Alice Rush reviews the eighth episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show…
After a week break Freak Show is back and seems to be making up for lost time by cranking the violence dial up a few notches. We last saw Del killing Ma Petite and this week sees that she’s not the only character to wave goodbye. Whilst ‘Blood Bath’ had some more classic American Horror Story gore scenes not much is happening in the way of storyline. The violence feels like it’s being thrown in to try and shake up the show but is a little superfluous in the end. Now I was the first one to complain of the lack of horror within this season so whilst I am happy that we’re seeing some more action I’m not too thrilled over how contrived it feels. If it doesn’t contribute towards the tension and storyline then it’s just gratuitous, and this episode felt just that.
This week continues the breakdown of the camp. As the characters grieve for Ma Petite Ethel takes a more head on approach and finally confronts Elsa. In a great scene Ethel really lets out all her frustration and feelings of betrayal as she accuses her boss of killing Ma Petite and wanting to kill the twins. For once Elsa is actually innocent (well, she did want to kill the twins but she hasn’t…yet) but drunk Ethel refuses to believe her and shoots her in the leg revealing Elsa’s own secret. After quite a random flashback that seems to only want to show off the acting talents of Danny Huston, Ethel reveals she plans to kill Elsa and herself as nothing is ‘innocent’ anymore. If we know anything about the German wannabe star is that she’s a survivor and instead she puts her knife throwing talents to good use and kills Ethel, covering it up as a suicide with Stanley, for whom the bodies are nicely starting to pile up for.
It was a shame to see Kathy Bates go as she’s such a formidable actress but the show did feel like it was getting quite stagnant and a main character death is always a sure fire way to pick the pace back up. Her death sends Jimmy into a spiral of alcohol, sends Elsa to Miami to recruit a new freak attraction and sends the rest of the women of the camp into a violent rage. Together Penny, Desiree, Eve and Suzy make a pact to protect the camp and fight those who try to hurt it, starting with murdering Penny’s dad. Hot tar and feathers seems like the plan followed by castration and death, a standard for American Horror Story really, before Maggie convinces them not to go through with it. I’m not really sure how I feel about Maggie as she’s a bit of a nothing character, piping up some clichéd sense of morality now and then.
Her reveal as a fraudster should provide some real drama as will the revelation of Del’s misdeeds, but other than these plot points there is still a severe lack of tension within the show. The camp drama plods along each episode without ever truly reaching boiling point as character flit in and out of focus and whilst I adore Dandy’s psychopathic tendencies even his story arc seems to be going nowhere, though hopefully the addition of Gabourey Sibide as Dora’s daughter Regina will add some excitement. Speaking of Dandy yet another death hits the screens this week as he finally follows through with his I HATE MY MOTHER spiel and puts a bullet in her head. The final shot of him bathing in her blood is a great mirror of the beginning shot of the episode where Gloria was lying down on a therapist’s couch and hopefully now that she is out of the picture Dandy will finally embrace his true nature and start rampaging through the streets of Jupiter. God knows we need something to liven this show up.
It’s hard to review this show sometimes as I feel I have nothing but negative things to say about it. It goes without saying that I think the acting is fantastic, the art aesthetic is spot on and a lot of the time the script is pretty solid. However I watch American Horror Story because it’s different from other dramas on the television. It’s unnerving, it’s unsettling, it’s scary and it’s unpredictable. Or at least it used to be. So yes, I still think this series is entertaining. But nowhere near as much as it could be.