American Horror Story: Freak Show Review: Massacres and Matinees

American Horror Story: Freak Show Review: Massacres and Matinees

Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen American Horror Story: Freak Show Ep. 2 – “Massacres and Matinees.”

“It doesn’t matter if they’re good. They’ve got two heads.” — Elsa

Things are heating up in Jupiter.  The freak show acquired two new acts, a strong man and an hermaphrodite; the killer clown found himself (an even creepier) partner in crazy; and, shockingly, at least to Jimmy, killing one police officer doesn’t stop more from coming around. In fact, it may have an opposite effect.

And still, in the midst of all this madness Freak Show also found the time to fit in storylines about aging songstresses getting upstaged by fresh-faced talent and a secret baby daddy to spice things up. There’s still plenty of time for the show to run off the rails, but so far Freak Show is shaping up to be the sharpest, most visually stunning installment to date.

But of course AHS is only truly at its best when it’s speaking to something larger than jumps and cheap scares. Sure, the show is hitting the “who’s the real freaks” theme a little hard, but its clear that Ryan Murphy only chose a freak show for his next setting so he could go wild with his favorite theme ever; the weirdos and freaks winning out of the status quo. Of course in this instance the “weirdos” like to drug and rape young women and kill detectives just doing their jobs. So perhaps the message won’t be quite as strong as Murphy might have hoped.

But any heavy handedness with that theme is more than made up for by what Freak Show is saying about the ways the system abuses those unable to defend or protect themselves. The scene of Meep in prison, and later being returned to camp like an old Christmas tree, was more terrifying and upsetting than any clown with a severed head. Sure, that could be interpreted as evidence of the “normals” being more depraved than the “freaks,” but lets not forget how Meep ended up in prison in the first place: thanks to the crimes and shenanigans of the “freaks.”

No, I think this was just the first in a long line of very dark endings we’ll see for the freaks, especially the ones suffering from developmental or mental disabilities.  We already know Pepper will end up in an asylum up north since she’s the first character to repeat in any AHS installment. In Asylum the lack of rights for women and gays was held up for examination and similarly this season is examining the lack of rights and control of the disabled. For all its blood and gore, AHS knows the truly scary things are the ones that hit closest to home; the injustices and abuse people must endure simply because in the eyes of society they don’t have the right to object. And I just love that shit.

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