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In American Horror Story this week, the twins perform, with Dot knocking it out of the park with Fiona Apple’s Criminal, and it is farewell to the Geek who the new strong man sets up to take the fall for the missing detective that “lobster boy” and co got rid of in last week’s season premiere. The show also takes the masks off, Elsa shows how she really feels about her new headline act and the clown’s big grin is knocked askew by one of this captors and what is underneath those huge gnashers is terrifying in the extreme.
Ryan Murphy continues using anachronistic musical numbers in the 1952 setting of small town U.S.A. in the state of Florida. The police are looking for the person responsible for the string of murders in the area. They come out to speak to Elsa Mars, who tells them to come back when they have a search warrant, “The monsters,” she says, “cherish their privacy.” Jessica Lange as the Marlene Dietrich of American Horror Story Freak Show continues to rock as Elsa Mars and hopefully fans will not have to wait too long for her to sing again.
A curfew is put in place by the local cops and Mars complains that they will ruin her show. Meanwhile, back in town, the toy store owner and his assistant are beheaded by the clown, who hides in plain sight between two display clowns who look almost as terrifying as Twisty himself. All this happens before Elsa discovers that Dot can really sing, later the twin will perform Criminal to a crowd of enthusiastic men. The strongman decides to fight the curfew by having afternoon matinees and before the Geek, known as Meep, says farewell by the end of the show, the small performer who bites the heads off of chickens gets billed alongside Elsa Mars on the posters he has been putting up all over Jupiter.
American Horror Story’s second episode appears to be more of a homage to the Tod Browning 1932 classic Freaks with its emphasis on the unpopular strong man who not only beats Jimmy Darling but upsets all of the freak show members as well. One “Browning” moment occurs when Jimmy is sitting at the head of a long table while the rest of the freaks start chanting “fill the copper” which sounds a lot like the dinner scene in the original film, with its chant of “One of us, one of us, gibble gobble gibble gobble.”
Of course in the 1932 black and white cult film, the evil Cleopatra knocks the glass off the table and here in American Horror Story Freak Show, it is Jimmy who knocks the copper cup away. Leaving the Browning homage for a moment, it turns out that Dandy Mott and his mother Gloria have more money than they need and the boy is mad as a hatter.
This pigeon-toed wannabe thespian has been murdering neighbor’s cats and when the cook mentions that she found remains, Gloria claims that Dandy has nothing to do with it and flounces out of the room. Michael Chiklis shows up in this episode as the strong man with ties to Jimmy and his mother Ethel and he has his wife with him.
Dandy wants to join the freak show in American Horror Story and gets very angry when he is turned down. Dot sings Criminal with Bette acting as backing singer and the twins are a mega hit with the guys from town. It is also farewell to the Geek after the strongman takes the evidence that Jimmy planted in his trailer and moved it to Meep’s. Murphy’s decision to have these musical numbers in the first two episodes is further proof of his genius. First David Bowie’s Life on Mars and now Fiona Apple’s Criminal, only the American Horror Story creator knows just how many other modern songs will be in this brilliant show this season. American Horror Story Freak Show airs Wednesdays on FX. Until next week’s episode here is Dot and Bette singing Criminal.
By Michael Smith