American Horror Story: Freak Show
November 5, 2014
Fantasy Sequence Alert: It’s fancy party time at the Not!Mütter Museum, a black-tie event to reveal their newest acquisitions including OH NO! a very dead Paul the Illustrated Seal floating in formaldehyde like the saddest Damien Hirst piece ever. While the rest of the guests are duly impressed, but
“Richard Spencer” “Dr. Sylvester Mansfield” is miffed that he is not receiving more credit from the Museum Lady for bringing in the pieces in the first place. His companion, “Mystic Miss Esmerelda” “Miss Rothschild” urges him to get over himself already.
Back in Florida and in the real world, the pair are discussing their plans to collect their specimens, but
“Miss Rothschild” “Esmerelda” Maggie is not so keen on the whole, “murder innocent people” thing. “Dr. Sylvester Mansfield” “Richard Spencer” Stanley assures her that “accidents” happen all the time, before pondering the options that will produce the most beautiful corpses: poison? suffocation? drowning? Also, too, he’s going to need “Esmerelda’s” help on the inside to keep Elsa on the hook. Put out that she has to continue living at the carnival, Maggie snips at Stanley to not be so light in the loafers: the only thing people in Jupiter hate more than “freaks” are “poofs,” because foreshadowing. But yes, she’ll stick around to help, but she’ll require a bigger payday for doing so, thankyouverymuch.
Meanwhile, over at the Mott’s house, Gloria’s All Saint’s Day morning is ruined by a dead Miss Patti LaBelle lying in the middle of her dining room, getting her throat blood all over the Persian. Dandy is all, “Oh no. Someone must have broken in and killed her. Who could have done such an awful thing.” But Gloria is like, “Crazy, please, I know it was you. Get out of my face while I figure out who is going to cook us dinner and wash our clothes here on out. BYE.”
At the carnival, “Richard Spencer” pays Elsa a visit in her private tent to discuss what he sees for her career:
The Real Housewives of Jupiter! A television variety show! After all, 40% of Americans have television sets now, it’s the future of entertainment. Elsa, however, vould rather be boiled in zee oil zan appear on zee television: she’s ein movie star, dammit, und she knows for ein fact zat zee television vill never replace zee motion pictures. She vould never participate in zee death of art und civilization, zank you very much.
Outside, “Esmerelda” reads Jimmy’s claws and warns him that he will soon meet a man who is full of promises but in reality is an awful liar, and Jimmy should stay as far away from him as possible. In fact, Jimmy might just consider leaving the carnival altogether. Go north! See the Big Apple. Why, he’s smart and handsome, he could do anything he wanted as long as it is not here, waiting to be stuffed in a jar of formaldehyde. Thus encouraged, Jimmy goes in for a kiss, only to have “Esmerelda” pull away, because: ew, no, ew. (But in reality because she cares about him and doesn’t want him to become attached, obviously.)
It’s showtime, but Elsa can’t find The Commish, so she sends Jimmy to retrieve him from his caravan. But The Commish isn’t in his caravan; all Jimmy finds in there is one put out Desiree who is in no mood to perform that night. The two share a drink and a morose: Desiree about The Commish, Jimmy about Meep. Booze and Oedipal complexes come crashing together and lead to a little kissing which leads to a little lobstering which leads to an alarming amount of blood coming from Desiree’s lady-man bits. Jimmy calls for help, and Ethel responds, sending Jimmy into the tent to do The Commish’s job while she takes care of Desiree.
The show must go on, and so Elsa does her “Life on Mars” routine but the audience is NOT HAVING IT, and begin booing and throwing things at her. There’s only so much caterwauling an audience can be expected to tolerate from a one-headed woman, after all.
And so, later that evening, Elsa has “Richard Spencer” pay her another visit in her private chambers to tell her more about zis “television” business, ja?
The next day, Ethel takes Desiree to Dr. Empathetic, a nerve-wracking experience for poor Desiree who has never been to a doctor before. To distract her while he examines her, Dr. Empathetic mordrakes Desiree, asking to hear her life story. She explains that when she was born in Philadelphia, the midwife took one look at her and declared her to be a boy. And so her mother, who named her Derrick after her father, was understandably surprised when upon turning 12, Desiree started growing three breasts.
