Ali Spagnola

In Episode 147, Germar welcomes Ali Spagnola - yep that Ali Spagnola with the 8 billion Twitter followers, and the trademark, and the drinking and the dancing, and the touring and guitaring . . . .

Zaena Morisho

International recording superstar celebrity Zaena stopped by for an interview.

Michael Jackson

Posthumous Hits

Game of Thrones

Reviews

Big Movies

Reviewed

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Supernatural: “Black” recap and review

by Kayla Kenney, Writing Intern

CW's Supernatural redeemed itself in season ten’s premiere. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki still portray the brooding, evil-hunting Winchester brothers after nine years. Sam (Padalecki) flipped to the dark side plenty of times, but now, Dean’s (Ackles) turn arrives. Will demon Dean fight for his baby brother?

Season nine left viewers hanging from a massive cliff. Dean awoke with pitch-black, demon eyes, and the credits rolled. The premiere kicks off with a demon strung up and tortured. She mumbles on about how the rumors are true — a Winchester is “one of us.” You suspect Dean tortured her. Then, the camera pulls out to reveal Sam. An icy-blue “Supernatural” shatters--the newest title sequence. 

Four weeks later, Sam continuously hunts for Dean. The usual amount of book flipping and internet searches only leave him with a note from Dean saying, “SAMMY LET ME GO.”  Then, he stumbles upon an article. He calls up Castiel (Misha Collins). Cas reaps the benefits of his stolen angel grace. And the two determine that Dean might not be “Dean” anymore.

Cue Dean drunkenly singing “I’m Too Sexy” karaoke in a dive bar.  There, he and Crowley (Mark Sheppard) pass time.  As usual, Dean beds the local waitresses. Unusually, he expresses his anger more often through bar brawls.
Photo by Chris Frawley/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via Getty Images
After Dean’s inner, carefree wild side springs to life, the episode shifts back to Castiel. A fellow angel, Hannah (Erica Carroll), visits him. Of course, she wants a favor. She convinces Cas to track down rogue angels with her.

Meanwhile, Sam’s article finally brings him useful information. Using a classic, false identity and fake badge, he recovers videotape coverage of a gas station murder. The murderer happened to be Dean.  Naturally, he browsed the porn aisle. Then, a demon attacks him out of nowhere. The act appears as self-defense.  But Dean takes the defense to a brutal extreme. Sam slows the video down frame by frame and sees Dean’s demon eyes for the first time.

Simultaneously, another demon hurls himself at Dean. Dean suspects Abaddon (Alaina Huffman) followers are after him, because he killed her last season. However, Crowley is the man behind the deed. He wants to rule Hell with Dean as his right-hand man; Dean refuses. 

Castiel and Hannah search for their rogue angels. Along the way, Hannah notices Castiel’s failing grace. To live, he needs to kill an angel. However, he despises the thought of gaining any more angel blood on his hands. He plays mediator between Hannah and one of the rogues they find. Cas sees the lure in humanity. Hannah only sees the rules of Heaven. Cas forces the three of them to sit down and talk it out. Just as the conversation gets somewhere, another rogue comes in and mucks it all up. She and Hannah fight with their angel blades. In the end, Castiel kills one to protect Hannah. Castiel tears himself in two. He understands how the rogues yearn for humanity, yet he knows the importance of Heaven’s rules. This seems to be an infinite struggle for his character.

Sam finally contacts Crowley and tracks the call. This call directs him to his brother at long last. But, along the way, he hits a roadblock.

Season ten introduces an intriguing new party to the cast. We know he’s fought his way through some big battles. We don’t know why he’s hunting Dean. He goes to great lengths to capture Sam, just as he is on the road toward Dean. This new guy phones Dean. He threatens to kill Sam, if Dean doesn’t show up. An extremely out of character Dean doesn't run to save his little brother. He simply states that he will find and kill this guy someday.

