Wednesday night American Horror Story premiered its new season, Freak Show. When I read the episode title, “Monsters Among Us,” I imagined through some weird twisted metaphors, we would be led down a path depicting the average citizen more monstrous then our beloved freaks. (Yes I will be referring to the main group as freaks.) However, throughout the episode we witnessed many monstrous acts committed by those characters, not the least of which was the brutal stabbing of a lawman trying to arrest a guilty party. After AHS: Coven’s campy witchfest the creators assured a return to darker horror in this new season, and with the premiere of AHS: Freak Show, they delivered as promised.
Speaking of titles, I don’t think it would have been wrongly named American SEX Story as in this episode we were treated to a masturbation conversation, a couple coupling in the park, Elsa seducing her landlord and the shocking Cabinet of Curiosities. All of this within the first 20 minutes. I suppose sex and horror have gone hand-and-hand ever since the Psycho shower scene. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation.
The show opened with a murder on a farmhouse, one we were led to discover was committed by Bette Tattler, one half of the twins portrayed by Sarah Paulson. The conjoined twins couldn’t be any more each other’s opposite. Bette is easily driven by her emotions while Dot is calculated and mistrustful. Sarah Paulson brings them to life with absolute believability; it’s the special effects I’m not sure of. I caught them slipping once or twice and it’s something I’ll no doubt be watching for. As for their physical deformity, I’m not sure why the milkman was screaming or the nurse was throwing up. The sisters look completely normal, they’re just attached. I guess in 1952 they weren’t as desensitized as we are now.
When the Tattler twins got admitted to the hospital we were introduced to Fräulein Elsa. Jessica Lange is her usual posh self and slips right into the role of Elsa Mars like a glove. Elsa’s ability to manipulate and control her fellow freaks is evident in various forms, from conversations with the twins to her cruel taunting of Jimmy at the diner. When she stiffs the waitress for the bill, it’s clear early on she’s high on herself. Aside from her ambition, we don’t really learn much about her personally until the reveal at the end of the episode. I’m sure we will get a flashback explaining her leg loss and as a history buff, I hope it’s somehow related to the Second World War. While she fully admitted to Ethel about the selfish nature of bringing the sisters in, I’m still undecided whether or not Elsa cares for her Freaks or her own success more.
Jimmy on the other hand loudly exclaims to his mother that he wants out of the freak show lifestyle, yet it is his motivating speech in the episode’s climax that rallies the freaks together in an act of savage self-preservation. For that actual freak show itself, a spoiled brat (named Dandy) and his mother were the only ones in attendance. Intrigued by Bette and Dot he attempted to outright purchase them for $15,000. The sisters chose to stay with the show, in what seems to be their first unified decision we’ve seen. I heavily suspect Jimmy is to thank for Dot’s opinion on the matter, as the two of them exchanged glances more than once.
So far, my favorite part of the new season would absolutely have to be Twisty the Clown. From his initial attack on the young couple to his middle of the night kidnapping, Twisty had my attention every second he was on screen. While on his murderous rampage he also took a couple hostage, keeping them captive in an old school bus. Why is Twisty keeping these people alive? Is he trying to make himself a family?
Any onscreen murderous clown is naturally going to evoke comparisons to Tim Curry’s brilliant portrayal of Pennywise from It. However I was pleased to see a whole different direction taken with Twisty. John Carroll Lynch brings a mesmerizing yet terrifying performance to the role, one that draws you in with suspicious curiosity and then smacks you over the head with instant brutality, all without speaking a word. During his close-ups, I kept thinking he was going to say something but when he didn’t, I became even more interested in him. It reminds me of not showing the shark in Jaws. Something is going on behind that mask and the longer Twisty stays silent and his motives hidden, the creepier he will be.
I’ve been a fan of the show since the first season, Murder House and at times I find myself distracted by trying to find my favorite actors in their new roles. That being said I wouldn’t change anyone in this superb cast. Overall, AHS: “Monsters Among Us” did a good job introducing us to the characters we’ve become familiar with in the vast media campaign leading up to the season. I can’t wait to learn more about each of them individually and bring depth to this new world we’ve been introduced too.
Do you think Twisty’s murders will bring consequences to the Freaks? Have any theories about Elsa’s past? Sound off below in the comments section!
- That guy that eats things, Meek the Geek is just disturbing.
- Yup, that is Pepper from American Horror Story: Asylum
- Liking Kathy Bates as Ethel “the bearded woman.” But let’s be honest; if Kathy Bates was reading from the dictionary I’d be glued to the screen. I’m hoping she gets more to do, fast!
- I loved Bette screaming about seeing Singing in the Rain in “Glorious Technicolor” whilst in a sepia-tinged flashback
- A couple of rookie mistakes by Bette & Dot. I can forgive not moving the body, but all they had to do was collect the milk off the porch!
- The performers get really upset when outsiders refer to them as freaks or monsters, words they happily throw around to describe themselves.
American Horror Story: Freak Show airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX and FX Canada. Catch next week’s preview now: