After last week’s fairly uncompelling “Bullseye,” “Test of Strength” was a big step up. While still an uneven hour, the good far outweighed the bad, and there were several exceptional scenes. If you had stopped watching (I saw a lot of complainers last week), this hour is worth a comeback shot. Spoilers ahead!
1. Evan Peters Sings Nirvana’s Come As You Are.
When yesterday afternoon AHS tweeted that Peters would be singing, I groaned. But as soon as the song started, I had to swallow that groan. It was a pretty cool performance, and though he’s no Cobain, Peters did himself proud.
2. Denis O’Hare Was on Fire (but not literally, like Murder House).
Smooth-talking Stanley knew just where to hit Dell Toledo when he spied the strongman losing it at the club after not being able to find Andy (oh, Dandy). O’Hare’s sublime performance as a laid-back con man is beyond perfection; Stanley persists with his evil machinations throughout the hour until he finally succeeds in making his fantasies reality.
3. Amazon Eve Kicked Dell’s Ass!
Holy shit, that rocked my world. After succumbing to Stanley’s blackmail, Dell went after Eve, maybe thinking because she’s a woman she’d be easy pickings. SURPRISE, MOFO. “Who’s the strongman now?”
4. Jimmy and Dell Make Like Father and Son.
In a couple of genuinely moving scenes, Michael Chiklis swung back and forth between being completely and utterly horrible, to tugging at our hearts. One minute he’s ready to kill his son with a rock, and the next, admitting he’s Jimmy’s father for the first time, and hugging it out. As bad a man as Dell is…oh, I can’t even finish that sentence, because DELL, WTF DID YOU DO?!!!! Major, major spoilers ahead…
5. We Bid a Sad Sayonara to Ma Petite.
I couldn’t quite believe it when Dell brought that dress to sweet Ma Petite. Maybe he’s just being nice? Maybe he turned over a new leaf after he opened up to Jimmy? Maybe he’s making up for his past meanness? ANYTHING? Anything but that.
Notes: The Penny subplot is pointless and laughable. Her father doesn’t have the motivation to do something that vile and drastic just because she’s doing the same thing thousands of girls before her have done: defying him.
I’m with Stanley. Bette and Dot are due for a mercy killing. We don’t deserve a moment more with these insipid characters (nor does Sarah Paulson).
I really wish Murphy and company would realize how uneven things have gotten. Though we had these outstanding scenes, and moments of fantastic acting from O’Hare, Chiklis and Peters, they’re interspersed with terrible drivel (like that opening scene with Gloria, Dandy, Jimmy and the girls). As with Coven, the potential is there, but so much seems wasted. I’m really hoping that somehow, this season can pull it together.
Also, I think we know who Mordrake is coming back for.
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