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« CIFF Foreign Film Oscar Report,Vol.1: Afghanistan,Italy & Switzerland| Main| Open Thread.Multiple Screenings?»
Thursday
Oct 16 2014

AHS: Freakshow "Massacres & Matinees"

The freaks come out at night.The freaks come out at night.Well,except when there's a curfew in which case they'll do matinees.In Freakshow's second episode,the police have locked down the town at night.Apparently there's no CSI people around to explain to them that that murderous clown,played by theZodiackiller John Carroll Lynch,has mostly been killing in broad daylight.Much scarier time for murders,I think we can all agree.Meanwhile more freaks arrive at Elsa's tent seeking employment (Hi,Angela and Angela's boobs...and I do mean plural),Bette and Dot's rivalry increases  - they share the same body but not the same brain or talents,and Dandy and his mother Gloria meet Twisty the Clown to upsetting results.Neither of them are remotely scared of him which makes the scenes a strange mix of genuinely terrifying and hilarious.

More after the jumpincluding Sarah Paulson dueting with Sarah Paulson on Fiona Apple's "Criminal"

First things first,I'm tempted to hand Sarah Paulson squared the MVP trophy again if only because it's so damn fun to watch her play each scene twice,and simultaneously.Last week the internet got weirdly obsessed with Jessica Lange's weakish cover of David Bowie's "Life on Mars"but this week,Elsa realizes that the Tattler Twins are way better singers than she is so art is imitating life because Paulson's musical number is great with solid lead vocals and shy haphazard harmonizing,all while juggling two different character arcs and an upcoming romantic arc AND the narrative jump which spurs Elsa towards action.Elsa is not happy that the twins have stolen her thunder and warns Bette about Dot's dark soul.This seems redundant since Dot did stab Bette in the first episode so surely Dot knows.

Such a classic song!I don't think Fiona Apple meant it quite this literally since Bette and Dot have been veryverybad girls and don't just feel like butarecriminals.Their mama has the stab wounds and toe tag to prove it.But in the end I had to hand the prize to another.

Episode MVP
Finn Wittrock as Dandy.Dandy and Gloria are already the comic highlights of the season.They have the best Art Direction (that mansion.the toy chest.a home puppet theater),the best props (that baby bottle as flask - LMAO),the best lines,and the funniest walks,Dandy stomping like a 5 year old brat,hands clenched to sides and Gloria bouncing out of rooms like she's living on an entirely different fairytale planet.Definitely not the planet where her baby boy is probably a serial killer in training.

Hats Off To...
The director of this episode Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.Is it just my imagination or does he have a way calmer eye than Ryan Murphy?Yes the canted angle madness is still there but it's less hyperactively edited and there are numerous gorgeously lit wide shots of the inside of tents with the characters arranged wonderfully to complete the colorful,odd,and frameable tableaus

Most Quotable / Best Line Readings

NEVER!Babies are more boring than anything."
-Dandy to his mother who wants grandchildren.

I'm turning to dust from boredom."
-Dandy

You can't live on sweets and Cognac.It's bad for the temperament."
-Gloria giving Dandy advice

Your silence is utterly provocative."
-Dandy to Twisty the Clown.

Movie & Pop Culture References: Yul Brynner andThe King and I(nice touch given the unrelated 'all the way from Siam' business under the circus tent).The other actor reference is a bizarre delight.Gloria tries to convince her son Dandy to stay at home."We'll play June Allyson paper dolls or whatever you'd like!"Hee hee.It's not quite "Balenciagaaaaaaaaa!!!!!"but it's absurdly funny and there's still several episodes left for Frances Conroy to top herself yet again.Where's her Emmy?!?Six nominations and no wins?That'snotokay given the quality of her work on this series and previously onSix Feet Under.

Other Funniest Moment: Jessica Lange's response when she sees how low the Strong Man has billed her on the new poster ("He has to go.")