The season opening gives Dean a new arc and new direction. Ackles’ character needed something. The change goes directly against his typical brooding-hunter style. The stagnant guy who saved people, hunted things, and always protected Sammy got boring. Now, his inner demon is brought to the surface. It’s bad. Drunken, heartless, and full of rage, Dean no longer comes to Sam’s rescue. Bogged down with predictability before this, Dean’s lack of savior-mentality is anything but sad. Now, Sam needs another change. His scrunched-up face of frustration shows up much too frequently to be taken seriously. 

The show manages to keep you hooked with new aspects, and ideas, each and every season.  Who is this guy that’s hunting Dean now, and why is he doing it? With this new character in play and Dean’s not-so-Dean attitude, the premiere is a great example of why the show’s lasted for ten seasons. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ke$ha’s lawsuit: money, power, fame, sexual assault

by Melissa Scott

                         From Flickr - Becky Sullivan
It’s never easy to read about sexual assault cases in daily news—especially when the accusations include date rape or long term sexual abuse. Naturally, siding with the accuser and hating the accused is reflex. Somehow, the unfamiliarity of the names of individuals involved, and a generic societal intolerance, automatically curbs our sympathy. But when the matter deals with headline celebrities and the all-powerful entertainment industry—lines blur.

Kesha officially filed a lawsuit Tuesday, October 14, against music producer and label owner Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. The suit accused Gottwald of “sexual assault, gender violence, harassment, unfair business practices and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”  Gottwald retaliated quickly by filing a countersuit against Kesha, and her mother, for breach of contract and defamation.

A deeper dig into the allegations uncovers ugliness on both sides. Kesha specifically described an incident in which Gottwald took her “virginity,” without her consent, when she was 18. The lawsuit accused Gottwald of drugging her with GHB, after they both attended a party, and then raping her while she was unconscious. Since then, Kesha complained, Gottwald tormented her both verbally and physically, over the course of ten years. Gottwald’s abuse, according to Pebe Sebert (Kesha’s mother) included growing jibes about her weight. Sebert insisted it was this behavior that drove Kesha to bulimia, and resulted in her checking into rehab for the eating disorder in January 2014. “We are prepared to fight until he agrees to get out of her life once and for all,” her lawyer Mark Geragos told People. “The lawsuit is a wholehearted effort by Kesha to regain control of her music career and her personal freedom after suffering for 10 years as a victim of mental manipulation, emotional abuse and sexual assault at the hands of Dr. Luke.”

Of course, Gottwald—music producer and coworker for standout musicians Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Kelly Clarkson—chose to fight fire with fire, rather than allow damage to his reputation. He attacked Kesha’s lawsuit as functioning in a larger scheme to sneak out from under her recording contract with him. Accusing Kesha and her mother of attempting to extort him, Gottwald produced a draft of an email sent by Pebe Sebert to Gottwald’s lawyer last year. Viciously, the email threatened to ruin the producer’s reputation unless her daughter was freed from her contract. “Kesha’s lawsuit is a spectacular and outrageous fiction that will go down in flames,” Christine Lepera, Gottwald’s attorney, argued in a statement to the New York Daily News.  “As the truth emerges, this sad and misguided smear campaign will only hurt Kesha. Extortion is not going to win here.”

Who’s the victim? The answer may never be satisfactory. It’s not easy here to defend anyone, yet it feels uncomfortable being unable to do so.  But what’s blurring the boundaries of right and wrong here?

Power, corruption, and control: a recurring theme in celebrity and big money business. It’s naive to ignore the history of power-hungry businessmen, studio heads, and producers who use every possible means of manipulation to glean as much profit as possible from entertainment industry stars. News about the struggles of young stars, fresh out of the Disney and Nickelodeon factories, battling with substance abuse or eating disorders, is incessant. I could make a strong case that pressure from powerful behind-the-scenes figures in Hollywood contributed, at least in part, to these downward spirals.

