American Horror Story: Freak Show ‘Massacres and Matinees’ Recap: Episode 04.02

American Horror Story: Freak ShowFX
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Our episode begins with Twisty  (John Carroll Lynch) committing another gruesome murder, this time in a toy store. The clerk calls for the owner and eventually spots a little blood-stained robot leading him to the awful sight of his owner’s decapitated head. Twisty appears behind him, slits his throat, and… cut to credits. At the carnival, the authorities are onto Jimmy and Elsa while investigating the murder of the police officer Jimmy killed. The police enforce a curfew on the group, and later Jimmy and Eve dig up the corpse and retrieve the police badge, which ends up leading to poor innocent Meep’s death. A new couple arrive wanting to join the show: Dell and Desiree, husband and wife carnies from Chicago. They are on the run because Dell ( a “Strongman”) killed a man having sex with Desiree, who is a hermaphrodite with three breasts. Dell proves himself to not only be Jimmy’s secret father, but also a certified trouble-maker, threatening to destroy Elsa’s freak show from within. In addition to all this madness, Dandy Mott and Twisty team up to torture our poor young hostages together. Also, Bette is manipulated by Elsa into believing her sister is holding her back from becoming a huge star.

 

Dell and Desiree

Whereas last week’s episode focused on Bette and Dot, this week focuses on Dell and Desiree, new characters who throw a monkey-wrench into Elsa and Jimmy’s plans. Dell is reluctantly hired by Elsa because she could use a bodyguard, and we learn right away that Dell is Jimmy’s father after Ethel comes to his trailer and reminds him (as if he had forgotten) that he tried to kill the infant Jimmy. We also learn right away that Dell is a terribly mean bastard who is trying to destroy Elsa’s carnival by interrupting their rehearsal and wanting Elsa to agree to all HIS ideas, and then by beating up Jimmy in the diner for bringing his friends/freaks there, thus jeopardizing business.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, Dell then sees Jimmy try to plant the police badge from the dead cop in his trailer. As revenge, Dell plants the badge NOT in Jimmy’s trailer, but in Meep’s. Consequently, Meep is arrested and then murdered in jail.

I’m not exactly sure what Dell’s motive is. The main question I have is why Dell didn’t plant the badge in Jimmy’s bed instead. Does he kind of love his son? Unlikely. Does he want to perpetually punish Jimmy? Possibly. Is punishing Jimmy a way to punish Ethel, whom he visibly detests? Probably.

Desiree didn’t do much this episode except show us a three-boobed woman (remember that internet hoax a few weeks back?) and play the piano pretty awesomely while Dot sang. Which leads me to…

 

Bette and Dot

In a surprise turn of events , we discover that demure Dot has real singing talent not Bette, whose dream it is to be a big star. The show uses its Siamese twin characters wisely. What I mean by this is that  the conjoined twin’ circumstances are psychologically terrible not only because they are “freaks”, but also because they have individual dreams which can never be achieved because they are physically inhibited by one another. We see this in the way Bette is embarrassed by her bad singing and having to sing backup to Dot; how she beams when told by Elsa ( jealous of the twin’s new fandom) that Dot will only hold her back in life. As this plot point thickens, Bette may find herself considering murdering her own sister. But in this case, would the crime be murdering one’s sister, or murdering an intrinsic part of oneself as well?

 

Dandy Mott

This episode delved into the lives of Gloria and Dandy Mott and their absolutely insane co-dependent relationship. Poor, rich Dandy is bored. He’s so bored he doesn’t even want escargot or bourbon from his baby bottle. He’s also bored of playing with dead animal carcasses in the garage. His mother tries to make him less bored by picking up a serial killer clown off the side of the road and leaving him in her son’s bedroom. After Dandy shows Twisty his “The King and I” puppet show and Twisty shows Dandy his severed head-in-a-sack, Twisty knocks him on the head with a bowling pin and flees. So much for his new friend. Except their paths cross again in the woods when Twisty’s hostages escape and Dandy serendipitously re-captures them, disappearing into Twisty’s isolated trailer in the woods to presumably aid in torturing and killing them.

Based on the preview for next week’s episode, Dandy is going to dress up like a clown and partake in whatever makes Twisty the happiest. Something about Twisty is kind of sad… maybe it’s his make-up heavy eyes, or the fact that he is missing the lower half of his face, but it really seems like all he needs is a friend. And maybe a hug.

 

Jimmy Darling

Guilt-laden Jimmy hits the bottle hard after his little friend Meep is hauled off by the cops, weeping like a little bird-child. Establishing himself as the one true, moral character, Jimmy swears to his mother Ethel that he is going to turn himself in in order to save Meep. Just as he’s about to do so, a car swears to the carnival grounds and throws out a sack carrying dead Meep. Jimmy is so devastated he wails and sobs (kind of like, “noooooooo!” as the camera pans out).

Obviously Jimmy’s going to swear revenge and try to kill Dell. But since this is AHS, we know that nice guys always finish last. And Jimmy has the grave misfortune  of being the nice guy this season.

 

Overall

The plot’s flow from Dell’s initial arrival to his complete ruthlessness toward Jimmy is expertly done. In addition, the direction by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is masterful. Just check out the opening scene in the toy shop when the camera pans from the floor up to reveal the severed head, or the wide-angle scene in Dandy’s bedroom when Dandy finds Twisty standing in the middle of his room, staring at him. Indeed, the weakest sequence was the hurried editing during Bette and Dot’s rendition of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”. Although the song and ambiance was cool, the editing was too quick and disjointed; where a little guy jumping into the mosh pit should have come off as freaking awesome it came off as rushed. But again, the overall quality of this season is wonderful. Whether it be the writing, acting, direction, or set pieces, we know that whatever we are watching (sadistic and perverted as it is) is at least presented adeptly and with great effort. And there is certainly a fair amount of heartbreak to all this. As Jimmy announces tragically to the patrons in the diner: “We are people”.

 

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About the Author

Patricia Marquez
is a writer and film enthusiast newly relocated from Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her work has been published in Pacifica Literary Review and the York University Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies. A horror buff at heart, she now lives in Austin, Texas with her demon cat named Pim.
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