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


And here we are, at last! The penultimate episode of this season of American Horror Story! THANK GOD!

Don’t get me wrong, this episode was fun and shocking in a lot of ways it usually isn’t. But rather than the penultimate, didn’t it kind of felt like the preantepenultimate episode? (OKAY FINE I looked that word up. But it’s really a thing!) Too many things still haven’t been completed; too many new things have been introduced that will never have time to be resolved properly. And with one episode left there’s no way they will be.

Well, no matter. The easiest way to resolve something? Kill someone. Doesn’t matter if it’s someone trying to make things right or or someone who has no clue or someone who is a puppet. Just kill ’em. We only have one episode to tie all of these things together! GET RID OF THEM ALL!

Isn’t that what it’s starting to feel like? I guess it had been starting to feel like that for the last couple of episodes, but this one was the worst that way. Considering this has been a very sloppy season of storytelling, it makes sense that they’d resolve things in an equally sloppy way.

Even still, this episode did surprise me a few times. When the freaks presented Stanley with the tour guide’s head in a jar (neat!) then proceeded to chase him around the tents with sharp objects, I thought for sure Stanley was a dead man. Turns out, though, they just made him into Meep 2.0. (Not sure how his dismemberment wounds healed so quickly, but whatever.) And Maggie! Oh sweet, terrible, boring Maggie! You were given a death that was one thousand times better than your character ever was. Not only did batshitcrazy Chester literally slice the bitch in half, we got to see everything. To see her innards slopping onto the floor was quite a treat. The partners in crime really got the American Horror Story treatment, and it’s about time.

This season didn’t at all feel like the AHS we’ve come to love (or love to hate, which I think is where I am at this point). Few things were scary or grotesque or macabre. Most people who died were shot or stabbed or their death happened off screen. Every show can do that, AHS. What we want from you is what we don’t get anywhere else. Most of what was given to us this season we’ve seen done waaay better on The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones in just the last year. At least this episode gave us a glimpse of the AHS of old before the season completes.

Unfortunately those fun intrigues from the last episode led us nowhere, which I should have expected. Marjorie did turn out to be an alternate, crazy side of Chester; a “visage” that was probably caused by the metal plate put in his head from a war wound he suffered. So deranged was poor Chester that he felt little remorse after slicing Maggie in half, but he felt so guilty for stabbing Marjorie Psycho-style that he turned himself in. Hilarious.

One high moment of the show that felt rather sweet to me was Jimmy’s choosing of his replacement hands. Rather than ask Elsa’s woodsmith (giggity) Massimo Dolcefino, aka Axeman from Coven, to make him a pair of normal hands, he requests a wooden replica of his lobster claws. I give credit to Evan Peters and the soundtrack for that moment, not the show. While I think it was sweet, I also know I was manipulated into thinking it was through his performance and the slow music. I was not made to feel that with eleven episodes of context backing it up. It’s cheating.

Another kind of cheating is what they’re doing with their Asylum connections. I am going to resist the temptation to go much further into my thoughts on the matter because we will be here all day if I do, but I’ll say this much: it’s utterly pointless. Like the episode Orphans, they’re spending far too much precious time on contriving a reason for American Horror Story to be cooler than it is. The five minutes spent on the Dr. Hans Gruper (aka Dr. Arden from Asylum) origin story could’ve been spent tying up loose ends or resolving a character without killing them.

Honestly, I’m not a purist when it comes to the Law of Conservation of Detail. Sometimes it’s okay to digress from the topic at hand, or explore something not wholly related to the story that’s being told. The problem with Freak Show is that the topic at hand or the story being told rarely made any logical or linear sense to begin with. So to veer even further from what’s supposed to be accomplished is just plain absurd.

The episode ended with Elsa receiving a stack of cash to fund her trip to Hollywood. In light of the newest freak show owner cutting one of its members in half, Elsa sold her show to the one and only Dandy Mott. He is, after all, the person who wanted to be a part of this to begin with. I really couldn’t help but smile as he ascended the stage. I feel more for Dandy than I do for any other character on this show, which is pretty messed up, isn’t it? My hope is that Dandy will stop being a crazed murderous sicko (to use his word) and be cleansed in the glory of the freak show spotlight!

Oh, who am I kidding? Considering how things have been going, he’ll kill everyone in the freak show and then himself. Because this show loves the easy way out, and they’ve proven that the easiest way out is for everyone to die. My only wish is that we get to see one more bare ass before they go.


– As Elsa is throwing knives at Stanley on the spinning wheel of death, it’s hard to tell if she’s more pissed about him killing her dreams, or killing the freaks. Not surprising.

– I feel bad for Bette and Dot. They finally found someone off of which to receive their jollies, and he goes and cuts a bitch in half.  I hope they find some more jollies elsewhere.

– The lamest plotline of the episode was the freaks trying to kill Elsa. It ended even quicker than it began. The lamest line of the episode, “There’s only one way to secure our future: make sure Elsa doesn’t have one.” Blech. My mouth tastes so bad all of a sudden.

– The reason that Axeman could’t love Elsa is because he literally couldn’t. Dr. Gruper/Arden fried his balls. Thing is, that’s totally something Arden would do, isn’t it?

– Chester, to the twins: “I’m gonna saw you two in half.” There was an ever so quick shot of Desiree giggling. The innuendo of that sentence was not wasted on her.

– Chester, to Maggie locked in the box: “Shut up.”
Maggie, to Chester: “I didn’t say anything.”
Everyone, please let’s all acknowledge that (surely unintentional) Mean Girls reference.

– Best line of the episode goes to Desiree, who after Maggie’s grisly death says, “She had it coming.” On what to do next? “Steal her jewelry and bury that bitch.” I’m glad they all feel the same ambivalence towards her as I do.

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