It’s been a long, strange, exceptionally stabby ride on this season of American Horror Story, but it all ends here. Ahead of us lies a wasteland of grunge musicians, heroin chic, overplucked eyebrows, and eventually [screams] Britney, bitch. But for the next hour, it’s forever eighties, baby! Get ready for one last hurrah with the final girl(s) of 1984!
…Oh, except that we open in 2019. Well, that’s awkward — but hey, that’s Finn Wittrock! Mark your AHS cameo bingo cards, camper. Arriving in an Uber in our own year of the Lord, our favorite and most chiseled horror story alum is here to explore the secrets of Camp Redwood. And despite being warned off by a nervous Montana (Billie Lourd), he’s determined to see this through. It’s the only way he’ll find out what happened to his father, he says, and that’s when Montana realizes: this is Bobby, a.k.a. Baby Jingles, all grown up.
Redwood’s most glamorous ghost is anxious for news of the outside world, although it’s mostly disappointing: “Aerobics is kind of a joke these days,” Bobby says, to her disappointment. (Calisthenics in a pair of clingy tighty-whities, though? Now there’s a workout destined for immortality.) Meanwhile, at Redwood, things are just as they’ve always been — except for the notable addition of Trevor (Matthew Morrison) to the roster of Redwood souls. Turns out, Trevor tried to stop Margaret (Leslie Grossman) from carrying out her evil plan to murder all the festival musicians back in ’89, and she shot him in the junk for his efforts. Dying just outside the Redwood gates, it looked like Trevor would actually stay dead, but Brooke (Emma Roberts) showed up just in time to help him back onto the property, and give him and Montana a rare AHS happy ending. But why?
“Because I’m not like you,” Brooke tells her nemesis.
This was Montana’s moment of truth, and since then, the ghosts of Redwood have been a much friendlier bunch! Except to Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa), who they’ve spent the past 30 years creatively murdering and then watching over in shifts so that they can re-kill him every time he resurrects — a system that has been working flawlessly until literally just this minute, when Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Bertie (Tara Karsian) decide to play strip Pictionary instead of watching the Nightstalker’s corpse. Ramirez chases Bobby through the camp, but he narrowly escapes with new instructions to seek answers at Red Meadows Asylum.
Enter the Red Meadows medical director: Donna (Angelica Ross), who fills in the rest of the Redwood backstory. It was Halloween 1989, and Margaret (Leslie Grossman) was still trying to stop the music forever when her past victims came back to haunt her. Brooke was shot in the melee, but Donna survived to be the final girl… and to tell the story of how the ghosts fed Margaret limb by limb into a woodchipper angled just so over the property line. The ghosts thought this was a foolproof plan. (The ghosts, apparently, haven’t the faintest idea how either human bodies or woodchippers work.)
Ever since then, Donna has tried to atone for her sins by helping the mentally ill. But Bobby hasn’t been on her radar at all, so who’s the mysterious benefactor who’s been sending him money all these years? That question takes the pair to Pineville, Ore., where they find…Brooke! She’s alive, a mother of two, and probably a vampire, considering she hasn’t aged a day in 30 years. (Sidenote: She says her secret is “fillers,” but I and my frown lines won’t be satisfied until I know brand names and precise quantities, thank you very much.) After surviving her gunshot wound, she was reborn as a wife and mother — and yes, she’s been sending money to Bobby to try to give him a shot at a normal life, or at least keep him from coming back to camp.
“I guess in the end, I did it for me as much as for you,” she tells him. And as for Donna?
“I guess we’re both the final girl.”
D’awww. But it can’t end here, kids: this show has always been about bringing its characters back to camp, and Bobby is no exception. So he returns to Redwood again, only this time, it’s Margaret who confronts him. Confidential to any murderous ghosts who might be reading this: When you feed someone into a woodchipper, THEY DIE AT THE MOMENT OF CHIPPIFICATION. [Insert “The More You Know” shooting star animation here.]
And what’s Margaret’s purpose in popping up here at camp?
“I’ve been hiding,” she says. “And waiting! To kill you!”
This yawn of a final twist lasts all of a second, but of course, she won’t get away with it. Bobby has family looking out for him, and he’s saved first by the ghost of his father (John Carroll Lynch), and then by the ghost of his grandma (Lily Rabe), who shows up just in time to remind Margaret that she’s not, and never was, the final girl.
The final girl, obviously, is Finn Wittrock.
And this is how it ends: as Bobby leaves Camp Redwood for what is hopefully the last time (honestly, dude, do not go back in there? Please? For any reason?), he turns back to see his father, grandmother, and dead mute baby uncle standing together. The power chords of Mike and the Mechanics “The Living Years” soars in the background. The ’80s live on in our hearts, forever. Somewhere off camera, Trevor and Montana are probably having energetic ghost sex for the fifth time today. And that’s our horror story! See you all next season.