I know we’re only two episodes deep, but this is my favorite season of AHS thus far. Where this show runs into trouble is when it makes characters turn on a dime from good to evil or vice versa, but they haven’t had time to do that yet, and the 1950s freak show provides the perfect palette of light and dark to make visiting it a thrill, rather than a chore.
The body count is already pretty high going into episode two, what with the twins’ mom (kill credit: Bette, assist: Dot), and the kidnapped girl’s boyfriend, and the kidnapped boy’s whole family (kill credits: Twisty), and the cop (kill credit: Jimmy assist: moral righteousness). The problem is, since all these folks were stabbed to death, everyone assumes that the same killer is responsible, which spells POOL trouble for the freak show.
Sure enough, a couple of detectives show up at the field to warn the freaks that they’re under the microscope and the cops promise to come back with a warrant. They also announce a town-wide curfew, ostensibly to protect the citizens of Jupiter, but really to strangle what little business Elsa has left out of existence.
Back in town, an employee of the Jupiter toy store shows up to work to find his boss is missing. In one of the best-choreographed horror scenes of the series, he tiptoes through the store, past a display of stationary clowns.
I AM AFRAID OF YOU ALL EQUALLY.
That old rascal Twisty decapitates both the store’s proprietor and his assistant. I’m sure we all agree that Twisty is the scariest character since the latex-clad sex ghost of season one. (And Bloodyface can pack up his mommy issues and go home.)
Back at the carnival, the freaks are celebrating their imminent arrests/deaths at the hands of an angry mob by getting good and sloshed. When Jimmy sees this, he has a major “Moses frustrated with the Israelites” moment and rages that they will never assimilate if they are a bunch of drunks.
THE DRINKING, FOR SURE, IS THE MAIN THING KEEPING US FROM FITTING IN.
Since he has no commandments to smash, instead he digs up the body of the cop and burns it, but keeps his badge as a memento of his first murder.
I was on the fence about the spoiled little rich boy from last week, but this week we learn two pieces of crucial information about him that make me love him as a villain.
So no, obviously, BUT AT THE SAME TIME: YES.
I’m pretty sure the entire character, vests and all, is a sly inversion of Mister Blaine Anderson. In an phenomenally acted and photographed scene between Dandy and Frances Conroy, they quietly antagonize one another—I pray this season holds on to its deliberate pace and respect of silence—until Dandy announces he can’t stand the boredom of his life anymore and goes off in search of some “REAL caramel corn.”
Back at the carnival, we witness the arrival of two new entertainers: psychopathic strongman Del Toledo, and his wife Desiree. Del says some words, I guess, but the whole time I am like “Why are you talking; Angela Bassett is standing right behind you?”
Desiree is intersex; she refers to herself as an hermaphrodite, but that word has not been reclaimed as thoroughly as freak so I’m not going to use it. Also, with three breasts and two functional sets of genitalia, Desiree is about as accurate a depiction of an intersex person as Dot and Bette are of conjoined twins, but we knew what this show was when we got into it. Del and Desiree had a successful act back in Chicago, but had to flee town when Del killed a gay guy trying to turn himself straight with Desiree. It was all very tawdry.
But for whatever reason, Elsa thinks that maybe a violent criminal like Del would be an asset to the show, so she hires him straightaway.