"True Killers" – American Horror Story S10E03 Review

And after last week's episode of plot twists, this week with "True Killers" we got... nothing. Well, okay, we did get something. Richard is revealed as having an actual connection to Satan, and vice versa. And we find out the best man, Sam, at Brooke's wedding is Montana's brother. And Montana blames Brooke for Sam's death.

John Carroll Lynch, American Horror Story S10E04

Finally, we find out Jingles wasn't the one who committed the camp massacre in 1970. But that wasn't much of a plot twist: there were too many timeline discrepancies and instances of Jingles not remembering things for him to be very convincing as the serial killer. And the person who is revealed as the killer has been acting off the wall since day one.

But that's it. Otherwise things progress on a straight road. People run. People scream. Jingles walks through the forest, his keys jangling. Richard laughs and acts menacing. Montana acts all innocent except when she's giving people the evil side-eye.

The best performance is probably Tara Karsian as Chef Bertie. She gets to portray a fairly three-dimensional character in a few short moments. Bertie acts vaguely sympathetic toward Jingles, explains why she returned to the camp, and dies a horrible death. Too bad. While I wouldn't want a spinoff involving her character (American Horror Story 1983: Bertie's Revenge?), they gave her a decent send off. And Bertie was a lot more believable as a character than anyone else in the usual three-ring circus that is American Horror Story.

Billie Lourd, American Horror Story S10E04

First, we get a flashback to how Montana and Richard met. Montana was conducting a Midnight Manercise dancerobics class, and Richard comes in. They bond over Billy Idle and knives, and when a class member gets mouthy, Richard kills him. Richard and Montana have sex in the locker room, and afterward Montana reveals her brother, Sam, was Joseph's best man at Brooke's wedding. The one where Joseph went berserk with jealousy and killed Sam and Brooke's father. Montana blames Brooke for having slept with Sam, and wants Richard to kill Brooke.

Forward to the present, and everyone is still running around screaming. Montana is complaining Richard hasn't killed Brooke yet, and tells him Jingles is running around killing people. Trevor and Xavier take Chet to the infirmary and give him some epinephrine to get Chet's heart beating again. Once he revives, Xavier remembers Blake drove to the camp in a Cadillac. He goes to get Bertie while Trevor looks for Margaret.

Brooke wakes up locked in a cabin, breaks out, and ends up in a net trap. "Rita" reveals she isn't Rita and she brought Jingles to the camp. After Rita sits nearby to watch, Montana finds Brooke, leaves, and sends Richard to kill Brooke while tailing along.

Tara Karsian, American Horror Story S10E04

Xavier finds Bertie, who is busy making sandwiches. Jingles shows up, and as I mentioned before, Tara Karsian has a decent scene. She appeals to Jingles' kinder nature, has him sit down for a PB&J sandwich, and he uses his machete to cut the crusts off. Xavier hides beneath the table before Jingles can spot him, but makes some noise and Jingles finds him. Jingles knocks Xavier out and stabs Bertie repeatedly in the chest, then tosses Xavier in a large oven.

The dying Bertie manages to free Xavier and gives him a knife. He puts her out of her misery with a blade to the chest, and Xavier realizes his time in the oven has left his face all burned and blistered.

Jingles finds Brooke as well, and we get an "epic fight" between the two serial killers. It's not much of a fight, since it's shot in near darkness, and director Jennifer Lynch is busy showing Montana and Rita fighting. Jingles eventually kills Richard, and Montana knocks out Rita and escapes. Brooke escapes the net and gets away.

Leslie Grossman, American Horror Story S10E04

Margaret prays to God, and we eventually find out she's the one who killed the campers back in 1970. Jingles shows up at her cabin, and realizes Margaret set him up. Thanks to his electroshock and drug treatments at the mental hospital, he's ended up believing he was the killer. Margaret then shoots him. When Trevor comes looking for her and says they have Blake's car, she kills him as well. However, Jingles crawls out the doorway so we can figure he's not dead.

Margaret apparently gets to the car first and sets it on fire. Brooke, Xavier, and Chet get there, and they realize they're all even more trapped than the end of the last three episodes where they were trapped.

Rita wakes up and sees Richard come back to life, his eyes are all black as unseen voices chant "Satan" around him. So we finally get a supernatural element beyond Jonah the Solid Ghost.

"True Killers" is another mediocre, boring episode. There are even less 70s references than in previous episodes: only the Manercise bit at the beginning scratches at the horror that is the 70s. A number of people predicted Jingles wasn't as guilty as he seemed. Unless you thought Bertie was the killer, the only suspect was Margaret. And sure enough, Margaret did the killings.

Jingles escaped, and has a typical serial killers' supernatural resilience. Margaret is the "nobody knows she's a killer" killer. Richard is now possessed by Satan, and is a real supernatural killer. Everyone else is the typical schmuck camp counselors in a 70s summer camp horror movie.

We did get the big killer vs. killer showdown, like I predicted last week. But the dark set and cross-cutting made it small and hard-to-make-out, rather than big.

Zach Villa, American Horror Story S10E04There was Karsian's good performance as Bertie, and a few moments of weirdness like Richard showing up at the Manercise session dressed like Rambo and swaying in place to the Billy Idle Montana is playing for everyone to dance to. My compliments to actor Zach Villa: his performance is so far the season standout among the regulars.

The season could turn into something major, what with the Satanic killer versus the deluded God-praying killer versus the killer who isn't really a killer. But "American Horror Story: 1984" still feels... small. We've seen rubber-suited gimps and demonic nurses and Twisty the Clown and the Countess Elizabeth and a homicidal hotel owner and the Devil's son. Their evil has played out over decades. Richard shows inklings of greatness sometimes, but Margaret and Jingles are just... 70s stock horror-movie clichés. Making Margaret the "real" killer and Jingles her hapless patsy doesn't turn them into "big" villains. The rest of the cast doesn't stand out, so we're left with a lukewarm battle of good vs. evil that so-far is mildly evil versus mildly evil.

The creative team could still turn "American Horror Story: 1984" into something worthy of the nine seasons that came before. But we're almost halfway into Season 10, and they've shown no inclination to do so yet. I can't see the future: I get paid the big bucks to review what's here. And what's here so far... isn't that great.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?


And a shout-out to last night's The Flash premiere, "Into the Void". I still don't find the show that inspiring to review, either because of its greatness or lack thereof. But using the Flash theme from the Flash Gordon movie was a stroke of genius.

Written by Gislef on Oct 10, 2019


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