American Horror Story: Freak Show returns from its epic two-part Halloween story and brings us an episode that is absolutely all over the place. But it still managed to deliver dark horror.
This episode had one of my very favorite plotline tangents thus far. Denis O'Hare's character, Stanley, is under the tent at the freak show promising everyone fame and glamor. But in reality, he just wants to sell a bunch of dead freak bodies to an oddity museum. And his fantasy is played out as he imagines what he would do with Dot and Bette.
This scene with a helpless Bette stuck to the rotting corpse head of her dead sister is absolutely chilling. The idea of being forever shackled to a dead person is, just, oooh ho ho, yikes. It delivered the right amount of shiver.
Meanwhile, the rest of the freaks are haphazardly stumbling through their plot lines. Jimmy the lobster boy is rebuffed by the young Esmerelda and looks for comfort from the three-breasted lady. Why? Because this was a convenient way to explore the relationship between Desiree Dupree and the Strong Man, Dell Toledo. While getting the patented lobster boy job, Desiree miscarries. Which, what? Then she heads to the hospital only to be told that her "penis" is actually an enlarged clitoris. She's been a woman all her life, and can have children (should she decide to with Dell). Dell, on the other hand, is found with male sex worker Matt Bomer in an old-timey, super-secret "gentleman's club." Turns out Dell is gay and is in love with Matt Bomer. OK, sure, why not? Like all things American Horror Story, this feels like another wet plot that was taken out of the pot and chucked up against the wall to see if it sticks. Thankfully, Michael Chiklis and Bomer are good enough actors, so watching it is engaging even if it's not necessarily emotionally striking.
It would seem the American Horror Story: Freak Show has finally succumbed to its long-held problem: too many characters straddling too many plots all the while juggling hot topics in the air. It's hard to connect. No matter how astoundingly gorgeous Matt Bomer is, I just met him five seconds ago! I have no dog in the fight for his life, other than it being horrendous. And yes, that is exactly what happens. Dandy shows up and murders Bomer in a really cruel, gutless way. He just can't seem to kill him, so Bomer is cut to pieces while still alive. Gross!
And while we're discussing Dandy, this season of AHS contains the most obvious and least creative collection of horror movie homages. There was the earlier scene where Dandy recreated the opening to Halloween, complete with clown costume, POV through the clown mask, discovery of kitchen knife and eventual unmasking. It was fine. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of homages when they're not really adding anything to the mix. And this one just felt like it was there to be there. Strangely enough, Dandy was given yet another classic horror movie to pantomime. This time we got to go inside the mind of a newly created serial killer. Cue the American Psycho exercise routine. While I think the actor who plays Dandy (Finn Wittrock) is killing it in this scene, at the end of the day it's just more is more. And it's confusing.
We know Dandy as a spoiled baby man, not a ruthless body-obsessed Patrick Bateman. He drinks alcohol in a waterford crystal bottle with his name engraved on it. Even though I'm not thrilled we're spending this much time on Dandy, I would rather we delve into his odd mother issues and his weird sheltered life.
But reallym I'd rather we just focus on the freaks. Kathy Bates broke open the theme of outsiders and outcasts that I really thought this season would attempt to play around with more. I don't need Dandy to kill people just to be graphic. The horrific Stanley character who wants to murder people and then display them in a gigantic tank for cash is much more terrifying than anything I could imagine.
Oh well. And it seems we shall be spending even more time with Dandy as a jealous Elsa has sold Dot and Bette to Dandy's delusional mother, the amazing Frances Conroy. In the end, more Conroy is always good, and she's been having a lot of fun this season mothering a spoiled monster. So OK.
In conclusion, I truly hope the season isn't starting to AHS itself and spin out of control. Also, hey, Gabourey Sidibe!