American Horror Story Freakshow S04E01 Recap: Monsters Among Us

American Horror Story is back with its scariest premise yet. They’re headed to their take on a Freak Show, with a killer clown and all!

September 3 changes everything for Dot, as she prepares to enter the gates of hell. Jupiter, Florida 1952

The milk is delivered as usual to a quiet home. The milkman notices that last week’s delivery hasn’t been brought in, the milk sits on the doorstep rotten. The milkman heads into the home, calling for Mrs. Tattler. The house is quiet, there’s a spoiled dinner on the table, and a murdered Mrs. Tattler on the floor. The milkman drops his delivery and goes to check the upstairs with a rolling pin in hand, and makes an unexpected discovery.

A woman is rushed into surgery. The sight disgusts a few of the attendants, causing them to toss their cookies. In the X-rays the doctor finds multiple organs and a shared circulatory system. This monsterous creature was found at the scene of the crime. A candy striper says that she would have drowned such a thing at birth. Elsa comes to inquire about the thing everyone in the hospital is talking about. She charms the girl into letting her take a look. A police officer sits outside of the room, but dressed as a candy striper he lets Elsa pass. Elsa enters the room and gets her first glimpse of the conjoined twins. Even she is shocked by them, shocked and excited. She wakes the pretty girls.

And now we get the creeptastic credits. It is seriously one of the creepiest and most disturbing introductory credits ever produced.

Elsa has brought the girls something to wear when they leave. The girls talk telepathically. The screen goes split screen to show their different viewpoints. One of the girls is open to Elsa, even letting her stroke her cheek (Bette), but the other girl (Dot) will not let her. Elsa asks if the girls have ever had a boyfriend, and as Bette talks about touching herself while her sister pretends to leave her body, Dot snaps. The girls though connected have very different views, and one is very much uptight.

Just outside of Jupiter a young couple makes out, but the girl is ready to take the next step. The guy pulls away, telling her that he can’t afford a baby, but she’s prepared having stolen a few rubbers. He heads to the car to grab her a surprise, and then the scene turns nightmarish. A clown with a very scary face comes over to the girl. He gives her flowers. He prepares for a trick, pulling bowling pins from his bag. Troy rushes back over, he didn’t hire the guy. The clown knocks out the couple. The girl wakes to see her boyfriend Troy being stabbed repeatedly with scissors by the clown. She runs, and the clown chases her.

In a diner Elsa pours over the paper. Clipping an article. She has a whole collection of articles saved in her scrapbook. Across the diner she sees the charismatic Jimmy (Evan Peters) chatting up a waitress. She goes to sit with him, upset that he would compromise them and their home for some floozie. But he heard that they’re not wanted anymore, Elsa is living in lala land.

Elsa does laundry with the tiniest woman. Her landlord comes to tell her that she’s to leave. No one has come to see her act, in the two months that she’s been there, and another troupe wishes to come in and plant their tent there. They pay in advance, in cash. Elsa offers him something the other troupe can’t, a little swing on her trapeze.

Elsa doesn’t like Evan’s implications no matter how true. And she reminds him that he’s a freak as much as the rest of the people at their show. She’s sure that the pretty little waitress and everyone else will shy away from him and his deformities once they saw all of him and he’d be condemned to an asylum like most freaks all. Elsa tells him to think of his poor mother, if he wants her sentenced to that cruelty as well. He tells her that its over, but she has a plan. Mittens raised, Jimmy surrenders and leaves. The waitress asks her to close out her check, but Elsa tells her that its on the house, stars never pay.

Marla sits waiting her turn. Someone from the freak show is serving the ladies, relaxing them. Marla heads back. It’s Jimmy, and she’s frightened but Jimmy uses his deformity to bring her to new heights. Elsa was very mistaken about the women disliking Jimmy’s hands.

Elsa asks the girls about the night their mother died. Dot says that it was a robbery gone wrong as they had nothing to steal. Elsa presses them for details, and Bette embellishes the story, adding too many details. Dot tells her to shut up. Elsa knows that they’re lying, and the girls suspect she knows. Elsa tells them to get their story together before the police ask them questions.

The creepy ass clown stalks in the shadows. Looking at another victim. The hospital staff listen to the report of the clown’s actions on the radio. He’s struck again, killing another couple, and this time stealing the child. Bette and Dot listen as well. The cops have no leads, and can only hope to catch him soon.

In the woods, the clown is holding the girl from earlier and the boy in a bus. She tells him not to worry that someone will find them. She tries to comfort him saying that his parents will never stop looking for him, but he knows that the clown killed his parents. The clown returns with a gift, it’s a wind up clown. The girl tries to appeal to him, telling him how talented he is, asking him to release them. He pulls out a string off hankerchiefs connected to a rattle, shaking it. His captives are scare out of their minds. The crazed clown tries to twist a balloon animal, but it pops, and he takes out his anger on them throwing balls and rattling their cage. He rips at the bars and they scream in fear.

The twins pack in a rush. Bette fondles some silk panties, but Dot tells her their trashy, throwing them in the case, and closing it. Elsa tracked them down after they disappeared from the hospital. The cops haven’t come for them yet, but they will. There have been a string of murders, and the cops believe their mother’s death was connected, that they may be the culprits. If one is charged, they both die. Dot takes the protective stand for her sister, but she didn’t for their mother. Bette wanted to go out, but their mother didn’t want any of the foolishness. They had to leave their last home in the dead of night when the girls were discovered, and now Bette just wants to see a movie in glorious Technicolor. Their mother continue her refusal, and Bette loses it, stabbing their mother. Bette didn’t know better, but Dot did, and she did nothing to stop her until it was too late. It was Dot who stabbed her sister as they lay in bed. Dot asks what Elsa wants. She claims she just wants to save her.

