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How AHS 1984 might be connected to previous seasons

When Ryan Murphy said American Horror Story's ninth season, dubbed 1984, would be a standalone chapter in his groundbreaking anthology series, fans of the show took it with a healthy dose of skepticism. Murphy is famous for his wild twists of narrative turn, but the master of unexpected endings surprised us once again with nine episodes of slasher homage in AHS 1984, arguably the most straightforward season of American Horror Story to date. 

Following a group of twenty-something Los Angelenos during the Olympics summer of 1984 — also the summer of the Night Stalker's reign — as they venture out to Camp Redwood as counselors, AHS 1984 is an unabashed love letter to fans of the slasher genre. Featuring multiple massacres on haunted campgrounds where the dead don't rest easy, AHS 1984 also becomes a series of musings on the effects of long-term and inherited trauma that amazingly closes with a rare happy ending in the American Horror Story universe. It also fits the fan theory endorsed by Murphy that each season of AHS relates to Dante's circles of hell, 1984 aptly corresponding to Lust in all its forms: lust for sex, blood lust, and the trauma bonds of horror that drive people to return to sites of extreme pain. 

And while AHS 1984 can indeed rest on its own bloody laurels, eagle-eyed AHS fans spotted many links and Easter eggs that tie 1984 to previous seasons. Here's a look at some of the most intriguing and important connections. 

Haunted places where the dead don't die

For most of American Horror Story, all roads lead back to season one's Murder House. But in AHS 1984, all paths return to haunted Camp Redwood. At first, we're led to believe that Mr. Jingles' (John Carroll Lynch) 1970 rampage killing dozens of campers and counselors is the mass murder that spoiled the land and caused its ghosts to rest uneasy. But it was actually another set of murders, dating back to 1948, that took place after young camper Bobby Richter (Filip Alexander) was killed in the lake because the counselors were too busy getting it on elsewhere. Bobby's mother Lavinia (Lily Rabe) murdered the two counselors — a dramatic tribute to the first Friday the 13th movie — and didn't stop there, eventually killing herself so she could remain with the ghost of her favorite child. Her less favorite son Benjamin grew up to be Mr. Jingles, and in the wake of Lavinia's spree, anyone killed on the campgrounds was doomed to remain as a ghost in its purgatory without any hope for redemption. 

Previous AHS seasons Murder House, CovenHotel, Freak Show, and Roanoke all feature similarly haunted lands where the dead don't properly die, some of them choosing to help the living while others continue populating the space with more ghosts. Mass murders also define these spaces in particularly grotesque ways, a commentary on the part of Ryan Murphy and company about a real-life America increasingly defined by large-scale killings.

Satan and AHS 1984's ties to Apocalypse and Hotel

American Horror Story's eighth season, Apocalypse, featured an intricate end-times plot with the son of Satan, Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) at its center. Apocalypse was also a massive crossover that returned to season three's Coven and all the way back to the beginning with Murder House. Huge questions still remain about how the events of Apocalypse might have changed the entire AHS timeline, but when it comes to AHS 1984, the link to Apocalypse can be taken purely on surface value. 

Satan plays a huge part in 1984, acting as the emotional and physical driver of Night Stalker Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa) in particular. Ramirez is constantly hailing Satan after his bloody acts, drawing a pentagram in the ground and anointing it with his blood to call on Satan's power. After Ramirez gets murdered on Camp Redwood grounds, Satan resurrects him, along with Mr. Jingles, and they return to Los Angeles for more murder. All this while Satan's son Michael Langdon wasn't even a glimmer in his dark eye yet.  

Satanic Richard Ramirez also connects with AHS's fifth season, Hotel. The Hotel Cortez's resident mass murderer and founder James March (Evan Peters) hosts a yearly dinner on Halloween. March invites a table full of serial killers to dine with him and get high on absinthe before a group kill. Richard Ramirez (Anthony Ruivivar) is one of his invitees. However, since we find Ramirez trapped in Camp Redwood purgatory by the end of AHS 1984, it's unclear how Ramirez actually gets there. 

