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American Horror Story | Freak Show, Episodes 8 & 9 Recap

e09-coverSo last week’s episode of AHS: Freak Show just so happened to coincide with some major life/work happenings. And as a result, I really just never found the large block of time that it takes to sit down and write a coherent, thoughtful recap.

Not to worry: tonight, we are back and better than ever. But please don’t hold me to that, because I certainly have no way to guarantee that my ramblings will be in any way superlative to anything else I’ve written this season.

Coincidentally, the one week that I can’t recap is the one week where we had some true action. Ethel died! Gloria died! Meryl Streep’s daughter was there!

There was certainly more than enough action to whet my appetite moving forward. Not for nothing, this has been the strangest season of AHS yet. We’re eight episodes in and I still don’t really understand what I’m watching. Is this thing a character study on the tortured nature of the human psyche, shown to us through the eyes of Dandy and Elsa? Is it showcasing that humanity is an atrocity, like a true real life freak show? Or is it just revenge porn, where a bunch of societal outcasts stick it to the man and rage against the machine, ultimately realizing that they’re better off as good, righteous people? The answer is probably all of them. And none of them. My point is that with just five hours left, this story needs some cohesion to tie the various plotlines together and make this season leave a lasting impact.

Or we could just watch an unimportant character get tarred and feathered for like half an episode again. Those scenes were lots of fun, said no one.

For what it’s worth, last week’s episode was a solid B for me. A lot happened. Our major plot points:

  • Ethel took her suspicions about Elsa’s role in ruining everyone’s lives to become famous right back to her. And when she cornered her former boss and BFF with a gun, she made the classic Bond villain mistake of talking for way too long. Elsa requests to make herself a drink. And BAM! Right in the kisser. Soon, Ethel’s head is decapitated from her body and her death is set-up as a suicide by Elsa and Stan.
  • Nora’s daughter, Gabourey Sidibe, showed up to find her mom. And where is Thunder D when you need him? “She died, dude.” Anyway, Gloria eventually tries to get Dandy out of the country when she realizes that he’s just snapped and is incurable. But Dandy doesn’t want to run and he’s mad at his mommy for trying to psychoanalyze him. Naturally, as many well-adjusted young men do, he expresses his emotions through murder. And then he quite literally takes a blood bath, soaking in his own mommy’s blood. I hope he gets ebola.
  • Meryl Streep’s daughter (aka: that chick with the ugly tattoo face) had her own C-plot. It sucked.

Okay, there’s a week’s worth of story and a week’s worth of jokes wrapped up in one mini-recap. And now onto tonight’s big episode, dealing with the fallout from last week’s shocking deaths.

The Puppet Master – Dandy visits Maggie, asking for her advice on his current situation. Our dashingly handsome serial killer has taken to murdering anyone who visits his house and turning them into puppets.

When Maggie tells Dandy that his future looks bright, he’s so relieved he labels her his savior and slips her a hundred. Of course, she’s a complete fraud so I’m not quite as certain that Dandy’s going to get some sort of happily ever after. If watching Once Upon a Time for four years has taught me anything, it’s that villains never get happy endings. And that you can recast Robin Hood with minimal impact. And that every character you introduce at any point in your show should be related to a main character.

Not unlike Dandy, Jimmy is also struggling with what his mother’s death means for the rest of his life. Jimmy has become infatuated with Elsa’s newest addition to the freak show, Ima Wiggles.

And I expect that the scene where Jimmy is feeding Ima and whispering sweet nothings to her is probably the last scene of this show that my mom will watch. Because TV shows reach their most implausible to my mother when skinny people find obese people attractive. It stopped her from watching Glee, it stopped her from watching Nip/Tuck, and it will probably stop her from watching American Horror Story. Ryan Murphy sure likes to go to this type of coupling quite frequently, huh? Don’t blame my mom, she was just raised in a wealthy Jewish suburb and didn’t get out much.

A drunken Jimmy gets into a war of words with Dandy, leading to our favourite psychopath promising to watch gleefully as his newfound nemesis suffers.

