Twisty the Clown is dead.
Yep, the evil clown that generated most of American Horror Story: Freak Show’s scares shuffled off to join a troupe of ghosts last episode, after only four nightmare-inducing appearances. Will the show be able to find another vein of terror that’s as rich as the primal fear of clowns? Let’s find out together.
This episode starts at a posh gala at the American Morbidity Museum. Our grifters Maggie Esmerelda and Stanley are there. Stanley is disappointed when another museum patron is recognized and lauded instead of him.
The director of the museum pulls back a curtain on the latest exhibit and it’s the dead body of Paul the Illustrated Seal inside a tank of formaldehyde.
Okay, you’re not wrong if you’re pointing out right now that Maggie and Stanley were run out of there as frauds in an earlier episode. This scene seems to be a fantasy sequence. It cuts to a seedy hotel room where Stanley is describing his plan to murder the freaks and sell their remains to the museum to Maggie.
Stanley has bought the tanks and has a barn ready to store them. Maggie says she doesn’t want to be involved with murder, but Stanley reassures her that “accidents happen all the time” and that the freaks won’t be missed. The main concern is preserving the bodies.
“So these freaks are going to be beautiful corpses? How? Poison? Suffocation? Drowning?” Maggie asks.
“Yeah! All great ideas,” Stanley says casually.
His plan is to play on freak show owner Elsa’s ego to keep his access to the freaks. Elsa thinks Stanley is the muse that Maggie said would come to visit her and make her a star in a fake fortune.
During their debate Maggie knocks Stanley’s gay porn magazines over and tells him to get rid of it, adding “you need to put a little lead in your loafers, cupcake.”
“The only thing people in Jupiter hate more than freaks are poofs,” Maggie says.
He hides the magazines, and Maggie agrees to play along with the murderous scheme for an additional five percent of the take. End of teaser.
Dandy’s ridiculous mother, Gloria, is searching her mansion for her maid Dora. She finds her in the kitchen, right where Dandy left her after he cut her throat last episode. Gloria screams. Dandy pretends to be shocked and says someone broke into their home and murdered Dora, but of course his mom knows he did it.
“She was saying awful things to me,” he quickly admits.
Gloria is mad about having to clean up another of Dandy’s messes. She essentially grounds the murderous adult sociopath, sending him to his room for the rest of the day. Dandy presents a sniveling, crying face to his mother but as he walks away that masks falls, revealing a bemused, confident cold-blooded killer.
At the freak show Stanley visits Elsa, laying on the charm. He tells her he’s there from Hollywood and he works for WBN television.
It’s a bit of misstep, because Elsa says she’d “rather be boiled in oil” than be on TV. Stanley works on her to convince her that TV is is the future and that she’ll be seen by millions of people. But she really considers TV and its tasteless advertising inferior to film, “the death of art and civilization” and even the promise of “The Elsa Mars Hour ” doesn’t get through to her. He gives up for now and tells her he looks forward to seeing her act, saying he’s sure it’s “going to slay me.”
Jimmy the Lobster Boy is practicing the patter for his juggling act. Maggie surprises him by speaking to him from behind. He tells her he still gets stage fright, especially tonight. There’s a full house now that Jimmy is a local hero for helping to save Twisty’s hostages.
Maggie offers to take his mind off of it, which is not a sexual thing but an offer of a palm reading. He’s reluctant but gives in. Her fake palm reading is a nearly transparent warning about Stanley. She tells Jimmy that there’s a man coming that will make him promises and he needs to stay away, leave the freak show and go to New York.
“You’re smart. You’re good looking. You could do anything you want,” Maggie says.
He tries to kiss her and she recoils. She tells him his future’s bright, she’s just not in it.
“Save it for the paying customers. I was an idiot to think I had a chance with a girl like you,” Jimmy says and walks away.
Backstage Ethel the Bearded Lady is mad because the show is about to open and she can’t find Dell. She sends Jimmy to look.
Stanley takes his seat in the audience.
At Dell’s trailer all Jimmy finds is a drunk Desiree. She refuses to perform, upset that Dell is gone. She defends him against Jimmy’s insults, saying she and Dell were a team who made the crowd gasp by showing off Desiree’s three breasts and two sets of genitals.
“I never felt more alive in my life. Now all I feel is nothing. Empty,” she says.
Jimmy plops down beside Desiree. He admits he didn’t really do anything to stop Twisty, and says Meep the Geek was the brave one.
He also pretty much admits he killed the cop that came looking for Bette and Dot. Meep was framed for the crime by Dell, but only after Dell figured out Jimmy was trying to frame Dell himself for it. Then Meep was tortured to death in prison.
