“American Horror Story: Freak Show” recap (4.1): Rock Lobster


Ladies and Gentlemen and Ladies, Boys and Girls of all ages, welcome to The Greatest Show On Earth American Horror Story: Freak Show. This is my third season of recapping AHS, and I keep expecting someone to notice that I’m not really a horror movie fan or expert, but no one has, so let’s continue in the tradition of this show and I meeting, disagreeing, and then parting more (in the case of last season) or less (in the case of Asylum) amicably.

The best thing AHS has given us is a wide cultural appreciation of Sarah Paulson’s singular talents, so it bodes well that this episode opens with her voiceover. In a southern accent as bleak as Eudora Welty’s prose, she marches grimly towards a circus tent and announces her EXTREME DISPLEASURE to be doing so. She compares the experience to entering the gates of hell, so one gets the since that she is not in full control of her actions.

We then flash back to a farmhouse where a milkman shows up and discovers the corpse of an elderly woman, her throat slashed viciously. Rather than running for help or the assistance of the authorities, the milkman takes it upon himself to creep through the house, brandishing a rolling pin as a weapon.


I wish the best for everyone in life, generally. I don’t want people to experience more hardship except to the degree that it will make them stronger, more confident individuals. I certainly don’t want anyone to be axe-murdered. But when you enter a murder house all by yourself and start poking around, I wash my hands of your fate. So in a way, it’s kind of disappointing that this milkman does not end up dead, since he so richly deserves it. Instead, he discovers the first of our freaks (I feel like the word “freak” has been reclaimed enough by its former victims and by the stars of this season that I can say it freely, but if you feel differently, please let me know.)

Cut to the hospital where the aforementioned freak is being held. A red-lipped candy-striper talks about how if she gave birth to such a monstrosity, she would drown it in the bathtub, so that’s lovely. And then, of course, enter Jessica Lange. Now, I have said from my very first AHS recap, that Jessica Lange is the greatest actress of her generation, but I’m beginning to think she is wasted on this show. They always cast her as this faded grande dame, desperately using the last of her sex appeal, which is an insult not only to her range but her sex appeal. However, it’s still a delight to her hear her assure the candy striper in a happy German accent that Lucky Stripe cigarettes are “good for you.”


And then, I guess, she steals the candy-striper’s (who I believe is one of Meryl Streep’s girls) clothes and enters the room where Sarah Paulson(s) are sleeping.


Then we have the title sequences—which I find less creepy than usual; stop motion just isn’t a very frightening medium—and return back to the hospital and the conjoined twins. (Obviously, this is not an accurate depiction of conjoined twins, but if that offends you, you’re going to have a very long season of it.)

The girl on the left, who was our grim narrator at the beginning, is Dot, and she is the more serious of the two. Bette, her twin, has a massive crush on Betty Grable and showbiz in general. Jessica Lange immediately asks the question on every pervert’s mind: sex. Bette confirms that they are virgins, but when she pleasures herself, Dot pretends not to notice. So that’s kind of gross, but I guess inevitable. Gosh, imagine if you were straight and your conjoined twin were gay. Your parts would be so confused all the time.

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