American Horror Story finally stopped singing and delivered an actual story. Thank goodness for Halloween, the one time of year this series delivers.
It is a Hollywood ghost story that American Horror Story must deliver an excellent show on Halloween or else all the extensive set budget needed to create this series will dry up forever. And the cast shall be doomed to act on the cast-off sets of the failed Americanized version of Coupling. There's clearly a lot at stake, and possibly the only reason why American Horror Story: Freak Show pulled up its pants and started doing a better job at being a horror show.
The two-parter, two-faced freak show was a vast improvement on the earlier episodes from this season. Why? Because it decided to focus in on the characters. And since Elsa demanded to rehearse on Halloween (a big freakshow no-no) the spirit of the two faced Mordrake appeared and demanded a flashback backstory segment from various freaks. Providing simple and easy entertainment and a welcome relief from the weekly, shoe-horned singing.
Last week's Bearded Lady's backstory was heart breaking. And really, truly horrifying. I think this is thanks to Kathy Bates' excellent proportion, along with the horrific circumstances that surrounded her story. That "freak birth" thing was horrifying. Yikes.
But this week we got to spend time with the "lesser" known freaks and some of my favorite people. Specifically Matt Fraser who is the best. The best. His story all hinged around, "They wanted a monster, so I made myself a monster" rhetoric. This explains his tattoos, however he couldn't tatt his face because he's handsome. To which I say, yes. You are so, so, so, so, so very pretty Matt Fraser. So pretty.
Even though the secret to the Illustrated Man was my personal favorite, it was not the "main event," as the carny insiders would say. Nope, the highlights this week go to Twisty the Clown and Elsa. Both shared their sad stories, and frankly stories were kind of like *shrugs* OK, that's awful, but OK.
Turns out Elsa used to make a living dominating and punishing various folks from Germany in between World War I and World War II (when shit was really fucked up sexually apparently). After some time making men sit on toilets with nails on them (fun!), Elsa was eventually used to make a "snuff film." And by "snuff film," I mean some men drugged her, tied her to a bed, cut off her legs, and filmed it. So yeah, a snuff film? I don't know, the whole thing was just very odd. How did you lose your legs? Here's how. It doesn't really have anything to do with anything because I wasn't famous, I wasn't in Hollywood, I was brutally assaulted. The end. It was... weird. Horrifying and terrible, but weird.
Then it was Twisty's turn. The murderous clown's past was tragic, that's true. But not being able to make an earning as a clown does not justify murder. Sorry. Yes, it's a shame what happened to Twisty, and it's revolting what happened to his mouth after a failed suicide attempt. But this does not make us sympathize with this monster. He still stabbed someone over, and over, and over. So we hope freak show heaven is awful for Twisty.
And the departure of Twisty means that Dandy is going to take up his murderous mantle. Dandy begins his reign of terror by killing his maid.
And now Patti LaBelle is dead. Weird, right? You hire this amazing songstress and have everyone else sing but her. I'm not sure where I stand on that yet. Maybe it's too obvious to make Patti LaBelle sing? Is Ryan Murphy and company playing with horror tropes and convention by putting her on screen and then whisking her away before her curtain call? It doesn't necessarily mean she's gone forever, but it could be. I like skewering the audience in this manner, but then I'm reminded that last season Stevie Nicks basically got a music video out of her appearance and it just makes me harumph. So I'm still split.
However, it now seems that by killing his maid, Dandy has awakened the bigger monster within. He's now able to murder people. So OK ,that's a thing. I'm not particularly scared of Dandy, but he's a great setup for a "just rewards" in a later shot. I am curious to see if Dandy has the emotional willpower to murder his mother. Or is that crossing the line for Momma's sweet boy? Who knows.
However, I do love the town embracing the freak show, and the arrival of Denis O'Hare (the best living male actor on television, no argument). Exciting things are happening!