Alice Rush reviews the twelfth episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show…
The penultimate episode of Freak Show, ‘Show Stoppers’, I feel represents my view on the whole series; it has some great moments but altogether loses out on a lack of fluidity and consistency. No doubt that it has some of the truly gory and horrifying scenes of the show so far but it’s not enough to salvage what has unfortunately turned out to be a bit of a disappointing series.
After last week saw Elsa learn the truth from Maggie the pre-credit sequence focuses solely on Stanley. Masking as a going away part for Elsa the freaks lure him in before revealing they know all about his plans, and, well, they’re pretty damn mad about it. Captured and with no way out we do not see what becomes of him until the very end of the episode. In a fantastically symbolic and full-circle move we discover the freaks have left him alive but are keeping him in a cage and have mutilated him to look like Meep. This strikes me as a classic AHS twist, and it’s one of the best moments in the episode, successfully ending Stanley’s storyline in completely the right way. As Stanley’s accomplice it only seems fitting for Maggie to bow out at the same time. As new camp owner Chester sets out the plan for the show the twins quit being his assistant after Dandy informs them of his shady past. Who then should step into their place but poor, stupid Maggie, who wishes to integrate herself with the show more by partaking in his magic saw trick. Really bad timing on her part, as Chester, put into a rage by yet another female rejection and by the taunts of Marjorie in his head, actually saws her in half in one of the most gruesome scenes of whole series. So it’s bye-bye Maggie, but as Desiree, who seems to have become the moral leader of the group, states so lovingly “she had it coming”. And there’s even more bloodshed to come. Well, sort of. Angry at her always dictating his life Chester ‘kills’ Marjorie by repeatedly stabbing her, before going to the police to confess his crimes. I hope that this isn’t the end of Chester. It seems such a waste to bring in both Neil Patrick Harris and Jamie Brewer for such a short amount of time but that kind of logical thinking doesn’t seem to be present within this series.
Aside from the gore there were some touching moments in ‘Show Stoppers’ brought mainly by Elsa getting back into contact with the doctor/carpenter, Massimo, who gave her new legs, as there is one member of the show who could do with a new pair of limbs. Jessica Lange and Danny Huston’s chemistry on screen is nothing short of phenomenal and their reconciliation scene, complete with soft lighting, wide shots, and heart breaking piano music is just a little slice of heaven. Whilst Massimo measures Jimmy’s up for some new hands they explain how they could have been together except Massimo dedicated his life to killing Elsa torturers. One of them bested him, however, and spent a long time torturing him before he escaped. This character turns out to be none other than Hans Gruper, James Cromwell’s Nazi doctor from season 2 Asylum. At least we know that he’s always been a bit of a sicko. It’s not all romance for Elsa, however, as she is driven from the camp by the rest of the freaks when they discover she killed Ethel. She gets the hell out of town but not before selling the show to Dandy. I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of Elsa, as this being Jessica Lange’s last season it wouldn’t seem right for the last look we get of her to be some dingy car scene.
The episode ends with the revelation that instead of trying for a normal life Jimmy instead has Massimo (not sure why he stuck around after Elsa left) make him lobster hands as he finally embraces who he really is. As I said before, the episode was peppered with lots of little nice ideas, but overall it was a disappointment. There were too many small sections to be covered, too many characters to finish up and if I’m being honest I just don’t get the loyal, family feeling from the freaks. I don’t think enough time was really put in to making them strong as a unit, instead time was been wasted focusing on small, needless characters. I’m sure they’ve got something great panned for the finale but I just don’t think it’s going to be the perfect ending the series we all wanted it to be.