Every season of American Horror Story comes with its own set of rules. This season’s main rule: don’t fuck with Dandy if you want to live.

Separate or Together – Bette and Dot, who were sent away to safety by a suspicious Ethel, find their cover completely blown by Stan and Elsa. They learned of the twins’ whereabouts by stealing Ethel’s suicide note, which had instructed Jimmy to collect the twins from a hotel in West Palm Beach.

Though skeptical at first, Elsa lures the twins out of hiding by promising them that she has found the surgeon who can split them up.

Stan and Elsa take the twins out to a shack in the middle of nowhere, where they’re told they’ll have a consultation with the surgeon. Unfortunately, Elsa is also under the impression that the twins are being separated. Stan is alone in his murder plot and everyone seems just dumb enough to believe it. Life lesson: people who are trying to help you do not put you into a shack and leave you there to stew for a while.

Bette and Dot once again argue about whether the surgery is for the best. Dot still wants to go through with it, but Bette is against it. They get to have a heart to heart; Dot complains about their muddled existence and Bette tries to convince her sister they belong together in this world. In the end, Bette has a beautiful speech where she practically begs her sister to change her mind, showcasing that the sisterly love they have is immeasurable, infinite.

Paulson is majestic here. Watching Bette selflessly come to terms with her sister’s wishes and finding the courage to offer her life for Dot’s is a real showcase for her. She does great work as both twins and, once again, really brings some gravitas to this season.

Meanwhile, Stan coaches his newest boytoy on how to be a fake doctor. And then he teaches him about the ins and outs of euthanasia. And then he says, “Now get over here and suck my cock.” Yep, that all happened.

A Man Comes To Visit Desiree – A man comes to visit Desiree at the freak show. That was another thing that happened on American Horror Story this week.

Secret Shame – Dell takes off to find Matt Bomer. But Stan finds him and convinces him to return to the freak show by showing him his… um, manhood. It’s apparently very big. Like, super big.

He then returns and writes a note to Jimmy, preparing to off himself. He has a hallucination of Ethel (she’s really getting around this week) who semi-shames him into accepting his homosexuality and killing himself. Ethel gets a great line in here about Dell, calling him weak. It’s a great juxtaposition to the strongman he’s always feigned to be.

Dell goes through with it. His body goes limp, his vision blacks out… and then Desiree finds him. She saves his life. Call me mildly disappointed.

Pool of Blood – Things continue to be tense between Jimmy and Maggie. She catches him banging Ima, resulting in a fight between the two ladies (while Jimmy pukes… a lot).

Later, Jimmy completely botches his side business of pleasuring miserable country club ladies. He’s apparently so drunk that he’s missing the hole. Ew. Jimmy then starts hallucinating that his mother is in the room, defending her apparent suicide and calling him out for being a drunk like his father.

The ladies are mortified by Jimmy’s sloshed performance and boot him out the door. But who should come knocking just moments later? Why, Dandy of course, who with a compliment and a request to use the phone has found a way to kill a bunch of ladies at once.

And in one of the grossest things he’s done yet, Dandy leaves all of their bodies afloat. If last week was a literal blood bath, this amps that up. It’s a literal pool of blood. Gross, but kind of awesome. It’s fair game to call Dandy crazy, but the dude definitely has a sense of humor.

“I Am A God” – Gabourey Sidibe (apparently her character is named Regina, so I’ll go with that) returns to tell Dandy that she’s gone to the police about Nora’s murder. And I take issue with a few things in this scene.

  • 1) How did Regina get into the house? Is Dandy just leaving the door unlocked?
  • 2) Why would Regina actually go in? She obviously knows foul play is involved and must be able to sense that Dandy is dangerous, no?

Well anyway, Dandy basically comes clean to Regina before calling her his special friend and insisting she bathe with him. Some more issues:

  • 3) Has Dandy’s butt officially received more screentime this season than Angela Bassett?
  • 4) Come on, Dandy. I love Gabourey Sidibe as much as the next guy but it would be impossible for the two of you to fit in that tub.

