Coming off a week with one of the worst episodes this season, American Horror Story: Freak Show returns with an episode that is one of the seasons best, entitled “Show Stoppers.”
With Elsa (Jessica Lange) having killed off Dell (Michael Chiklis) last week for killing Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge), there was only one person left for her to take vengeance on-Stanley (Denis O’Hare). With a proper and well-deserved tribute to Tod Browning’s 1932 masterpiece Freaks, the Freaks avenge Ma Petite and learn that Elsa isn’t an innocent party in the process.
Dandy (Finn Wittrock) shows up to warn the Tattlers (Sarah Paulson) about Chester (Neil Patrick Harris) and his bloody past, causing them to have second thoughts about being Chester’s assistant in the magic show. This, once again, saves the twins from a violent death. They really are incredibly lucky with their escapes with death. Unfortunately, someone else volunteers for the position and suffers in their place.
Freak Show earns its second reference to Asylum this season with mention of Hans Gruber aka Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) and his Nazi affiliations. We now have another character with associations to Briarcliff and its horrors.
The Freaks attempt to seek vengeance on Elsa for the murder of Ethel (Kathy Bates) only to find that she has not only skipped town, thanks to a tip off, but has sold the Freak Show. The new owner is a death omen and will, perhaps, show the Freaks that Elsa, despite her imperfections, was hardly the worst person to have around.
The first few minutes, and last, of “Show Stoppers” are the homage to Freaks that we have waited for all season. Stanley, in this instance, gets to perform Hercules’s (Henry Victor) famous freak chase in the rain and Cleopatra’s (Olga Baclanova) awful fate, two of the best parts in the entire film. If I hadn’t already loved Ryan Murphy for the creation of this show, I would now for recognizing such an incredible piece of cinematic work.
Last week I had a hard time enjoying Neil Patrick Harris’s addition to the Freak Show. This week, I appreciated the pure insanity of Chester’s character and his contribution to the gore of the episode. His guilt has caused him to create another personality that he can place the blame of his indiscretions on and his relationship to his doll Marjory (Jamie Brewer) makes me think of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates and his schizophrenic relationship with his dead mother. He is Marjory and Marjory is him. Poor Jamie Brewer cannot ever seem to live through an entire season.
Only one episode remains in the season, and with the identity of the new owner of the Freak Show revealed, we can expect one hell of a finale. The past two episodes have been filled with murder and I think we can prepare to see a few more before the credits roll on the Freak Show. I guess we will find out next week.
American Horror Story: Freak Show airs every Wednesday night on FX.
=========================================================================================================Ann Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. She is also the American Correspondent for Lovehorror.co.uk and writer for Geekandstuff.com. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter