RECAP: American Horror Story: Freak Show

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Neil Patrick Harris should be in every season of American Horror Story. He makes even a rote stereotype delightful. 

A new arrival rolls into the freakshow: Chester (NPH). He’s a traveling salesman whose true passion is magic and ventriloquism. Okay, actually, his true passion is being criminally insane, but we’ll get there. Chester charms the freaks and wants a spot in the show. Elsa declines, but when she sees his ledger, she is impressed with his bookkeeping skills. She offers him a spot warming up the audience if he helps with the camp’s books. Chester is thrilled.

He asks the twins to be his lovely assistants not because they are freaks, but because they are beautiful. Dot and Bette have really come into their own since their near-separation. They burn their diaries, decide against keeping secrets, and are very happy in general. They’ve even decided they want to have sex—hey just haven’t found the one, until Chester rolls into town. He is flirty with them, but like everyone in this carnival, he is severely screwed up.

Chester was in the war, stationed in Normandy. He was injured and ended up with a metal plate in his head. While he was gone, his wife Lucy became close—very close—with another soldier’s wife, Alice. Chester was more or less okay with this new arrangement because he was in love with his ventriloquist dummy, Marjorie. He and Marjorie would watch Alice and Lucy have sex. Lucy invited him into bed with them, but only if he doesn’t touch or make eye contact with Alice. He panics at the thought of leaving his dear Marjorie in favor of two live women. We eventually learn (by way of a private eye, hired by Dandy, who is jealous that the twins have found a new love) that Chester slaughtered Alice and Lucy and has been on the run ever since. Chester, of course, claims that Marjorie was the killer.

Marjorie talks to Chester—not uncommon when it comes to ventriloquism in film—and is awfully jealous. When Dot and Bette announce that they want Chester to deflower them, he’s both excited and terrified. He finally relaxes when he puts Marjorie on his hand. Afterward, Marjorie is angry with Chester for having sex with the twins, even though he tells her, over and over, that they invited him to join them. At first, when other performers hear Chester and Marjorie arguing, he shrugs it off as rehearsal. As the episode continues however, Chester becomes more and more unhinged. He and Marjorie have a fight about her being placed in her box, and when Chester returns for her, she’s gone. He panics, having both lost his “wife” and for fear that she will “tell” what he did. At this point, he doesn’t care if he sounds crazy to the freaks; he just wants Marjorie back. He finds a friendly face in Dandy, who is hanging out on the carousel. Dandy won’t turn Marjorie in; she is waiting for Chester in the big tent. Chester finds her there, in human form, and she wants the twins sawed in half for real.

Meanwhile, Jimmy doesn’t like Stanley’s idea of cutting off his hand to pay for an attorney, until Stanley throws Meep in his face. He agrees and takes some ipecac to make him sick enough to be transferred to the hospital. When Jimmy wakes, he discovers that not one, but both hands have been taken. Dell visits him and the two have a lovely father/son moment. Dell reveals that he is the black sheep in his family: his father and brothers all had claws, and he was mocked because he didn’t. “Imagine that,” Jimmy muses. “Being a freak for being normal.” Jimmy and Dell discuss buying the freakshow from Elsa when she heads off to Hollywood. (Unbeknownst to Jimmy, the other freaks had tried to pool their money and buy the carnival from Elsa, but she already sold it for $1,000, to Chester. At least Chester promises not to change the acts or fire anyone.)

Eve agrees to help Dell break Jimmy out of jail. When he’s being transferred back to jail from the hospital, Eve throws a rock through the windshield of the prison transfer truck. The officers get out, and Dell jumps out from the woods and beats them both to death. They unchain Jimmy and run. The cops later show up at the carnival, believing Jimmy to have killed the cops (despite the fact that he now has no hands) and tear the place up looking for him.

Dell has gone back to his trailer and finds Desiree waiting for him..with a gun. He is thrilled. He wants to talk, reconcile. Desiree is done talking. She just wants to hear Dell admit to killing people. “It was no one who didn’t deserve it,” he claims, and admits to killing the two cops. But that’s not who Desiree means. She wants to hear it, and finally Dell admits that he smothered Ma Petite to death. A bullet goes through his forehead, but it’s not from Desiree. Elsa is standing right behind him. That was all she needed to hear.

Man, these freaks are dropping like flies.

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Weekend: Mar. 28, 2019, Mar. 31, 2019

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