Here we are at the next to last episode of the season. Has it lived up to your expectation so far? Pop into our forums and let us know.
The penultimate episode starts with Stanley arriving at a dinner party for the departing Elsa. All the freaks are drinking and having fun in the main tent.
Elsa makes a toast to the new owner of the show, Chester, who is acting weird as usual with his dummy Marjorie. And then sends him away for the real purpose of the banquet.
When Chester leaves, attention turns to Stanley. In the last episode Elsa and the others found out that Stanley is not a talent agent who wants to make Elsa famous in Hollywood, but just a con artist who has been working with Maggie to kill freaks and sell their body parts to the American Morbidity Museum.
The freaks make ominous references to Tod Browning’s 1932 film Freaks, which used real human oddities for its actors and was the obvious inspiration for this season. As they explain to Stanley, the film is about a freakshow where a conniving trapeze artist, Cleopatra, marries a dwarf and then poisons him in an attempt to inherit his money and run off with the circus strongman. When the freaks find out Cleopatra is punished, but Elsa cuts the freaks off before they explain how.
“Don’t spoil the ending for him,” Elsa says. Stanley says it sounds like a hit and they all laugh.
Desiree brings a large present for Stanley to the table. Now Stanley starts to get worried. Maggie says “you deserve this,” which must set off alarm bells.
Stanley reluctant unwraps it. Inside is the preserved head of the dishonest director of the American Morbidity Museum, the one who has been buying Stanley’s dead freaks. We get a flashback to Desiree murdering her in her office.
And now Stanley is screwed. He tries to talk his way out of it to no avail. The freaks lash him to Elsa’s knife act wheel and she throws a few knives his way, missing expertly. They take him down and he keeps talking but Elsa won’t listen. She throws a knife through his leg and tells him to run.
Stanley plays his last card, yelling that Elsa murdered Ethel the Bearded Lady. Elsa yells for him to run. The freaks chase him through the rainy carnival grounds in a scene similar to the climax of Freaks, finally catching up with him when he tries to hide under a caravan.
Elsa is hiding Jimmy the Lobster Boy in the barn that Stanley had been using to murder freaks. Jimmy is suffering without his lobster claws, with Stanley cut off to sell to the museum. He’s also angry that his father Dell the Strongman is dead.
Elsa won’t tell Jimmy that she killed him. She says “we all did.” She reminds him that Dell murdered tiny, innocent Ma Petite but Jimmy doesn’t seem to care and screams that Dell was his father.
Maggie is there with Elsa and Jimmy hurls abuse at her, says he doesn’t forgive even though Maggie came clean to save other freaks. Elsa tells Jimmy he will let Maggie change his dirty bandages. Jimmy says he’d rather keep the dirty ones but Elsa insists. She also tells Jimmy she’s found an old friend who can make Jimmy prosthetic hands.
Maggie is all apologies as she changes the bandages, which causes a lot of pain. She tells Jimmy she loves him and they can still run away to New York, but he’s cold to her.
“My hands are in a goddamn jar, and that’s all because of you,” Jimmy says.
When she tries to say she’s changed and will fix things, he asks her if she’ll bring Ma Petite back to life and tells her she’d better get out of town before he gets his new hands.
“I’m gonna make things right. With them and with you,” Maggie yells.
There’s a quick scene where the carpenter who made Elsa’s wooden legs arrives at the big tent and Elsa tenderly embraces him. There clearly was a strong bond between the two.
And then we see Bette, Dot and Chester having sex. The girls are on top. Marjorie the dummy is by the bedside, watching as lecherously as a piece of carved wood can. After some begging from the girls Chester knocks her to the floor.
In the next scene Marjorie, who switches in and out of her dummy form and the human form Chester sees her in, is really angry about the abuse. Being shut out of sex with Chester’s wife Lucy and her lesbian lover Alice was Marjorie’s hangup before, and that pair ended up dead.
Chester tries to argue that twins make him happy and will fix what’s wrong with him, but Marjorie wins by reminding Chester he’s not a regular man, he’s a murderer.
Chester scolds Marjorie, reminds her that, as he perceives it, she killed Alice and Lucy.
“That’s impossible. I’m a doll,” Marjorie says.
And then we get a flashback to what really happened, Chester beating Alice and Lucy to death in their bed with a hammer.
The shock of this realization allows Marjorie to convince Chester to kill the twins. Or, I guess more accurately Chester’s psychosis wins.
The freaks are playing cards in Ethel’s caravan, discussing what Stanley said before they took care of him. They don’t doubt that he was telling the truth about Elsa killing Ethel, and they make plans to deal with Elsa as well.
In their tent, Bette and Dot discuss how happy they are with Chester. But they get an unexpected visitor, pampered serial killer and part-time evil clown Dandy, who brings them the file his private investigator gathered on Chester.
“Chester Kreb is an absolutely beastly sicko,” Dandy says, handing it over. If anyone should know from sickos, it’s Dandy.
Obviously any info coming from Dandy is suspect and they don’t believe him , but Dandy leaves the file. And some weird air kisses that make it clear he’s still obsessed with them.
At the barn Elsa arrives with her friend, the carpenter Massimo. Jimmy whines, but he’s convinced to let Massimo prepare him for the hands when Elsa shows him the nearly perfect wooden legs Massimo made for her.
