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TV Review: American Horror Story: Freakshow 4.2 “Massacres and Matinees”
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American Horror Story: Freakshow
Season 4 Episode 2: “Massacres and Matinees”
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
Starring Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Michael Chiklis, Denis O’Hare, Emma Roberts, and Finn Wittrock
FX
Air Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 10pm

From the nightmare house, to the Asylum to a witch’s coven, you never know what you’re going to get on FX’s American Horror Story. Season 4 welcomed us to Jupiter Florida circa early 1950s introducing us to Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange), who has just found the new headliner (or should we say double headliner) for her Freakshow. Sarah Paulson plays Siamese sisters Dot and Bette Tattler, Bette longing to be a star while Dot longing to be left alone. Among the other strange and interesting characters we meet are Ethel, the Bearded Lady (Kathy Bates), and Jimmy “Lobster Boy” Darling (Evan Peters).

There will be spoilers below, so proceed with caution!

We found out early in last week’s premiere that the Siamese sisters accept sanctuary in the freakshow after murdering their mother. When a cop comes to investigate, he utters one too many insults and Jimmy cuts his throat. The freaks help dispose of the body. As the titled characters of Tom Browning’s classic Freaks would say, they were protecting “one of us.” Oh, and I did I mention Twisty the Clown!

Episode 2, “Massacres and Matinees,” introduces us to new “acts” as well as the struggles of the freaks to prove their normalcy. We also delve deeper into the abyss of insanity that is Dandy Mott (Finn Whitrock), the privileged and unhinged son of Gloria Mott (Frances Conroy). Dandy manages to do something I thought impossible after episode 1, and that’s be even more creepy and terrifying than Twisty the psychotic serial killer clown that is causing Jupiter to enact a curfew.

Driving in to join the show are married couple, Dell “Strongman” Toledo (the always great Michael Chiklis) and Desiree (Oscar nominee Angela Bassett). I’ll leave her part of the act a surprise, but let’s just say it makes Dell “the happiest man on Earth.” Dell’s strongman persona is perfect in a town with a killer on the loose, but doesn’t mix well with Elsa’s other performers.

Identity is big theme on American Horror Story this year, as the characters struggle with feeling ostracized by society, and by their own kind. The show manages to get the audience to empathize with the freaks even though we know many of them are murderers and criminals. The irony of Jimmy’s speech at the beginning is fantastic. Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk do a phenomenal job juxtaposing interesting and obviously flawed (physically and emotionally) characters with characters that are so outlandishly evil and freaky. Twisty the Clown and Dandy Mott keep the hairs on the back your neck tingling while the melancholy lives and familial bonds of the carny folk feed your emotional involvement. It helps makes American Horror Story can’t miss television.

American Horror Story: Freakshow is on the FX network, Wednesday nights at 10.

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