“I let my pride and my anger get the best of me. And now Meep’s dead because of me,” Jimmy says. He starts crying and Desiree comforts him. Jimmy goes in for a kiss. Desiree at first backs away but then she’s into it. She wants Jimmy to make her feel something.
But then he puts her hand between her legs and she starts screaming. Jimmy leads Desiree from the trailer, blood streaming down her legs. Ethel makes Jimmy go to the stage because he’s the star of the night while she takes care of Desiree.
A sweaty Jimmy fills in for Dell, introducing Desiree as she sings “Life on Mars,” to a bored, unappreciative crowd. People start throwing popcorn at Elsa and run her off the stage.
She asks for Stanley to come see her in her dressing room.
“Tell me more about this television,” she says.
Ethel takes Desiree to the kindly doctor who told her she was dying in an earlier episode.
Desiree tells the doctor she only has her menses a couple of times a year. She thinks the bleeding is from Jimmy piercing her genitals with his claws.
As the doctor examines her, Desiree says when she was born the midwife said she was a boy, and she was raised as one until he hit puberty and grew three breasts.
The doctor quickly diagnoses Desiree, telling her that she probably grew three breasts because her body overcompensated for excess testosterone with extra estrogen when she hit puberty. What she thought was her penis is just an enlarged clitoris, and she’s “100 percent woman” physically.
The bleeding was not from Jimmy’s claws, but from a miscarriage. He tells her she can try again, and Desiree is shocked but intrigued by the prospect of having a baby with Dell. BTW, this guy makes his life-changing diagnosis after just a few seconds of looking. He’s a really, really good doctor.
Gloria is having a more than twelve-foot pit dug to plant “Narcissus bulbs.” The gardener informs her that Narcissus only needs 18 inches but Gloria says they’re special bulbs from Holland and tells him not to question her.
After the pit is filled in, with Dora at the bottom, she and Dandy actually plant a few Narcissus bulbs in 18 inch holes at the top. Dandy gets poetic and says Dora “did not die in vain” because she’ll feed the flowers. He apologizes for murdering Dora.
Gloria says that Dandy has a sickness, just like his father did, and that the mental perversions are an “affliction of the affluent” because of inbreeding to protect the money.
“Jack the Ripper was a Windsor for God’s sake,” Gloria says.
Dandy gets pouty and says it wouldn’t have happened if his mother had let him be an actor. And that he’d doesn’t want to end up like daddy “swinging lifeless on a Japanese maple.” Gloria says that won’t happen, but it’s 1952 and Dandy just can’t go out murdering vagrants, so she’ll “figure something out.”
There’s sort of a music video showing Elsa get made up and ready for her TV show as David Bowie’s “Fame” plays. It looks like she’s going to go with Stanley, but we see Bette and Dot led away in his car instead.
The next scene is Stanley presenting Bette and Dot’s preserved heads in a tank to the director of the American Morbidity Museum. The director notes that the one on the left, Bette, looks less well-preserved. He says she died first and claims they “caught a cold.”
We cut to a picnic where Stanley is offering Bette and Dot pink cupcakes. Bette is pleased, Dot is never pleased by anything. He’s sold them on something called the Tattler Twins Hour. We get a quick flashback to Stanley making the poisoned cupcakes before Bette takes a big old bite.
Dot’s not so eager to take the cupcake. She’s skeptical about the Tattle Twins Hour but he keeps lying and starts to get through.
Then Bette starts coughing. Stanley says it serves her right for being a glutton. Then Bette starts foaming at the mouth. There’s a scene of Stanley in the future telling his lie about the cold to an eager to believe museum director, then we cut to Bette and Dot on their death bed.
Stanley idly reads a wrestling magazine while Dot agonizingly says she can no longer hear Bette’s thoughts and that she’s in pain. Bette is an already rotten corpse attached to her sister. He refuses Dot’s pleas for a hospital, instead offering a cupcake. When she won’t take it he puts his hand over her mouth and smothers her.
Then we cut back to the point where Stanley offers Bette the cupcake. The murder and reward was apparently a fantasy. In the real version Dot turns down the cupcake because she doesn’t want to get fat if they’re going to be stars.
Dandy is in his underwear, training and exercising in his playroom. He’s giving a off-the-rails, lunatic narration about he’s destined to be a great actor, but it pretty quickly shifts to his new goal, being the “U.S. Steel of murder.” Although Twisty inspired him killer persona won’t be a clown, though, his theme is simply perfection and greatness.
Dandy gets duded up and heads to a gay bar. There he sees a wanted poster for himself, showing him wearing the cheap Halloween mask he was in when he helped Twisty out.
