“I don’t die here.” Those are the words that tip us off — something is up with the mysterious “hiker” (Lou Taylor Pucci) the core American Horror Story: 1984 crew found wandering the woods outside of Camp Redwood. It’s a strange sentence for two reasons. First, who knows when and where they’re going to die? Secondly, we’ve already seen the hiker die once. Brooke Thompson (Emma Roberts) is first tipped off that serial killer Mr. Jingles (John Carroll Lynch) is lurking in the forest when she finds the hiker’s corpse hanging on the back of a door.
The hiker, whom we learn in Wednesday night's “Mr. Jingles” is really a Redwood camp counselor named Jonas Shevoore, has already died. The problem is, he just can’t stop coming back — Jonas is a ghost. In the AHS world, that seems like a pretty easy explanation for some strange phenomenon: Sometimes people are ghosts!
However, thanks to some suspicious flashbacks in “Jingles,” we can assume there’s more going on with Jonas than your regular supernatural glitch. Does Jonas know Camp Redwood’s deepest, bloodiest secret?
American Horror Story: 1984’s second episode does a lot to suggest Camp Redwood’s patron saint Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman in the traditional Sarah Paulson role) isn’t as pious as she would have us believe. When Margaret finds Richard Ramirez, aka serial killer The Night Stalker (Zach Villa), in her bunk, she doesn’t scream or try to get rid of him. Instead, Margaret makes eyes at Richard from the other side of the couch, says that she “understands” him in a way that suggests she directly empathizes with his violent impulses, and then explains her frightening outlook on God.
“You can use [God] to explain why something happened,” Margaret says. “But you can also use him to explain why you did something. Even something horrible. Isn’t that great?”
This ethos applies to both work for God and Satan, Margaret tells Richard. Between this defense and Margaret's comfort around a serial killing Satanist and rapist like Richard, it’s obvious Margaret is hiding some pitch-black secrets.
We get our clearest look into what those skeletons may be when Margaret finds Jonas in the woods. He has reappeared there after dying twice at the hands of Richard. Initially, the Night Stalker slashed Jonas’ stomach and neck open. Then, when he found Jonas inexplicably wandering the forest again, he stabbed him in the carotid artery to really get the murder job done. Within seconds, Jonas’ body had disappeared.
When Margaret finds Jonas, it is confirmed he has no memories of his many deaths, how he ended up haunting Camp Redwood, or even what year it is. He still thinks it’s 1970. This is someone who died on the night of the first Redwood massacre. From the jump, Margaret pushes Jonas a little too hard on what he remembers from the night he died. He then flashes back to the deadly evening and says he remembers seeing Margaret covered in blood.
Yet, Margaret doesn’t look like the other corpses Jonas witnessed, or how she described the scene in premiere “Camp Redwood.” Mr. Jingles’ victims are literally on the floor, lifeless and splayed out (this is how Margaret claims she remained as well). But, the last time Jonas saw her, Margaret was standing and soaked with blood. She had a near maniacal smile on her face as she stared at the gore covering her body. Terrified of the scene, Jonas ran away from camp and towards civilization. It was there, in the middle of the road to Camp Redwood, that Jonas got hit by Mr. Jingles' truck and died. Rather than care about any of these alarming details, Margaret just asks, “So Jingles was in the truck?”
We should wonder why that is the fact Margaret cares so much about.
What is she trying to figure out? Is it the reason Mr. Jingles was able to evade police for so long? Or is something a little bit more malevolent going on? In a season as bland as 1984, isn’t it more fun to wonder if Margaret helped Jingles with the Redwood massacre and then stayed behind as the perfect cover-up? That would certainly explain why Margaret is the only person who survived the attack. Her Jesus defense from the season 9 premiere is flimsy at best. What if Jonas is unable to leave this mortal coil precisely because he’s the only person who could expose Margaret's secret?