‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’: Tempting fate

American Horror Story: Freak Show
November 12, 2014

Elsa Mars digs the ol’ spinning bullseye of fate dug out of storage and begins sharpening her throwing knives: zee only vay to control zee veel of destiny ees to be villing to destroy anyone, even zomeone you love, to keep zee gods in zee check. She’s dusting off her old act for her big TV show — just zink how grateful zee rest of zee sideshow vill be ven she brinks zem all out to zee  Hollywood to join her. In the meantime, however, they have some pointed questions about where the Twins are, questions that Elsa can’t exactly answer. “Umm, zey ran away? Zey did not like zee dresses I buy for zem? Now go verk on my birthday presents, because MEEEEEEE.”

At the Mott mansion, Dandy pouts about his dinner prepared by the new chef, and how he liked Miss Patty LaBelle better, BUT MAYBE HE SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THAT BEFORE. Gloria presents Dandy with a pile of condoms, because the last thing their bloodline needs is his crazy self-impregnating a two-headed woman. Dandy is outraged that his mother would even suggest that he would do such a thing to those girls. Why, he loves Dot and Bette (but mostly Bette), he feels normal when he’s with them, and what’s more, he’s going to marry them AND MOTHER CAN’T STOP HIM.

Back at the carnival, the performers line up and glumly make their birthday offerings to Elsa, bummed that the Twins are still gone. Elsa, furious that attention is not adequately being paid to her, screams zat zee twins, ZEY ARE GONE UND ZEY ARE NOT COMINK BACK, so have fun or ELSA VILL PUT YOU ON ZEE VHEEL OF DEATH, JA? So much fun zey are havink!

Happy Petiteday!

Later that night, Paul the Illustrated Seal gets out of Elsa’s bed, because zey are lovers, ja? Elsa, noting that Paul is mopey, suggests zat Paul, he could maybe come vit her to Los Angeles und be her chauffer, und maybe more if she does not have ein proper suitor. Elsa then has Paul deliver Ma Petite, “her cuddle” to her so she can get some sleep, ja?

Paul sneaks out into the night and up into Meryl Streep Jr.’s room, whom he apparently has been seeing ever since the freak show orgy. Apparently, once you go side show, you can’t go normal. (Sorry. That didn’t rhyme. I know.) But their canoodling is interrupted by Meryl Streep Jr.’s father who HEARD HER TALKING TO SOMEONE IN THERE, IT BETTER NOT BE A BOY.

Back at the Mott mansion:

Dear Diary: I <3<3<3 DANDY! He gives me caviar and shows me movies and holds my hand and he is my boyfriend and I love him. <3<3<3 Bette

Dear Diary: WHAT AM I DOING HERE, THIS IS THE WORST. UGH. But seriously though. Signed, Dot.

The Motts are certainly trying to be accommodating to the twins, and Gloria promises that whatever personal items that they might need, they will replace for them —  just say the word. Meanwhile, Dandy reads to them a news story about a pair of conjoined twins who recently time traveled 5 years into the future and underwent a successful separation surgery. How about that!

Dear Diary: I’m gonna get Dandy to pay for that surgery and then run off with Jimmy and live happily ever after! This plan is foolproof and I see absolutely no downside! Signed, Dot.

And so, Paul swings by the pharmacy to pick up a bottle of Meryl Streep’s favorite scent, Avril Lavigne’s Forbidden Rose, when who should stop by, but Dandy, who is there to collect two lady brushes and two hairbands and two sets of barrettes. Paul is all, “HEEEEEEY, You’re that guy who tried to buy the twins!” In response, Dandy accuses Paul of pickpocketing and despite having no proof, the drug store owner shoos Paul away because it’s good to be a one percenter, y’all.

Paul returns to the carnival and reports his findings to Jimmy, suggesting that Elsa turned the twins over to Dandy, and is promptly slapped for his trouble.


But Paul is like, “Look, dude, I know you think she’s your savior, but I know who she really is: a jealous monster who would kill anyone who got in the way of her becoming a star.”

At the Mott mansion, Dot reads that one of the separate conjoined twins has died, and Bette’s like, “Yep, they shouldn’t have messed around with God’s will,” before going on about how the two of them will always be together and share everything SO QUIT TALKING ABOUT THIS SURGERY ALREADY. When Dot replies that her thoughts are her own, Dandy is like, “About that, what’s in your diaries? I know, LET’S PLAY A GAME: I’ll tell you a secret, and you tell me a secret. I KILLED MURDER CLOWN AND SAVED THE CHILDREN! OK, your turn!” But Dot is all, “No you didn’t, Jimmy did.” This sends Dandy into a screaming rage because what doesn’t, though?

Back at the carnival, “Esmerelda” Maggie is explaining to “Richard Spencer” Stanley that the Twins are missing, so they’re going to have to come up with another payday. When Stanley urges her to move on to Jimmy’s lobster claws, Maggie announces that she has a better idea — something much easier to transport and won’t fight back and is the size of a small cat: Ma Petite. She’ll just pick Ma Petite up, carry her to the barn out in the back, plop her into a jar and pickle her in some formaldehyde. Easy peasy!

And thus begins the caterwauling of a thousand Eve/Ma Petite shippers on Tumblr.