Jesus, God, and links to AHS Asylum and Apocalypse

Satan isn't the only otherworldly power in AHS 1984 linking back to previous seasons. Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman) begins 1984 as the sole survivor of Mr. Jingles' camp massacre. She claims that she saw God's light after Jingles attacked her and cut off her ear, and that's how she survived. As a result, Margaret becomes extremely pious and expects the same from her counselors after she buys Camp Redwood years later. But as it turns out, Mr. Jingles was just the patsy. Margaret was the real Camp Redwood butcher, and her new designs for murder are far from holy in spite of the cross she wears around her neck and the Christian rhetoric she spouts. 

To American Horror Story fans, this all sounds very familiar, going back to season two's Asylum, in which sadistic nuns and pervert priests run Briarcliff Manor, an institute for the insane. Under the guise of religion, Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) brutalizes the patients in her care, and the site itself becomes so flooded with evil that Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) even gets possessed by a demon. 

In fitting with the Christian theme of Margaret Booth's performative zealotry, we also see lots of trinities in play during AHS 1984. Many of them are love or revenge triangles, like Montana (Billie Lourd), Margaret, and Trevor (Matthew Morrison), and Brooke (Emma Roberts), Ramirez, and Montana. But we also have an unholy trinity of serial killers by the end in Margaret, Ramirez, and Bruce (Dylan McDermott), who join dark forces.

Mr. Jingles' cabin connects to Kit Walker in Asylum

After Benjamin Richter, a.k.a. Mr. Jingles, discovers that he was framed by Margaret Booth for the 1970 Camp Redwood murders, he moves to a cabin in remote Alaska, begins a new life, falls in love, and has a child until Satan comes calling — through Richard Ramirez — to collect on the debt for bringing Benjamin back to life. When Benjamin refuses to participate in more killings, Ramirez brutally kills his wife in retaliation. 

Sharp-eyed AHS fans noticed immediately that Benjamin's cabin is the same as Kit Walker's (Evan Peters) in Asylum. But the connection doesn't stop there. Kit had also been framed for the serial killer Bloody Face's rapes and murders, and institutionalized at Briarcliff Manor. Like Benjamin Richter, Kit was also tortured by his caregivers to the point that he could no longer remember whether he had even committed the crimes. Similar to 1984's Benjamin Richter and Asylum's Kit Walker, Brooke is also framed by the actual serial killer Margaret in AHS 1984, but Brooke's torture takes place behind prison bars, not a mental health facility. 

Margaret Booth buys Briarcliff Manor featured in AHS Asylum

After surviving the newest massacre at Camp Redwood and killing its perpetrator Mr. Jingles, Margaret Booth has yet another moment in the limelight. Little does she know that Jingles was resurrected by Satan, and that Trevor, the camp counselor she thought she murdered, also made it outside the camp. Since Trevor now knows about Margaret's dirty secret, he allies himself with her to mutually assure their destruction if the real story gets out. Since Margaret is independently wealthy, she starts buying up other sites of gruesome events around America, like the Manson's Spahn Ranch, and turning them into tourist attractions. "You know what makes Spahn Ranch better? Spahn Ranch with a ferris wheel," Margaret chirps. She ends up with such a huge collection of murder houses, it's surprising that season one's Montgomery House wasn't also on the list.

Margaret goes on to buy Briarcliff Manor, where way too many grisly events went down in AHS Asylum, including a Nazi doctor Arden's (James Cromwell) grotesque human experimentation as as well as serial killer Bloody Face's work as staff psychiatrist Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto). Margaret also buys John Wayne Gacy's house, and Gacy (John Carroll Lynch) makes an appearance in AHS Hotel during James March's Devil's Night debaucheries. This is one of the biggest "physical" connections AHS 1984 has to previous seasons.

