The promo for next week's episode of American Horror Story: 1984 featured an exciting surprise for longtime fans of the FX anthology: the return of Dylan McDermott! This development, along with the super creepy vibes he's serving up in the teaser, quickly spawned a flood of speculation about who he could be playing.
The logline for the episode, titled "The Lady in White," teases, "A hidden chapter of Camp Redwood is revealed. The survivors help a stranded hitchhiker." Given that we see McDermott in the backseat of Donna (Angelica Ross) and Brooke's (Emma Roberts) car, it feels like a safe assumption that he will be playing the hitchhiker — but that doesn't mean that we haven't met this hitchhiker before.
Many fans are thinking that McDermott is playing none other than Johnny Morgan, his murderous character from Asylum. One small problem: We know that Lana (Sarah Paulson) gave birth to Johnny around 1965, which would make him approximately 24 years old if McDermott's scenes in 1984 take place in 1989, which was the year this week's episode left off on.
The idea of the 57-year-old McDermott playing the much younger Morgan isn't without precedent though. Never forget when Jessica Lange played Constance Langdon in 2011 and in 1983 in Murder House. And even just this season, Leslie Grossman played a teenaged version of Margaret Booth. Maybe one of the '80s-set camp movies 1984 is paying homage to is Wet Hot American Summer, which would be an excuse for these wacky castings!
As for why Johnny Morgan would be involved with Donna and Brooke, it could be purely a coincidence that the duo picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be the son of Bloody Face (Zachary Quinto). Or perhaps Johnny, who didn't go on his first murder spree until 2012, found out about Donna and her father, became obsessed (as he's wont to do), and stalked Donna, wanting to learn more about another spawn of a serial killer.
This week's episode might have provided a clue as to an alternate reason Johnny would be interested in Donna, Brooke, and everything going on at Camp Redwood, though. We learned through Margaret's episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous that Margaret bought Briarcliff and turned it into a tourist trap. This would not only have put Margaret on Johnny's radar but also given him a reason to hold a grudge against her for what Johnny might see as disrespect to his father, Dr. Thredson.
Although it would be fun to see Brooke and Donna teaming up with Johnny Morgan to take down Margaret, it doesn't look like Brooke is a big fan of McDermott's character. In the promo, Brooke is shown saying, "Where do you psychos keep coming from?" seemingly to McDermott.
While this line fits with McDermott playing Johnny Morgan, who most definitely qualifies as a psycho, it definitely isn't proof that the psycho McDermott is playing is Johnny Morgan. There is a huge chance that McDermott is just playing an all-new psycho. If this is the case and McDermott is simply playing your typical terrifying hitchhiker, thus denying us further connections to Asylum, we at least hope there are some fun connections to the 1986 film The Hitcher. Next week's scenes with McDermott do appear to take place in a dessert, so that's good start! But at the end of the day, we're just happy to have McDermott back in the AHS fold.
American Horror Story: 1984 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.