Regina refuses and Dandy instantly snaps. He’s gone from being enamored with Regina to being bored by her reluctance to give into his demands. And this leads me to some more problems with the scene.

  • 5) Every time that Dandy admits to murdering everyone, the Bowser music from Mario World plays for some reason. Super hokey.
  • 6) Dandy just lets Regina go. Cue the SWAT teams and the end of Dandy’s reign of terror?

Sure was nice to see Dandy refer to himself as a God though again. It’s a shame Dandy wasn’t born like forty years later. Then he would have found out that an ego-centric maniac with a God complex can grow up to be famous like Kanye West and he might have never murdered anyone. He could have just focused on his fashion career and, like, invented leather jogging pants or whatever.

So Regina later brings a cop to the Mott household. And, of course, the natural inclination is to doubt that the police would send one lone cop to the home of a gabillionaire homicidal maniac. But then you might remember that the police force in Jupiter in 1952 is filled with idiots and this suddenly seems peausiblr.

It takes Dandy all of two minutes of psychobabble to convince the cop to put a bullet in Regina’s brain in exchange for a million dollars.

Dandy might be out of his mind in declaring himself a God, but he’s certainly playing the role. He’s been judge, jury and executioner for over ten women this season. And I’m sure the body count will continue to rise in these last few episodes.

Three’s Company – Drunk Jimmy returns to his trailer to find that the twins are back. And Dot has been completely convinced that she and Bette are a family that belongs together, i.e. she’s not going through with the surgery.

Jimmy calls bullshit on their idea of family. But Dot is warm to him, reassuring him of his gentle, kind nature. And then she (and Bette, by proxy) is naked. “Let me take your pain away; replace it with love,” she coos.

He makes sure it’s cool with Bette before moving in for a kiss.

But it doesn’t last long. Jimmy isn’t interested in them that way. “I can’t,” he says, revealing that he’s in love with someone else. A heartbroken Dot leaves in a hurry, putting Jimmy right back to the bottle.

Of course, this is an opportune time for the cops to show up and take Jimmy away for murdering the housewives he used to visit. Looks like Dandy really does run the show now and he just might get his revenge.


I liked this episode. It felt like a better than average episode of Freak Show, right in line with last week’s episode. I’ll give it another B overall, just to be consistent.

Nice to see a few storylines converge, but it looks like Elsa’s storyline has become rather disjointed from the rest of the freak show.

My hope for the last four episodes – which I believe air consecutively in January – is that this thing manages to offer up a bunch of savage twists and put everything together. Although the show’s Dandy-centric scenes have worked tremendously well.


  • I didn’t get to say it last week, so I’ll say it this week. The irony that Kathy Bates has lost her head in both of her AHS seasons is not lost on me. Call it poetic, call it coincidence, I don’t care: just make sure that this is a recurrence every effing season please.
  • Speaking of Kathy Bates, this season gave her a half-decent showcase. Not as much scenery-chewing goodness as last season, but it still gave her something fun and different to do. Frances Conroy, on the other hand, was utterly wasted. And then she gets stuck playing no-nonsense Bette in Dandy’s makeshift Siamese murder puppet? Even the Avon lady with no name wasn’t as poorly treated as Frances Conroy this season.
  • Another Coven parallel? Evan Peters is offered a threesome. Dude is having a solid year.
  • Dandy has an eye for color. Her dress was definitely periwinkle. I googled “Spanish sky blue” and it’s a much brighter hue than that. If being a mass murdering clown doesn’t work for him Dandy might have a bright future in fashion!
  • Random thought of the week: I feel like someone should re-do the lyrics to Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” and re-name it “Dandy.” And then Elsa can sing it.
  • See you guys in the new year! Let me just express that I’m so happy to be back recapping this week. It’s just a ton of fun for me. I missed all zero of you guys still reading these recaps. Can I get a comment or two? Something? Anything? A tumbleweed?
  • Matthew Gregg

    For ultimate cringe factor, I’m hoping someone does “Fancy” except replaces it with Dandy.