Margaret Booth is newest in a long line of AHS' female serial killers

While female serial killers in real life America are rare, they run wild through the various narrative tapestries of American Horror Story's nine seasons. From slave-torturing and blood-drinking Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) in Coven, the bloodthirsty vampire Countess (Lady Gaga) in Hotel, SCUM Manifesto writer (and shooter of Andy Warhol) Valerie Solanas (Lena Dunham) outed as the Zodiac Killer in Cult, to the ancient Butcher (Kathy Bates) in Roanoke and Aileen Wournos (Lily Rabe) in Hotel, the women of American Horror Story are often as brutal as they are beautiful and powerful. And AHS 1984 is no exception with its new addition to the serial killer canon in Margaret Booth. The major difference between Margaret and the rest of them is that Margaret's identity as killer remains secret even after her death, while the others — with the exception of Valerie Solanas/Zodiac Killer — were all well known for their vicious crimes. Also unlike her peers in AHS, Margaret pinned her huge body count on a number of innocent people.  

Mr. Jingles in purgatory with his brother and mother echoes Murder House

In American Horror Story, all trails eventually lead back to the beginning with Murder House, even though Camp Redwood is the main site of trauma for most of AHS 1984. After Richard Ramirez kills Benjamin Richter's wife, Benjamin leaves his son Bobby with her sister and returns to the place where his life was ruined on multiple occasions. He also plans to have it out with Ramirez, which doesn't go according to plan and gets complicated further by Benjamin's second and final death. Unfortunately, even this doesn't relinquish Satan's hold on Benjamin's soul, nor Ramirez's fixation with him. Ramirez quickly sets his sights on Benjamin's son, and Benjamin is powerless to stop him now that he's one of Redwood's ghosts. 

By AHS 1987's seventh episode, "The Lady in White," we discover Benjamin's tragic connection to Camp Redwood dates back to the late 1940s when his brother was killed in a boating accident on the lake. Ghost Benjamin finds out his mother and his brother are still haunting the site, his mother even killing from time to time, and he has a painful and poignant reconciliation with them. Lavinia, Benjamin, and Bobby make themselves a new home in a quiet part of the campgrounds, mirroring the ghost Harmon family — Vivien (Connie Britton), Ben (Dylan McDermott), and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) — at the end of season one's Murder House.

Trevor's death is a reversal of Donovan's in AHS Hotel

Camp Redwood in AHS 1984 and the Hotel Cortez in AHS Hotel are haunted places where people who die on those grounds are doomed to a ghastly purgatory. Many characters in both seasons choose death on that space because they want to exist forever, or someone they love is already trapped there. However, the pattern breaks in Hotel. Donovan (Matt Bomer) goes to his lover the Countess in a jealous rage to tell her he's murdered her longtime love Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock) in the hopes she will take him back. But he's interrupted by his mother Iris (Kathy Bates) and Liz Taylor (Denis O'Hare) who open fire, trying to kill the conniving Countess once and for all. Donovan uses himself as a human shield, saving his love, but getting mortally wounded. He asks his mother to help him die outside the Cortez so he won't be trapped in there with all the Countess' other lovers. 

In AHS 1984, we have a reversal of Donovan's death. Trevor gets mortally wounded by Margaret Booth just outside the boundary of Camp Redwood as his love, the ghost Montana, watches on powerless. Trevor is too badly wounded to get back into the camp himself until Brooke appears and helps him over the boundary just in the nick of time for him to die on the campground and be with Montana forever. This romantic echo of Hotel is as poignant as the reversal that inspired it.

Margaret receives a pitchfork welcome like in AHS Roanoke

The grand deceiver Margaret, orchestrator of so much violence and mayhem, finally meets her end at the hands of the various ghosts she was ultimately responsible for creating. They chop her up into pieces and feed them into a wood chipper, Fargo style, pointed across the boundary of the camp so they won't be forced to see her ever again. But after being decapitated, Margaret does die on the campground — and keeps herself hidden from the others for decades. That is, until Benjamin "Mr Jingles" Richter's adult son Bobby (Finn Wittrock) returns to Camp Redwood in 2019 looking for his father. Once the other ghosts realize Margaret has been there all along, they show up en masse with lighted pitchforks to torture her. 