In Elsa’s tent, we and Paul are “treated” to Elsa’s version of “September Song,” and Paul’s like, “Alright, great, see ya later.” Elsa demands a good night kiss, liebchen, and when he gives it, she notes that he smells like a mixture of Canada and Nickelback, WHO EES HE SCREWINK? In response, Paul demands to know where the Twins are, everyone is talking about how she has done something … nefarious with them.

Furious, Elsa demands that EVERYONE VAKE UP. Elsa brings all the performers into the big tent to scream at them zat zey are all ungrateful monsters! After everyzink she has done for zem, zey still do not trust her? After much screaming and crying and present-throwing and scenery-chewing, Jimmy assures Elsa that they do trust her, CALM DOWN. But Elsa will not be satisfied until someone proves zat zey trust her by gettink on zee wheel and lettink her throw knives at zem. Jimmy offers to climb up, but Paul sighs that no, it should be him.

And so he is strapped onto the wheel, and sent spinning. The first knife misses his head, the second lands between his legs, but the last and third knife hits Paul squarely in the gut. VHOOPSIE!

Back at Meryl Streep Jr.’s house, she tries to slip out the door with a packed suitcase but her father catches her, and aims a shotgun at her head. “Whatcha gonna do, shoot me?” she challenges. He can’t bring himself to pull the trigger and she is all, “BYEEEEEE.”

“Esmerelda” Maggie wakes Ma Petite, and carries her out to the barn to go “play a game” called “easy refrigerator pickles.” Maggie places the sweet trusting Ma Petite into that jar “like a butterfly” and picks up the formaldehyde …

Tumblr breaks.

Meryl Streep Jr. arrives at the carnival to find Paul grievously wounded and waiting for a doctor that will never arrive, thanks to Elsa’s refusal to call one, but Paul ees vellcome to all zee opium he vants, ja? Howver, she vill not shed ein tear if he vere to die, because he betrayed her.

The next morning, Jimmy broaches his new-found suspicions regarding Elsa with his mother, who dismisses them. If Elsa said the Twins ran away, then the Twins ran away. At least, that’s what I think she said.

Outside, Eve and tumblr are in a panic over Ma Petite’s whereabouts, only to have Maggie Esmerelda come wandering up carrying a very much alive Ma Petite and ready with some excuse about chasing fireflies or something. Alone with Jimmy, Maggie Esmerelda suggests that they run away together, and he’s all, “HELLS YES, but I have to go do something first, don’t worry about it, just go pack your bags.”

But as she’s packing her bags, in walks Stanley who is all, “WHERE’S THAT TINY LITTLE PICKLE YOU PROMISED ME?” Maggie is all, “Uh ….” And Stanley is like, “WHATEVER. BRING ME THE LOBSTER CLAWS,” before stomping off in a snit.

Over at the Mott mansion, Dandy reads the Twins’ diaries and is NOT PLEASED. He shrieks about the situation to Gloria, who suggests that they buy Dot a tennis bracelet, but HE DOESN’T WANT TO BUY THEIR LOVE. Dandy goes on a long soliloquy about his mother not knowing what it’s like being in his body, something about when she took him to Utah that time he had the TB and the desert and how the Twins nourished his heart or something, I don’t even know, the point is THAT’S ALL OVER WITH NOW, his only purpose on this Earth is TO BRING DEATH.

That’s when the doorbell rings, and Gloria is like, “Hold that thought, dear,” before going downstairs to answer it to find Jimmy looking to see his “friend” Dandy. Gloria notes that her son does not have any friends, before Dandy appears and orders Gloria to let Jimmy in: he is here for the Twins. (And to be murderized.)

Back at the carnival, everyone is worrying over Paul, leaving Elsa with only Ethel to watch her eat her birthday cake. Elsa, she understands, ja, ein family must come together ven zere ees ein tragedy. Elsa had ein sister once, she died two years before Elsa, and her parents, zey never recovered. Und zat’s why Elsa has built her own family, she loves zem all, but Ethel most of all. Ethel reminds her that between the knife to Paul’s belly and the missing Twins, Elsa is pushing her “family’s” loyalty, and that if she finds out that Elsa did anything to those girls, she’ll kill her with her own two hands. At least, I think that’s what she said.

And with that, Elsa blows out her candles and makes her birthday wish: to be loved.

Another week, another last-minute entry. I’M SORRY. WHY DON’T YOU STRAP ME TO A WHEEL AND THROW KNIVES AT MY HEAD.

Speaking of wheels … It’s not particularly subtle — Elsa very explicitly describes the knife-throwing wheel as “The Wheel of Fate” at the beginning of the episode. But even though it’s not subtle, it’s still a symbol, and a powerful one at that. Wheels represent “cosmic momentum,” as Jack Tresidder describes it in his book The Complete Dictionary of Symbols: “the force that drives the planets and stars — and of ceaseless change and repetition. It is a symbol of fate, time, destiny and the Zodiac.” Everything changes, but everything comes back around again.

Elsa, in her self-delusion, believes that she can control the wheel, that she can master her own fate. To that end she sends the Twins away, which raises the suspicions of her carnival family, even though there is nothing anyone can actually prove. However, the moment she straps Paul onto that wheel, and they watch her throw a knife into his belly with their own eyes, she sets into motion the momentum of her own demise. By attacking Paul under the guise of it being an “accident,” Elsa loses the trust and confidence of her friends, of the only family she has, of the only people who do love her. Elsa, has, in this episode, indeed set her own fate in motion, she’s the one spinning the wheel she will be ultimately be crushed beneath.

American Horror Story: Freak Show aired on FX.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.

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