furiously asking Richard Ramirez why he hadn’t killed “her” yet, the general assumption was that she was talking about Brooke (Emma Roberts), and episode four confirmed the connection. It turns out that the best man at Brooke’s wedding – who was murdered by her jealous fiancé who believed they had slept together – was Montana’s brother, and Montana blames Brooke for his death.
But just because Margaret and Montana’s dark secrets have been revealed, doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch more twists in store. In fact, given the amount of plot this show has already burned through in its first for episodes, you can pretty much guarantee Ryan Murphy & co have some kind of 180 in store. Below, a few of the most compelling fan theories about WTF is going on at Camp Redwood.
The entire season is actually about a movie shoot.
Remember AHS: Roanoke? That 2016 season appeared to be a “ducuseries” in which a married couple described their harrowing experience of relocating to a haunted mansion in Virginia – until a midpoint twist revealed that the entire thing was actually a fictional reenactment-style reality show, and that the story we’d been watching was the reenactment. The last few episodes followed the actors and their real-life counterparts all returning to the haunted Roanoke house for a follow-up season, with predictably grisly results.
Fans are now predicting that 1984 may be building towards a similar twist, with Brooke, Montana and the gang being revealed as characters being played by actors. After all, they do all adhere to such familiar horror movie stereotypes – the virginal good girl, the promiscuous bad influence, the dopey jock, etc – that this actually makes way more sense than the alternative. The season takes place in Los Angeles, making a movie shoot thoroughly plausible. 1984 has been billed as an homage to ’80s slasher movies from the very beginning, but maybe we should have taken that description even more literally.
Fans have also identified at least one direct callback to Roanoke, which might be a hint that this season will have a similar structure.
Oh, and the actor playing real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez? Way too perfectly handsome for the role, which eagle-eyed fans have taken as a hint that maybe Zach Villa is in fact playing an actor playing Ramirez.
Brooke is not as innocent as she seems.
Literally nobody is this innocent in the AHS universe, especially not somebody played by Emma Roberts. As far as we know, Brooke is a sweet, shy, naive girl who’s survived some truly horrifying traumas and just wants to fulfill her dreams of becoming a vet technician. But even by the campy standards of AHS, Brooke’s backstory – in which her jealous fiancé went on a murder-suicide spree on their wedding day, at the literal altar – feels a little far-fetched.
There’s no actual evidence yet that Brooke is hiding a darker secret, or that she’s secretly a killer herself, but it wouldn’t be the first time a protagonist has pulled the rug out from under us. In AHS: Hotel, John Lowe (Wes Bentley) appears to be a hardworking detective who’s relentlessly pursuing the truth about a serial killer….until it’s revealed that he is, in fact, that serial killer. And Hotel is the one season that’s had an overt crossover with 1984 so far, thanks to the involvement of Ramirez. If Brooke does turn out to be evil, we can only hope for a “Surprise, bitch” level of iconic reveal.
Camp Redwood is the new Murder House.
There’s a definite ghost issue happening at Camp Redwood – in episode two, the injured hiker that the gang encountered turned out to be the restless spirit of a victim from the 1970 massacre. In Sixth Sense fashion, Jonas the hiker had no idea he was dead, but seemed to be stuck in a purgatorial loop where he kept reliving the final moments of his life, convinced that the massacre was still happening.
All of which suggests that Camp Redwood could have supernatural properties similar to those of the Murder House in season one, and the Hotel Cortez in season five (both of which are also in Los Angeles). In the case of both the house and hotel, anyone who died on the grounds would be permanently trapped there as a spirit. Does the camp have the same powers – and if so, how many other characters are actually ghosts trapped in a loop?