Best Entrance

Please tell me this is a rest stop."

That'd be the pan up on Angela Bassett who then throws immediate shade right and left.Beneath the superiority,though,she's as desperate as any of the freaks.I like the way she mixes in spousal backstory with her watchful eyes on the Strong Man.You know what's odd,though?Angela Bassett once famously thoughtMonster's Ballwas racially uncomfortable,even offensive.And yet onAHSshe's been playing crazy race-baiting parts (like last year's voodoo queen) and now this genderfuck madness,referring to herself as a "full blown hermaphrodite"and prompty bragging about her "three titties and a ding-a-ling"We're at a different point in her career but clearly she's not easily offended or worried about offending these days.

How does Ryan Murphy get actresses to consistently do and say these outre things?

Also introduced in this episode:Clara (Patti Labelle) who is Dandy & Gloria's personal chef and definitely hates Dandy,and The Strong Man (Michael Chiklis) who basically hates everyone and is (surprise) Jimmy's father and The Bearded Baltimore Accent's ex-boyfriend.We're still missing Emma Roberts and Denis O'Hare though among the principle cast

If you follow blood trails you die.DUH!Everyone but soon-to-be dead people know this

Body Count: 5 listed from most upsetting to least upsetting - the neighborhood cat (offscreen thank god),"Mr.Hanley"the toy shop owner,a bird the Meep eats (poor little birdie),a delivery boy (that's what you get for following blood trails in a horror movie/tv show,dumbass) and Meep himself (who the police murder to avenge hundreds of bird deaths.No,not really.They kill him as warning/threat to the freaks because they think the freaks killed one of their own.Which,to be fair,they did.It's kind of hard to sympathisize with anyone on this show,you know?)

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  • Response
    I think Jessica was too jealous and that's why she did such type of activities.I this episode as usual.Great and enjoyable shows.I am eagerly waiting to see more show like this one specially like this episode.

Reader Comments (16)

Great recap!I also felt this was probably one of the best directed episodes ever.It felt really cinematic at times,with beautiful establishing shots (I love the one from above),not to mention the art direction overall.It feels visually rich,aided by an adventurous cinematography.

Sarah Paulson is providing an experience unlike anything we all (human beings) have experienced.In only two episodes,there is absolutely no confusion about the characters.It is very clear who they are both physically and personality-wise.as is their motivations and wishes.I feel something new whenever I'm watching her.It's as if a new part of my brain is being activated.Could she be nominated twice,one for each of the sisters?

He's definitely the killer in Zodiac,right?I never forget the scene he is being interviews.Top-notch acting from everyone.

October 16,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Goodbar

Sarah Paulson better win the Emmy for this season.Or Ellen Burstyn needs to return the one she stole for Asylum.

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Since Jessica Lange is all sorts of jealous with Sarah Paulson stealing her spotlight,I hope the next episode features a homemade music video where she anachronistically recreates the Fiona Apple's "Criminal"video

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Adam -- it wouldn't be a first for anachronisms ;)

October 17,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ah,Freakshow.So far,so good.Thanks for a great recap.

I thought Angela Bassett turned down Monster's Ball because she objected to the required nudity.I never knew there was a racial element to it.Hmm...

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I'm going to blame Ryan Murphy for a trope this season that I'm already tired of: nobody seems to like anyone else.Chiklis shows up just to fight with the lobster boy,Lange is gaslighting the twins,etc."Coven"got weighed down by all the endless,unmotivated sniping (among other things) - is it too much to ask for any two characters to have an actual friendship in the midst of all this?Or at least some range of human behavior?

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave

This season is off to a great start.I'm remaining cautious,because last year kicked off with a terrific premise and high style and still swirled down the drain.But so far,so good.And Sarah's number reminded me of that Julie Andrews film from the 80s--Duet for One.

Two itsy bitsy quibbles: Why are nearly all the characters casually psychotic?And will somebody,ANYBODY fix Finn's hair.Driving me nuts.