Was Kesha cruelly victimized by a predatory Gottwald? Possibly. Only Kesha and Gottwald truly know the whole story. But I do think a struggle for control, and a thirst for greater wealth and fame triggered whatever this was. This corrupt reach for power caused severe and lasting consequences—not only for Kesha and Gottwald, but those around them as well.

The music industry certainly seems glamorous. We buy the albums. We marvel at their talent and lifestyles. Often, we’re completely blinded by the limelight. Then, something like this surfaces and forces us to see beneath the facade, and accept the reality of the business. The music industry is a billion dollar business, notwithstanding, and due to, all of those damaged lives. Suddenly, the headlining celebrities and faceless victims in the paper don’t seem that different. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NBC's: "Marry Me"

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern

Like any relationship (or television show), Marry Me will require time, care, and effort to reach anything near perfection. Show-runners, writers, and directors should eventually work the kinks out. The new NBC sitcom has potential to be among the most charismatic shows of the year. Created by David Caspe, it chronicles the life of the happy, high-strung couple, Jake and Annie (Casey Wilson and Ken Marino). The clever comedy satisfies with its contemporary style, and sparks interest through irresistible charm.

NBC
A show that appears to be quirky and fresh begins the pilot in the most cliche way possible: a proposal. Viewers likely let out a sigh of early surrender when Annie hysterically nags her boyfriend, of six years, about not popping the question. Little does she know, he is behind her on one knee. Annie continues to embarrass herself, which appears to be a preview of her usual antics. The kickoff to the pilot is all too conventional and just a tad too stereotypical. Many silly women with their minds on marriage constantly consume character depth on television. The show should give viewers more credit in that respect; an outdated setup like that no longer does the trick. But after that horrifying moment of a proposal gone wrong, the show salvages itself.

Similar to Caspe’s other creation, Happy Endings, the true comedy is embedded throughout the entire experience, rather than the scripted predicaments. Caspe wedges the best jokes into a quick, witty conversation. The actors capture hilarious moments in just a few sparkling inserts. Genius reveals itself in the pure randomness of it all. The offbeat humor shines, especially through Wilson, who masters vivacious yet odd characters like Annie. The premises of episodes won’t likely matter much. Or at least they won’t for a while. Annie and Jake’s banter is more than satisfactory for thirty minutes. 

The supporting characters are a part of those kinks mentioned earlier. Dennah and Gill (Sarah Wright and John Gemberling) are already irritating. Currently, they fill space, and with little personality. Gill makes jokes that real world people would never make. It adds a level of inauthenticity to the show. Wright also fails to shine, probably because of her too common high maintenance best friend character. Been there, done that; it’s time to let that character go.

The possibility of repetition is especially worrisome. The dust of the engagement will settle. The road ahead does not offer many options because of the show’s narrow premise.  A couple gets engaged. They plan a wedding. They get married. Watching all of the obstacles of an engagement becomes mundane. But it’s much better than giving more attention to those awful supporting characters.

Pilots are always difficult; Marry Me deserves some slack. After all, Caspe began his last sitcom in the second most cliché way possible: a bride leaving her groom at the alter. Clearly Caspe struggles with beginnings, but his endings are happy. (editor’s note: HAHAHAHAHAHAAHA! I see what you did there) This pilot oozes potential. Viewers love Jake and Annie. They represent so many real life thoughts, guilty pleasures, and unfortunate moments that feel so real. Caspe displays characters’ inner monologues and relates them to our own. This show will either have an amazing run or be a quick blip in comedy history. It will be interesting to see which side wins in this episodic tug-o-war between limitless charm and wit, and a very limited structure. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Indie Music: Watkins Music "One Life One Love"

by Germar Derron

The written description of Watkins Music spells d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r.  The duo is compared to Prince and Olivia Newton John and Louie Vega. Their unique style of music can be called soul, pop, dance, and a number of other things.  Their press materials always include terms like “art,” “feelings,” “spirits,” and “rhythms.” One of the few things that I remember from music industry courses at Georgia State University was that you never ever do this.  No one wants mixed genres, and abstract feelings in their music – right?

