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American Horror Story: Freak Show “Test of Strength” 

American Horror Story: Freak Show “Test of Strength”
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX

Death came a knockin’ once again, and poor Ma Petite had to pay the price for Stanley’s greed and Dell’s cowardice. This episode of American Horror Story took a break from Dandy’s psychopathic tendencies and focused more on the relationships within the freak show.

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX

At the Mott mansion of horrors, Jimmy was able to get Bette and Dot away from Dandy. However, Jimmy now realizes Dandy was the other clown who tried to saw Maggie in half. Knowing Jimmy, he will most certainly seek justice. I just hope he doesn’t lose himself in the process. Maggie begged him to run away, but I don’t see them running off into the sunset.

I was a little surprised Dot lied to everyone about how they ended up with the Motts, but Dot is well aware of the concept of self-preservation. Bette and Dot appeared strong while making their demands to Elsa, but Elsa is no pushover. After Bette got a blonde makeover, it looked like the roles had reversed between her and Dot.

I really hope Ethel heard everything between Stanley and Elsa because someone needs to help the Tattler twins before Stanley kills them or they kill each other.

Stanley and Dell have quickly become my least favorite characters on the show. They are pure slime. I was a little miffed that Dell was so easily blackmailed by Stanley, but his fear of being exposed as a homosexual is greater than his physical strength.

He’s also not the sharpest tool in the shed going after Amazon Eve. Of course she was able to defend herself and kick his ass. Ethel, Eve and the other freaks were rightly upset and wanted to kill Dell. Jimmy, being the good guy, wanted to handle things with Dell himself.

I’m not going to lie. I was really nervous that Dell was going to go through with killing Jimmy. However, Dell should never underestimate the power of father-son bonding. That scene in the alleyway was perfect. Unfortunately, not killing Jimmy meant Dell now had to kill someone else: Ma Petite. Dell was a monster in that scene. Giving her a pretty dress and calling her a princess before crushing and snapping her neck was awful.

Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX

Still, Dell was not the most monstrous man in the episode. That award goes to Penny’s father. It’s been obvious that this season explores the concept of monsters and who they are. They aren’t always the ones who outwardly look like it. Most of the time, they are the ones who appear normal.

Having his daughter’s face be tattooed and her tongue forked went beyond disturbing. He would rather have no one know that she’s his daughter than live with the gossip of her running off with a circus freak. He would rather turn her into one. Now Paul has to live with the guilt of his involvement in Penny’s life.

Now let’s take a moment to appreciate Evan Peters for a second. Peters’ performance was remarkable in this episode. Watching him reveal he knew Dell was his father was heartbreaking, and watching him drunkenly talk back to Elsa was hilarious. Let’s not forget his performance of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” While I don’t think the song fit as seamlessly as the other past performances, I did enjoy his rendition.

While most of the praise in the series goes to Jessica Lange, Peters is often the unsung hero. He’s consistently great every season no matter how big or small the role is. Whether he’s playing an evil ghost or a mute Frankenstein creation, he always committed. I’m always curious to see what he’ll bring to each of his characters.

Questions to Ponder:

– Will Desiree and Ethel find out that Dell is the one who killed the doctor?

– What will everyone think now that Ma Petite is gone?

– Will Stanley continue to blackmail Dell into procuring more of the freaks?

– How soon before everyone turns on Elsa, especially now that Ethel is on to her?

American Horror Story: Freak Show airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.

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