In the latest American Horror Story: Freak Show recap, Stanley finally gets what’s coming to him, Chester’s inner monster comes out and Elsa’s fate and the future of the freak show is revealed….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The penultimate hour of ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ has arrived and admittedly after an up and down season of the fourth installment of the series, this ended up being one of the best episodes of the year as the troupe finally got some much needed revenge, another one bites the dust and there was even a reference to a past season of the show!
If there’s one part of this season that has amazed me from start to finish it’s the transformation of Finn Wittrock’s character, Dandy Mott, who went from a spoiled, over privileged annoyance to the reason to tune and watch every week and this one was no exception. While his appearances were brief, it’s clear Dandy is going to play a major role in the finale a week from now.
The grifters also got their long overdue curmudgeons, although in vastly different ways, but in the end crime against freaks doesn’t pay.
So before we explore the final episode with the freak show a week from now, let’s recap the latest offering titled ‘Show Stoppers’.
One of Us, One of Us
It’s a celebration, bitches!
Elsa sold the freak show to Chester — the doll coveting psychopath — and the former owner is about to dance off to Hollywood with her new manager but there is some unfinished business to take care of first. Namely that weasely bastard manager who is actually a con-artist responsible for the death of Ma Petit as well as chopping off Jimmy’s hands all to make a quick buck selling them out to a museum specializing in the oddities.
Too bad his partner, Maggie Esmeralda, sold him out in favor of teaming up with the freak show and now it’s time for some carnival justice. Before unveiling what’s about to unfold, the freaks first tease Stanley with the prospect of watching the classic film ‘Freaks’ by Tod Browning. The plot of the movie isn’t all that dissimilar from what’s unfolded this season. A ‘normal’ girl joins a freak show and quickly cuddles up to a little person who is part of the act. In reality she’s a con-artist who found out that her latest victim is a wealthy man so her plot is to marry him, poison him and make off with the cash. Unfortunately, a drunken night amongst her new ‘peers’ ends in a confession, which then turns the freak show against her. Just go watch it — classic movie — but it seems our freak show has similar ideas laid out for Stanley as payback for everything he’s done.
The first step is revealing to him that they’re onto his trickery when Elsa presents him with a big box complete with a bow. Inside is another glass jar, but this time it’s the head of that pesky museum owner who offered to pay Stanley obscene amounts of money for freak show corpses in the first place. It seems the tail end of last week’s episode where Desiree and Maggie found the body of poor Ma Petit ended with a knife in the curator’s back but only her head made it back to the freak show.
Stanley knows he’s in deep shit now.
He tries in his rush to escape to convict Elsa along with him by telling the troupe that she conspired to kill Ethel with him, but right now they have more pressing matters. Like strapping him to the wheel of death and allowing Elsa to throw knives at him. A knife to the leg is the first strike, but they soon let Stanley down. He grabs an implement and tries to make a run for it, but as he stumbles out into the cold, dark night, Stanley realizes that he’s truly all alone and there’s nowhere to go. He’s finally captured beneath one of the performer’s trailers and as he lets out a deathly shriek, it’s clear he’s about to become a permanent part of the show.
Dr. Hans Gruper
In another part of the freak show, Elsa is checking on Jimmy, who is still in massive amounts of pain after having both of his hands cut off courtesy of Stanley’s conniving. Elsa has arranged for him to get new hands from an old friend of her, but first he has to make sure his wounds don’t get infected so nurse Maggie is there to take care of him. She knows she’s partially responsible for all of this because she waited until it was too late to tell the freak show that Stanley was nothing more than a savage criminal, but Maggie still loves Jimmy and she wants to make things right however she can.
Jimmy’s not interested. He’s heard too much and seen a whole lot more and at this point Maggie is an afterthought.
Meanwhile, Elsa’s friend arrives to the show and it’s none other than her old pal Dr. Massimo — the same man responsible for giving her the ability to walk again after the sex fetishists in Germany chopped off both her legs in a sickening display of brutality. It seems in the two years after the crime was committed, Massimo nursed Elsa back to health and fell in love with her in the process, but something inside of him was consumed by the thought of these evil twisted souls still out there in the world, who got away with butchering his beloved. So he plots to hunt them down, one by one, and dispatch his own brand of justice.
Things are going well until he finally comes upon the leader — Dr. Hans Gruper — and he’s smarter than your average sex, thrill kill cult crazy. He gets the drop on Massimo and proceeds to torture him for years until a higher-up in the German army decides to let him go as the war comes to a close. Massimo travels to the United States trying to find Elsa, but instead only sends her a letter because he knows they can never be together now. All those years of torture and abuse have left Massimo cold and unfeeling. His soul is gone, thus he’s not able to love any longer.
But he can still give Jimmy back his hands the same way he gave Elsa back her legs. Elsa shows Jimmy how much of a freak she truly is by revealing the nature of her abnormality to him before Massimo can begin working on a new creation to give him back what Stanley stole away. Jimmy begins envisioning a future with two hands, 10 toes and even the ability to take a piss on his own. Lofty dreams indeed.
