Tuesday, January 27, 2015

American Horror Story Freak Show Finale: Curtain Call Recap and Thoughts

Spoiler Alert for American Horror Story Freak Show finale: Curtain Call

The curtain has come down on American Horror Story Freak Show finale. I must say, I'm going to miss my weekly ride. As many say, it's an uneven show but still wonderfully entertaining.

I loved the costumes, the way the clothes had tent stripe patterns and various other motifs. American Horror Story is luscious eye-candy every season between the amazing costumes, fabulous set designs, photography, and other nuances.

There are so many story-lines in FreakShow that it was frustrating to be on the ride sometimes. Almost every storyline could have done with more care and attention and could likely be an entire series unto itself. It almost felt like a hot-and-dirty one night stand, much like the sex lives of most of the freaks. However, life is frustrating. Being a freak is frustrating. Horror stories don't always tie up into a neat bow.

This is a good thing because it shows that the audience cares about the series. The audience wants more, and the best entertainers know you leave them wanting more.

In binge-watching a few episodes and then following the rest of the Freakshow season weekly, the season does indeed adhere to its original premise or arc. The idea of freaks taking care of each other mostly rings true except for a few random betrayals by the owner herself, no less, but is tied up in the end. There really is no place like home...? However, the concept of beautiful Dandy being the most ugly person on the show was faithfully followed from the very first episode to the very last. He was the (albeit hit-us-over-the-head-with-a-sledgehammer) symbol for what the freaks and all humans are all about. With him being an outsider, he provided another perspective of Elsa Mars' Cabinet of Curiosities.

There are many questions that fans want answered. We may never learn the answer. Or perhaps some loose ends will be tied up in Season Five.

There have been rumblings about Chester's non-appearance in the finale. Why should there be? He was likely thrown into a straight-jacket and tossed into a loony bin. In doing a background check, they'd realize he's wanted for a double-homicide if not more, and he's not going anywhere ever again. The writers didn't need to waste precious minutes showing us any of that. Besides, this leaves a gap for Chester to pop up again, depending on where the series heads.

What happened to Stanley and his giant...uh...appendage? Last we saw him was when Dandy found him with his arms and legs hacked off and his tongue ripped out. I thought Dandy would have shot him in that moment, or conversely, made him a centrepiece for his new show. You never know with Dandy. I wondered if Stanley still had his manhood or why no one mentioned once that he had a three foot schlong after they amputated him?

Even if you didn't notice that Freak Show had somehow morphed into two different shows along the way, the finale certainly hammered that one home. First we had the Dandy Show and then we had the Elsa Mars Show.

Dandy bought the freak show in the previous episode. We now learn that he's going to sing and dance as the star. As expected he's a prima donna in rehearsal and gets on the freaks' nerves. They mock him, Dandy is mean as usual, Paul the Seal spits on Dandy, and most of the freaks quit, even though, only a few minutes before they had all agreed they'd put up with any shit Dandy threw at them because he was rich. Dandy had one of his patented hissy-fits, and the freaks lost their meal ticket in their own stupid "oo you hurt my feelings" hissy-fits. Sucks to be them.

Well, we know you don't piss off Dandy.

Next we see Dandy walking through the freak-show grounds in a white suit, whistling Tchaikovsky and shooting any freak he sees. Haters online are complaining how Dandy didn't stop to reload. I myself have no gun knowledge so the thought never occurred to me as he was walking, whistling, hunting, bumping into stuff, and there was quite a passage of time between cut-aways. If him not reloading is the biggest complaint you have, well, this is a fiction story, after all. I personally think what's worse is that he should have whistled a Cole Porter tune or say, something from the previously referenced, The King and I, such as "Shall We Dance?" or  "I Whistle A Happy Tune" instead of The Nutcracker Suite but perhaps the writers didn't think a modern crowd would "get it."

Dandy takes his beloved twins hostage, almost the only freaks left alive. In a dizzying, happens way too fast and is unbelievable but they needed to cram all this crap into about five minutes manner, Dandy marries Bette in a fancy-ass ceremony in his playroom. I mean really. How did he get all these people together so fast? Who made this two-headed frou-frou dress so quickly? Hasn't anyone talked about the massacre at the freak-show over the few days it must have taken to pull this off? What did he do with his mom/Tupperware lady puppet? Are they rotting away behind the curtain? Is there a fly issue with all the blood in the tub or does the maid scrub it?

