American Horror Story: Freak Show –
Test of Strength (4×07)
Synopsis: Bette and Dot return to the show and try their hardest to blackmail Elsa for her betrayal and Dell struggles with being blackmailed himself by Stanley. Penny decides to leave her family for Paul with horrific results.
Let’s round this week up to a 4 1/2 star rating… gotta take away some form of point for the inclusion of yet another ridiculous and unnecessary cover of a 90’s hit. Yes, Jimmy sang and yes it was out of place and actually slightly infuriating. But other than that, the show is finally hitting their stride and I couldn’t get enough of this week’s story.
I’ve already stated it before in multiple recaps, but I really do think that Michael Chiklis is a force to be reckoned with. This week he brought so many new angles and faces to Dell that it made it really hard to focus (and let’s be honest, care) about any of the other stories that happened this week. Stanley “stumbles” upon Dell’s secret that he’s actually gay and decides to use that to his advantage. The man is hurting for cash and still hasn’t been able to sell a body to that museum after all.
Dell finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place – he really doesn’t want anyone to know he’s gay, but he also has to choose his victim carefully. He doesn’t do that at first, deciding that he would go after Amazon Eve, who kicks his ass and lets the rest of the show know that he came into her trailer the night before with less than honorable intentions – although she doesn’t know how far he really was willing to go that night. As Ethel and Suzy take care of her, Jimmy sits there listening as they discuss what needs to be done before Ethel declares, “We’ll kill him.” In another great display of acting, Kathy Bates delivers a beautiful speech about how they can’t let monsters like him win and that she knows how far he’ll go and how they can’t let him win.
Jimmy decides to take matters into his own lobster hands and confront Dell himself. Poor Jimmy hasn’t had that great of a day though; after rescuing the twins, discovering that Dandy was the second clown, and being embarrassed by the girls when they said Elsa didn’t sell them he finds himself heading to the bar with Dell who still has yet to hand Stanley a body… or pair of hands.
Dell and Jimmy sit and drink and Dell finally gets to sit down and have a conversation with the son he abandoned 24 years ago (did anyone else realize he was that old? Doesn’t that seem pretty damn old?). As he listens to Jimmy’s stories about growing up and how his mom and him have always been together with the rest of the show, he finds himself warming up to the boy. When Jimmy has a bit too much to drink though, he ends up behind the bar throwing up and Dell finds himself holding a brick to the kid’s head. But when Jimmy turns around and drunkenly slurs through his explanation of how he knows Dell is his father, he drops the brick and brings him into a huge hug, the two of them strolling back to the fairgrounds and making a drunken display of themselves.
Dell still owes Stanley something though.
The last ten minutes of this show had to be some of the most horrific things I’ve seen on cable in a long time. For a quick recap, the twins are blackmailing Elsa into 50% of the box office earnings in exchange for their silence about selling them to Dandy (can I say massive props to Bette for choosing Dot over Dandy’s manipulative scheming ways in the first five minutes?!) and a part of that deal is that Bette also gets to dye her hair blonde. That was jarring, but Elsa scheming up a way to remove Dot and Bette from the picture once and for all with Stanley and an accidental overhearing by Ethel will surely come into play soon.
Penny though… Poor, poor Penny. After finally realizing the value of the freaks and deciding to go and live with them and Paul (whom she continued to heal after the stabbing of last week) her father cuts in and reminds us that not all monsters look like Twisty. After he chillingly warns her that his reputation is everything and that he doesn’t need people knowing that she is related to him, he knocks her out and brings out his friend Morris. Let’s just say that her and the “Painted Seal” have a lot in common now, although some would say she resembles Rick Genest or “The Lizardman” from the neck up. Paul still loves her, but it seems that next week revenge is on her mind.
But the worst thing of the last ten minutes revolves all the way back to Dell and Michael Chikli’s brilliant acting. Remember how last week we were scared that Ma Petite was going to be killed by Maggie? Remember how sad we were, how frightened we were when she declared she was like a butterfly? I’d type this up in all caps but since I don’t want to be annoying, prepare for your hearts to be ripped out, stomped upon, and left to rot on the floor.
To sum up this week – Heck Yeah Friendships between the not-leading ladies of the show, Heck Yeah Focus on only one character with others adding to that story, and HELL NO to the ending. Trust me on this one.
The next episode isn’t for two weeks, but it’s going to be worth the wait because Regina (Gabourey Sidibe) is back in town wanting to know where her mother is and that’s all that matters. I’m ready for somebody to really show Dandy what’s up, and Regina doesn’t seem like someone to mess around with. Will the others find out about Elsa’s plans? Is Ma Petite really gone?
Never thought I’d be saying this, but man I can’t wait for the next episode to come!