Now the connection to the previous season — in season two ‘Asylum’, Dr. Arthur Arden is the staff physician at the home, but it’s later revealed that he was actually a doctor during the Third Reich in World War II going by the name Dr. Hans Gruper. It seems this doctor of the macabre was the same sex fetishist responsible for cutting off Elsa’s legs before eventually becoming an integral part at Briarcliff.
It was only a matter of time — of two episodes as it turns out — before Chester went completely off the reservation. This week he’s having sex with the twins once again while his creepy ventriloquist dummy Marjorie stares at them from like two feet away. While he’s completely engrossed, Bette and Dot can’t quite get over the fact that a doll is staring at them while they’re having sex. So they beg Chester to put her away and he quickly knocks the doll off the stand and goes back to his flesh party with the sisters.
It seems this was the last straw. Marjorie’s had enough. She’s ready to leave once and for all before making Chester realize what everybody else has known since last week — he was the one responsible for killing both his wife and her lover. And now if he wants to appease Marjorie, it’s time for the twins to go as well.
Before he can enact his plan, Dandy shows up on the twins’ doorstep, hat in hand. While they quickly rebuff his entrance into their tent after dark, Dandy comes bearing gifts. He reveals to the twins that he hired a proper gumshoe to investigate good old Chester and it seems their new beau is actually a hammer-slamming crazy who killed his wife and her friend. They are quick to dismiss him and Dandy slinks off into the night with a smile and a cordial goodbye but the seeds of doubt have now been laid.
The next day, Chester is enacting his plan for the new freak show under his command. He lays out the acts in order with the big finisher being his magic with a twist — he’s going to use his assistants, Bette and Dot, to pull off the new version of his old favorite — sawing a woman in half (or in this case two women). The twins are hesitant after reading what Dandy gave them so they refuse to play along and don’t want to be part of his act any longer.
So Maggie volunteers because why not. When she pops in the box, Maggie is full of smiles and happiness, ready to officially join the freak show after atoning for her crimes against the troupe when she turned in Stanley. Little does she know with the twins gone, Chester is now seeing her as his ex-wife and she’s mocking him for the metal plate in his head and the marbles rolling around upstairs ever since he came home from the war.
Chester ups the ante when he chains Maggie’s feet together, which prevents her from slipping in through the box to pull off the lady being sawed in half trick. When Chester begins to cut down into the box, Maggie screams out in torture as the blood starts to trickle down both sides of the stage. When Chester is finished, he holds up his crimson-soaked blade and celebrates a job well done. As the box comes apart, so does Maggie. Her intestines decorate the stage and Chester runs off in horror at the act he’s just committed.
As for the freaks, they aren’t too concerned about poor Maggie. She was nothing more than a liar and a grifter anyways and this was long overdue. Steal her jewelry and bury her out back, Desiree commands and that’s the end of mystic storyteller Maggie Esmeralda.
As for Chester, he runs back to his trailer and quickly realizes the gravity of the situation. He also knows that Marjorie pushed him into doing this so he grabs the doll (while seeing visions of a real girl of course) and stabs her to death. A few moments later, Chester walks into the local police station with the body of a ‘dead girl’ who he murdered and confesses to the crime. Of course the police realize that it’s just a wooden dummy, but it’s easy to imagine Chester is probably locked away in the loony bin now — maybe even sent off to live with Sister Mary Eunice?
Following a night of revenge, the freak show troupe starts to put two and two together and they realize that while Stanley was certainly trying to save his own ass, what he said about Elsa and Ethel makes a lot of sense. No one really believed she would just kill herself and not even bother saying goodbye to the family she loved so much. So Desiree and the rest of the group decide that some more carnival justice has to be doled out, this time on Madame Elsa.
Before they can strike, the twins arrive at Elsa’s tent and warn them of the upcoming attack. This is payback for the previous deal they struck and the twins owed her. Elsa lives in denial for a few seconds, but then realizes if she doesn’t run away now, she’s going to meet the same grisly fate as Stanley did just one night before.
When Desiree and the group arrive, Madame Elsa has left the building.
But before she goes there’s one final order of business — who is going to run the show now that Chester is gone and Elsa is leaving?
As she’s heading out of town, Elsa signs the freak show over to the one person who has wanted to own this place since the very first episode — Dandy Mott. He arrives with $10,000 cash in hand, gives it over to Elsa and takes the deed to the freak show.
Across the way while Dandy is ready to become the new main attraction, Jimmy has settled on his new hands. Instead of replacing his lobster claws with two hands and 10 digits, he’s opted for the way he’s always been before. Massimo gives Jimmy two brand spanking new lobster claws (albeit in wooden form).
Back at the main tent, Dandy is already barking orders and taking a look around like a kid in a candy store. He’s ready to finally take the stage and live among the people he’s claimed as his own since the very beginning. While he’s basking in the spotlight, Dandy hears a strange sound coming from behind the stage. When he walks back he sees a cage and quickly notices a muffled sound. When he looks down inside, Dandy finds Stanley — with his arms and legs chopped off, mouth sewn shut and a little blue hat decorating his head. It seems Stanley’s punishment is to live the rest of his days as a new stand in Meep.
A devilish grin washes across Dandy’s face. He’s finally home.
Make sure to come back in one week for the season finale of American Horror Story: Freak Show on Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FX