At the gay bar Dandy literally bumps into Dell, who’s there with a male prostitute, Andy. Dell is violently jealous in this relationship, too, angry that one of the rent boy’s clients is getting too close and trying to encourage him to move to L.A.
The male prostitute keeps talking about other clients, which freaks Dell out and he yells “There are no other guys but me!” which causes the bar owner to pull a shotgun before the prostitute calms him down.
Dell is clearly in love with the guy, says he even misses work for him, but the guy isn’t buying that’s he’s the top priority.
Dell tells him he loves him. Andy points out he’s only been in town a month. He also asks why Dell is in the closet, saying he’s already a freak. Dell says no one knows he’s a freak. I think this a reference to some unrevealed deformity that Dell has, guess we’ll wait and see.
Andy says he doesn’t think Dell will leave his wife. Dell responds with a tearful monologue about how he feels pain in his strongman act, but the pain in his heart is worse. Andy just tries to brush it off as business, which makes Dell mad and he leaves.
Unfortunately, he leaves Andy to Dandy, who smiles as the prostitute lists his services. Dandy has found an outcast group to prey on that no one will miss.
Elsa enters Bette and Dot’s tent. She tells them Stanley has also offered her a television show and that he’s asked Elsa to mentor them. She tells them in the morning she’ll take them to get new clothes. In their telepathic conversation Dot is skeptical, but Bette’s just excited about getting a new hat.
Dell returns to Desiree. She explains about the doctor and being a woman who can have babies. Dell is lukewarm to this news and pours himself a drink.
Unfortunately, Desiree says, Ethel told her that Dell’s dad had lobster hands and that Dell is Jimmy’s father. She gets angry, says that she thought she was the freak, but Dell is the one with “freak blood” running through his veins.
She tells him she’ll leave and have some babies with “never with you.” She says she’ll have a surgery and get her extra large lady parts removed. And she leaves, telling him she’ll move into Ethel’s caravan.
Dandy takes Andy to Twisty’s Bus o’ Fun in the woods. For some insane reason it wasn’t removed by police. He says it belonged to a “friend of mine.”
Dandy tells Andy “I’m not a fruit” which Andy is probably used to hearing as a gay prostitute in 1952. Dandy paid him 100 dollars, and for that Dandy wants to play a game where both men turn their backs to each other and take off their clothes.
Andy tells Dandy he’s very handsome and he would like to paint him. They get down to the underwear and turn around. Andy sees Dandy wearing Twisty’s half face mask and holding a knife. There’s a graphic, brutal scene as Dandy stabs Andy. He doesn’t immediately die because of Dandy’s inexperience and Dandy stabs him in the back a few times.
There’s more of Dandy’s unhinged serial killer narration as he gives a guide to getting rid of evidence and dismembers Andy’s body. Even after he cuts off one of Andy’s arms and puts it in acid Andy isn’t dead.
“You’re making me feel bad. Stop it!” Dandy says.
Andy begs to be killed, but Dandy just starts sawing off the other arm while he’s alive.
Back at Gloria’s mansion, Dora’s daughter Regina calls to check on her mom. Gloria brushes her off with some nonsense.
Gloria says Regina played with Dandy as a child, and asks her what she remembers of her mothering skills. Regina says she remembers Dandy being raised by succession of short-term nannies who regularly quit because Dandy bit them.
Gloria tells a story about how Dandy once called for her when he was sick and she sent his governess instead. Dandy never called for her again. Regina, creeped out, hangs up.
Dandy returns in his underwear, covered in blood. He calls for his mother, who turns to see him and is speechless with shock.
There’s a quick scene with Elsa driving Bette and Dot somewhere. They notice that she missed the turn for town but Elsa says she has a better idea.
Dell visits the doctor who examined Desiree. Dell asks about the doctor’s plans to do cosmetic surgery on Desiree. Also, to explain how a small town doctor can do this some clunky small talk is made first about how the doctor was a famous surgeon at one point but moved to Jupiter to be near his family and grandkids.
The doctor says he “doesn’t see the harm” in operating on Desiree. Dell just grabs him by the throat, tells him to keep his hands off his wife and threatens his family. Dell breaks both of the doctor’s hands and tells him he’ll break his grandkids hands too if he goes to the police.
“Those tiny little fingers, they’ll snap like twigs,” Dell says.
Elsa shows up at Gloria’s mansion prepared to sell Bette and Dot to her. Gloria and Dandy tried to buy them in the premiere.
“I have brought you something I believe you want,” Elsa says. End of episode.
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