Massimo loved Elsa, but explains why they didn’t stay together. This involves a flashback to the German snuff film producers who cut off Elsa’s legs for their film. It’s revealed they were high ranking government officials and powerful people. When Elsa fled Germany before the war, Massimo felt like he couldn’t follow without first hunting down the cabal.
He kills most of them but their leader is craftier and captures Massimo, then tortures him for months. It’s implied he destroys Massimo’s genitals in the process with electricity. Massimo survives because a higher-ranking official frees him because Massimo can make some really nice bookshelves.
Massimo returns to the states and finds Elsa, but she doesn’t return his correspondence. Jimmy asks why, if he loved so much, he didn’t come and sweep her off her feet.
“My body survived the torture. But, I’m like Pinocchio. I have no humanity left in me any more. No soul. I cannot love,” Massimo says and leaves, noting that it’s a “sweet irony” for a carpenter.
Chester is breaking down the new show with the freaks, considerably less sweet and kind than he was before. Dot and Bette have read the file, and from their telepathic conversation you can tell their worried.
When Chester comes around to his magic act he says he wants to change it around to where instead of a contortionist pretending to be an “audience member,” he saws Dot and Bette in half. Dot and Bette then stand up and say they don’t want to be his assistants any more.
Chester deals poorly with that. Trying to play peacemaker, Maggie agrees to be the assistant. Really bad move, especially for someone who had earlier in the season almost died thanks to Dandy’s decidedly non-magical sawing a woman in half trick.
“Get in the box, Lucy,” Chester says, seeing Maggie as his dead wife. Uh oh.
Chester sends the freaks backstage. The following sequence is a mix of Chester’s hallucinations and what’s really happening. He sees both Lucy and Alice and Marjorie in the box taunting him and imagines himself in full makeup as he does the trick. It’s a little different from the usual way because he handcuffs Maggie’s feet so she can’t pull them up and pull herself into the safe section of the box.
And then he actually saws her in half. When he opens the box Maggie is split in half and her guts fall out. Marjorie laughs as Chester, covered in blood, tries to put Maggie back together. She runs out of the tent and he runs off after her.
So, of course, the freaks are shocked, but they make no move against Chester, and they don’t mourn Maggie.
“She had it coming,” Desiree says, and suggests they “steal her jewelry and bury the bitch.”
Chester catches up with Marjorie in his caravan. He’s angry about the murder, she says she’s leaving, and Chester stabs her to death as she says “I loved you.”
There’s a flashback to 1946 and Jimmy’s first appearance as a juggling act. He’s so nervous he’s throwing up, but his mother Ethel encourages him and he goes out on stage.
Present day Jimmy is visited by Amazon Eve, who tells him that Maggie is dead, which gets very little reaction. She tells him Elsa is next and he doesn’t object.
Eve picks up a drawing showing the hands Massimo has planned for Jimmy, a complex and beautiful representation of the normal human hand. She says it looks like he gets a shot at normal life now.
Bette and Dot visit Elsa in her tent. She’s angry because they see her putting on her legs, but Bette and Dot tell her she has to leave or she’ll face a fate like Stanley’s. That spooks her.
“But where will I go,” she says dramatically. Bette tells her “Anywhere but here.”
Elsa notes the irony on the twins saving her and Dot says “Now we’re even.”
So the freaks gather for their revenge on Elsa in Ethel’s caravan. Desiree takes a drink in honor of Ethel and then breaks the bottle to use as a weapon. They head to Elsa’s tent but she’s gone, music still playing on the record player.
We see Ethel sitting in her car. Dandy gets in. He hands her a huge wad of cash and she gives him the deed to the freak show.
At the police station, Chester sadly strides in carrying a bloody bundle in his arms. He tells the cops he wants to report the murder of a “young lady” and sets the bundle down. They open it and we see that it’s just a dummy. But Chester sees the human version of Marjorie. He asks the cops to send him “to the chair.”
The next day the freak show is being taken down, but Dandy shows up with his deed. He tells the freaks he’s their new owner and that Elsa is gone to “follow her dreams.”
“Now I want to see what’s mine,” Dandy says, and heads into the main tent.
Paul the Illustrated Seal asks Dandy if it has always been his dream to be in show business. Dandy says it has and “now it’s come true.”
He sends Paul away to get a drink and then walks onto the stage. He blows kisses and gives a theatrical bow to the empty seats.
And then he hears a noise. In the back there’s a small cage, filled with straw. Inside?
It’s small creature. It’s covered in blue fur. It has no arms or limbs and it’s wearing a feathered hat. It can’t really talk, it just grunts.
It’s what’s left of Stanley. The freaks took their cue from Tod Browning’s movie. In that film Cleopatra was transformed into a chicken woman and they’ve done a very similar thing to Stanley. Good thing Elsa didn’t let them spoil the ending.
Dandy is delighted to see this, of course.
You would think that would end the episode, but there’s one more scene with Massimo giving Jimmy his hands. Jimmy calls them perfect and they look pretty normal, but when he holds them up you see that Jimmy opted for wooden recreations of his lobster claws.
“Thank you,” Jimmy says. End of episode.