And with that, season four of American Horror Story draws to a close. Not with a bang, but with a whole lot of bangs.
If there's one thing tonight's Freak Show finale delivered, it was a high body count. Everything about this season has been uneven, from the tone to the pacing to the overall themes. The only constant seemed to be a constant stream of new characters to introduce, including one introduced in tonight's final episode. What Freak Show lacked in focus, it certainly made up for with a steady stream of unlucky lambs to lead to one particularly grand slaughter.
Of course, the downside is I'm left wondering why we bothered getting to know some of these characters at all.
See who's left standing, AFTER THE JUMP …
So how are things going at the show with Dandy (Finn Wittrock) in charge? NOT SO GOOD, IT TURNS OUT. He wants to be a sing-songy fancy boy, which doesn’t exactly mesh well with the whole freak show. Plus, he’s a bossypants, which rubs all the other performers the wrong way. Dandy is a jerk and a meanie and he’s not talented and he’ll never be a true freak. Despite the fact there is supposedly only one other freak show left in the country, they don’t have to take this, they quit!
Dandy, predictably, does not take this well at all. At all.
So, he puts on a little sickly makeup. You know, just some matte powder, liner and a little lipstick to bring out the pallor of his skin (sort of like women’s makeup in the early nineties). Then, he grabs his mother’s old gold revolver and heads out of the tent. Boom! You’re dead, Paul “the Illustrated Seal” (Mat Fraser). (R.I.P. Paul, you were very handsome.) Bang! You’re dead, Lizard Girl (Grace Gummer). (R.I.P. Lizard Girl, you had a very complicated relationship with your father that ended up not mattering all that much.) Pew-pew! Good night, Toulouse (Drew Rin Varick) and Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins) and Ima (Chrissy Metz). (R.I.P, y’all. I don't know why we bothered even learning your names.)
But Dandy and his pistol with the infinite ammo aren’t done yet. All this booming and banging and pew-pewing is starting to arouse some suspicion, and Desiree (Angela Bassett) and Eve (Erika Ervin) quickly understand what’s happening. Desiree hides in her closet while Dandy searches her trailer, but, before he can find her, Eve attacks. She gives him a good pounding, but Dandy grabs the gun and kills her too. (R.I.P., Eve, you were my favorite.) Dandy then picks up the twins, whom he had tied up back in their tent.
[As an aside, this is the fourth time there’s been a shooting massacre on this show. Each season has featured at least one similar rampage, including Tate (Evan Peters)’s school shooting in season one, the Santa (Ian McShane) from Asylum and the salon shoot-out in Coven. Is it just me or are those some of the most tense, frightening and disturbing scenes the show does?]
Back at Chateau Mott, there’s a wedding underway, uniting Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson and Sarah Paulson with her head cocked more to one side) with Dandy in holy matrimony. The twins seem really happy! A little too happy! Even when Dandy gets a little creepy about the wedding night and his manhood and all sorts of gross stuff. Before they consummate the marriage, the twins have prepared a feast for Dandy. Their hired chef is really something!
Cut to the twins sitting across the long dining room table from Dandy. Someone off camera refills his champagne. Who might that be? Why, it’s Desiree! Dandy now is starting to feel a little groggy. Woozy, even. The twins were faking it! They don’t love Dandy at all! They hate him for killing their friends. Dandy tries to stand and stab Desiree, but before he gets his footing, Bette fires off a shot that hits him in the arm. Then Jimmy (Evan Peters) comes out from the kitchen. It’s on now.
Dandy passes out at home, but wakes up in his undies inside one of those escape tanks, the kind where you’re shackled to the bottom as it fills with water. Dandy, of course, is no escape artist. Sure, they could’ve just shot or stabbed or strangled him right away to rid the world of such evil swiftly, but they’re performers. There needs to be some drama. Plus, they need to have lots of time for more talking. Oh, the talking. Trapped in the tank, Desiree, the twins and Jimmy give him an earful, culminating in Jimmy’s proclamation that “the freaks shall inherit the Earth!” (Boy, those wooden hands sure are heavy …) The three of them take a seat and watch him drown. Desiree even enjoys some popcorn with the show. R.I … you know what? Good riddance, Dandy. You were pretty irredeemable, save for that tight body-ody-ody.
Later, Desiree settles down with her man (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) and has a few kids. Jimmy and the twins get together and have a bun in the oven themselves. Good for them!
Now, how’s Elsa (Jessica Lange) doing out in Hollywood? NOT SO GOOD, IT TURNS OUT. She’s been waiting to see some big studio muckety-muck, but he (and his secretary) won’t give her the time of day. After a particularly humiliating day spent waiting, Elsa snaps, only to be rescued by Mr. Beck (Mr. NPH, David Burtka).
Fast-forward a few years, and Elsa is married to Mr. Beck. He’s sort of a pushover and she is not happy. She’s got plenty of success — an Emmy-winning variety show, hit records — but she’s unfulfilled. Everyone around her just yes’s her, and she just wants to feel loved. Then Massimo (Danny Huston) shows up, and her heart soars. She offers to runaway with him, but so sad, too bad, he’s dying. Like, real soon. So this is goodbye! Smell ya later, Elsa! Auf wiedersehen!
It gets worse. They want her to do a special on Halloween, and y’all know freaks don’t perform on Halloween. Elsa refuses, until she learns a reporter has seen her freaky-deaky German films and dug up her freak show past. Also, beeteedubs, all those freaks are dead now. Weird, right? Elsa, her career on the cusp of collapse and most of her loved ones dead dead dead, decides, you know what, maybe I will do that Halloween show.
Like clockwork, ol’ Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) and crew show up. She tells them to take her, and they oblige. Once she’s dead, Mordrake gets a sort of spooky buyer’s remorse and is like "Your place is not with us."
Instead, she’s sent to some kind of freak show afterlife with all her dead friends. Everyone’s there, like Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) and Eve and even Ethel (Kathy Bates), who totes forgives Elsa for the whole murdering her thing. Stars don’t pay. Instead, they’ll serve out eternity, singing David Bowie songs to a packed house every single night, forever.
What did you think of tonight’s finale? How do you think Freak Show measures up to the previous seasons?