*** WARNING: Contains spoilers! Please do not read on unless you've seen Episode 12 of "American Horror Story: Freak Show," titled "Show Stoppers." Or if you don't mind spoilers, go right ahead! ***
Revenge is a dish best served cold. Or very violently. Whichever.
This being "American Horror Story," we know what to expect as we near the end of a season: lots of kill-offs, a touch of torture, and quick tie-offs of existing storylines. As I wrote in last week's recap, "AHS: Freak Show" is a series of vignettes, not necessarily sensical as a whole. Neil Patrick Harris' Chester character -- the latest vignette -- is (hopefully) the last "new" one to walk into the big tent, as his story wraps up after a two-episode arc.
It was fun while it lasted, and we got an enjoyable performance out of Harris. Chester also served the purpose of killing off Maggie (seriously, how jaw-droppingly disgusting was it when he pulled the box apart and all the guts were there?), taking Bette and Dot's virginity, and giving Jamie Brewer an awesome, brief role as the demented puppet, Marjorie. Otherwise he was a distraction from the main plot (I'm not even sure what the main plot is anymore), which fizzled to an almost dead stop as Dandy was relegated to ... his house, I guess.
That was nice this episode: Dandy being back. Well, sorta. It's a shame he wasn't around very much recently, because the show absolutely lights up whenever Finn Wittrock is on screen. His earnest, over-the-top delivery makes it impossible to take your eyes off of him. He succeeds in making Bette and Dot leave Chester -- ultimately saving their lives -- by showing them P.I. files about his murderous past. Speaking of "murderous," how has Dandy suddenly stopped killing? Didn't he have an insatiable lust for it two episodes ago? Perhaps he's been holding it in and will go on some sort of murderous rampage in the finale. But that doesn't seem like the most satisfying ending.
My colleague asked me how I think this is going to wrap up. I definitely don't think Dandy will emerge the victor here. He's done far too many horrifying things to get off scot-free in the end. My prediction is Jimmy will kill Dandy with his new hands, and then take over the freak show with Bette and Dot. Now there's some sex that'll be convincingly good. I mean, really, they've been teasing us with the prospect of Jimmy-Bette-Dot sex since the beginning of the season. C'mon Murphy & Co., don't let us down! Also, I think the viewers probably want one more Evan Peters man bum sighting before the season signs off.
As for the rest of the freaks, it's anyone's guess. I'd bet that several get killed off in the finale; and if I had to predict who, I would bet Desiree (who, in this episode, suddenly became the biggest Ethel supporter around, and has recently gotten a sharper edge to her behaviour), Seal Boy (we kinda care about him), and maybe Meryl Streep, Jr. I do hope Toulouse makes it through, though. I've grown attached to him now.
Did anyone else have "Coven" flashbacks when Danny Huston walked into the big tent? I remembered all the scenes with The Axeman and Fiona Goode, and when Lange and Huston were back acting lustily towards each other, I felt the same way I did during "Coven": bored. I don't know what it is with their love stories, but they just don't do it for me. And Massimo's reasoning as to why he can't love her -- because he was tortured and he "has no soul" -- is just lame and contrived. They really should have just let him come back, give Jimmy his awesome new hands, and depart a mysterious stranger. There was no need for the weird existential romantic talk. Chop, chop, Geppetto.
Despite all of that, I will say seeing a young Hans Gruper/Arthur Arden was worth the price of admission when it came to Massimo. Not only did "AHS" cast a young Gruper perfectly (I actually wondered if they CGIed James Cromwell. They may have, I don't know), but it was neat to see how the insane physician fit into the big picture. We can see his torturing days started early. (*** Thanks to all the readers who pointed out that it was in fact John Cromwell who played the young Hans Gruper. Sorry, it's very late when I write these. ***)
Oh, and what they did to Stanley. Poor Stanley. No, you know what? Good. If anyone deserves to spend the rest of their days among freaks as a human chicken, it's Stanley. Dandy finding him in the cage and beaming that huge smile at his discovery was a favourite scene of mine. Revenge is something "AHS" does well, in the process often sacrificing fluid plot, characterization, and logic. But this wouldn't be "Freak Show" if it was the same as any other TV show, right?
Can't wait to see how this show ends. I've got my ticket for the big top. See you next week!
Freak Of The Week: Does Marjorie count as a freak? If not, I'm still counting her. She had some great lines tonight ("That'll pack 'em in, Chester!") and listening to Brewer laugh and stare evilly to the side made my night.Random Thoughts:
- Desiree: "Steal her jewelry. Then bury the bitch."
- The scene where Jimmy yells at Elsa "I have no hands!!!" was well-done. Props to Evan Peters for consistently nailing his characters' struggles throughout this entire series. His characters gets the brunt of the worst treatment, and yet he arguably manages to keep a believable maintenance of each of his roles, which is more than I can say for others.
- Interesting that both Dandy and Bette and Dot killed their mothers. It could be some twisted common ground for them, but as I said earlier, I think this pairing ... er ... trio is kaput.
- I need a GIF of Desiree yelling "Ethellllllllll!" and then chugging that booze. Internet, help me.
- Whenever thunder and lightning starts off an episode, folks, you know something baaaad is going to happen.
- Meryl Streep, Jr. has totally won me over this season. I was on the fence before, but now I think she's awesome. I hope it's not just the tattooed and freakish version of her that I enjoy, because when we go to the 1950s next season (which I'm basing loosely on that little clue dropped online), things will be considerably less racy. Or maybe not -- this is Murphy & Co. we're talking about.
"American Horror Story: Freak Show" airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST on FX and FX Canada.
This article has been updated to note the actor who plays the young Hans Gruper is played by John Cromwell. Additionally, the character was originally referred to as Arthur Alden, not Arden. That has also been corrected.