American Horror Story: Blood Bath –
Test of Strength (4×08)
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.
This episode was just a whole lot of “nope.” I really can’t describe how uncomfortable this episode made me from start to finish and on so many different levels but I’m going to try at the end of this recap. This was probably the longest hour of my life and I’m going to need a good heaping of Disney and Jesus to get over the terrible things that happened and just how horrible I feel for watching this episode.
Oh well, onto the recap!
The episode kicks off by picking up where it left off – Ma Petite’s death. The entire camp is off to search for their missing friend, and while they look in vain Dell guides Jimmy to find her “remains.” The camp is a wreck after this – most people declaring that Ma Petite was innocence personified and that she, of all people, should have been the last to die. Ethel confronts Elsa in the tent afterwards about her wonderful “performance” in front of everyone and decides to let Elsa in on a little secret – she’s going to kill her and everyone else in the circus before Elsa can do it again. You see, Ethel has decided that Elsa is a cold hearted individual that has no reason to keep living and that it’s up to her to stop the cycle before it starts all over again. She shoots at Elsa to stop her – and surprise, surprise, she hits her in the leg. Now stupefied by what is going on, Ethel remarks that she really didn’t know Elsa after all as Elsa divulges the story of how she received her prosthetic legs.
Elsa and Ethel talk for a few more moments until Elsa proposes a genius idea – one last drink together. Succumbing to her weakness, Ethel agrees and allows Elsa to go prepare the drinks which proves to be a fatal mistake. Remember when we learned that Elsa was really good at throwing knives? Yeah, well now you do.
Stanley helps Elsa concoct a story as to how Ethel really committed suicide and leaves it so that Maggie is the one who discovers the body. Question for viewers that has left me so confused; was Maggie a part of that? Does she really know what happened to Ethel? Or was it really that she discovered the crash and nothing more? Stanley seems to be pretty lucky those these past few days, because guess who was “beheaded” in the car crash that took her life?
The show must go on though, and as Jimmy becomes belligerently drunk and gives up on everything that’s going on around him, Elsa is off recruiting new “talent” in the form of Barbara, an obese debutante who was shipped down south to lose weight. You heard that – Elsa skipped the funeral to find a new act to replace the two who were no longer with them. Elsa isn’t even a sympathetic character and I hope she gets what’s coming for her.
At the funeral though Penny, Desiree, Amazon Eve, and Legless Suzie make a pact to get back at Penny’s father for what he did to her. Breaking into his house, they kidnap him and bring him back to camp where they make to tar and feather him and then murder him after they destroy him the way he destroyed her. Maggie discovers them in their get together and in a scene that just seemed falsely empowering she tells them that if being “freak women” meant being murderers then she was happy she wasn’t one of them and that they needed to control their lives. Penny tells her father that if she ever sees him around her family then she would kill him – and they leave him tarred and feathered to go crawling back into town.
To round out this recap we get to jump back to the beginning – of Dandy’s childhood that is. In the opening scene of the episode we see that Gloria is finally starting to crack under Dandy’s recent developments and has visited a shrink to get her anxieties off her chest. We learn that this behavior isn’t new or unusual though – he murdered a toddler and hid the body when he was just a child. She doesn’t gain any relief from this visit, because guess who’s not buying that bull**** that her mother is simply out “buying squash?” Regina (Gabourey Sidibe), that’s who.
We need a character who isn’t going to put up with Dandy’s nonsense but of course he just throws all of Regina’s questions to Gloria who honestly can’t handle everything and is breaking down. Props to Frances Conroy for playing an overbearing mother who just wants to keep her world picture perfect because you did it well – and yes, I used that past tense on purpose.
In the final scene between mother and son, we learn that Dandy is the product of inbreeding and that his father/mother’s cousin was a pedophile and murderer. Gloria says that Dandy himself is the love of her life, and that she’s loved him ever since she first laid eyes upon him. You can’t help but wonder just how messed up her life had to be to want to keep her little boy protected and all to herself after knowing that he was a killer in the making, but we’ll never get to learn anything more on poor Gloria.
Because remember that scene where Dandy tells the shrink about how he’s been reading up on tribes in Papua New Guinea who bathe in their victims blood?
So yeah. I actually was incredibly uncomfortable with most of this episode and it’s just one that you have to watch to experience how skin-crawling it really is. From the deaths, to the filming of Elsa eating a chocolate bar in front of her new recruit, to just about everything I really did not feel good watching this.
And from here on out (5 episodes guys!), I don’t think things will get any better.