American Horror Story: Freakshow –
Massacres and Matinees (4×02)

Synopsis: Ethel is in for a surprise when her old beau, and Jimmy’s father, moves into camp with his new wife and tries to upstage Elsa as the head of the show. We also get a glimpse into the lives of the Motts, and this season’s theme of “We Are All Freaks” starts to make a whole lot of sense. Meanwhile, the different members of the show deal with the consequences of murdering a cop.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

All I can say about this episode is, “Well, damn.”

This episode introduced a whole slew of new characters and expanded on many who didn’t get much screen time last episode with some shocking results. Just as a warning, this recap will be more spoiler heavy than the first, mainly because so much happened this week. Trust me guys, we’re going to have to reevaluate who we think the creepiest character is in the show.

The perfectly crafted power that Elsa holds over the show when Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis), the “Strongest Man in the World” arrives with his wife Desiree (Angela Bassett), the three-breasted hermaphrodite. Chiklis is a physically impressive man, and his portrayal of Dell might actually be my favorite of the season thus far. He’s a large brutish man with a personality to match, since he ended up in Jupiter after killing a man who was sleeping with his wife and they had to run from Chicago. Apparently murder runs in the family, because get what- he’s Ethel’s ex and Jimmy’s father.

Dell's not only physically strong, he knows how to get what he wants. [FX]
Dell’s not only physically strong, he knows how to get what he wants. [FX]
After finally agreeing upon Elsa’s terms of them joining the circus, Dell immediately takes control, suggesting matinee showings after the police puts a curfew on the town after all the murders, hosting the show, and basically treating his son horrifically. After a particular rough beating of Jimmy, Ethel and him get into a huge fight, and we learn what drove them apart. Let’s just say Dell has some unexplained hatred for his son and it’s incredibly worrisome for Jimmy.

But what’s even more worrisome is the Mott family. When Dandy and Gloria were introduced last week as the wealthy visitors of the freak show, I was kind of confused as to what their role was going to be. I’ll be honest, I read up on the characters and had an idea that Dandy wasn’t going to be the most normal of men despite his appearance, but “Well, damn,” I was not ready for his character to take this turn. Dandy is disgustingly spoiled. He never wanted for anything and was given everything that he ever demanded, but he’s been denied one thing by his mother, the chance to become an actor.

Frances McConroy is absolutely wonderful in her role as the enabling mother who can’t have her baby boy grow up on her. The mise-en-scene of the dinner scene was the perfect representation of the family- light and cheery on the outside but unable to communicate and handle their own emotions. Nora (Patti Labelle which was super weird to be honest) is the voice of reason as their maid, but when she voices her extreme concern over the remains of the neighbor’s cat that she found, Gloria immediately brushes her off and Dandy gets off scott-free.

Really though, Dandy is insane. He’s got a terrible temper, is emotionally stunted to a disturbing degree (drinking bourbon out of a bottle with a plastic nipple still?), is obsessed with his desire to perform, and murders animals. So what does mommy dearest do?

I don’t know if you read the caption, but let me reiterate it: SHE PAYS TWISTY TO BE HIS FRIEND. When I saw the glimpse of this in last week’s preview my only response was, “Oh hell naw.” But now all I can say is “OH HELL NAW!” I won’t spoil too much for you, but Twisty gets annoyed with Dandy and escapes, but doesn’t expect his new friend to follow him to his secret bus and we get a glimpse of what’s below that twisted mask… Watch it, see it with your own eyes and cringe as much as I did. And remember, “We Are All Freaks.”

The rest of the episode was full of tension too, with Dot taking the spotlight from Bette who truly desires it. I’ll be honest, Sarah Paulson singing Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” made me angry in the preview and made me much more annoyed when we heard it this week. Not is it only a total anachronism, but this isn’t “Glee”. “Lanna Banana” of Season 2 was a fun and weird diversion, but the music of this season really doesn’t sit well with me.

But Dot and Bette’s singing settles even worse with Elsa, who’s slowing seeing her dreams of fame slip away as the sisters charm the crowd with their duets. And while Elsa has taken a backseat to Dell in the way things are run around the camp, she tries to take control by twisting Bette’s sadness about not being the star when Dot was the one who was reluctant to join. Will Bette’s jealously cause her to harm her sister, and therefore herself? Elsa sure hopes so.

This is the look of someone who is plotting your downfall. [FX]
This is the look of someone who is plotting your downfall. [FX]
The rest of the episode didn’t really stick with me. I thought the power struggle with Jimmy and Dell was really intriguing especially when it came to an intense head when Jimmy tried to frame him for the murder of the cop. Let’s just say that Dell is one step ahead of them all though and that another one of their beloved members falls victims to the evils of the world, both in and out of the camp.

Next week starts the two part Halloween special about the urban legend of Edward Mordrake, along with the introduction of Emma Robert’s clairvoyant con artist. But who could that new clown be? Any guesses? After a lackluster premiere my interest is starting to pick up, and I do attribute it to the new faces in the cast who are getting ample screen time.

Still the freakiest thing about this season? Kathy Bate’s and Jessica Lange’s accents. I can’t handle them.

See you next week, freaks!


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