“Red Dawn” brings events at Camp Redwood to a temporary close for a major midpoint narrative swerve.
This recap of American Horror Story: 1984 Episode 5, “Red Dawn”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The night, as they say, is darkest before the dawn, and American Horror Story: 1984 Episode 5 gets its darkest yet as the few remaining survivors of Camp Redwood fight to greet the light. Luckily, the light brings with it the expected midpoint rejuvenation, bringing events at the ill-fated camp to a temporary conclusion, and suggesting a pretty radical change in direction for the back half of the season.
“Red Dawn” opens with a messy flashback explaining why Donna (Angelica Ross) became so obsessed with serial killers in the first place — her father was one. Back in the day, she caught him gutting a woman she presumed to be his mistress, and in an effort to catch him in the act accidentally exposed a side of him that he had hoped to keep hidden from her. In his shame, he stabs himself in the neck right in front of her — so much for protecting her fragile young mind, I guess.
Dee Dee’s father — or at least his ideology — reappears in a ghostly form in American Horror Story: 1984 Episode 5, and he isn’t the only one. Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa) is back from the dead with a rather unsatisfying explanation, and so is Ray (DeRon Horton), with no explanation whatsoever. Brooke (Emma Roberts) finds him wandering around much like the errant Jonas (Lou Taylor Pucci), who has been killed multiple times and never seems to go anywhere, hinting in the direction that this episode eventually takes — everyone who is killed at Camp Redwood, which in “Red Dawn” also comes to include Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Xavier (Cody Fern), both killed by Margaret (Leslie Grossman), and Montana (Billie Lourd), killed by Brooke, stays there. The point is hammered home by Ray being loaded onto an ambulance and driven out of the gates, only to find himself back on the road.
But they’re not ghosts in the traditional sense. They have a physical presence. They can commit murder and have sex, which Ray does with Brooke, who is later arrested for Montana’s murder — and everyone else’s — and taken away in custody. Margaret once again has a convenient scapegoat for her deviance. The first one, Mr. Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), was skewered with arrows by Xavier and then revived by Richard just in time for a road trip in a stolen police car. Those two, then, aren’t governed by the same rules as the rest of the ghosts; Richard at least is a tool of Satan, we assume, and anyone he resurrects is presumably bound by the same privileges. That leaves everyone else in a kind of Purgatory, able to stalk the idyllic Camp Redwood as party-hard Gods of murder and debauchery. I don’t think anyone had any idea where this show was going, but I bet it wasn’t here.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.