TV Recap: American Horror Story: Freak Show, ‘Magical Thinking’


Magical Thinking Plot Summary:

Elsa (Jessica Lange) prepares for her move to Hollywood. The Tattler Twins (Sarah Paulson grow enamored with a traveling salesman/magician Chester (Neil Patrick Harris) who is going to buy the show from Elsa. Dell (Michael Chiklis) plots Jimmy’s (Evan Peters) escape from police custody.

American Horror Story: Freak Show promised us some “Magical Thinking” this week – but the episode definitely failed to deliver any sort of magic.

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX

“Magical Thinking” seemed like a filler episode despite the fact it featured the death of yet another major player. Instead of focusing on this death, and the mutilation of another major character, the writers chose to focus on adding more storylines. This seems outrageous since there are only three episodes left in the season.

Unfortunately, as past seasons of American Horror Story have proven, this is only the norm for the show. Ryan Murphy seems to have a fascination with never-ending stories and unanswered questions. This unfortunately works against the concept of the since each season starts a new story, forever leaving the previous season’s unanswered questions, well, unanswered.

This episode does do some good: the stories of the story of Lobster Boy Jimmy (Peters) and villain Stanley (Denis O’Hare) are advanced, and it produces one heck of a performance out of Neil Patrick Harris.

Sadly, it couldn’t save the episode from feeling like a confusing waste of time.

The big fault in this week’s episode, which oddly also happens to be one of the saving graces, is the introduction of the crazy magician Chester. While Harris produces a performance that may be the best thing he has done in a long time, the introduction of his story arc was just plain unnecessary. There was no need for his character outside being there just to make things interesting. This move backfires because it only adds to the massive amount of storylines that are already wreaking havoc on the show.

We get it, Harris and Murphy really wanted to work together, but they should have chosen something else, or at least featured Harris a little more early on in the season instead of waiting three episodes before the show is finished.

Plus this season already has two amazing psychopaths at work — the sneaky Stanley and the Norman Bates wannabe Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock).

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX

The writing seems to fall short on this episode as well. The writing was dry, boring, and predictable, with the only exception coming at the very end of the episode. It was almost as if the writers were just killing time before the finale and focusing on coming up with a way to make Harris’ character relevant to the show, spoiler alert: they didn’t.

Plus the writers completely ignored the insane wonderfulness that is the character Dandy Mott. Usually Dandy is the best character but this week they reduced him to a detective-like role and it was just too boring for words.

Know your strong points American Horror Story, and Dandy is the strongest point of them all this season!

In all fairness though, the advancement of Jimmy and Stanley’s storyline was interesting, a bit predictable, but interesting. It is now known that Stanley is the snake in the grass everyone is watching out for, which will be interesting to see play out in the next few episodes. Plus, Jimmy’s new unfortunate predicament, will also be an exciting one to see play out.

Poor boy just can’t catch a break.

All in all, this episode was completely and utterly lack luster. Nothing special to say or even mention about it, besides the ending, and for American Horror Story that is not a good thing. Hopefully the writing will become a bit more tantalizing as this season comes to an end, and Murphy will figure out a way to close up all those plotlines. Until then, this show is really proving to be more of a circus than a freak show.

Laura Dengrove is the one of youngest members of the Pop-Break staff and is a critic for television/movies of all types on Pop-Break. She’s in her first year at college where she will be studying to obtain her bachelors degree at Rutgers University for Journalism/Public Relations. She was the editor for the Arts and Entertainment section of her school newspaper, runs her own blog (Pop Culture Darling), and interns for Design New Jersey. She also has an in-depth knowledge about all things True Blood and an avid Eric and Sookie shipper.

Hello! My name is Laura Dengrove. I am currently a Junior at Rutgers University, double majoring in Journalism/Media Studies and Cinema Studies. I am a film critic and interviewer by choice, professional Linda Belcher impersonator by birth.