‘Bullseye’: Recap of ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’


You know those facebook friends of yours that make their birthday into a week-long affair? They warn you of their upcoming birthday for weeks and then have three separate parties/get-togethers/soirees for each day of the weekend. Even when their birthday is on a Tuesday.

Elsa would be one of those facebook friends. So high maintenance.

Everyone gives Elsa all of these gifts for her birthday, like they have any money to spare. (You’ve seen their trailers and you’ve seen Elsa’s tent. How much of the profits is she sharing, do we think?) And yet, when one person says they think she lied about something, she totally flips out and screams that no one loves her even though she “saved” them all.

I wish freak shows had unions, so they could have health insurance, so they could get therapists, so the therapist could tell Elsa, “You know, when you behave like that it makes people like you less, right?”

I first thought the thread holding this plotline together was pretty thin, though the stories of Elsa saving these freaks ended up making a lot of sense for the show. One of them was in a chain gang, Pepper and her (confirmed!) brother were at an orphanage because her family didn’t want them, etc. And as she’s saying this, none of them are like, “You’re full of shit, Elsa. That’s not how it went down,” which says to me that she’s telling the truth. Not Elsa’s pipe dream truth, not Elsa’s self-fulfilling prophecy truth, the actual truth. And considering that Delusion is what wakes Elsa up in the morning and tucks her in at night, the legitimacy of this moment is a ray of sunshiney reality on her character.

That quickly goes down the tubes, as Elsa takes that ray of reality and parlays that into a guilt-induced display of affection by the group, which involves someone being strapped into a spinning wheel of death where knives will be thrown at their body. By Elsa.

Freakin’ great.

Paul volunteers as the guinea pig because, well, he has a lot to do in this episode. And as soon as a secondary character starts to do a lot, you figure they’re either going to die or something bad is going to happen to them, right?

What is meant to be the tension-filled climax of the episode is really rather dull. The episode tropes it up with a line that goes something like, “What can we do to prove to you we love you?” (BLECH), effectively using You Have Failed Me and turning it into “You Don’t Love Me.” And who among you didn’t see what was going to happen next? Paul gets a knife in the gut. Are we supposed to be surprised?

One of my main peeves with this season of AHS is being told that I should feel something when I haven’t been set up to feel it in the first place. You can’t just show up at my door with a rose and tell me that I’m supposed to love you. I’m supposed to be swept off my feet, AHS. And it’s not happening.

So it really should come as no surprise to Elsa that no one came up to her party, even when there was cake. (I’m sure Jim Gaffigan would think that’s really saying something.) We’re not exactly sure how Elsa saved Ethel, but it’s enough for Ethel to still bake her a cake even after stabbing Paul. Right when you’re about to mistake Ethel’s kindness for naivete, she comes right out and says if something happened to the twins and Elsa was the cause, she’d kill Elsa herself.

WELP. I don’t think Elsa’s birthday wish is going to come true, since Elsa sold the twins to the Motts last week…

Speaking of that plot line! While at the Mott’s palatial estate (jail?), Bette is in caviar heaven and Dot is in a shiny, marble hell. Dandy realizes that his heart is able to love in this episode, because the freaks that are the Tattler twins make him feel like a normal person. And in the same way that Twisty’s earnestness made him the most interesting character before he was stolen from us, Dandy’s sincerity is what continues to make him the character I most enjoy watching. Motivation of characters on this show can be rather weak (STANLEY WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SELL SOME SPERM TO GET MONEY?! GEEZ.) and a lesser actor would treat Dandy’s newfound love as more of a fascination, or a relief from not being the weirdest person in the world. Fortunately for us, Finn Wittrock plays being in love with the twins as a real possibility. He and Bette’s hands touching in the popcorn was positively adorable.

Unfortunately for us, Dandy’s new arc was short lived, since he reads Dot’s journal and finds she wants to be separated from her sister, and that she’s using him for his money to afford the surgery. It’s hard to tell what he’s most upset about: Dot using Dandy for his wealth, Dot wanting the separation surgery, or the possibility that they won’t live at the Mott’s estate anymore.

Regardless, Dandy throws a tantrum and concludes, YET AGAIN, that he was put on this earth to kill. This plot was a boomerang. We go from death and dismemberment last week, to a development that feels like it’s going to take us somewhere fun, right back to death and dismemberment. This show lacks any form of consistency and it drives me NUTS.

This episode was saved by thrusting Paul’s plots to the forefront. Mat Frasier is a very solid actor, and the scene in the drug store was by far my favorite of the episode. Dandy accusing him of pickpocketing him, Paul displaying his arms with a chuckled, “That’s a laugh!” was so refreshing. It felt like a real and true moment, when most of this show consists of strapping its audience to a spinning wheel of death and chucking moments at their heads hoping they stick. (Too much? Eh, it’s staying.) And with only seven episodes left of the season, some of these moments better start sticking.


– Three options for best line of the show:
Dandy, “I liked Dora better.” Gloria, “Hindsight is 20/20, dear.”
Dot, “I go by my full name now that half of me is gone.”
Amazon Eve, “She never misses breakfast. I don’t know where she puts it.”

– I love how Eve throws that last line away. Winner!

– Yo, Ma Petite was there THE ENTIRE TIME ELSA AND PAUL WERE DOING IT. These freaks are freaky.

– It just occurred to me that all the auxiliary freaks wear the same thing each week. They’re like cartoon characters.

– Ma Petite fluttering her hands like a butterfly in that big jar was the saddest thing I’ve seen on this show since Twisty’s backstory.

– Also, Ms. Petite needs to be a little more skeptical of someone coming into her room while she’s sleeping. I mean, really, girl. Ask a question or two why doncha.

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