On the latest American Horror Story: Freak Show recap, a new strongman arrives in town looking to take over and Dandy finds a playmate to teach him the subtle art of murder…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
If there is a central theme at the heart of American Horror Story: Freak Show this season it’s an internal desire by the characters to be more than what they are. Jimmy is called the Lobster Boy, but he just to be seen as a boy. Elsa Mars is the owner of her own traveling carnival, but she wants to be the star. And Dandy Mott is just a bored, trust fund kid draped in normalcy who wants to be a freak.
It’s the latter of those three who takes center stage this week as Dandy screams of boredom while his mother Gloria tries to cure him with any matter of exotic food, baby bottles full of Cognac and even a gigantic six-foot tall clown to have as a playmate. Dandy’s idea of fun usually consists of assault and murdering the neighbor’s cat. Deep down, he just wants to join the Freak Show and prove that while his veneer is that of a preppy, well to do socialite, inside rages a heart of darkness. He’s turned down and told to leave in a fit of rage in the same way Buffalo Bill felt when all those doctors told him he couldn’t become a woman. You wonder if the treacherous killer from Silence of the Lambs would have gone on his murderous rampage collecting a woman suit if he had already become one himself? Dandy wanted to be a freak so now he’s teaming up with Twisty the Clown to learn the subtle art of torture and murder.
In reality through two episodes of American Horror Story: Freak Show this season, Dandy is far more terrifying than Twisty the Clown. His petulant foot stomping and constant screams of boredom reek of a sociopath just waiting to be born. Twisty is a jawless behemoth, who gets the easy scares for those that struggle to deal with clowns, but if dirty clothes and caked on makeup don’t do the job, he’s not really all that worrisome. It seems as if this is a classic bait and switch by creator Ryan Murphy to hand us a monster in the opening scenes of the season when in reality it’s Dandy that’s posing as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
This week after he was shot down by the Freak Show and bonked on the head (yet not murdered) by Twisty, Dandy opted to follow his pet clown to the bus where he’s been holding two children hostage. When they manage to escape, Dandy returns them to Twisty and demands a better holding cell so they can start to have some real fun. Twisty seems to be the hammer. Dandy looks to be the arm swinging him and that’s a much scarier psychopath.
New Boss in Town
One of the biggest criticisms I took with the opening salvo of American Horror Story last week was the fact that for a 90-minute episode, the show spent half the time convincing conjoined twins Bette and Dot to join the show instead of actually introducing us to the characters who decorate the fairway. The new episode titled “Massacres and Matinees” gets things moving in a much quicker fashion with the introduction of strongman Dell Toledo and his hermaphroditic wife Desiree Dupree. The duo just recently left Chicago after Dell found Desiree helping a young man find out which way he swung and the strongman twisted his neck like a bottle cap. While they aren’t worried about the police, Dell and Desiree need jobs to keep on, keeping on. The sales pitch works well enough — Dell is a strongman who can serve as a barker on the stage and protection when the tent doors shut while his wife has three breasts, proper girl parts and a ding-a-ling and that’s worthy of any promotional poster.
Dell also has some history with this show when he runs into his old bearded pal Ethel. It seems Dell has always had a thing for ladies that somehow resembled men. Things got so serious with Ethel that they eventually had a baby. When Dell realized little Jimmy had lobster hands he was ready to snap his neck as well, but Elsa wasn’t about to let that happen. Now Dell is back but he certainly still wants no part of his son. He just wants a bigger piece of the carnival pie.
Dell wastes no time exerting his power around the carnival. He first institutes matinee shows to combat a town-wide curfew in effect after several people have been murdered as well as a cop that’s gone missing. He’s hanging up posters all over town to advertise the show and things are going to be his way or no way. He also commits the cardinal sin in this Freak Show — he puts Elsa’s singing at the bottom of the flier alongside Meep the Geek, who bites the heads off of small animals for his sideshow act.
When Jimmy decides to take the troupe to town to eat at a diner because he just wants him and his friends to be treated like everyone else, Dell shows up and hands him a beating because he’s giving the locals a show for free. Jimmy desperately wants to be accepted. Dell wants to throw him back in the closet like an disapproving parent who hopes he can pray the gay away. It’s here, once again, where Murphy injects some well placed social commentary in a otherwise over the top, fictionalized series.
A Star is Born
While Elsa longs to be the real star of the show, it’s clear everyone else involved knows it’s Bette and Dot who will bring in the crowds. They get top billing much to Elsa’s chagrin, but the biggest problem is finding a way to market them beyond just standing there while everybody stares. Bette wants to be in the spotlight. She tries to sing and it sounds more like a cat having its tail stepped on. When Dot steps up thanks to some encouragement from Jimmy she belts out a perfectly toned track. The dollar signs pop in Dell’s eyes while Elsa’s brain nearly melts because now the Freak Show has some actual freaks to headline the show.
That day with the first matinee in the history of Elsa’s traveling carnival, Dot sings Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’ while Bette looks on in sheer disappointment that the crowd is definitely not there to see her. Later that night with Dot sleeping off her day of stardom, Bette gets a visit from Elsa, who tells her exactly what she needs to hear. Elsa says that Bette is the real star and Dot is stealing her spotlight. She encourages Bette to silence her other half so she can standout once again. Elsa hands over a small knife that Bette hides under her pillow, falling asleep with the knowledge that her sister’s singing gift could be swiped away in one gentle stroke. Meanwhile, Elsa smirks because she thinks she’ll be back singing David Bowie tunes on stage in no time.
The Murder Rap
Cops are looking for a killer who slayed several townspeople while a detective has also gone missing. Little do they know these two instances aren’t connected because all of the other murders have been committed by a truly twisted clown while the cop in question was killed and hacked into little pieces by the freak show members after he threatened to take Bette and Dot away from them.
Jimmy’s plan to make sure he and his friends are safe includes burning the cop’s body and finding a hiding place for his badge, which is the only thing that won’t go up in the fire. He gets an even brighter idea when the cops come looking around the freak show for evidence. So Jimmy hides the cop’s badge in Dell’s trailer, thinking this is going to be the way he rids himself of the barbaric strongman once and for all. Unfortunately, Jimmy is yet a novice in the murder cover up game and Dell is a seasoned hand.
The new strongman found the plant and instead placed it with poor little Meep, who barely grunts much less has the power to kill a cop. But the police have no recourse but the arrest him and toss him into the holding cell where he’s immediately shoved in a corner and surrounded by a cavalcade of burly criminals who have the stones to call him freak.
Later that same night after Jimmy sucks down a bottle of bourbon for the first time while contemplating a confession. He should be the one in jail right now for murdering that cop, not poor little Meep. Before he even has a chance to visit the local police, a truck pulls up and drops off what’s left of Meep’s mangled and beaten body. Whether Meep was the killer or not was inconsequential.
The townspeople already had their pitchforks and torches out — somebody had to burn whether it was the right person or not.
What did you think of the second episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show? Leave your comments below and come back next Wednesday for the newest episode where Emma Roberts and Denis O’Hare finally debut as well as the two-week long Halloween special kicks off.