I’ve survived a haunted home, an insane asylum, and a witches’ coven, and I’m still here. I love “American Horror Story.” The scripts are deliciously wicked and the acting superb. We open up season four with a freak show and I’ve already purchased my ticket to enter the side show tent. Enter at your own risk.
Cabinet of Curiosities
The wait is over and within the first few moments of the opening, we are hooked. A milkman making his daily delivery notices the bottles from the day before have not been touched. Back in the day, everyone knew everyone and so it would be normal for the milkman to enter the home to check on the elderly woman living there. The woman is dead, but she’s not alone. The town of Jupiter Florida isn’t used to strange people and you can’t get any stranger then Mrs. Tattler’s daughters.
The hospital is in a flurry after the daughters are rushed to the hospital. A surgeon checks off the list of his examination: one bladder, three kidneys, four lungs, two hearts, one reproductive system. Yep, you guessed right. Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson) are conjoined twins. Freaks, as far as the good people of Jupiter are concerned, but to Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) they just may be the ticket to save her sideshow.
Jessica Lange literally shines as the German owner of the traveling side show. Jessica’s Elsa loves everything connected to Hollywood, the stars, the clothes, and the notoriety. Elsa has survived World War Two, but her hardest job is keeping her ragtag group of misshapen, twisted, and mistreated family together. This season may be Jessica Lange’s last according to rumors, but I hope not and the Elsa Mars character might be her best role, yet. Elsa convinces Bette and Dot to join the show.
My earliest memory of a clown was Clarabell from “The Howdy Doody Show.” There were only three stations on a twelve inch television screen and although my siblings and I loved Howdy, we were afraid of the clown. In tonight’s episode, we meet a clown that makes Stephen King’s Pennywise look like a Boy Scout. Twisty (John Carroll Lynch) the clown is viciously killing the townsfolk of Jupiter and has a young boy and teenage girl held captive in his camper. So far, he’s only spying on the circus folk, but that may soon change.
One by one, you learn a little bit about each member of the sideshow. They are loyal to Elsa and to each other. Hated and taunted by the lot lice (regular folk) they have found a home and do their acts in the big tent, but just like regular families, they bicker and disagree. It’s a hard life and they try to make the best of a bad role of dice during a time when people weren’t that interested in acting or speaking, politically correct.
Kathy Bates is an actress that holds the viewer mesmerized by her character roles be it as the New Orleans torturer, Delphine, or Ethel Darling the bearded lady. This is one classy lady and she’s not afraid to put herself into some rather strange situations for the sake of the show. Ethel has a son with deformed hands. Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) has a talent for pleasing bored housewives with those clawed fingers and the housewives will pay a pretty penny for the privilege. He has fallen for the sisters and, they for him.
There is an assortment of freaks that we, I am sure, will learn more about their background and how they came to work for the sideshow on upcoming episodes. I am curious to learn about Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) a two foot tall bundle of joy. But, we soon realize that the real freaks are not the people inside the tent, but the so called normal townsfolk who think nothing of treating people as property. We get to meet the Motts, a wealthy mother Gloria (Frances Conroy) and her pampered son, Dandy (Finn Wittrock).
The Motts have paid for a private show. The sisters are displayed and Elsa sings a beautiful song about sailors and dance halls and she sounds just like Greta Garbo. The Motts are not impressed. While Elsa sings, Jimmy if forced to kill a nasty cop who made the mistake of trying to arrest the sisters. While they try to hide the body, Twisty watches. That clown is freaking scary.
We get why all the other freaks stay together; there is safety in numbers, but we don’t know Elsa’s story. What would draw a beautiful woman to spend her life working a sideshow? What secret does she hide? While the song “Auf Wiedersehen” plays on that old record player, we watch as Elsa removes her legs.
This season premiere was a pleasant surprise and even thought there was the usual shock value gore that has made “American Horror Story” the number one horror hit that it is; this episode centered more on the people who are shunned. They are so much more than their disabilities and it is their story that will keep the fans captivated.
See you next week, my little lot lice, and do watch out for Twisty.