Gee whiz, dads brought all the drama last night on American Horror Story, and just in time for Thanksgiving! One minute you’re bonding with your long lost dad, the next minute he’s buying dresses for your friends and strangling them to death. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself…
All kidding aside, I mostly liked this episode of Freak Show. While I still stand by my opinion that the lack of cohesion in the story telling is distracting, the main points of the show — being an outsider, decent people just trying to make it, love, expectations, ambition, failure, family — are just as devastating as ever; the problem is, they are drowning in the excess that is American Horror Story.
The episode begins with Jimmy showing up at the Mott residence to rescue the Tattler sisters. While Bette is enjoying her life with Dandy and believes that she is in love with him, she and Dot agree that they better go with Jimmy, rejecting Dandy (which he, as you could imagine, did not appreciate). Jimmy also puts the pieces together that Dandy was the second clown that night at the bus.
Next, Dell finds himself back at the gay bar looking for his lover. When the bartender quietly suggests not falling in love with a hustler next time, Dell breaks his head on the bar. Jimmy sings a cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are, which is the most, “Alright, if you say so…” moment of the night. This prompts a confrontation between Jimmy and Elsa about what actually happened to Dot and Bette, however, in a surprise move, the twins lie to protect Elsa, which we find out is part of Dot’s plan to acquire the money to get her surgery. Elsa doesn’t take kindly to their attempt at blackmail and later asks Stanley to take the girls to Chicago to have the surgery performed. When Stanley suggests that perhaps he could just kill them instead, Elsa doesn’t say no exactly, and this entire conversation is overheard by Ethel, who as we know, told Elsa that if she finds out she means to bring harm to the twins, she will kill her.
Speaking of Ethel, she and Desiree return to their doctors office only to find that he has killed himself after Dell mangled his hands. Here’s where I’m going to interject an opinion and say that it is a real mistake to keep both Ethel and Desiree on the periphery of this season. They’re two of the most emotionally compelling characters, two of the strongest and most decorated actors of the ensemble and they both have major ties to the character who is, arguably, turning out to be the seasons “Big Bad,” Dell.
While we’re on the topic, Stanley has seen Dell at the gay bar and confronts him about what he knows. Since Esmerelda is proving to be soft when it comes to killing one of the “freaks,” Stanley strong arms (see what I did there?) Del into delivering him one of the bodies or he will expose his secret. Dell goes after Amazon Eve first, who proceeds to beat the snot out of him in one of the funnier moments of the night. Next he decides to take Jimmy out and agrees to have a drink with him in town. Jimmy is there to tell Dell that the members of the crew are ready to kill him, and if he has any brains at all he should leave. Dell isn’t phased and proceeds to get Jimmy drunk to carry out his murderous plan. What ends up happening is a true heart to heart and a confrontation between the men where they both acknowledge that they know the truth about their family and that Dell is Jimmy’s father.
Another father causes a lot of problems when Penny declares to her dad that she loves Paul unconditionally and that she is leaving her “normal” live behind to be with him. He proceeds to knock her out and invites a psychotic tattoo artist to draw on her face, shave parts of her head and fork her tongue so that she ultimately looks like a reptile. This did not win “Alright, if you say so…” of the night because, no, American Horror Story, not “Alright, if you say so.” WTF was up with this? Were they trying to show us the consequences of “loving a freak?” Or, if I had to guess, Paul will most likely take his revenge on Penny’s father and it will end badly, maybe in a Frankenstein’s monster vs. the angry villagers kind of way, considering that the town also believes that the “freaks” are responsible for the death of Dr. Bonham.
Here’s the problem: we already have this “consequences of loving outside your kind” storyline brewing between Jimmy, Esmerelda and and Stanley! As much as I love the character of Paul and think his story with Penny is sweet, American Horror Story is wasting our time by telling the same story twice. Plus, how much more powerful would it have been to see gorgeous, Emma Roberts’ blonde haired, blue eyed movie star face tatted up and tortured? Come on AHS, you used to have some umph (and story structure). You can do better.
In the end, Dell kills Ma Petite by squeezing the life out of her in the most cowardly and opposite-of-“Strong Man” way possible, and we are lead to believe that Stanley has gotten what he wanted as we see her lifeless body submerged in a tank on display at the museum. So what will happen next? Lots of loose ends remain to be tied and it can’t be long before the performers come for Dell. Plus, Dandy is angry and according to the tease for the next episode, the secrets kept by all of the characters wont stay buried for long.
American Horror Story returns after Thanksgiving on Wednesday, December 3rd on FX.