The latest installment of Ryan Murphy’s famed anthology series, American Horror Story, has finally arrived. And this time, we’re taking it all the way back to the ’80s, when mullets, group workout classes and serial killers were at the forefront.
Here’s what went down in the season premiere of AHS: 1984, titled “Camp Redwood.”
The episode begins in the middle of the night at the isolated summer camp. While the campers peacefully sleep in the cabin, three counselors—two girls, one boy—are messing around under a sheet-turned-tent.
Their fun is interrupted by the sound of keys jingling, followed by approaching footsteps. Suddenly, a knife breaks through the sheet and punctures the boy in the back of the head.
Although one girl tries to escape, she soon meets her attacker—Mr. Jingles (John Carroll Lynch)—who drags her by the feet, stabs her in the eye and then cuts off her ear before stringing it on a necklace. (WTF.)
The camera pans to show Mr. Jingles casually walking out of the cabin, which is littered with dead bodies.
Cut to the mid-’80s. Xavier (Cody Fern), Montana (Billie Lourd), Ray (DeRon Horton) and Chet (Gus Kenworthy) are enjoying a “summer-cize” workout class alongside newcomer Brooke (Emma Roberts).
In the locker room, Montana introduces herself to Brooke and explains that she’s trying to become the “greatest aerobics competitor of all time.” In the lobby, they approach the guys, who are chatting about a recent murder involving a serial killer, dubbed The Night Stalker.
After Brooke introduces herself, Xavier reveals that he isn’t taking any chances with The Night Stalker. So, he’s getting out of town and working as a counselor at Camp Redwood. Xavier suggests they follow suit, saying, “You don’t want to be in town this summer, it could cost you your life.”
Everyone agrees except for Brooke, who politely declines, since she’s already enrolled in school. Still, she gets Montana’s phone number…just in case.
Later that night, Brooke is sleeping in her apartment when she’s awoken by—you guessed it—The Night Stalker (Zach Villa). He parades her around, demanding to know where she keeps her jewelry. Right on cue, Brooke gets her hands on a frying pan and whacks him in the head, freeing herself from his grip.
When a neighbor bangs on the front door, claiming he called the police, The Night Stalker escapes through the window—but not before saying he’ll be back to finish the job.
The next day, Brooke is driving with the rest of the group to Camp Redwood. When they stop at a gas station called Roy’s Gas n’ Grab, Xavier parts from the group and checks his answering machine only to discover a threatening message. Based on his expression, it’s not the first one he’s received.
At the car, the gas attendant, Roy (Don Swayze), is beyond terrified when he overhears their destination. “Turn around. Go back to the city,” he says. “You’re all gonna die.”
Back on the road, Brooke appears to be the only one who’s concerned about Roy’s comment. Just then, a mysterious hiker (Lou Taylor Pucci) darts from the woods in front of Xavier’s car, and he has no choice but to hit him. Although the hiker appears to have new (and old) injuries, they grab his body and continue on their way to camp in search of a medic.
Upon arrival, they’re greeted by the camp’s owner, Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman), who quickly ushers the hiker to the infirmary. After receiving a tour of the grounds, the group sits down around the campfire, where Nurse Rita (Angelica Ross) brings up the 1970 murders committed by Benjamin Richter (aka Mr. Jingles).
“How did we get these jobs with no prior experience?” Rita asks. “That’s because anybody who knows anything about Camp Redwood doesn’t want to be in Camp Redwood.”
When Rita says that ten kids were killed in the massacre, Margaret corrects her: “You’re wrong. If you’re going to tell a story, tell it right.”
Margaret reveals that only nine children died on that tragic night before showing the group her missing ear. She was number ten, and she survived.
In a flashback, Margaret is lying on the floor of the cabin in a pool of blood. When Mr. Jingles cuts off her ear, she gives an Emmy Award–winning performance and pretends to be dead. Shortly after, Mr. Jingles was tried, sentenced and then put away for life.
Back in present day, Margaret reveals that she reopened the camp, so she can replace her bad memories with good ones. (She’s clearly never listened to a true-crime podcast.)
In the infirmary, the hiker wakes up and realizes his ear is missing. Gulp. He walks into the other room and finds Brooke, who is cool as a cucumber. When he tells her to leave the premises as soon as possible, she brushes off his craziness as a possible concussion.
Brooke joins the group in the cabin to watch the 1984 Olympics. When they hear approaching footsteps, they’re relieved to see it’s another employee named Trevor (Matthew Morrison), who claims he’s a big-time aerobics instructor.
Cut to Trevor and Montana skinny dipping in the lake. Right when things are heating up, Montana notices someone sitting in a car in the distance and demands they go back inside.
Elsewhere, Dr. Hopple (Orla Brady) arrives at the jail and learns that one of her patients—Mr. Jingles—escaped and freed all the other prisoners. When she enters his cell, she finds a newspaper clipping about the reopening of Camp Redwood.
Remember the gas station from earlier in the episode? Well, poor Roy is minding his own business when he hears the sound of keys jingling. (We’ll spare you the gory details, since he won’t be making another appearance this season.)
Back at Camp Redwood, Brooke goes to fetch a Band-Aid and comes face-to-face with Mr. Jingles. It all starts when she enters the infirmary and sees the hiker’s body hanging from the back of the door.
Brooke immediately spots Mr. Jingles watching her through the window and makes a beeline for the front door. What happens next is a chase scene that can only be believed on TV, with so many falls and tumbles that Brooke is covered in mud by the time she gets to the cabin.
The problem? The group doesn’t believe Brooke’s story because when they exit the cabin, there’s no sign of Mr. Jingles. And when they visit the infirmary, the hiker’s body is MIA.
To top it off, the commotion woke up Margaret, who demands everyone go to bed, since they have a big day tomorrow.
Later that night, Brooke is lying down when she hears the camp’s pay phone ringing. This gets her attention, since the phone lines are apparently down.
In a total amateur move, Brooke exits the cabin and walks toward the noise. When she answers the pay phone, she hears keys jingling and then sees The Night Stalker standing in front of her.
Well, we’re officially terrified. American Horror Story: 1984 returns this Wednesday, September 25, at 10 p.m. on FX.