“American Horror Story: Freak Show” recap (4.12): The Little Wooden Boy

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I always imagine the AHS writers’ room at finale time like a college dorm room at finals. Like, everyone is stoned and smelly and obsessing over that one true thing that they were trying to say when they started out. They swear they had a good point about homophobia or self-acceptance in there somewhere.Then somebody shouts “HEY, THIS IS ALL DUE IN THREE HOURS” so they just give up and type “and then they all die gruesome deaths. The end.” That seems to be where we’re headed again this season, with characters frantically dispatched in increasingly brutal and improbable ways.

For those of you keeping score at home, Jimmy has been de-clawed, the twins have fallen hard for Chester, the soft-spoken magician with the bloodthirsty marionette, and Esmeralda (now Maggie) has come clean about Stanley’s schemes. As you’ll recall, Elsa already killed Del as revenge for Ma Petite, but the man behind the mason jars has yet to pay.

Which brings us to the present moment: Elsa’s going-away party. All the freaks toast her health and future success in Hollywood, until Elsa suggests a screening of the horror classic, Freaks.

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Stanley: Never heard of that one. What’s it about?

Elsa: It’s about a group of charming carnies who are tricked by a duplicitous interloper.

Stanley: Oh. Um. What happens to the interloper?

Amazon Eve: The carnies stab her and shoot her, kind of like exactly what we’re about to do to you.

Stanley: So you’re just literally copy-catting this earlier work.

Elsa: SILENCE. IT’S NOT COPY-CATTING IF YOU REFERENCE IT YOURSELF. IT’S HOMAGE.

And then they give him a jar with the Morbidity Museum lady’s head in it.

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Stanley takes it as his cue to skedaddle, but the freaks surround him and grimly approach with various stabbing implements. I love the inversion here, with the mob of freaks as the heroes and the cowering “normal” man the villain getting his well-deserved comeuppance. Before justice can be doled out, though, Stanley shouts that it was Elsa who killed Ethel. This doesn’t distract the freaks from their vengeance, but they collectively file it away under “discuss later when drunk.”

The next day, Elsa visits Jimmy in one of the many abandoned barns that dot the Florida landscape. Jimmy is upset about everything, but especially.

1. His dad just got murdered (handily forgetting that his dad was an abusive, murderous bastard roughly 70% of the time).

2. Now that he knows the truth about Maggie’s involvement with Stanley, their love affair is over (ignoring the fact that Maggie still loves him, forgives him about Ima, and saved a lot of lives by outing Stanley).

3. He has no hands. (I’ll give him that one.  That is a legitimate cause for upset feelings.)

Elsa promises that help is on the way, in the form of her own personal Gepetto, the Italian carpenter who crafted her shapely balsa-wood gams. As promised, he shows up, and I am glad to see him because I love Danny Huston. He and Elsa go into this whole tearful dialogue about how they loved each other so much but they couldn’t be together because Gepetto went and got himself tortured by the same sadistic Nazi who took Elsa’s legs. It’s only interesting because the doctor in question is the very same doctor from Asylum who was so enamored with Lily Rabe. With that and the Pepper tie-in, it’s looking more and more like Freak Show is making a concerted effort to connect the dots of its seasons. My big hope is that all the acting overlaps reveal different sides to the same souls (not for nothing does the otherwise-gentle Mossimo wield an axe, like his Coven alter-ego). Maybe we’ll even get to see the murder house next week when Elsa goes to Hollywood.

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