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Parsing the Good in Last Night's American Horror Story: Freak Show

By Cindy Davis | TV | November 13, 2014 | Comments ()

By Cindy Davis | TV | November 13, 2014 |


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What to say, what to say…Hey Jessica, your Emmy reel is ready? While Freak Show’s “Bullseye” scored some interesting moments, things this hour just didn’t coalesce. Listen, Mr. Murphy, we want to believe, but you’re making it kind of impossible.

As I mentioned, Jessica Lange chewed *all the scenery,* and Elsa spit out a few freak bones here or there. Her “babies” are growing more and more suspicious of mother, but that doesn’t stop them from an awkward birthday celebration, or good ol’ sister Ethel from frosting Elsa’s cake — “It was already made.” Though Mama Mars claims to have saved her menagerie from a far worse fate, she delivered Bette and Dot to a homicidal maniac, and poor Paul, to death’s other door (I think I know who Edward Mordrake’s coming back for). In her twisted worldview, Ms. Mars see herself as merely an instrument; “Fate is the true master,” even as she screams it was an accident she knifed Paul’s gut.


1. Elsa Just Wants to Have Fun.

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Who wouldn’t love Ma Petite popping from a gift box? Elsa dearest’s birthday week brings celebration, sexy presents, and histrionic demands that everyone must have fun — she will not be upstaged by the “missing” Dot and Bette. (“No more wire hangars two-headed girls!”) Sounds just like my birthday week, minus the knife-throwing.

2. Speaking of Fun, Dandy Fell for His New Playmates…

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…or did he? Bette’s in love, Dot continues to scowl at everything (even Beluga caviar), and Dandy planted separation seeds in their pretty little heads. Was anyone else waiting the whole episode to see the Mott family operating room? (I’m guessing it contains only a tub, a chainsaw, and a bottle of mother’s happy pills). Dandy killed it again with his I’m dry and dusty as a desert, and the girls are “glacier water”; later he was more accurate with “My purpose is to bring death” declaration. Only one of twelve things can happen here: either Dot will overcome and kill her sister’s dream guy, or like Lana Winters, Gloria will realize mommy has to do it herself.

3. Paul Is the Smartest (and Most Soft-Hearted) Freak.

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Of all the freaks, Mat Frazer’s Paul the Illustrated Seal is clearly the smartest; it’s he who first calls out Elsa’s true self-serving deeds, and suspects his mistress of having something to do with the missing girls. While Jimmy and Ethel guilelessly defend Elsa, Paul notices her every misstep (“After I take a normal suitor, you can be my chauffeur”). Like Elsa, Paul just wants to be loved, but he’s not willing to destroy anyone or anything to get it. Instead, he sacrificed himself to save his friends. I do hope Paul somehow survives, as Frazer’s understated acting proves the perfect sideshow to La Lange.

4. Thankfully, Maggie Couldn’t Carry out Stanley’s Ma Petite Plan.

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I’m not sure anyone actually believed for a second she would, but Maggie backed out on Stanley’s jar-a-tiny-person-plan — she’s the most unreliable partner since Dandy had Twisty. Ma Petite ups the adorable factor every time she’s onscreen, like a brilliant little butterfly firefly to guide us through Murphy’s dark vision. But what exactly is the point of this mostly-fantasy sideshow, and (once again) do we even care?

In other happenings, was anyone concerned about Penny’s (Grace Gummar) plight? Another oppressive male figure threatening a woman…just another day in Freak Show land. Jessica Conroy nails Gloria’s every single line and emotion perfectly; “Hindsight is 20/20, dear…I brought you snackies! I have RC Cola too!” I love her physical reaction whenever a Dandy-trum happens. Speaking of which, Elsa and Dandy should have a tantrum-off. As the two people who scream most about just wanting love, they sure do make it difficult.


Next week: Somebody’s going to end up dead; will it be Jimmy, Dandy, Gloria (I totally thought Dandy was going to kill dear, old mom last night), Dot and/or Bette?

Our Facebook live-watch group grew a little…distracted during parts of the hour last night, and entertained ourselves coming up with guesses for next season’s theme. Here are a few (please add your own!):

American Horror Story: Venetian Romance
American Horror Story: Meryl’s Daughters
American Horror Story: The After-School Special

(After *someone* claimed next season would be 10 hours of Ryan Murphy making us looking at his balls)

American Horror Story: Musical Balls
American Horror Story: These Balls Aren’t Going to Gargle Themselves
American Horror Story: It’s What’s for Dinner


Cindy Davis, (Twitter)


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