American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 2 Review: Massacres and Matinees

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Who are the freaks?

That's the question I found myself asking as I watched American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 2. We know who the oddities are that work in the freak show, but it's the people who don't work the "circus" that scare the hell out of me.

Yes, the clown is very frightening. But is he any more frightening than Gloria and Dandy Mott, Dell Toledo or the criminals who saw fit to kill Meep?

Michael Chiklis joined the cast tonight as strong man Dell Toledo. He brought with him his new lady(ish) love, Desiree Dupree, played convincingly by Angela Bassett:

Desiree: Three titties, proper girl parts and a dingaling. I'm a full blown hermaphrodite. Put that on
your banner.
Elsa: My word. What does that make you?
Dell: The happiest man on earth.

And unless I'm flat out of my mind, he's Jimmy Darling's father. The history between Ethel and Dell sure made it seem that way, and their interaction added an extra layer of mystery to the strong man. Despite his bravado as he caught up with Ethel, when their conversation was over he seemed genuinely affected by it.

This is a complete aside, but can anyone place the accent Kathy Bates is affecting as Ethel Darling? It sound so familiar but I cannot grasp it.

Poor Jimmy just wants to be a normal boy. You have to hand it to him for giving it a go and getting the freaks to the local diner. He was treated well there formerly, so it made sense to him to take it a step further. The same people who would pay to see freaks at the show when they're not mingling in the "normal" world were panicked at the thought of sharing a meal with them.

Things absolutely spiraled out of control when word of the missing citizens and a cop hit the news. The curfew threw a wet blanket over the freak show and put Elsa and her new Barker (Dell) at odds. Jimmy took the brunt of it, though, because in trying to get rid of Dell he was outsmarted and Meep got killed instead.

Whether freaks or not, everyone seems to have something terrible inside and a lot of them hide behind their deepest insecurities to get away with murder (both literally and figuratively).

The mystery of Jupiter and the disappearance of its citizens has somehow been connected the freak show, and it's ironic a maniacal clown is at the heart of it. He has no place in the freak show, but together with Gloria and Dandy Mott could give the show a run for the money.

What is the story of the Motts? Arguably they're very wealthy and perhaps a bit mentally ill. What kind of a mother would stop by that dirty, ferocious looking clown and decide to take him home to their child, no matter how "bored" the childish adult claimed to be?

I was hoping that when the clown clubbed Dandy in the back of the head with the juggling pin he might be down for a while, but that kid can beat his own head dramatically on a steering wheel drawing blood and be beaten by a clown and still manage to follow Cray Cray Clown to his captives in the woods.

So I ask again... who are these people? That, frankly, is the story I am most interested in learning about. Dandy wants to be a thespian, and even though he hates the cardboard they pass off as caramel corn at the freak show, he still thought they could provide his big break.

Well, unless you got pony legs under those trousers or a double ding dong...


Getting his own puppet will allow Dandy to live out his fantasy. Why didn't the clown turn on him? Could he have been so shocked at being picked up by Gloria that he just wanted to see where it was all heading? He's an enigma, certainly -- killing for a toy and taking it along with a head to entertain his captives. And what happened to his mouth?! {{{shudder}}}

We learned in American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 1 that Elsa was using the freaks to grab at the brass ring of fame and fortune for herself. Imagine her surprise when Dot could actually sing. Whoops! The modern songs used in this setting are just brilliant. Last week's "Life on Mars" lyrically fit the moment as well as "Criminal" did coming from the lips of Dot to her Jimmy.

The reveal of what body parts Bette and Dot share makes much more sense now that we know Elsa hopes Bette will kill Dot. How would that even work? Dot's heart could stop, but would the body absorb the unused parts or would they kill her? I assume she'd want to chop off the offensive head, as well. The whole thing would leave her without use of her right side, right?

Ugh. Yep. The freaks on Freak Show aren't the malformed human beings, but the ones that are sick in the head. As usual, it's impossible to determine who is good and who is bad at their core. What did you think of the continuation of the insanity? Do you have any thoughts on who or what the so-called normal people are in Jupiter? Hit the comments!

Don't forget that you can watch American Horror Story online to catch up or relive the most freaky moments and check out the American Horror Story quotes because there were plenty during the hour to savor! 

Massacres and Matinees Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (34 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 2 Quotes

They don't even know us. If they just got to know us, they would see we're just like them. No better, no worse. Just regular people. That's what we gotta do. Let 'em know us.


I'm sorry I snapped. I never killed nobody before. What if he has a family, couple kids, wondering where he is? I know what it's like growing up without a father.