American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 13 – TV Review
The good news is that almost everyone dies.
The bad news is that not everyone dies.
TL;DR Dandy kills everyone left at the freak show except Dot, Bette, Jimmy, and Desiree; they kill him in revenge; we jump forward to 1960 and Elsa is an isolated, discontent star; who purposely summons Edward Mordrake to commit suicide; happy endings, suprisingly, abound.
The happiest ending of all is that Freak Show is over.
The episode begins with Dandy not making many friends when he tries to control the freak show. The freaks all quit, so Dandy loads up a gun and goes around and fulfills every viewer’s dream since about the second episode and kills everyone. Desiree manages to get away, Jimmy was still out at the swamp shack, and he kidnaps the Paulsons so he can take them home to marry them. But then Desiree, Jimmy, and the Paulsons unite to murder Dandy. Because justice is fleeting in the land of Ryan Murphy. We then skip forward in time to 1960. Elsa is a hotshot TV star, but is alienated by her success and stardom (and she was always kind of a diva, you know?). A reporter uncovers the film of her getting her legs chopped off and the studio is unable to stop the publication, so Elsa chooses to agree to a Halloween special she had earlier rejected, in the hope of summoning Edward Mordrake to end her life. He does kill her, but he doesn’t take her for his carnival of the damned. Instead, she goes to something like heaven, where she gets to live and perform with all her deceased freak family. Aww. Other epilogues include: Desiree becoming married and having kids with that boyfriend of hers; and Jimmy and Dot getting married and pregnant.
Sarah Paulson wins again.
While I certainly appreciate Dandy’s minor character slaughter spree, this episode, again, is emblematic of the problem this entire season (particularly post-Twisty) has faced: it’s not scary, and it’s not horror.
This isn’t American Horror Story. This is American Soap Opera With Circus Freaks In The Main Cast And Too Many Dutch Angles Story.
Why I hate this episode:
There’s nothing scary about a well-dressed man going around in broad daylight and one-shotting a bunch of underdeveloped, minor characters. The whole sequence was especially devoid of tension for me, because I didn’t give a shit about any of them. Good riddance to all of you. If only he’d caught Desiree, too.
Our trio (quartet?) of survivors try to make a point about how poetic their revenge against Dandy (making him the “star” of a show by putting him inside the water tank escape box without the key and letting him drown) is. But, like, it’s not? Dandy wasn’t an illusionist. He was a singer. And I don’t think it counts as you making him the star of a show if you only do it in front of the three (four?) people who are in on the revenge. Weak.
Also, did Dandy seriously not consider that he would encounter problems by just waltzing back to his house to live and be married? He knows that he didn’t get Desiree, at the very least. For a psychopath, he didn’t think too calculatedly about this whole thing.
While they’re taunting him in the tank, Desiree makes a point about how Dandy is the biggest freak of all. Um, no. He’s just your garden variety murderous psychopath. And not even a very good one.
Jimmy also picks up worst line of the episode in this scene when he gets a little too carried away with his soap-boxing: “The freaks shall inherit the Earth.” Oh, honey, stop.
The Elsa epilogue is very clichéd. “Boo hoo hoo being super successful and rich and famous is really just super hard and sad wah wah wah.” And did she really think nobody would ever find out about the freak show? I can understand her surprise at the torture video surfacing, but Elsa doesn’t know all the freaks are dead. Surely she might have predicted her past with the freak show would find its way back to her.
Elsa marries a junior vice president of casting at the network, which it is implied is how she got her show. We get a brief glimpse of him as an S&M sub (with Elsa as his dom. Duh), which is just thrown in there for no reason at all.
Doctor Danny Huston pops up in the epilogue just long enough to abandon Elsa again because he’s got terminal lung cancer and only has one month to live. Thanks for stopping by?
Elsa’s husband and the network head are outrageously uncompassionate towards Elsa regarding the torture video (which they’ve both just watched). Holy shit, I know this woman treats you like garbage, but you just watched footage of her legs getting chainsawed off while she was conscious. Fuck you guys. Goddamn, what’s wrong with you?
Desiree, Jimmy, Dot, and Bette all disregard Elsa during the epilogue. Fuck you guys, too.
We don’t find out what happened to Stanley.
Oh, and Esmerelda doesn’t get to be part of the dead freak show in heaven. Rude.
But it’s not all bad:
The mostly happy ending could be the greatest and most welcome twist of all. Especially when compared to the dark, cruel endings of seasons 1 and 2, and the bullshit ass-pull ending of season 3. Elsa gets to go to heaven, where all the dead freaks are; Desiree gets her husband and children like she’d always wanted; and Jimmy and the Paulsons end up in wedded bliss.
I was waiting for Elsa’s heaven scenario to turn out to be awful, but it doesn’t. Even Elsa herself is skeptical that she won’t need to pay for all the bad decisions she made.
The saving grace of the episode is Dandy’s kill spree. He murders T-Rex, Grace, French midget, torso lady, fat lady, Eve, and a bunch of random extras. He comes close to closing the deal with Desiree, but Eve interrupts him and beats his ass for a little bit, giving Desiree enough time to switch hiding places. Disappointing, but Dandy put in a good effort.
Jimmy’s anguish at finding the dead bodies all staged inside the main tent made it even more delicious.
Dandy gets best line of the episode when berating the freaks for not pulling in the ticket sales he expected: “The town has had their fill of your mediocre oddities.” And by “the town,” he means “the audience of this show.”
Dandy only marries Bette, not Dot. Burn.
Likewise, Jimmy appears to only be romantically involved with Dot in the epilogue. Burn.
Elsa gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Oh, and Elsa sings David Bowie’s Heroes to open her Halloween special. It’s actually quite good, and it’s also that song from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so I can dig it.