American Horror Story: 1984 is finally here and tonight’s season premiere sent this season’s core group of characters off to Camp Redwood for what is sure to be a nightmare of a summer. But before all the killing starts in earnest turning Camp Redwood into Hell on Earth, the series sets up for the slasher tale in the season premiere episode, Camp Redwood.
The show opens in 1970. A trio of camp counselors are having a little lights-out fun when Mr. Jingles shows up and gruesomely murders them and collects a very specific and disturbing trophy from their corpses. When the camera pulls back it reveals that the whole cabin is full of corpses. He’s slaughtered everyone, brutally.
In 1984, we meet the core cast at the aerobics studio with Brooke (Emma Roberts) eyeing Chet (Gus Kenworthy) with interest. In the locker room, Montana (Billie Lourde) chats her up and we find that Brooke is new to town and a virgin. At the gym’s bar area, Xavier (Cody Fern) regales Chet and Ray (DeRon Horton) with news of the Night Stalker’s most recent gruesome murder. Brooke looks very uncomfortable. Xavier decides that he’s going to leave town to be a camp counselor to avoid what he thinks will be a rampage of killing while the others look to get out with the Olympics around the corner. Brooke declines joining them.
Later, Brooke is asleep alone in her apartment when someone attacks her in her sleep — Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa). She fights him off and he flees, but he threatens that he will find her and get her yet. Next we see Brooke, she’s in the van on her way to Camp Redwood with her new friends. At a gas station, Xavier uses a payphone to check his messages where someone has left him a threatening message. The attendant warns them to turn around and not go to camp, tells them they’re going to die. A few minutes later down the road, they hit a random guy who doesn’t know his own name and has other injuries.
At the camp, the crew is informed by the owner, Margaret (Leslie Grossman), that they are the only counselors. The guy they hit is taken to Nurse Rita (Angelica Ross) who cautions that the woods are very deep, and hikers disappear all the time. Margaret takes them on a tour and tells them that the lake is allegedly bottomless. Margaret is very religious and bought the camp to create a “pure” place for campers. At the campfire, Rita tells them about the 1970 massacre and the murderer who did it: Mr. Jingles. Margaret reveals she was that massacre’s only survivor.
Back at the cabin, activities director Trevor (Matthew Morrison) arrives and hits it off with Montana, who goes skinny dipping. Trevor joins her, but she gets spooked just as a storm starts. Elsewhere, there’s chaos at a mental institution and we find out that three hours earlier, Mr. Jingles pretended to hang himself and then strangled an orderly, used his keys to escape and released other patients on his way out. A clipping about Camp Redwood’s reopening is found in his cell.
Elsewhere, we circle back to the man from the gas station working on a car. Mr. Jingles drops the car on him, killing him and taking his keys. At the camp, they watch a bit of the Olympics, upsetting Chet who throws a can at Ray. Injured, he goes to get bandages. Brooke follows to help and comes across the hiker murdered. She’s then chased by Mr. Jingles but when the others check things out, there’s no Jingles and no dead hiker so no one believes her.
Later, the pay phone rings. Brooke answers it and only hears keys. Ramirez lurks in the woods nearby.
American Horror Story: 1984 airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.