AHS: Freak show Ep. 2: “Massacres and Matinees” Review
By Rob Jefchak
Being a freak, according to this series requires 3 things: a physical deformity of some kind, the ability to perform on stage and most importantly…a murder loaded back story. No one in this show is clean; everyone’s got a hideous dark side that exists inwards as well as outwards. It’s hard to deny the morbid fascination viewers have with these people’s lives continually be twisted and tormented and it’s only making us (viewers) hunger for more dark clown and carny carnage. After the horrifying police officer murder at the “hands” of Jimmy the lobster boy and the others, a curfew is set until police solve the unsolved murders going around AND find what happened to their missing officer.
Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite and feared clown killer “Twisted” finds himself a new playmate with a strange rich boy, a new Strong man (Michael Chiklis) and 3 breasted woman (Angela Bassett) combo act causes trouble for the freak show and the two headed sister act of Dotty and Bette perform much to Elsa Mars jealousy. The first episode set the bar pretty low in the gutter with its disturbing use of sex, violence and downright unnerving freak show co-stars; it’s hard to tell if I am supposed to empathize with these people or back away from nervously. If there’s one thing I can say this show does well is it surprises you. This new development with the clown and the rich douche from the last episode was totally out of left field.
It’s fascinating how every new person that comes to this beast filled big top has a trail of blood left behind and it’s turned Elsa’s freak show into quite the gathering for murderers and monsters. I knew Chiklis was going to be on the show eventually, but now seeing what kind of character he is makes things all the more dark and even more interesting. Chiklis is tied to the Lobster boy AND the Bearded lady and if things are this volatile by his very first appearance, lord only knows how destructive things are going to get between them for the rest of the season.
The show’s visual and musical style continues to put me in a trance me and yes, that’s the best word I can think of when describing the music: trance. Easily the stand out superb moment of the episode was seeing the two headed sisters perform a hauntingly unique rendition of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” While it’s true the time setting is decades short of when the song is actually released in real time, it doesn’t deter the effect or the masterful performance that would make any star or singer green with envy (as we see so clearly happening with Elsa Mars).
Everything on the show (characters, story, camera angles, developments) all feel like it’s a person standing on a tight tope: shaking nervously at what the person has to accomplish and what horrible fate awaits him should he fall…as if everything is one bad spill waiting to happen and make everything go from bad to worse. I wrote the rich family off as a two dimensional stereotype of rich white jerks, but seeing the son actually work out some kind of arrangement with the clown makes me curious about those two more so than anyone else on the show. One thing I can say for certain is that the body and splatter count will continue to rise and terrify with each new installment in the season, and just like Twisted the clown; I can’t stop myself from enjoying it.