Once, I introduced my friends’ band at a gig. I called them a jazzy funk punk art rock band with hints of R&B, hip-hop, and soul. The description fit. The drummer immediately yelled out, “thanks Germar, they already hate us.”  Recently, I recalled that moment, during Elise Micheals' guest spot on the podcast. I asked about her style of music. She responded, jazzy old-school dance pop, but updated . . . or something.  “One Life One Love” is all of these awful things, but somehow it works.

I do tend to love music that makes me feel good.  When I play this track, I’m forced to smile, notwithstanding the course of my day to that point in time.  I don’t want to write about the track technically, sonically, or musicality wise because it’s not nearly as important as how I feel about it.  It’s something like an “art” with “spirit” and “rhythm.” It sounds soulful.  And I can’t stop bouncing. 

 
For some reason, the song feels much deeper than it is. The lyrics are “One life, one love. Two hearts that beat as one.” When I did produce and manage artists, and they brought me lyrics like this, I’d smile, leave the studio, punch a wall then come back and say through tight teeth “another hit!”  But here, it works.  It’s not deep or novel and it doesn't need to be.

The track is fairly complex, but it doesn't feel like it. Instruments, notes, lines, and harmonies swim, jump, and pop all over the place. It works; it flows. But they are a brother-sister duo, and I have a belief that family-made music is the best music. See e.g., the Jacksons, the DeBarges, the Marsalises, etc.  

The track is hot, and it’s not a fluke.  I checked out their video for “Metronome,” and my review of it would echo these thoughts. Out of five stars, I’ll call this a four.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"This is Where I Leave You" is what they titled this movie

by Kelsey Barritt (with Germar Derron)      

Often a movie with an open ending ends well, but This is Where I Leave You leaves audiences with more questions than answers. The "dramedy" starring Jason Bateman and directed by Shawn Levy is more of a guessing game than it is a movie. The film throws the audience amidst a family facing the death of a cherished father. Together, they sit Shiva for seven days as a way of mourning. A family reunited for one week, in the same house, leads to issues and discoveries. The tragedy hits Judd Altman (Bateman) the hardest, because he was already plagued by emotional mayhem. He is separated from a wife, who cheated on him with his egotistical boss. Then, he’s forced to wrap his head around his father’s passing. Further, countless side stories get lost in the mess that is this movie.

The sibling dynamic here, is the classic one. There is the oldest, uptight brother Paul (Stoll), levelheaded and compassionate Wendy (Fey), and the youngest, free-spirited Phillip (Driver). These characters are instantly and easily relatable. Their modern mother Hillary (Fonda) ordered them to stick together under the same roof. There, the siblings learn about life and each other. They reveal jaw-dropping secrets and trust their long lost family with them. These “adult” siblings bicker, revert back to childhood habits together, and fearfully obey their strong-willed mother. Somehow, this arouses a sense of reluctant empathy in viewers. The never-ending support of a family is a constant yet refreshing theme. 

Some supporting characters bring charm to the table, especially the beautifully strange Penny (Byrne), a love interest whose arbitrary attitude could make anyone smile. She is a breath of fresh air in a movie that is dank with negativity. Others, like Paul, just occupy time that should be spent elsewhere; it was a turn off. Paul worries–a lot—and he’s abrasive.

The family moans and complains for the duration of the movie; it’s tough on the ears. Sure, they deal with death, divorce, loveless marriages, and general angst, but . . . . Moviegoers know this is a somewhat sad movie. But, the amount of whining and immature bellyaching surprised me. These characters enter their childhood home and become babies again.

