Here we are at the end. The bloody, bloody end. Will anyone survive American Horror Story: Freak Show? Read on.
Dandy, the new owner of the freak show, has refocused it with himself as the star. The first thing we see is the remaining freaks hanging a banner that advertises Dandy singing Cole Porter. The freaks all hate Dandy and want to leave, but Paul The Illustrated Seal says they should stick with the show because Dandy has money and, anyway, there are no other freak shows to go to.
Dandy is setting up the lighting for his act in the main tent when the freaks return. He asks how many tickets they’ve sold and Paul tells him honestly, none. Dandy is never really, truly nice, but he gets abusive at this news and starts blaming the freaks. He says the problem is the townspeople are bored of them, “the thrill is gone,” and suggests gluing some horns to Penny the Lizard Girl’s head to make things more interesting.
Amazon Eve clocks him mid-rant, knocking him on his back.
Paul stands over Dandy and takes back what he said about sticking with the show. He says he’d “rather starve” than listen to Dandy’s voice.
He tells Dandy his singing is rubbish and, worse, “boring.”
“We don’t trade in boring, we’re freaks,” Pauls says, adding, “You will never be one of us and you don’t own us.”
He spits in Dandy’s face and tells him “we quit.” The freaks walk away, leaving Dandy lying in the sawdust.
For at least a week Elsa has been waiting in the lobby at the offices of the World Broadcasting Network in L.A. to see its president, Henry V. Gable. She has no appointment, so of course this isn’t going well, and Gable’s secretary is impatient and short with her.
Like the days before she waits all day, piling lipstick-soaked cigarette butts in an ashtray. When the time comes for the office to shut down, Elsa ask the secretary why Gable hasn’t come out yet.
The secretary admits that Gable left out the back to avoid Elsa. Elsa begs to know “What kind of place is this?”
“Hollywood,” the secretary says blandly.
“If you ask me, change your act. Marlene did it better,” she opines.
At this Elsa attacks the secretary, then freaks out and falls to the floor. It looks like the end of her dreams of stardom, but a man comes out and helps her up. He’s kind and says he’s also German, like Elsa. His name is Michael Beck and he’s the network’s junior vice-president of casting.
In his tent Dandy puts on eyeliner, makeup and rouge.
“Showtime,” he says.
Ah, but he doesn’t head for the stage. Instead, Dandy walks out on the midway and begins killing freaks with a gold-plated revolver. He causally hums as he shoots Paul first, then hunts down Penny, Toulouse the Dwarf, Legless Suzi, Ima the Fat Lady and a bunch of the incidental carnies that never have any lines.
While this is going on Amazon Eve hears gunshots and finds Paul’s corpse. She starts hunting Dandy.
He eventually goes to Desiree’s trailer to kill her, but can’t find her right away and starts raging. She’s hiding in a closet. He tears the place apart before he finds her hiding place, and is about to fire through the door when Amazon Eve attacks him from behind.
There’s a brutal battle, but Dandy eventually regains control of his gun and shoots Eve in the leg and then the head. He goes back to finish Desiree but she’s gone, so he gives up.
He heads to Bette and Dot’s tent, where they are tied and begging for mercy. Dandy isn’t giving any, and he tells the twins to come with him.
That night Jimmy returns to the freak show with his new wooden hands, drunk as can be. It takes him a while to realize that no one is around and the place is trashed. He heads to the main tent and sees all the dead freaks piled in front of the stage. Dandy even managed to drag Ima there.
Jimmy screams and collapses. Someone startles him from behind but it’s not Dandy, it’s Desiree. They hug and cry.
The twins are at Dandy’s playroom for a fancy wedding where Dandy marries Bette, but this seems weird because Bette isn’t, you know, terrified and Dot is okay with it.
Dot agrees that Dandy and Bette should have their privacy for their honeymoon, and Dot says she can leave her body. Dandy is weird about this and a bit offended.
We see another scene of them having dinner and drinking champagne, Dandy is talking about hunting cats and skinning them for rugs, having “freak babies,” putting on their own freak show.
The fantasy starts to fall apart when Dandy gets dizzy and Desiree enters dressed as the maid. Dot and Bette start telling him they hate him because he killed all their friends.
Dandy realizes they’ve put something in his drink. He’s really offended by this and says Bette promised until “death do us part.”
“Your death can’t come soon enough,” Bette says.
Dot says her sister was a great actress to make Dandy think she really loved him.
“Bette Davis couldn’t have given a more convincing performance,” she says.
Dandy tries to get away and Bette shoots him in the arm with his own gold-plated revolver.
Jimmy enters dressed as a butler. They show a quick flashback to how Bette and Dot distracted Dandy so Jimmy could sneak in.
On his butler’s tray Jimmy is holding an invitation to a “debut performance” of Dandy Mott. Desiree says he’ll be the “star attraction.”
