As so many episodes of American Horror Story Freak Show have begun this season, episode 9 (Tupperware Party Massacre) begins with Dandy (Finn Wittrock). This time, he’s sitting with Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts) for a psychic reading. She’s apparently the real deal because she “sees” Dandy’s murder of an Avon Lady to produce a 2-headed “mom puppet”. “Mom is Dot. The Avon Lady is Bette.” This vision doesn’t shake her though, and she gratefully offers her continuing services after Dandy gives her “100 thank yous” ($100 bill).
Dandy is pretty much the uniting thread of the episode, which could use one since it is more scattered than usual. Whereas last week was uneven dealing with only a couple of subplots, this week was uneven dealing with almost too many. First, he visits the freak show to antagonize a drunken Jimmy (Evan Peters), who is still distraught over his mother’s apparent suicide. Dandy accuses Jimmy of taking the twins away from him. “I’m your god, Jimmy, and I’ve decided you need to suffer.” This seems slightly out of place, almost like a throwaway; however, it pays off big time at the end of the episode.
Yeah, Dandy’s ego is growing larger and more dangerous than ever before. Following the titular massacre at a Tupperware party, Dandy confesses his sins to Regina (Gabourey Sidobe). “I killed your mother and discovered the power of bathing in blood. I’m living my destiny; I’m finally happy! I am a god, a god who has chosen to walk among men.” Even though he has no intention to kill his childhood friend, he is disappointed in Regina and tells her, “I thought you were my family, but you’re just a hideous, predictable whore.”
Further, he tells her, “I’m above the law. I am beyond the law. I am the law.” This statement makes it interesting when Regina later brings the actual police to him. Still, Dandy boasts of his achievements, “What she didn’t tell you is my absolute certainty that I’m going to get away with it. I can think of nothing that can stop me.” Fueled by his family fortune, he offers to pay the officer $1 million to kill Regina. I won’t spoil what happens, but it’s fast, funny, and lies perfectly within the tone of not only this season, but American Horror Story in general.
On the Tattler Twins (Sarah Paulsen) front, I was apparently not the only one who wondered where the heck they were in the last episode. None of the other characters seem to know, either; hence, Dandy blaming Jimmy for their disappearance. In flashbacks, we see that Stanley (Denis O’Hare) and Elsa (Jessican Lange) have whisked them away to a barn to await “Dr. Sugar,” who is promised to perform the surgery that will separate them. During the time they’re left alone with each other, they have many deep conversations about their relationship and a turning point is reached.
While Dot first declares her desire for freedom and a chance at love, and Bette swears she won’t do it (“It’s barbaric!”), they ultimately admit that Bette couldn’t survive without Dot. Fitting her character, it is Bette who gives in, saying, “I would rather one of us truly live than wither away together. If I had to make a choice, I want to give my life to you, sister.” This in turn causes Dot to reverse her decision. “We’re a family and we belong together. I know that now.”
Not only that, they appear in Jimmy’s trailer to declare Dot’s undying love for him. “You never have to be alone again.” She says that she has loved him since she first laid eyes on him. “You’re like us, different but special.” When he asks how Bette feels about this, she replies, “I support Dot and Dot wants you.” Dot and Jimmy kiss, but when Bette joins in, Jimmy is freaked. “I care about you, both of you, but I can’t. The truth is I’m in love with someone else.” Yeah, but the truth is that Maggie probably is a little miffed at him since she earlier caught him pounding the fat lady.
Also uniting the story this week is Stanley, as he weaves in and out of various subplots, albeit sometimes via flashbacks. Del (Michael Chiklis) is driven to hang himself after an encounter with Stanley. This isn’t the first time Stanley has emotionally blackmailed him over his sexual preference. “It’s fun to have secrets, isn’t it Del?” And it isn’t the first time we’re led to believe that Stanley has some kind of monster penis. “You’re a freak,” Del gasps when he is exposed to it. I don’t suppose we’ll ever see it, which is probably a good thing, but Stanley enjoys playing with it in front of Del.
That would probably drive me to suicide, as well. If you’re missing any characters who have been previously killed this season, this episode is a good time to recognize that in a show like this, even the dead can return to play their parts. Both Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) and Ethel (Kathy Bates) appear as visions to the desperate Del, and as a means for his true feelings to be expressed. “I can’t take the shame of it anymore… being what I am.” “A freak?” Ethel asks. “As it turns out, yeah,” he replies. But she reminds him that he’s different because he carries his shame inside.
With many TV shows now advertising their “winter finales” and not returning until mid-January (or later), plus FX constantly advertising the return of Justified and The Americans early next year, I assumed American Horror story was going to wrap up before the holidays. However, it seems that after next week’s episode, it is going to return in January for its final three. As much as I have enjoyed this season, it’s beginning to wear a little thin and I kind of wish it was ending next week.
I can’t fault the strength of its characters this season. I mean, they started out strong and have not wavered. But we’re not seeing much change with them now and we know very well how they will act (and react). This means that the series relies on the events that happen to them. And these are becoming too drawn out. For example, we’ve known from day one that Elsa is starved for attention and dangerously jealous of anyone who takes it from her. But when is she ultimately going to do anything about it? It feels like failed plot after failed plot has come and gone. Or, if feels like the same failed plot has come and gone.
How many weeks will Elsa she scheme about getting rid of the Tattler Twins, yet not actually do it? Some storylines move faster than others and are more satisfying, but others seem to offer no end in sight. It’s all wearing me down. While I love the characters and still believe Freak Show is my favorite season, I want them to do more. On the other hand, the Dandy subplot has progressed each week. Even the demise of Twisty the Clown, while sad, played a major part in Dandy’s story. His is the only one with such a strong trajectory; however, even it feels like it’s becoming watered-down by all the others.