I keep waiting for AHS: Freak Show to start sucking so I can go back to my comfort zone of haranguing it, but once again it has let me down by refusing to let me down. What’s more, the season is still teasing out major character deaths, so every time they introduce a perilous situation it’s more nerve-wracking than the last, since you know the bodies are going to start piling up soon.
When last we left the Cabinet of Curiosities, Elsa had surrendered Bette and Dot to the tender mercies of Dandy and Mother Mott. Elsa still bought into Stanley’s con about the Elsa Mars Variety Hour because she hadn’t gotten the memo that women over forty don’t work in Hollywood (or if they do it’s on Ryan Murphy shows and they should be goddamn grateful for the privilege). Stanley, meanwhile, grew ever more anxious to capture and pickle a freak, presumably since he had worn out all the male hookers in Jupiter with his massive schlong. Lastly, a bunch of sexuality and gender stuff happened with Del and Desiree, but they aren’t in this episode so we’ll worry about that later.
This week’s madness kicks off with Elsa puling an old knife-throwing wheel out of retirement to reincorporate it into her act. While heretofore-unseen roadies drag it to the big top, Elsa gives us one of the best and most inscrutable voice-overs I have ever heard.
TIME IS A FLAT CIRCLE.
The only way to keep from being at the mercy of chance is to sacrifice everyone you love, Elsa explains. I don’t know if this philosophical bent is the result of too much opium or just a side effect of coming from the land of Kant and Kierkegaard, but I am DIGGING IT. Ethel comes in to relay everyone’s worry about the missing twins, who Elsa has been saying ran off in the middle of dress shopping. While everyone seems to be buying this story, Elsa is still worried it might dampen the mood of her birthday week.
Over at Mott Manor, Mother gives Dandy a bowlful of condoms, since killing repressed minorities is the vice of many a respectable family, but impregnating conjoined twins would surely get them kicked out of the country club. Dandy objects that he is in love with Bette and Dot (his ability to differentiate between them leaves much to be desired). He announces his plan to marry the twins, to which his mother reacts in much the same manner as if he professed his passion for the family dog.
Back at the freak show, the performers line up to give Elsa presents while she sits on a throne like Helen of Fucking Troy. Paul gives her some lingerie, and she gives him A Meaningful Look. Eve gives her a box with The World’s Smallest Woman inside (whose name, apparently, is just Mon Petit).
And y’all, I haven’t talked about Mon Petit before, because I feel like it has to be politically incorrect for me to find her adorable. But I do. I loved it when she popped out of that pumpkin and I love it when she pops out of this box. Lead me away in handcuffs; I deserve it.
After the party, Paul and Elsa engage in some birthday sex, which is apparently an ongoing arrangement for them, even though Elsa makes it very clear she is just using him and would happily pass him off as her chauffeur. Paul tries really hard not to be offended by this, and gets dressed to sneak out of Elsa’s tent. Before he goes, Elsa has him place Mon Petit in her arms like a teddy bear. It’s a quiet moment, and it serves no other purpose than to show the way Elsa can’t see people beyond her uses for them, but it gave me some of the biggest creeps of the episode.
When Paul leaves Elsa’s arms, he goes straight to Grace Gummer’s house, which comes as a surprise since I had nearly forgotten about her drug-fueled orgy back in episode one. But apparently it gave her a taste for earthly delights, and since then, she and Paul have been getting it on on the sly.
GUMMER ON THE STREETS, STREEP IN THE SHEETS.
But Paul has really fallen in love with this candy-striper and asks her to run away with him, which, next to being a lesbian of color, is the surest way to get yourself killed on television. Grace’s dad suspects she is living in sin and is none too pleased about it, but Grace stands by her man.