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American Horror Story: Freak Show Recap “Massacres and Matinees” (Season 4 Episode 2)

So far, this season of American Horror Story is really interesting and fun. With every new addition to the Freak Show cast, the show gets more and more entertaining… and weird. From the Ethel to Ma Petite, I have yet to find a weak link. Each character is  incredibly multi-layered, an aspect missing from Coven. Especially after this episode, my only complaint is that I could use a little more sass from Lange; I miss her biting remarks.

The Tell-Tale Detective

Jupiter, Florida is still in an uproar over the murder of four people, and the disappearance of a little boy and police detective. So much so, people are afraid to leave their homes. With the “boys in blue out for blood”, officers show up to the Freak Show to look around for evidence. However, Elsa demands they get a warrant first because, “My monsters demand privacy!” Before they leave, the police officers tell Elsa they are instituting a nightly curfew, which means the Freak Show will have no audience members. They also lightly question Dot and Bette about their mother’s murder, which the twins attribute to the other murders around town.

Although the rest of the members of the Freak Show don’t seem too worried about the presence of police around the camp, as shown by their raucous family dinner, Jimmy is extremely paranoid. After all, he killed the detective and the body is buried close by in the woods. Jimmy also feels bad that the detective may have had a family and he knows how hard it is to grow up without a father. To ensure the detective’s body is not found, Jimmy and some of his friends dig it up and burn it, though Jimmy puts the detective’s badge in his pocket. He gives another idealistic speech about people of the town getting to know them and they would see that the “freaks” are just like them.

Freak Show Evan Peters Michael Chiklis
Courtesy of FX

The Killer Clown’s New Friend

Unfortunately for us, the Killer Clown is not finished with his murderous rampage. This time, his victim is Mr. Handley, who runs the local toy store. A toy store employee discovers Mr. Handley’s body when he goes to open the store. He notices a wind-up toy robot walking toward him, trailing a path of blood. As the employee (stupidly) walks toward the robot, he finds Mr. Handley’s head on a shelf and the clown, who was pretending to be a statue like that creepy urban legend, stabs him through the neck.

As the antithesis to the freaks’ family dinner, Gloria and Dandy Mott’s dinner is lavish and so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Gloria uses a bell to summon their maid, Nora (Patti LaBelle), who brings out Dandy’s dinner request: a plate of escargot. Like the man-child he is, Dandy throws a temper tantrum about the quality of the snails and the fact that he wants to be an actor. His mother, on the other hand, wants him to settle down and give her grandchildren. Did I mention he is also drinking out of a glass baby bottle full of cognac? Dandy storms out of the house claiming he will go to St. Petersburg, where he will get to have real caramel corn and not the “cardboard they serve at the Freak Show.” When he leaves, Nora confronts Gloria about finding mutilated animal body parts around the shed, which she thinks are from the neighbor’s missing cat. Was this the work of Dandy and more importantly, is he the one killing the citizens of Jupiter?

After storming out of the house, Dandy appears at the Freak Show and begs Jimmy to let him join them; he feels he belongs there. Jimmy tells him no, he wouldn’t last one day with them. Dandy has the “world on a string” and should thank God for what he’s got. Dandy leaves, but not before throwing another tantrum, violently banging his head against the steering wheel and screaming “I hate you.”

As Gloria waits for Dandy to come back home, she takes a drive. There, she sees the creepy clown walking along the side of the road. For some reason, she doesn’t see how terrifying the clown looks and asks him to come home with her. She will pay him a pretty penny to cheer up her son. When Dandy comes home from the Freak Show, he is presented with the clown in his still child-decorated bedroom, complete with a King and I puppet set. The pair seem to be getting along, until Dandy finds the toy store employee’s severed head in the clown’s bag. The clown knocks him out with a juggling club and leaves the house. Dandy quickly awakens and follows the clown to the bus in the woods.

At first, the clown tries to endear himself to his captors. He pulls out the robot from the toy store to give to the little boy, but he can only be “good” for so long. Next he pulls out the severed head It appears the clown cares more for scares than laughs. Unbeknownst to him, however, the female captor was able to break off a piece of their cage, which she uses to hit the clown and the two run away. Sadly, the jail break doesn’t last long. The clown is able to grab the boy while Dandy grabs the girl and brings her back to the clown.

American Horror Story Freak Show Circus Tent

The New Act

Meanwhile, at the Freak Show, there’s a new act in town, Dell “The Strongman” Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and his three-breasted, hermaphrodite wife Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett). Dell and Desiree hail from Chicago, where Dell studied under Harry Houdini’s brother. The couple fled after Dell caught Desiree sleeping with a gay man, who paid her to see if she could help cure him of his homosexuality. When Dell walked in on them, he snapped the man’s neck. Dell also has a history with Ethel Darling. In fact, he’s Jimmy’s father! Ethel confronts Dell, telling him he is not welcome at the show and to stay away from Jimmy. In a flashback, we see Dell’s temper getting the better of him as he threatens baby Jimmy.

At first, Elsa says she can’t afford to hire Dell and Desiree, but due to the fact Dell agrees to a lower wage and Elsa needs a strong male presence at the show as head of security, she signs him. Although Elsa likes nighttime shows because night is when the imagination comes out to play, Dell quickly uses his new power (and temper) to convince Elsa they need a 3 PM matinee show to combat the curfew. She finally accepts the new showtime, but after she realizes she didn’t receive top billing on the flyers, Elsa realizes Jimmy has to go.

The other new act in town is Dot and Bette’s successful musical performance. While Bette’s voice is flat, Dot sings a beautiful rendition of “Dream A Little Dream” toward Jimmy. Elsa jealously looks on; after all this is her singing gig! Cut to the actual show, Dot and Bette sing “Criminal” and are a huge hit. Of course, it isn’t long before Elsa tries turning the twins against each other. While Dot is sleeping, Elsa tries to convince Bette that she is the real star and hands her a knife. But what is Bette supposed to do with it? Cut off her sister’s head?

Cut to the almost empty diner. Much to the horror of the waitstaff and sporadic customers, Jimmy and some other members of the show go there for lunch to prove they are normal. However, they are treated poorly by a woman who says the group is upsetting her daughter and by the nice waitress Jimmy talked to in the pilot.  Dell, who had been going around town hanging flyers for the new showtime, busts into the diner and drags all of the “freaks” outside. He argues that walking around town gives the citizens a free show and they won’t want to buy tickets to the Freak Show. Jimmy and Dell fight it out and Dell wins.

But, not to be outdone, Elsa and Jimmy make a plan to use the police badge to frame Dell for the detective’s murder. They make an anonymous call to the police to get them to investigate Dell’s trailer. Unbeknownst to them, however, Dell already discovered their plot and re-hid the badge under Meep’s pillow (the “freak” who bites the heads off of animals). The police take the (kinda) innocent Meep to jail. Feeling guilty about Meep’s incarceration, Jimmy drinks himself into oblivion and decides to turn himself in. Before he gets too far, a group of men pull up to the Freak Show and throw a bag, containing Meep’s dead body at Jimmy’s feet. Another uplifting episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show!

Quote Of The Episode: Tonight’s honor doesn’t go to Queen Lange, but instead goes to Frances Conroy’s Gloria Mott. She asks the terrifying-looking clown, “Do you do private parties… for children?” Hilarious. Are we the only ones that notice how creepy that clown looks?

Creepiest Moment: When the clown stands like a statue in the toy store.

Note For Later: Will Meep’s wrongful death make Jimmy not so idealistic and hopeful that the citizens of Jupiter will eventually accept the freaks?

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