This is Where I Leave You shaves just deep enough to remove the very first outer layer of each character. Viewers crave more insight into their compelling lives, but get nothing. Wendy’s complicated, heart-wrenching tidbit of a story gives audiences goose bumps, but not satisfaction; it feels incomplete. The filmmakers fail to follow up or give the story the true attention it deserves. The audience constantly longs for more, but more never comes. Almost too much is left to interpretation, which is aggravating. The movie does not have the guts to delve into difficult topics, so it just barely grazes the surface.

Here, the opportunities to connect and contemplate are few. The movie is scattered; there’s no place to focus. Endless opportunities for greatness fall short. This could-be witty, lovable, fresh film ends up being a reason to visit Redbox . . . or not.

The movie is not un-watchable. It provides a few laughs and maybe a tear or two. However, if mediocrity disappoints you, and potential alone isn't worth the price of admission, save the money.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Doctor Who: “Mummy on the Orient Express” recap and review

by Melissa Parkin

The repercussions from last week’s “Kill the Moon” still linger under the surface as the Doctor ushers Clara off the TARDIS for another adventure. Donned in full-fledged flapper apparel, Clara is clearly in higher spirits since the duo’s previous encounter. Needing several weeks to cool her heels after their little Moon misadventure, she’s come to the conclusion that she doesn't hate the Doctor. However, Clara decides that this will be their last “hurrah” together. If embarking on a ride aboard the Orient Express wasn’t exciting enough, this particular locomotive isn’t on its regular earthly route. It’s in fact a replica of the famed train - in space. Soaring through the solar system, without so much as railways to guide them, this beauty is indeed a breathless wonder.

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Unfortunately, something (or someone) very unwelcome is aboard the Express, and this entity is plucking off each of its passengers one by one. Similar to the British Isles’ folklore of the Black Dog, this mummified corpse raiding the train appears only to the intended victims to whose life is just about spent. During a precise 66 seconds, this raggedy, cloth-bound creature haunts its prey. Within the train’s confined space, and the mummy’s transportation ability, there is no escaping death’s clutches. The moment the clock reaches zero, the creature rests its hands on the head of the victim, draining said person of all energy until their heart gives out.

Authorities on the train assure the other passengers that the victims suffered from nothing more than hallucinations before their demises, but the Doctor acknowledges the very real danger aboard. When Clara finds herself trapped inside a luggage car, the Doctor struggles on his own to convince the passengers of the immediate threat.

Despite its elegant setting, imagination, and intriguing concept, “Mummy on the Orient Express” still doesn’t quite manage to deliver in terms of execution. Its claustrophobic surroundings, sinister creature-makeup, and superb energy from Peter Capaldi couldn’t redeem the redundant killings and therefore the episode’s dwindling suspense factor. Initially starting off with a thrilling opening death, the plot soon becomes derivative as the body count rises. With the show’s allotted runtime and each victim being knocked off in identical fashion to the previous ones, the suspense in wondering if the next target will survive is completely lost. It’s not until the last ten minutes that any actual suspense is built. Then the climax, which results in the train’s obliteration, leaves the audience on tenterhooks (editor’s note: taut, edge of the seat) as they speculate as to the safety of the remaining passengers. Unfortunately, the escape from the Express is glossed over upon the return from the commercial break.

Credit is due to the effects makeup for the mummy, because it truly is a classically horrifying creature. The revealing of the mummy’s true motives behind the killings was lackluster in comparison to the buildup. One of the high notes is most definitely Capaldi’s performance. His vigor matched perfectly with the scripted quips, particularly with his poor bedside manner and the use of his psychic paper. It’s a fun adventure, but the overall execution prevents this from being one of the series’ bests.

Doctor Who - “Mummy on the Orient Express” Review: B

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gone Girl and Left Behind Part Two

In the second half of Episode 155, Germar reviews Gone Girl and Left Behind. One of those movies is pretty good. The other one may be the only movie worse than Noah, to play on an actual theater screen.

