"American Horror Story: Freak Show" won't be back on until after Thanksgiving, but tonight's episode didn't feel very filling. Dandy's angry cry-face is pretty representative of the whole episode; there's lots of pouting and near-tantrums and Frances Conroy just needs to come in and regulate the whole damn mess.
Let's just get started, shall we?
That's Just Dandy
Dandy (Finn Wittrock) and Mrs. Mott (Frances Conroy) don't have a whole lot of screen time this week, which is fine because they're best in small doses. Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) shows up to collect the Tattler twins (Sarah Paulson), who have been dressed up like Alice in Wonderland. When Dandy reveals that he read Dot's diary and that she secretly wants to get surgically separated from Bette, it's not too hard for Jimmy to convince them both to leave Dandy and his fancy caviar behind. Jimmy also gets a big clue about the identity of the other creepy clown spotted at that gruesome Halloween scene - you know, the one who wasn't Twisty?
This week's musical interlude was courtesy of Jimmy Darling, who performed "Come As You Are" by Nirvana. It was definitely no Elsa Mars/Lana Del Rey mash-up, but honestly, what is? The point is that Jimmy's frustration and anger is reaching a critical mass, and he's primed to blow. The question is whether he'll explode with violence like his father Dell (Michael Chiklis) or turn it on himself. As Jimmy sings, we see Elsa watching from the audience, Penny (Grace Gummer) tending to Paul (Mat Fraser), and other scenes from the sideshow. It's not particularly subtle, but it's effective. Bonus: Paul is still alive!
Speaking of Dell and bad daddies, he's in for a rude awakening when he runs into Stanley (Denis O'Hare) at the gentleman's club a few towns over. Naturally, Stanley uses this to his advantage and blackmails the strong man to murder one of the other freaks and cover it up. For some reason or another, Dell decides that his best bet is Amazon Eve. That was not a good decision for many reasons, mainly that Eve kicks his butt. Once Desiree (Angela Bassett) and Ethel (Kathy Bates) find out he tried to mess with Eve, they flip out. Ethel wants revenge. She's sick, she's tired, she's dying, and most of all, she's disillusioned. Remember how Dell threatened the nice doctor who treated Desiree and Ethel? When they go back to see him, with Ethel visibly weakened and ill, they discover his daughter cleaning out his office. According to her, the doc broke all of his own fingers and then killed himself - Dell's handiwork, no doubt. (Uh, no pun intended.) After a little speech to Jimmy about the dangers of optimism, Ethel is raring to go, but Jimmy says he'll take care of Dell.
Jimmy and Dell end up drinking and having a manly heart-to-heart talk that ends with Jimmy barfing his guts up in the alley and confronting Dell about being his dad. Naturally, Dell's just about to beat him in the head with a brick and sell his corpse to Stanley, but somehow this ends in a chummy father-son bonding moment. Which is all well and good for them, but it's definitely not good when they return to the sideshow, still drunk and belligerent; it's especially bad when Jimmy sasses Elsa and Desiree and Dell encourages him because the first lesson of being a Toledo is that you can't let any broads boss you around, son! That's the heart of "the Toledo code," apparently. In an interesting development, Dell feels bad about murdering one of the performers for Stanley to sell to the museum, so that's a little bit of emotional progress or something.
Dell's got some competition in the deficient daddy department. When Penny (Grace Gummer) returns home for her stuff, her dad is sitting in the living room waiting for her. After some sassing back and forth and talk about shame and family honor and so on, he introduces his mysterious friend to give her a going-away present; a heavily tattooed fellow appears from the shadows, and when we see Penny later, she's waking up from a drugged stupor with a fully tattooed face and forked tongue. Because that totally makes sense that Penny's dad would have a random friend who's heavily tattooed himself and is handy with the old tattoo gun and scalpel. (Her facial tattoos resemble the designs on the world famous Lizardman, aka Erik Sprague, except her tattoos look dismal.) Naturally, when Paul sees her, he blames himself.
Dot and Bette are getting in on the blackmailing action. Dot saves Elsa's hide by lying about why and how they left, then Bette makes a whole list of demands. She wants to be a comedian. She wants to be blonde. She wants more money. Dot one-ups her with the cash demand, but Elsa knows that Dot really, really wants to be split up from her sister, so they begin exchanging secret letters haggling over the terms of their deal. These are some particularly odd scenes; one half is the person reading the letter, totally normal, and the other half is a face-forward shot of the person who wrote the letter, in stark black and white, reading their own words aloud. It's like a "Saturday Night Live" parody of Bergman. Does it mean anything? Probably not.
1. Andy (Matt Bomer) hasn't been back to the bar, so it's safe to assume he's dead. Or maybe he's still hanging out in pieces back in Twisty's rusty van of death, lingering on the cusp of death and waiting for Dandy to come back and finish the job. Who's to say?
2. Paul didn't get his face tattooed on purpose because it was, he felt, the only handsome thing he had to offer; will Penny's new accoutrements change their dynamic or his romantic interest in her? The tattoo is a way to make her an outsider in her father's world, but she's also different from the other performers in that she's essentially a "self-made freak." Will she be accepted or will this cause drama? The preview of the next episode, on December 3, gives us a hint or two.
3. What's going to happen when Dell finds out about Jimmy's dalliance with Desiree?
4. Ma Petite, you were too beautiful for this world. Adieu.