Similarly, in AHS Roanoke we saw the Butcher (Kathy Bates) and her ghost minions show up during the Blood Moon, armed with stabby weapons and lighted torches to kill everyone remaining. Like mobs of living folks, ghost mobs aren't anything to slouch at. 

AHS 1984's fraternity hazing calls back to AHS Coven

When we meet Ray (DeRon Horton), he's an aerobics obsessive, like many other AHS 1984 characters, and he works as a janitor in a hospice for terminally ill patients. But it's not until the body count starts rising that we find out that a year before, Ray was a college student actively involved in his fraternity Omega Xi. During a hazing ritual that also involved non-consensual sexual contact between fraternity brothers and pledges, one pledge, Chan (Mark Daugherty), was on the verge of alcohol poisoning and ended up falling down the stairs. Thinking Chan was dead, Ray went to dump the body, making it look like an accident. But as Chan's car was about to go over a cliff, he woke up — albeit not in time for Ray to save him. Ray dropped out of school and went into hiding at Camp Redwood, staying after he learned Chan's car had been found. 

AHS Coven also features fraternity hazing that results in death, although it plays out differently. Witches Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) attend a party at Kappa Lambda Gamma fraternity where Madison's drink is drugged and she's assaulted by a group of fraternity brothers. Channeling the force of her powers, Madison's rage erupts and she tosses the fraternity's bus off the road while it's filled with frat brothers who are dismembered by the crash. Like with Ray in 1984, this event has longterm repercussions for Madison and Zoe.

The (vocal) return of Stevie Nicks

While Billy Idol is most definitely the musician of the hour in AHS 1984 thanks to Richard Ramirez's fanboying, American Horror Story alum Stevie Nicks also makes another appearance. Unlike Coven and Apocalypse, where Nicks guest stars in an episode and sings a song, in 1984 she shows up only musically this time around. In 1984's fourth episode, Nicks' love song lullaby with Don Henley, "Leather and Lace," plays as a backdrop to the increasingly bloody events. Nicks sings, "Still I carry this feeling / When you walked into my house / That you won't be walking out the door," which ends up having a great deal of significance for the broader arc of AHS 1984. Not only can the ghosts not leave or ever fully be at peace, but some have chosen to die on haunted ground so they can be with the ones they love forever. AHS 1984 isn't just a love letter to fans of old school slasher horror movies, it ends up being something of a love letter to the characters within. 

AHS 1984's rare happy ending relates to Freak Show

In Freak Show, after crazed Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) goes on his murderous rampage against the members of Fraulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities, he fails to kill three key characters: Lobster Boy Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) and the conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler (Sarah Paulson). The season ends with the three looking happy and in love — with Dot and Bette pregnant to boot. 

AHS 1984 also ends with three survivors and their respective love stories. Mr. Jingles' son Bobby finally meets his father and learns the truth about everything that happened, as well as the fact that all the ghosts have been keeping Bobby safe for decades by holding Richard Ramirez at bay. After meeting his grandmother and the uncle for whom he was named, Bobby leaves Camp Redwood feeling love and peace. 

Dr. Donna (Anjelica Ross) has lived for years with guilt about leaving Brooke behind after Margaret shot her in the stomach. Donna blames herself for Brooke's death. When Bobby meets Donna and reveals he's been receiving money from a supporter of his dad's, she responds it wasn't her. They find out that Brooke survived the shooting and created a new life for herself. Donna reconnects with her sister-in-trauma Brooke, and finds out their platonic love for one another never abated. By its finale, AHS 1984 actually becomes a rather strange and gory love story, much like the end of Freak Show.