‘Magical Thinking’: Recap of ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’

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As much as I’d like to tear the concept of this episode apart, it seems pointless to beat a dead and rotting horse. Last episode solidified this season as a hot ass mess, so we may as well try to move forward as best we can since we only have two more episodes to go. Positive thinking, right?

This episode brought us the long-awaited Neil Patrick Harris cameo. Turns out it’s less a cameo more than it is yet another minor character that we’re suddenly supposed to care about. Fortunately for us, and the show, NPH always delivers.

I really can’t figure out why his time on screen was so magnetic here. Of course he’s great, but why was he so much better than anyone else? I hesitate to say it was because he was really committing to the action or because his character was written really well or because we saw his bare ass. (YAY MORE BUTTS!) I really do believe that we’ve got some outstanding actors on our hands who do the best they can with the crap their given, so why did NPH steal the show? And why is Dandy the best thing to take away each episode? Perhaps our usual cast is bored, or perhaps we’re bored with them. Maybe a new face is what we need to really reenergize the show.

Whatever it is, NPH’s weirdo puppet master Chester made this a very enjoyable episode to watch. As asinine as it is to bring a new character in so late in the season (I won’t digress further, I promise), he’s added some new complications that affect the rest of our group under the big top.

Chester was awarded the honor of deflowering the twins, who were also a joy to watch this week. They’re comfortable in their shared skin now, so much so that they were basically auditioning suitors to be their first lay after Jimmy rejected them. (They’re so comfortable with each other now that they even burned their diaries, aka the dumbest plot hole of the season! I mean really, if they can speak to each other telepathically, they have to be able to hear each other’s thoughts, right? And if they can hear the other’s thoughts, couldn’t they hear what the other is thinking while writing? Someone failed World Building 101.) When none of the other male freaks were deemed fit, here comes a handsome chameleon salesman to sweep them off their feet! Too bad he needs to have his puppet watch in order to get off.

Oh man, what. is. up. with. Marjorie?! I’ve hardly been so excited to find something out this season! It’s been a seven-episode dry spell devoid of intrigue since Twisty left, really. So she’s a puppet, but she’s also an actual person? Is she a shapeshifter? And why is Chester so obsessed with her? What is with her needing to be included? The bi-wives don’t want her around, so she bashes their skulls in with a hammer. And now, she feels excluded because Chester banged the twins (And what a great overhead shot while he’s doing it! Maybe my one of my favorite of the whole season.) and she wants him to legit saw them in half? Perhaps Marjorie is to Chester what the Evil Visage was to Edward Mordrake… an alternate side of the same person that tells them to kill people. Except in this case, Marjorie can do the killing. Whatever it may be, I’m really genuinely excited to find out what her deal is. (It’s also fun to see Jamie Brewer again! This character is my favorite of hers.)

Chester is also now going to own the freak show, since Elsa is miraculously talented all of the sudden and is going to fly away to Hollywood to “own Friday night.” I think there are some larger complications here that the season probably won’t go into because it literally doesn’t have the time to. But instead of passing the freak show to the freaks themselves like Paul was saying, or even to Jimmy and Dell, she sells it to a stranger that’s good with money. It seems like the unfair responsible mother thing to do, doesn’t it? It’s like keeping them in their place by way of witholding responsibility. Elsa gives the show to someone that will be able to keep it afloat financially, since the freaks certainly don’t know what they’re doing with money. But why not train a successor, Elsa? Why, if you love your monsters so much, would you sell them to a man you just met who has a penchant for puppets?

To be fair, I think Elsa realized her mistake before the ink was dry. Once Chester told Elsa he was going to give her lavish tent to a puppet and that puppet was going to be the main act and that traveling was really hard for that puppet, Elsa threw a serious “the fuuuuck” face. And it was rather hilarious. Considering we know that Elsa will go on to do bigger and better things, this complication won’t be easily resolved.

Chester also managed to piss Dandy off, which is probably the worst thing that could happen to a person. Since Dandy now has a cop for a lackey, he wants for even less than he used to. In what I imagine was an effort to find the twins, Dandy’s cop buddy spied on Chester amidst the deflowering and even took pictures of the act. (And now for the grossest line of the episode: “I shoved my lens through the tent flap.” Come on, guys. Yuck.) Dandy has all but succeeded to ruin Jimmy’s life as promised, has now moved on to destroying Chester’s life. The scene with Dandy and Chester was probably my favorite of the whole season. It’s not often that two juggernauts have the chance to exchange words, at least not in this season of AHS.

After the last episode, I didn’t think this sentence was possible: I really can’t wait to see what happens in the next episode. I still despise the idea of what they’re doing here, but I kind of love what they’re doing with it. At least some excitement has been brought back. At least they’re having fun with the show. The drudgery of the rest of the season may actually be redeemed.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:

– Dell shows up at the hospital/jail and starts feeding Jimmy, and right when I’m thinking, “Aw, what a nice father/son moment that they’ve never had,” Dell goes and says, “I’m almost 50-years-old and I’m feeding my son for the first time.” WHY DO YOU ALWAYS NEED TO BE SO OVERT, AHS?! Why can’t we figure something out for ourselves for once?! Sheesh.

– I truly love how empowered Bette and Dot were in this episode. I suppose in the 50s there were few places a woman could find her sexuality outside of a freak show. Good for them.

– I’m really not sure what I missed. How and why is Elsa going to Hollywood? Richard’s not really a talent scout. It’s really bugging me.

– Chester freaking out over Marjorie’s disappearance was just plain wonderful. I’m not sure anyone has shown such strong intention this entire season. With the exception of Twisty, of course.

– So Dell’s dead. I couldn’t care less, honestly. Like I’ve said before, nothing could have redeemed him for me. He was a boring character and generally sucked. What’s mostly a shame is that the Strong Woman/Strong Man act couldn’t have lasted. I liked Eve having more to do.

– Best delivered line of the episode: “What a sicko!” Good on Finn Wittrock for not resting on the inherent irony of that line. He’s the beacon of hope for this series.

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