Dandy wakes in his underwear in a glass tank on the freak show’s main stage, the kind Harry Houdini used for his water escapes. His hands are chained to the bottom with a chain just long enough for him to stand up. Desiree had suggested just cutting his balls off, but Jimmy tells her that it has to be “theatrical” because they’re carny folk.
Dandy begs to be released, says that killing is just his natural calling, but no one is sympathetic. Especially Bette and Dot. Bette tells him she hates him.
Desiree starts a spiel about everything that has happened before, about how Dandy probably agrees with Stanley that freaks are to be put behind glass in a museum, human car crashes to gawk at.
She admits that may be true, but adds “you may look like a motion picture dreamboat, but you are the biggest freak of them all,” and then turns on the water.
Dandy says he’s immortal and can’t die, but Jimmy disagrees. He says the freaks have sentenced Dandy and his whole rotten world to death, and that they can never be beaten because they will always stick up for each other because no one else will.
“Freaks shall inherit the Earth,” Jimmy says.
The freaks take front-row seats in the audience. They watch and laugh, eating popcorn as the tank fills and Dandy screams and thrashes.
“Heck of a show,” Jimmy says when Dandy finally dies.
“That boy is a star,” Desiree says with appreciation.
We jump forward to 1960. Elsa is a huge star with a popular variety show, she’s “The Queen of Friday Night.” We see her in a newsreel getting a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
But Elsa is not happy. While shooting a coffee commercial she berates Beck, now her husband, about the script and his weakness. Beck also tries to get her to do a Halloween show she refuses, not wanting to end up as a ghost in Edward Mordrake’s eldritch carnival as we saw earlier in the season.
We get a quick flash that shows that Elsa has controlled Beck with tricks from her old dominatrix days, molding him into a powerful executive to get what she wants. But she doesn’t love him.
She leaves for “luncheon date” with Massimo, the carpenter who built her legs. She explains how she is unhappy and asks Massimo to run away with her. Massimo tells her it’s tragic that he gets what he wants now, because he’s dying of lung cancer and has only a month to live.
Elsa is getting drunk that night when Beck and network president Gable enter. They’re not there about the Halloween show, instead gossip columnist Hedda Hopper has found an old copy of the snuff film where Elsa’s legs where sawed off. Beck tells Elsa their marriage was built on lies and he’s leaving her.
She knows Hopper’s story will ruin her, make her nothing but a bizarre footnote in Hollywood history. What’s worse, Hopper’s digging has also found the freak show. Gable tells her she’s violated the morals clause in her contract and she’s done.
Elsa tries to argue that she ran the freak show as an act of charity, but Gable says the freaks are all dead, they were found in a mass grave.
Hearing about this, Elsa reflects for a moment and then tells Gables she’ll do the Halloween show after all.
“Why not? Might as well go out with a bang,” she says.
And so Elsa Mars’ Halloween Spooktacular is on the air. Elsa sings David Bowie’s “Heroes,” one more anachronistic song.
In cutaways, we see Desiree and her husband Angus, and their two kids, walk by a TV in a store window. Desiree stops to watch Elsa sing. He tells her the TV they have at home is just fine, and Desiree smiles and says everything at home is just fine.
In another scene of domestic bliss, Jimmy is watching Elsa on TV. He still has his wooden flippers and says that “the old broad’s got guts.” A woman enters with a TV dinner. When we see her face, er faces, it’s Bette and Dot, hugely pregnant. Jimmy kisses Dot and Bette turns off the TV.
“I feel like I’ve seen this act before,” Bette says.
Edward Mordrake and his ghostly freaks are walking about in L.A. Twisty is behind him. He stops at Elsa’s star on Hollywood Boulevard, then enters the theater. A technical director is really annoyed by the green mist that always follows Mordrake, mistaking it for a special effect that went off early.
Mordrake is really pleased at another chance at Elsa’s black soul. Elsa stops the show, she’s eager to go.
“I am the biggest freak of all,” she says.
Only Elsa can see Mordrake and his entourage, so when he drives his knife into her chest it looks like she has a heart attack on stage and drops dead.
But Mordrake says, “Your place is not with us.”
Instead, Elsa goes to a supernatural recreation of the freak show. Ma Petite greets her, as well as the other dead freaks.
Ethel the Bearded Lady greets Elsa with an “I’ll take it from here.”
Elsa asks where she is, she wants to know if she has to pay for her sins including, obviously, killing Ethel. Ethel just brushes it off with a theater reference, saying we play the parts we’re dealt in life and it would be like arresting the guy who plays Othello for murdering Desdemona. Besides, Ethel says, Elsa always said “stars never pay” and gives her a hug.
Ethel says the only downside to this afterlife is they’ve missed their headliner.
Ma Petite helps Elsa put on her makeup. Ethel gives her a glowing introduction and she heads to the stage to a standing ovation. Piano music plays and she draws in a breath to sing. Cut to black. End of episode.
Well, that’s the show, folks. You can discuss it here at our forums, and we’ll look forward to the next season.