Black Women WTF?, Flash, Gotham, Arrow, Marvel's Agents of Shield, Gone Girl, and Left Behind Part One

Photo by Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via Getty Images
In Episode 155, Germar covers recent TV shows and movies, including: The Flash; Gotham; Marvel's Agents of Nothing; Arrow; Gone Girl; and Left Behind. Additionally, this is another two-podder. Get it? See, it's a podcast, so this is pod one of a two-podder. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! How bout that title? Where my sistahs? Germar acts as a mentor, employer, and lover of many women - a role he quite enjoys, but none of y'all is black. Wassup wit' dat? Oh, and if you love Asian music, K-pop, whatever, listen at about the four minute mark and help Germar name that song! That's right, it's a big one. And that is what he said, and then she laughed . . . loud. Oh and somewhere in the podcast Germar gets into a serious life or death struggle with a fast moving cockroach. Enjoy.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Jennifer Lawrence’s nudes: naughty or nice?

by Melissa Scott, Writing Intern

By now, the fevered spate of leaked celebrity nudes is old news. Exciting and scandalous as it was, the uproar abated pretty quickly.  At the time of the outbreak, a few celebrities voiced their disgust and anger at the leak, while others chose to remain silent. Jennifer Lawrence was one of the “leaked” who kept her reactions private.  Following an interview with Vanity Fair last month, she finally decided to speak out.

Lawrence covered the magazine’s latest issue, which hit newsstands in New York and Los Angeles Thursday, October 9. Vanity Fair contributor, Sam Kashner, originally met with Lawrence in early August to conduct the interview. When the celebrity pictures were released, just two weeks after his interview with Lawrence, Kashner decided to contact her again, and allow her an additional “last word” in the article. “I could just sense after having spent a little time with her that she would come out swinging,” Kashner told VF.com. This time, Lawrence opened up.

Derivative of upload from http://flickr.com/photo/47170787@N05/5485153604
 “Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory,” she declared. “It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ” 

Lawrence also explained why she hadn't spoken out before. She remembered trying to write a statement at the time, but “every single thing that I tried to write made me cry or get angry. I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for.” Lawrence admitted the photos were intended for her ex-boyfriend and X-men co-star, Nicholas Hoult. “I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years,” she shrugged. “It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.” Hoult also spoke out in support of Lawrence: “It’s shocking that things like this happen in the world. It’s a shame.”

Well-justified, both Lawrence and Hoult’s comments pretty much echo the majority of other celebrities targeted by the scandal. Vanity Fair’s “exclusive” statement from Lawrence doesn’t really add much to the gossip, but for one last angry jab. Lawrence declared not only the acts of the hackers, but also the resulting views of her pictures as a sex crime. “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime,” she asserted. “It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me.” 

Lawrence made her revulsion clear to anyone involved in the viewing of her photos. “Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame.” She added, “Even people who I know and love say, ‘Oh, yeah, I looked at the pictures.’ I don’t want to get mad, but at the same time I’m thinking, I didn't tell you that you could look at my naked body.”

I cannot imagine the shock or embarrassment after discovering the leak of personal and private pictures. Celebrity or not, that would be awful. But then again, maybe storing them on icloud with a single, guess-able password wasn't the brightest idea either. And realistically, if an eruption of extremely hot, nude, female celebrities spreads--accessibly all over the internet—people will take a look. If Lawrence wants legal action against all the “sexual offending” viewers, she’ll probably have to lock up half of the US population. It’s vulgar, uncivilized, and violating, to be sure, but Lawrence took the pictures in the first place. No one’s saying she looked bad. The very fact that her leaked pictures dominated the very first A-list celebrity wave--alongside stunners like Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Kim Kardashian, and Rihanna--proves that she’s red hot at the moment. I might even take that as a compliment.

