Fall TV 2014RecapReviewTV

‘American Horror Story: Freakshow’ Review/Recap: “Massacres and Matinees”

Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Jessica Lange in the American Horror Story: Freak Show episode "Massacres and Matinees." Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.
Jessica Lange in the American Horror Story: Freak Show episode “Massacres and Matinees.” Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.

Another night under the big top of American Horror Story: Freakshow means plenty of horrific and gruesome TV goodness.

The town is on high alert due to the many recent murders from an unknown assailant. This unknown comes in the form of Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) as he slashes and murderously gags his way across town. The police of course have no indication that a psychotic clown could be the culprit, so instead they focus on Elsa (Jessica Lange) and the rest of her “freaks”. With the disappearance of their detective, the police make it clear that finding the killer is their top priority. Jimmy (Evan Peters) did of course kill the detective that is seemingly missing, after trying to take Bette/Dot (Sarah Paulson) away. If it wasn’t enough to have the police monitoring the freakshow like a hawk, they have also enacted a town wide curfew. This means low ticket sales and the possible end to Elsa’s iconic show.

John Carroll Lynch in the American Horror Story: Freak Show episode "Massacres and Matinees." Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.
John Carroll Lynch in the American Horror Story: Freak Show episode “Massacres and Matinees.” Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.

In this episode, “Massacres and Matinees”, one of the most compelling developments involves Dandy (Finn Wittrock) and Twisty. Gloria (Frances Conroy) has tried everything to keep her sweet and innocent boy Dandy entertained. Lavish dinners, shopping sprees, and every toy imaginable however cannot quench the inner boredom that Dandy feels. As she drives home, Gloria comes across Twisty who is on the road right after beheading and skewering a toy shop owner and his assistant. She seizes the opportunity to offer Twisty a job to entertain her son. Her actions prove to be successful as Dandy is delighted to have the twisted company the clown provides. Twisty escapes the home though once Dandy comes across one of the “souvenirs” stashed in the clown’s bag.

Following the clown, Dandy comes across the girl that escaped from Twisty’s bus trap and, much like his mother, decides to seize the moment. He carries the girl back to the bus to play a little “Shoots and Splatters” with his new buddy Twisty. This development in Dandy’s character is an interesting one. Much like Norman Bates in Psycho, Dandy is a seemingly put together and well rounded boy. Underneath the surface, however, there lies a beast that looks very much like Twisty. It’s a nice contrast to the usual conventions and adds a few layers to what the freakshow will have to offer.

Michael Chiklis in the American Horror Story: Freak Show episode "Massacres and Matinees." Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.
Michael Chiklis in the American Horror Story: Freak Show episode “Massacres and Matinees.” Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX.

Two new characters step into the spotlight on this episode as well. Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) travel to Elsa’s big top to offer their services for the show. Dell has many ties to the freakshow by being not only a strong man, but also the father to Jimmy Darling and ex-beau of Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates). His new woman, Desiree, is a hermaphrodite with the added bonus of having three breasts. Elsa quickly learns that Dell is not to be trusted and implores Jimmy to find a way to get rid of him. Jimmy attempts to place the dead detectives badge in Dell’s trailer for the police to find, but Dell is one step ahead, putting it inside the chicken eater’s tent instead. At this point, Dell seems to almost be a villain in the way that he wants nothing to do with his own son and allowing an innocent to be killed.

This season is just beginning but it seems to be tying the parallels between humanity and the “freak” together very nicely. Most of the more “freakish” characters are actually the most morally centered (which isn’t saying much) and the seemingly human have the darkest depths. It will be interesting to see how many more of the innocent are put into the spotlight of guilt as the season unfolds.

American Horror Story: Freakshow airs at 9/10c on FX.

Overall Episode Grade: A

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