One thing leads to another and next thing you know, he's chained up in his tightie whities in a Houdini tank back on the freak-show stage ranting about he's immortal. Thank you, writers, for giving us one last look at lovely Finn Wittrock in angry naked Dandy-mode.

What I think would be really cool is that once everyone splits the freak-show and the cops come and discover the carnage, Dandy's body is lifted from the tank and he's still alive. He's immortal after all.

Once the Dandy Show concludes, we begin the Elsa Mars Show for the second half of the finale.
We watch Elsa's journey to be the star we already knew she'd be from that magazine that Pepper read a few episodes ago. Elsa has everything she ever wanted, yet she's bitterly unhappy. Yup, she's one of those people...never happy. At any rate, she thinks she has a plan for happiness, but yet, even that is thwarted. She decides to do something she had always refused to do since she left the freak-show. She performs on Halloween.

Elsa is whisked away by Mordrake, however, she isn't what he wants, but he does let her go to another dimension. In this world, she is reunited with her beloved Ma Petite and all her monsters. Her face, (god Jessica Lange is so amazing) betrays her confusion, happiness, love, hate, and dread at the idea of being in the freak-show again...forever.

The series ends as it begins. In doing so, my own theory is that the eternal freak-show is not the heaven that many views believe it is, but hell. Yes, Ethel tells her Elsa's the star of the show (just like Dandy was the star of his death-show, with Angela Bassett remarking, "That boy is a star," in case we didn't make the connection) with a full house every night but we know that Elsa didn't want to be star of a freak-show in real life, and even when she became a rich TV star, she wasn't happy so Elsa, no matter where she ends up, will not be happy.

I believe that the story of FreakShow is Elsa's endless hell loop.

Although the audience sees the surviving freaks leading happy lives in a montage while Elsa sings, is this really what happened to the others, or is Elsa having a fantasy?

I presumed that Bette and Dotte inherited Dandy's money. Of course, where is his body? Don't they have to provide a death certificate to get their hands on his inheritance which he may not even have yet from his own mom, depending on timelines and how smart or dumb he was?

Was the marriage even legal?

How come there's no mention of a millionaire being found in a water tank or however they found him?

How come Elsa never heard about the freaks in her many years in Hollywood, or had she and was just surprised that others found out? A freak show massacre would definitely make the news. As well as a dead millionaire, his mom, and who knows who else? I'm sure Dandy buried mom puppet in the garden. But was it found? Or did he dissolve them in acid?

How did Dandy drag Ima across the freak-show grounds for his macabre masterpiece? Yes, we know he's strong but can he really drag her around?

How can you call something a "snuff" movie when the star didn't die? Why is it bad to have survived a horrific "snuff" movie where your legs get sawed off? Wouldn't it be a GOOD thing you survived torture?

And isn't Jimmy wanted for a bunch of things like the murder of Tupperware ladies and some cops? Won't he be suspected of the freak-show massacre too? And Dandy's death? And perhaps whatever mayhem that's discovered at Dandy's house.? So how is Jimmy living a happy life with two-headed girls and presumably no one knows about them? They just cashed a whopper of a check and ran to a remote place and hid for decades, with two heads and lobster hands? Aren't the girls on the run for murder? Wouldn't they get thrown in the clink if they use Dandy's bank account as they would be discovered?

I'm sure that the frozen dinner Jimmy is eating is from Dandy's company. Jimmy's likely running it, maybe even as Dandy by phone?

Does Bette ever miss Dandy? I don't think she liked tricking him and still had a soft spot for him even though she said she hated him. She was being pressured by the others. Her sister got lobster boy but she gets nothing but to share lobster boy. Or maybe she loves lobster boy now too since she realizes that's who's she's getting and that's that. And let's face it, there are a lot worse fates than chilling with Evan Peters.

I have more random thoughts about this series that I'll post at another time. I really did enjoy the finale even though, as I said, I was very frustrated with some of the story lines that were rushed or not tied up as neatly as I desired. I like it when shows make me think about all the possibilities these fabulous characters can experience and Freak Show has done that.

Please share your comments and theories.

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