Dr. Empathetic has some interesting news for Desiree: the midwife was wrong. Desiree was never a boy, she just has an excess of testosterone, causing the third breast and an enlarged clitoris. In fact, Dr. Empathetic can reduce it for her, if it bothers her. As for the bleeding, that was a miscarriage. Desiree ought to wait a few months, but if she wants to try for another baby, it biologically possible. Ethel blanches underneath her beard.
Meanwhile, at the Mott estate, Gloria has workmen dig a 12-foot deep hole for
Miss Patti LaBelle’s body her special narcissus bulbs, which is not suspicious in the least, everyone knows bulbs require deep planting. Dandy tries to appease his mother, musing that when the flowers that Miss Patti LaBelle’s helped to nourish bloom, they’ll know that she did not die in vain. Gloria informs Dandy she sees his father’s sickness in him: it’s the inevitable result when the rich marry off cousins to one another so as to keep wealth within the family. They’ll just have to come up with some sort of solution for Dandy’s condition. After all, it’s 1952 now, one can not just go around killing hobos. THANKS, OBAMA.
Back in her tent, Elsa gets ready for her closeup (appropriately enough playing a little David Bowie’s “Fame” to get in the mood), only to go outside just in time to see “Richard Spencer” drive off with Dot and Bette.
Fantasy Sequence Alert: Back at the Not!Mütter Museum, the audience gasps upon seeing the Darien Hirsted heads of Dot and Bette, and the Museum Lady notes that one head appears to be more “pristine” than the other.
“Richard Spencer” “Dr. Sylvester Mansfield” explains that one caught a cold, which turned into pneumonia, killing them both.
Back in Florida, “Richard Spencer” offers Bette a poison-laced pink cupcake, as he describes to the twins the vision he has for their variety show. They would sing the songs (or Dot would) and have guests like Perry Como and Dinah Shore fill in the rest of the hour! As he describes this show that will never be, Bette begins coughing and frothing at the mouth. Soon after that, Bette is dead and Dot is begging an indifferent “Richard Spencer” for help. Instead, he gives her a pillow to the face.
Except … that was part of Stanley’s fantasy sequence, too. Instead, when “Richard Spencer'” offers Bette that pink cupcake, Dot refuses on her behalf — if they are going to be TV stars, they have to watch their figure. TOTALLY SERIOUS QUESTION: When twins are conjoined with two heads and one body, does each twin eat half as much as a one-headed person, or do they both have the appetite of a single individual? Because personally I love to eat and can not imagine eating less thanks to there being another head stuck to me. I need answers.
Meanwhile, at the Mott mansion, Dandy is busily getting his Patrick Bateman on, working out in his panties, burbling about how the clown was put on this Earth to teach him, but that he is no clown, he is perfection. He is the future. Dandy is going to be the U.S. Steel of murder.
To get his murder on, Dandy heads over to Jupiter’s gay bar, which we know is gay because it’s blasting Roxy Music’s “Slave to Love.” (Whoever is choosing the music this season: bravo. BRAVO. You have spectacular taste. And I am not being sarcastic, for once in my life.)
There, The Commish is having Brandy Alexanders with Dreamy Matt Bomer, and begging him to give up his career as a rent boy. But Dreamy Matt Bomer is not interested in giving up his career as a rent boy, because it’s not like The Commish is going to leave his wife and run off with him anytime soon. The Commish tries to claim that he loves Dreamy Matt Bomer, but Dreamy Matt Bomer (and I) are both like, “Girl, please, you’ve known me for what? a month? at best?” Dreamy Matt Bomer adds that he doesn’t understand what The Commish has to lose by coming out: after all, he’s already a freak. When The Commish can’t promise to leave Desiree or the carnival, Dreamy Matt Bomer is all, “Bye, I’ve got to go get paid.” And as soon as The Commish leaves in a snit, who should approach Dreamy Matt Bomer but our friend Dandy. It’s a dollar to talk, 5 to dance, 10 to go to the alley and 20 to take Dreamy Matt Bomer home, which, honestly, is a bargain.