I’m not saying I disagree with Lawrence - her body is her own body, and she should be able to choose who views what. But really, celebrity nudes are customary, short-lived curiosities. Maybe if we stopped talking about it, we’d all forget about it . . . until the next inevitable leak. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

American Horror Story: Freak Show - “Monsters Among Us” recap and review

by Melissa Parkin

Send in the clowns . . . but proceed with caution. FX’s anthology series American Horror Story premiered last night with its mesmerizing fourth season installment, Freak Show. Containing the most enviable cast on television, AHS continues to captivate fans, as it dives back into the haunting atmosphere of season two’s Asylum, while keeping Coven’s acute exploration of living life as a blatant outcast.

1952

As of late, the unbearable heat and humidity are the least of Jupiter, Florida’s problems. Local milkman, Phil Palmer, stumbles across the murdered body of Eudora Tattler, during his delivery route. He then discovers an injured pair of conjoined twins, Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson), hiding upstairs. Upon being brought to the emergency room, the duo are immediately deemed monsters by appalled hospital personnel. When word gets around town, freak show manager and performer Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) meets with the twins and expresses her fondness for the pair. Though Bette takes an immediate liking to the German headliner, her sister only expresses contempt towards Elsa, knowing that she has an ulterior motive.

Meanwhile, a young couple canoodle close to Lake Okeechobee during an afternoon picnic. The boy puts his girlfriend’s sexual advances on hold as he excuses himself to go quickly fetch something from his truck nearby. Twisty, a grisly-faced clown, emerges from the brush and approaches the girl (Skyler Samuels). Upon the boyfriend’s return, Twisty shows them a short series of tricks before using his juggling batons to bludgeon them both in the head. Eventually awakening from the blow, the girl opens her eyes to see the clown repeatedly knifing her boyfriend in the torso with a pair of scissors. In horror, she tries to run away, but her disorientation gets the best of her. Twisty pursues her.

The clown further terrorizes Florida residents as he sneaks inside a family’s house, murdering the father and mother and taking their son captive. Now, imprisoned in cages within an old abandoned bus, the son is with the girl from the lake. Twisty enters the vehicle, fails during his attempted circus performance, and frightens them in a fit of rage.

Elsa Mars notices one of her company’s performers, Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), at the local diner as he chats up the waitress. She disrupts their flirtation and he dismisses Elsa, telling her that their freak show is over. Later at a Tupperware party, Jimmy uses his unique ability of Syndactyly, in which his fingers are fused together, to please each of the ladies in a private bedroom.

Mars returns to the hospital to visit the twins and tell them that she knows the truth about what happened at their quaint farmhouse: Bette killed their mother, and Dot stabbed her sister in consequence as punishment. Despite Dot’s resentment, Elsa persuades the girls to join her at the Freak Show. At the fairgrounds, the two are introduced to the different acts, including Jimmy as the “Lobster Boy.”

Later on, a detective arrives at the Freak Show, handcuffing Dot and Bette. Jimmy witnesses the incident and confronts the man. The police officer tells him that he knows all about the twins’ cover-up story for their mother’s murder. Things escalate, and when the detective calls the carnies in attendance “freaks,” Jimmy slits his throat via razorblade.

Following the most disturbingly striking title sequence in television, Freak Show illuminates the small screen with stunning cinematography, breathtaking special effects, and wonderfully colorful characters. As per usual, despite the immensely talented cast, Evan Peters still manages to steal every scene he is in. Jimmy’s greaser good looks and natural charisma make for an immediate appeal. But Peters’ ability to create such an arresting contrast in character, with his fiery turn to wrath, remains unparalleled. John Carroll Lynch’s chillingly perfect portrayal of the lurid clown, Twisty, with his profoundly soiled costume, watered-down clown makeup, and grotesque Cheshire cat smile, makes Heath Ledger’s Joker look cuddle-worthy in comparison. The fact that Twisty doesn’t even utter a single word ups the sinister and will undoubtedly cause sleepless nights for some viewers. Continually pushing the envelope, American Horror Story: Freak Show’s shock value, switchback plots, and use of taboo topics gives its fans exactly what they crave.

American Horror Story: Freak Show premiere episode rating: A