American Horror Story: Freak Show Episode 1 “Monster’s Among Us”: My Unsolicited Review

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It took so long before I was actually able to get around posting this that I wondered if I should even bother. In the end, I decided for it, but I’m definitely going to make a better effort to post these earlier from next week.

It feels like we’ve been waiting ages for the return of American Horror Story, but our wait is finally and thankfully over. The Ryan Murphy-produced hit FX show returned for its fourth season, entitled Freak Show, and the show was indeed rife with freakiness.

Freak Show revolves mainly around a 1950’s carnival which specialises in “freaks”, human oddities and abnormalities from around the world. Lacklustre interest in the show, coupled with mounting appreciation for television has made ticket sales for the freak attraction dwindle to near-nothingness, though its ringleader, Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) has far from given up hope for its next big break and ultimate revival. Her wish seems to have been granted by her discovery of conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson), who join the show after being wanted by law enforcement for the murder of their mother, who’d kept them hidden all their life for fear of them being ridiculed, hurt or killed. Though the twins share the same body, their minds and personalities could not be more different. While Bette is beyond thrilled at the opportunity to finally be free from her life of obscurity, Dot only reluctantly joins Elsa’s circus because she understands that she is left with no alternative.

The pilot episode was mostly an introduction of the characters and future plot, but already we can see that this season promises to bring the terror and suspense in a way that we haven’t seen since season one’s, Murder House. The complete mystery surrounding some half-faceless murderous clown invokes a creepiness that the past few seasons of AHS has failed to delay. I mean, clowns already are super creepy, but this one ups the ante by several mortifying degrees. Initially, I thought that he was one of the members of the freak show, but it soon became clear that he wasn’t, and so his story is still very much unclear. What we do know is that he’s murdered several people mercilessly, except for a young woman and a small boy. Now, I’m no psychologist or anything, but allow me to interject some two-cent psychology theory here: we’ve got a hideous, mutilated person who clearly has no qualms about killing someone in cold blood, yet decides to spare the lives of a beautiful young woman and child, holding them hostage. I’m already putting it out there that this murderous clown is just misunderstood and looking for love, although he knows that no one will love him with his appearance, so he resorts to kidnapping his ideal wife and son in an attempt to recreate a farce of the family that he’d either always wanted or once had and then lost. If that’s the case, I just might barf all over Ryan Murphy’s legacy, but I admit that I am incredibly intrigued to learn of the circumstances which led to the way he now looks.

Another factor which makes me happy is the fact that most of our beloved characters have returned for this season (woot for Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Frances Conroy). Next episode’s promo also promises Dennis O’Hare and Emma Roberts (in the most atrocious and WTF-inducing brown wig since Anna Camp’s Sarah Newlin character from last season’s True Blood). I’m really hoping that we at least get a few recurring cameos from Lily Rabe and Taissa Farmiga, but so far there’s been no indication of this.

My one preoccupation for this season of AHS is the fact that, although the central storyline seems promising in terms of horror, there seem to be very many divergent plots which, at best may prove to be incongruent, and at worse may be a huge mess, which is exactly what happened in last season’s, Coven. There were very many plot lines which started out incredibly exciting, only to see them go nowhere, really. It was almost as if there was one particular story line set written for Coven, and then halfway through, the writers decided to change course, and many things just fell by the wayside. For instance, we were initially shown Zoe to be this up and coming new witch, and her epic defeat of the voodoo-animated zombies on Halloween prompted a “whoever she is, she’s powerful” kind of vibe from Marie Laveau, only to have this storyline all but snuffed. There was also great promise in Patti Lupone’s character, after we learned that she’d murdered her husband, only to pretty much have her disappear inconsequentially. In Freak Show, there seem to be very many plot lines that may soon compete for centre stage: the central story of the freak show finally gaining an audience, Elsa’s rivalry with the twins (which we saw from next week’s preview), Jimmy’s (Evan Peters) desire to leave the carnival, the murder of a police officer and the ensuing legal battle, the rebellion of the freaks against all those who persecute them, the clown, Frances Conroy’s impending clash with the freak show, Emma Roberts and Dennis O’Hare’s involvement with and lies to the freaks, and the realisation that Elsa is also a “freak” (which she really isn’t, as it only appears that she lost her legs, probably from the war). Mind you – these are only those that I’ve noticed from the first episode, so…

Here’s hoping, though, that this season lives up to the very high expectations that the fans are (perhaps unfairly) plying onto it.

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2 thoughts on “American Horror Story: Freak Show Episode 1 “Monster’s Among Us”: My Unsolicited Review”

  1. Hmmm… I’m torn on this season. It seems like the show’s goal might be to come out just twisted and creepy, where as I prefer a little more story line instead of just random creep-factor (or maybe I’m just partial to more mythical stuff like ghosts, possessions and witches, I dunno). It’s only episode one, though, so here’s to hoping it gets better.

    Plus, the random sex stuff really yucks me out. Especially the video tape of the young girl and her … uh … supposed enjoyment. Sexual assault is one of my closet fears, irrationally so but whatever, and I see no reason why that needed to be added to the story line. Not to mention – who just casually video taped things back in the 50’s, was that even an option back then?!

    As for the clown, I’m hoping what you mentioned above isn’t true, but I agree with you that it is a definite possibility. If that’s the motivation behind his creep factor, then this is going to be a long and boring season of pointless scissor stabbings.

    Before I go – I agree! I hope we see at least one episode with Taissa!!

    Like

    1. Lady, here’s to you yet again! Coven was the most un-horror-like season so far, but it’s been my favourite, purely because of the witches and magic and special effects. This season is obviously not about that life, so I’m not entirely convinced it’s gonna turn out great, but I’m looking forward to the creep factor.

      Don’t even get me started on this orgy/debauchery/one night in Paris bullshit. I’m all for a good sex scene, but this was just so… unnecessary. I can only hope that it has some relevance in future but as of now, it was just ridiculous… and a chance to get Meryl Streep’s daughter to make another cameo in the show.

      Oh God… swimming on WEDNESDAY NIGHTS?!Lady, you’d better learn how to watch tv under water!

      Like

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