Back at the carnival, Elsa swings by the Twins’ tent and is all, “Oh, guten tag. So, zee Richard Spencer, he ees bringink me along to Hollywood vit you to be your mentor on your big television show, ja? Und so, I am going to take you to zee best seamstress in zee business tomorrow mornink, because stars must be fashionable, ja? Ok! Auf Wiedersehen!” Dot, sensibly, does not trust Elsa, but Bette is excited at the prospect of a new hat because she’s an idiot.
When The Commish returns home, he is greeted with Desiree’s TERRIFIC NEWS: BABEHS! THEY CAN HAVE THE BABEHS! Or they could, if she wasn’t about to leave him and go move in with Ethel after learning the truth about The Commish’s relationship to Jimmy. And by the way, Desiree would like The Commish to know that she is, in fact, all lady, and not the freak The Commish always told her she was. And she is going to have a doctor make her lady parts smaller so that she can have a normal life for once and THE COMMISH ISN’T GOING TO STOP HER. Spoiler alert: He’s totally going to stop her.
Meanwhile, Dandy has brought Dreamy Matt Bomer back to Murder Clown’s caravan, where Dreamy Matt Bomer attempts to kiss Dandy — after all, Dandy didn’t pay Dreamy Matt Bomer $100 to make the chitchat. Dandy recoils and protests that he’s not a “fruit,” before suggesting that they turn around, undress and then face one another at the count of three. Whatever magic happens, happens. And on the count of three, Dreamy Matt Bomer turns around to find Dandy in his panties and Murder Clown mask. MAGIC INDEED.
STAB STAB STAB STABBY STAB STAB. But, somehow, despite all the stabby stabbing, Dreamy Matt Bomer is still alive and crying for help. So there’s more STAB STAB STAB.
Dandy begins outlining for us the rules of being a good murderer. Rule Number One:
Cardio Disposing of the evidence. To this end, he chops off one of Dreamy Matt Bomer’s arms and drops it into a bathtub full of acid that he just happens to have out there in the woods. But Dreamy Matt Bomer? SOMEHOW STILL ALIVE! And begging Dandy to kill him over Dandy’s protests that he stop being so alive, he’s making Dandy feel bad.
The next morning, Gloria receives a phone call from Miss Patti LaBelle’s daughter, Gabourey Sidibe whom we are calling “Regina” this time around (fun fact: Regina = Queen, and “Queenie” was Sidibe’s name last season), who is looking for her missing mother. Gloria is all, “Yeah, she’s not available right now. Say, while I have you on the line, was I a good mom?” Regina is like, “Uh, I mean, in the sense that you had a bunch of nannies? Anyway, you’re weirding me out, BYEEEEEE.” And that’s when Gloria turns around to find Dandy covered in Dreamy Matt Bomer blood.
Elsewhere, The Commish pays a visit to Dr. Empathetic where he breaks all of Dr. Empathetic’s fingers and threatens to do the same to Dr. Empathetic’s grandkids if Dr. Empathetic dares perform the clitoris reduction surgery on Desiree. Which, admittedly, just became a lot harder to do with his noodle fingers.
Finally, Elsa loads the Twins up into a car, and drives them directly to the Mott residence. “I have brought you somezink that I believe you vant,” Elsa informs Gloria at the door. YAY! PRESENTS!
We’re just going to leave it here this week — there’s not a whole heck of a lot to unpack in this episode. We’ve finally come to the place where the gears are starting to click into place and the story is in motion. Our characters are finally starting to do rather than just tell.
I will note that poor Dreamy Matt Bomer’s murder was one of the darkest and funniest death scenes I’ve ever seen. More Dandy! More Gloria! More Dandy and Gloria! (And more humor, it won’t kill you, Ryan Murphy!)
I will leave you with a couple of videos from the music used in this episode, Roxy Music’s “Slave to Love:”
And David Bowie’s “Fame.” Honestly, they could probably have limited themselves entirely to Bowie’s catalog and it would have worked beautifully with this season.
The question is when are they going to sneak in this David Bowie song?
American Horror Story: Freak Show aired on FX.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.