*** WARNING: Contains spoilers! Please do not read on unless you've seen Episode 2 of "American Horror Story: Freak Show," titled "Massacres And Matinees." Or if you don't mind spoilers, go right ahead! ***
Oh boy. Who would've thought the real monster would reside in an uptight man-child named Dandy? His unforgivable hairstyle might have provided us a clue: the two little curls in the front could easily be construed as devil horns. But who was watching Dandy? It was hard for me to get past his uber-pastel sweaters and plastic-nippled cognac snifter, let alone envision him partnering up with Twisty, but here we are. It seems Dandy has a penchant for killing small animals, and he did something to his "friends" in the past, so it's not entirely far-fetched.
Here we have a pairing that exemplifies what I think this season of "American Horror Story" is about. As I mentioned last week, and what's been crammed down our throats so far, is the lesson of "what you see is not necessarily what you get." To put it another way, freaks aren't necessarily freaks, and "normal people" aren't necessarily normal.
We see this with Dandy for sure -- he's perfectly sculpted, he's literally suckled at the richest teat in the land, but he's inherently bored, restless and apparently sadistic. Twisty, on the flip side, is twisted (ha!) and broken, and physically it looks like he's been run over by a bus multiple times. (Loved that glimpse of his disgusting mouth; I paused it and examined. So very gross.) I might be wrong, but it feels like part of Twisty just wants to entertain children ... with a side of serial killing. Somewhere along the line, his wires got crossed. So yes, he shows the imprisoned boy and teen the toy robot waiting for a reaction, but then busts out the severed head. No, Twisty, no.
Note that he doesn't kill them, however. Nor does he kill Dandy, even though he had many opportunities to do so. Oh, the wacky, horrifying, disgusting adventures these two will get up to. At this point, it'll be tough to have any sympathy for Twisty, but I'm sure there's a disturbing reason behind his ghastly murdering.
Over at the freak show camp, Jimmy's baby daddy, Dell Toledo (hello, Michael Chiklis!), shows up with the three-breasted hermaphroditic wonder (Angela Bassett as Desiree) in tow. After some stupid power struggles with Elsa, Dell admits they're desperate and the duo agrees to join the show under Elsa's terms. Then, inexplicably, Elsa bows to his aggressiveness and suddenly he's king of the mountain. I didn't really understand what happened here; Dell beats up Jimmy, treats Ethel like s**t, suggests non-Elsa things like matinees, and Elsa is agreeable? Intimidated? Dell must have something on her for her to acquiesce, because we've seen her do more ballsy things before this.
Despite the minor plot quibbles, I do like Chiklis in this role, and Bassett is always a pleasure. (In my opinion, I think a three-breasted woman would still be a bigger draw -- or at least have an equal appeal -- than a two-headed one, especially in the '50s. Hell, even now. People take "Total Recall" very seriously.)
That said, there is something very charming about Bette and Dot as the headliner(s). Hearing Sarah Paulson sing "Criminal" by Fiona Apple was like some weird collision between my teenage years and adulthood. (No tears this time!) Low-billed Elsa cannot -- and will not -- abide this, and she tries to implant negative/sour thoughts in Bette's ear. Of course we're left hanging at the end of the episode, but I don't really see one of the twins killing the other because that would mean death for them both ... and we all know Paulson is Ryan Murphy's darling. She's not going anywhere. Interesting developments still to come between the twins: the desire for fame pulling them in separate directions, the eventual sexual relationship with Jimmy, the power struggle with Elsa, the murdering of their mother maybe coming back to haunt them, their own inner issues about being two-headed, and naturally, their desires to be whole, separate people. One thing I will give Murphy about this season: not a single character is one-dimensional.
Over the hiatus, I'd forgotten how dark "AHS" can get. It's often so campy and over-the-top that we can even laugh at the gore. But then someone like The Geek (Meep, oh my god, how adorable is that name?) comes along and the show is shrouded in shadow. At the very beginning of the episode we got a shot of him up close, and I wondered why. I was wrong to think it was about his jaunty feathered hat. The answer came at the end, as is usually the case with "AHS," and the poor little guy is delivered back to the freak show, dead in a burlap sack. Yes, I hear you, he bit the heads off of live chickens with his teeth, but hey, I've had McNuggets many, many times in my life, and they're even more disgusting. All I'm saying is the idea of that poor, defenseless being getting raped and killed in prison because of Dell's quick thinking/spying, then being dumped on the ground in a bag, is dark. Stephen King dark.
And it's the final straw for Jimmy, who has his Darth Vader moment at the end. Don't call them freaks, indeed. Lobster Boy will be going after the townies, and methinks it won't be pretty. With Twisty/Dandy (Dwisty? Twandy?) on the loose and the freaks out for revenge, I'd be packing my bags and getting the hell out of Jupiter.
Freak Of The Week: Dammit, I'm giving it to Meep. RIP, Meep.Random Thoughts:
- I wonder if Gloria will be the first to go, since her son loathes her and now he's a part of a killin' team. I also wonder if her death will involve escargot in any way.
- I love the idea of Bassett's hermaphrodite character as being a "healer" for gay men, or the perfect partner for anyone on the fence of sexuality. What a concept: not a "freak," but a boon.
- So I guess at this point we can safely assume "AHS: Freak Show" will feature a musical piece every week. Nothing will ever beat "Lana Banana" from "Asylum," but I'd like to see Murphy try!
- We need to talk about Kathy Bates' and Jessica Lange's accents. These are award-winning actors. Why are their accents so godawful? Maybe it's because they're award winners -- everyone is too afraid to say anything.
- Do people not see how terrifying Twisty is? Why would a hoity-toity person like Gloria want to hire him out of the blue on the side of the road? If that clown got within a mile of me, I would be running full-tilt in the opposite direction.
- "Meatloaf! Meatloaf! Meatloaf!"
- Did anyone else notice that amazing shot from above the freak show camp, showing the different beaten-down paths to the individual trailers? It was gorgeous, and was probably meant to exemplify the fracturing camaraderie among the freaks (guessing, since it occurred during Meep's arrest).
- Evan Peters got RIPPED for this season. Every straight woman I know is swooning over this guy this time around. Well done, dude.
"American Horror Story: Freak Show" airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST on FX and FX Canada.