I really enjoyed my week off from this show, and, to be completely honest, I was really dreading watching today’s episode and writing the recap. That being said… I was pleasantly surprised. Was this week’s episode perfect? No. Was it even particularly great? No, not really. But was it a huge improvement? Definitely.
(You may have noticed that my bar is set extremely low. As in, it’s sitting on the floor and you can just step right over it.)
The Pluses, or, Ryan Murphy REALLY Hates Moms
-If you’ve watched ANY of the other AHS series up til this point, you are, like me, completely aware that the men making this show either think mommy issues are the quickest way to drama or have crippling mommy issues of their own. (Maybe it’s a little of both…?) This episode might as well have had a neon sign in the background of every scene that said “MOMMY ISSUES.” We’ve got Elsa and her little monsters, Ethel and Jimmy, Gloria and Dandy, and even Barbara and her stingy, presumably rail-thin mom, and even though it felt repetitive at times, I didn’t hate it. It did make for some good drama. Plus 3 moms.
-This episode gave Angela Bassett the opportunity to yell both “NOT IN MY HOUSE!” and “First I’m gonna cut your dick off, then I’m gonna shoot you in the head,” so, plus 10,000 points.
-The scene between Ethel and Elsa was crazy long and I found myself drifting off to read stuff on my phone during some of it (I actually read an article about AHS‘s most disturbing scenes ever, which felt very meta), but Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange are both fucking grande dames for a reason. Plus 500 points.
-Denis O’Hare, Keeper of the Herculean Peen, is also apparently The Wolf from Pulp Fiction in this episode, which is pretty delightful. Plus 1,000 points.
-Hi, Danny Huston! I would LIKE to assume that you’ll be back for later episodes, but it would be SO like this campfest to have you speaking Italian in sepia tones for like a minute and a half and then not feature you again for the rest of the season. Plus 500 points.
-Okay, who’s the doctor? The scenes with him, Gloria and Dandy were really gorgeously shot – lingering over the patients, often for an uncomfortable length of time, while never seeing the man helping them – but I am just itching with curiosity over who he could possibly be. AHS likes its random tricks more than maybe any other show currently on TV, but this just feels so fucking deliberate – and maybe that’s because it’s someone linking Freak Show to another season? I saw a recap suggesting it could be my personal favorite, Dr. Thredson from Asylum, which I like, but the voice actually just sounded like Danny Huston again. It probably is Danny Huston and he’s, like, a magical immortal prosthetics maker who transitioned into psychiatry to be closer to Jessica Lange and this whole thing is just going to go to pot, again. Plus only 250 points until we figure out what’s up. If we ever do. Fucking Ryan Murphy.
-I do like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Freaks quite a bit, and I have to say, I prefer the Gummer with the face tattoos – Morris did a very precise job, at the very least – but easily the best part of that scene was the Hollywood Muppet Babies Throwdown between Julia Roberts’ niece and Meryl Streep’s daughter. I was not so secretly hoping they would kill each other and we could lose those characters, but this episode may have hit their “dead main characters” quota. At least Angela Bassett was there to snarl her way through all of her dialogue, so, plus 400 points.
-Speaking of moms, I forgot about Regina, Gabourey Sidibe’s as-of-yet do-nothing role who shows up at the Mott’s house looking for her mom, as one does when your mom is Patti LaBelle. She’s done less than nothing yet, but I’ll give her time. Wash, for now.
-I never have to hear Kathy Bates talk in that accent again. Until next season, you wonderful woman. Plus 1,500 points.
-Gloria’s death scene was pretty good. Frances Conroy, bless your heart. And the final image of Dandy in the blood bath, plus the gratuitous ass shot? Woof. To both. Plus 700 points.
Minuses, or, What the Fuck Is Going On with Anyone Else
-What’s Del’s deal these days? Denis O’Hare, besides cover-ups? Where are the fucking TWINS?! Stop leaving all these plot threads hanging out without so much as a mention, you guys! Minus 5,000 points.
-And, while you’re at it, give Evan Peters something to do. Seriously, I’m begging you. Last season you only really let him point and grunt, and while you did bestow the power of speech on him this time around, every one of his lines is exactly the same thing. After Murder House and Asylum, both of which gave Peters ample opportunity to flex his acting muscles, I feel like they’ve atrophied at this point. Jimmy is the literal worst and all he does is stand around and cry. Fix this. Minus 10,000 points.
-Also, no one is buying his romance with Magsmerelda, even though those two human beings are supposedly actually in love. Hey, Evan and Emma: No one is buying what you’re selling. If I had to guess, it’s probably a Japanese body pillow situation, like on 30 Rock with James Franco. Minus 500 points.
-Also, how much of a buzzkill is Magsmerelda? Let them cut off his dick if they want. Girls just wanna have fun. Minus 200 points.
On the whole, this episode was pretty good – plenty of action, pathos, and moms being terrible at mom-ing. There are only five episodes left in this season, though, which is PLENTY of time for Murphy & Co. to fuck it all up. See you next week!