American Horror Story: Freak Show – Massacres and Matinees – Review

A two-headed murderer singing Fiona Apple; a handsome man-child befriends a psychotic clown with no jaw; and a triple-breasted hermaphrodite talks about the time she saw a Mexican lady expel pin-pong balls from her genitals. No, that wasn’t a recap of how I spent my weekend, but a description of just some of the craziness that occurred in this week’s American Horror Story!  While last week’s episode was fairly tame, this week’s episode begins AHS’s inevitable addition of approximately eight new cooks to the kitchen every minute.

‘Massacres and Matinees’ opens up on a pretty unsettling scene recounting the latest victim of Jupiter’s resident murdering clown, Twisty.  Still no word on why Twisty is working his way through the people of Jupiter faster than Jessica Lange is working through accents, but he seems to be enjoying himself so maybe it’s best we don’t question him.  While Twisty is stabbing toy store-owners and terrifying children, Elsa Mars is faced with the difficult decision whether or not to begin matinee shows of her freakshow.  The storylines are beginning to merge, as Finn Wittrock’s despicable Dandy decides to alleviate his boredom by joining Twisty on his murder spree, and I have a feeling this is going to speed up his inevitable collision with Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

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Angela Bassett makes her Freakshow debut as the triple-breasted Desiree, wife to Michael Chiklis’ strong-man Dell Toledo. Dell is the former husband of Ethel, and Jimmy’s father. In a show about a group of outsiders banding together against society, the issue of family troubles seems like an obvious theme to deal with, and ‘Massacres and Matinees’ sets this into motion.  Jimmy and Dell begin their battle to be seen as the strong male presence for the rest of the performers, while conjoined twins Bette and Dot get increasingly jealous of one another.  The tension under the big top is beginning to bubble up, and I suspect the climactic bloodbath of this season will have less to do with Twisty and more to do with these oppositions fighting to the death. Although I’m still not sure how it’s going to work if Bette kills Dot, or vice versa. Does the surviving sister just carry a dead head around with her for the rest of her life? Is that even possible? I’m sure we’ll find out by episode 7.

True to form though, Freak Show is already showing signs of cracking. It seems as though the writers are less concerned with having Elsa battle with her own disfirgurement, and instead are focusing on her envy of the younger and more talented Bette and Dot.  The scene where she filled Dot’s head with doubts over her sister sounded exactly like scene with Coven’s Fiona Goode only dubbed with a German accent. Lange is undoubtedly the reason people keep coming back to the show, and it will be massively disappointing to see her being underused in this season the same way Paulson was in Coven.

Also, more characters are going to be added next week, specifically the introduction of Emma Roberts’ as the psychic Maggie Esmerelda. While I have no doubt Roberts will be an exciting addition, it already feels like there are just too many characters and plotlines developing in this season. Here’s hoping Twisty finds his way to the Cabinet of Curiosities next week and cuts Elsa’s performing roster down by a couple of performers. Failing that, Freak Show looks set to follow in the footsteps of the previous season.  Sure, it’ll be a fascinating spectacle, just not one you really care about that much.

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