*** WARNING: Contains spoilers! Please do not read on unless you've seen Episode 7 of "American Horror Story: Freak Show," titled "Test Of Strength." Or if you don't mind spoilers, go right ahead! ***
Everyone's strength was tested tonight on "American Horror Story: Freak Show" -- from Amazon Eve to Dell to Jimmy to Bette and Dot. So many characters pushed their boundaries, and many questioned what their limits even are. How long can Dell hide the secret that he's gay? Will Jimmy ever be able to leave the confines of the freak show grounds with Maggie? Can Bette and Dot's newfound aggressiveness (and one swanky coif of blonde hair!) ever release them from Elsa's strangehold? Of course we don't get the answers to these (yet), but there's a definite sea change brewing.
Tonight is pretty much all about Dell. Sure, he can easily knock the bell in the carnival game, but he is absolutely worthless when it comes to real-life strength. He's more attached to his "hustler" (a deceased Matt Bomer) than he is to anyone at the freak show, and he loses it when Bomer's not at the bar. Stanley sees Dell smash a glass over the bartender's head, and then proceeds to use it as blackmail against him. In exchange for his silence, Dell must kill a freak and hand him/her over to Stanley.
Dell's first target for murder is Amazon Eve, which has to be the stupidest call of them all. Yes, Dell, smart move. Go for the biggest person, the strongest person who'll put up the most resistance. She kicks his ass in an awesome scene and closes with "Who's the Strongman now?" action-hero line. Pure gold.
Dell then intends to kill Jimmy, but instead has a drunken father-son chat with him. It would be kind of hard for him to do after Jimmy's like, "You're my DAD! SAY IT!" So rather than a brick to the head, Jimmy gets a big fatherly bear hug. Win-win ... at least for them.
It's not a win for us (the audience) and Ma Petite, who ultimately ends up Dell's victim tonight. Pfft, Strongman. Not even close -- he's killing the smallest person possible. Literally. While we're spared the horrific image of Ma Petite drowning in that vat/container/cylinder, we're expected to be able to look at the screen while Dell twists her neck and breaks it. I couldn't, so I don't even know what happened. All I saw were Ma Petite's little hands and painted fingernails fall lifeless against Dell. My heart broke for her. And us. No more adorable popping out of birthday presents, no more cute hair-brushing, and no more of that little voice! Elsa is going to be pissed when she finds out.
Elsa's already pissed off about Bette and Dot trying to extort money from her, but discovers that Dot wants surgery to separate from her sister for good. Elsa tells Stanley, who then proposes that someone just kill them instead. That seems to suit Elsa just fine, too. (Just as an aside: what does Stanley do all day besides walking around the freak show, concocting plans and making deals with people? If I were Elsa, he'd be out the door. He's not exactly a good "manager," either, since he's gotten Elsa a big fat zero so far.)
In the other story going on -- OK, there's also Jimmy and Maggie, who debate for two seconds about leaving and starting their life together, it doesn't happen, then they drop it. The show is obviously setting this up for plot reasons down the line -- Paul and Meryl Streep, Jr. are together, and she's caring for his wound. Her father punishes her in the worst way he knows how: by bringing a guy who looks very unsanitary (hi, Morris!) to cover her face in tattoos, fork her tongue and shave her hair into a strange pattern. Straight up, it's not that bad, but man, did that facial tattoo ever look fake! Paul accepts her with open arms, and of course blames himself. This is not going to end well for Streep's father, who is unquestionably going to die (hopefully at the hands of Paul!) before this season is done.
I think the same goes for Dell, too, especially now that he's killed another freak. There are some lines you just don't cross, and that's one of the cardinal rules of this season of "AHS": freaks are family, and they only survive if they look after each other. The threads between them all are unravelling, and with an angry Dandy, an Elsa out for herself, a reprehensible Dell, and a conniving Stanley on the loose, things are going to get worse before they get better.
Freak Of The Week: Sorry, girl. We'll miss you, Ma Petite.
- Dandy was absolutely livid during that first scene. I find it hard to believe that he didn't attempt to go to the freak show camp by the next day. He didn't even show up for the rest of the episiode!
- Why does "Freak Show" insist on killing the cutest, smallest things? First Meep, now this. If I had a baby/toddler right now, I'd be holding them super tight.
- Anyone else mistake Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson's bizarre letter-reading shots for second-rate kids' theatre monologues? So strange to shoot straight-on like that.
- You'd think Ma Petite would be a bit more cautious about someone bearing a wrapped gift in the middle of the night. Especially the guy from the freak show who could bench press 50 of her. Just sayin'.
- It just dawned on me tonight why Dell had no problem sleeping with Ethel -- because of that damn beard! At least on some level he could pretend she was a man.
- Speaking of Kathy Bates' beard, that thing was looking super pube-y tonight.
- Evan Peters singing "Come As You Are": Kurt Cobain isn't just spinning in his grave, he is gently weeping. Weeping for all of us.
"American Horror Story: Freak Show" airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST on FX and FX Canada.