October 17,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Dave -- yeah,that's tiresome for sure.It's also highly unrealistic even in stylized settings.It's just not human behavior.Even in awful situations and environments people have other people they respond to.That's one thing i love about Gilmore Girls (bingewatching lately) how much the characters genuinely like each other all across the board...even the ones that have trouble relating.and that's one thing i really respect about Mad Men and Masters of Sex and other shows where people behave very badly...even within hostile situations and atmospheres,you can tell who feels affection for whome,sometimes why,and to what extent...even when those characters are fighting.

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I actually felt awful for Meep.You just know that he must've suffered immensely in that prison cell.

I'm just glad that Frances once again has something interesting to do.I *love* the way that Gloria seems to be on a completely different planet from everyone else around her.

Patti LaBelle better have something more interesting lined up for her this season than just The Help.

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

I really didn't like the first episode,but this one (and in fairness,the last 20 minutes or so of the premiere) is exactly what I want from AHS - perfect balance of scares (the opening in the store,even with the predictable outcome),campy laughs (Whitrock and Conroy,KILLING IT),and even unexpected pathos (Lange's jealousy,and regrets about dreams unfilfilled,is cliche as hell but really working for me,for whatever reason).Plus,poor Meep.Sarah Paulson is amazing.Chiklis is a great disrupting presence,as is Bassett,and Evan Peters is still lookin' GOOD.

At first I thought they'd ruined Twisty by revealing way too much way too soon,but I'm hopeful for great things to come now that he's part of a buddy pairing with Dandy.Which is amazing in every way.

Also,TOTALLY agreed on the directorial strength of Gomez-Rejon.

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Finn was a good find.He plays the part perfectly...Although,I don't think he'll be as "nice"as the clown has been to the two kids held captive.He's a real nutter.

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Oh goodness,but I have no idea what to do with this show.I do terribly with horror in general,but I love all that is Camp.So basically I watch this show half on mute,half squealing with delight.If they stop doing anachronistic musical numbers,I may have to nope the heck out of here,because I don't think I can keep watching wormy-mouthed clowns kill people.

On that note (the singing note,not the clown note): please PLEASE Ryan Murphy,let Patti Labelle sing Lady Marmalade at some point.

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

I recall that Angela Bassett was very vocal about turning down Monster's Ball because the character was 'a prostitute'...so maybe she's mellowed with age.Let's not beat around the bush - post-Oscar nomination,her only predecessor as a (black) potential leading lady in modern Hollywood was Whoopi,who wasn't the 'beautiful' stereotype and would never be offered traditional leading roles.So who could she look to for inspiration or guidance in choosing parts?

Who would envy Angela's choices after What's Love Got To Do With It?She had the option to trailblaze (and history will probably show that she did,if only with Strange Days) and was probably a little annoyed (with herself,after turning down the part) that Halle won the Oscar.Though Angela in the same part wouldn't have had the same reaction of 'WOW!SHE CAN ACT!' because everyone knew she was impressive,so we can't say what might have been...

Personally,I think that Angela is a bit of a Naomi Watts - great in a meaty role,but she'll never elevate a poorly written part...

October 17,2014 | Unregistered CommenterKermit_The_Frog

I hope this role gives Angela something to do beside throwing shades and quips.She's way better than that.I understand why Jessica called it quit after this season (for now).The crazy witch who chewed scenery roles have become tiresome,even with new accent.I'm impressed with the show's visual work this season.I love how it makes a nightmare out of colorful settings in broad daylight.Sarah Paulson is at her best this season.

October 18,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJija

I haven't seen this episode yet,but I'm loving the Fiona Apple cover by the twins!Great review!

October 21,2014 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

I can say this is the perfect blog for everybody who read and post here everyday.I dont know why I always visit here maybe its so nice to read here a interesting topics all day.So ill be back more to check more updates and new comments.

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