Better thinks that the day holds promise, never a brighter one on that glorious day on September 3rd as they prepare to enter the Freak Show. Jimmy hopes they actually bring in some customers. As they walk into the mouth of the creepy Devil Clown I think Dot has it right, its hell.

Bette writes in her diary. She thinks she’s found the light. She’s surrounded by beauty. Dot feels that she is surrounded by a cesspool of activity and depravity. She longs for the quiet serenity of the farmhouse. Though she does see Jimmy Darling as a ray of light. Most hated is Ethel the bearded woman, who serves as henchwoman to Elsa. Bette complains that Dot will not let her eat. Ethel demands that they eat to keep up their strength, and threatens to slap Dot silly if she prevents Bette from doing so. The girls should be grateful to Elsa for saving them, she saved Ethel as well. Ethel was thrown into the drunk tank when Elsa found her. She reunited her with her boy and she put her back on stage where she belongs. Ethel thinks that they’ll pack that tent, but Dot doesn’t think so. The Freak Show is the best that they’ll get, and they will perform.

Jimmy and a pair of freaks hang the banner announcing the new act. One is concerned about advertising about the girls with them being wanted. Jimmy had gone to Elsa with the same concern, but Elsa is sure she can handle the bumpkin cops. A car full of boys throw bottles at Jimmy and the others while they’re hanging the sign. He hates how people treat him, but it’s a side effect to the business.

Elsa enjoys a movie. One of the performers comes in looking like a mess, she needs to go home she says, back to her family, her church. The girl is free to leave, but Elsa reminds her that she is to say nothing of her time with them. The girl wants to tell everyone about the real depravities that happen there. She was drugged and raped. Elsa laughs, the girl is confused. She liked it with them, but the girl remains adamant she did not. Elsa tells her that she loved it. She plays her movie, it’s of the home movie variety. She looks like she enjoyed herself as she smoked, contorted, and had sex with pretty much every freak. She’s horrified to see that she did enjoy it, that she had so many of them on her inside of her. Elsa will not have her freaks called monsters, the monsters are the people outside of the tent. They dream of strange erotic pleasures. The monsters she called depraved offer their oddities to the world, they entertain. The contouring girl could be one of the soulless monsters, maybe she’s already one.

Jimmy hands the money over to his mother. It’s not enough to pay the bills, and he’s tired of leaving through the back door, like a criminal. Ethel tells him that with people like Red Skeleton and Lucille Ball people are staying home. Jimmy wants a normal life, a better life. Ethel tells him its not happening, they need to stick to their people, and stay. She tells him if he wants to be helpful he should get the twins to eat, but no flipper action.

Jimmy heads out of his trailer, and finds the twins in distress. A detective has come for them, they’re his main suspect in the murder of their mother. Jimmy tells him that they were attacked too, but the detective points out that they were stabbed days later, and there is no proof of forced entry. He smells a cover up. He thinks that they may have been involved in the other two murders as well, and tells Jimmy to leave. But Jimmy isn’t going anywhere. He whistles for back up. The detective isn’t concerned, telling Jimmy that there is no place for freaks like them. Jimmy doesn’t like that word, and he kills the detective, and releases the girls. He saved them, and now they need to save the Freak Show.

Evening comes over the Freak Show. There are only two people in attendance, an overly dotting mother, and her rash prone son. He’s bored waiting for the freaks, but his tune changes when he spots his first freak. Elsa prepares in her dressing room. Ethel makes the opening speech introducing the main staple of freaks. Elsa Mars is announced last, and she takes the stage first singing a David Bowie song. Seriously, David freaking Bowie, though he’d only be five at this time in life. As much as Jessica Lange is a fantastic performer, she’s no Bowie. The freaks perform around her. Jimmy doesn’t look so happy during the performance, perhaps its all her usage of the word freak. The son leaves, Elsa seems to realize she’s not the star attraction. The man is intrigued by the twins, so much so that he wants to buy them. He and his mother offer $10,000, and going up to $15,000. The girls refuse, unwilling to leave their “family.” The odd couple leave, upset only about having sat through Elsa’s caterwauling. The clown sits on the merry-go-round.

The Freak Show head down the road. Jimmy says that the lawman was suppose to protect them, but he judged them guilty when he first stepped into their camp. They deserve to be happy. It’s wrong for others to treat them bad. If they want to act like monsters, they they’ll be monsters. If anyone messes with them, then, they’ll show them what they can do. The group raises their machetes and hack at the detective’s body as the clown sits and watches.

Elsa smokes her pipe. Ethel feels a change in the wind. But Elsa needs to make a confession. She didn’t bring the twins there to save them, but for herself. She brought the twins there so that they would bring in people to watch her perform. Ethel doesn’t find blame in her. She has a gift, and she deserves the applause. She’s sure that Elsa is destined for greatness. Alone, Elsa plays a record, and removes her lets. She’s got a little bit of freak in her too.   

Freak Show airs Wednesday at 10Pm ET?PT on FX


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