Thursday, January 22, 2015

American Horror Story: Freak Show - “Curtain Call” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin

Dandy Mott’s new reign over the freak show isn’t proving to be a positive thing. His tyranny in fact pushes everyone to the breaking point. During a spat, Amazon Eve punches Mott in the face, and the rest of the gang teams up against him. Thereupon, every last member of the troupe quits. This doesn’t seem to deter Dandy though. Donned in stage makeup and a sharply tailored white suit, he declares, “Showtime.” Casually sauntering through the fairgrounds, he’s approached by Paul, then produces a handgun and shoots the Flipper Boy on spot. Everyone scrambles in an attempt to flee as Mott moseys about, killing off one member after the other. Amazon Eve manages to get the jump on him, but Dandy eventually bests her. Bound and gagged, the twins are taken hostage by Dandy, leaving only Desiree to escape from Mott’s clutches. Unaware of the recent massacre, Jimmy walks into the freak show come nightfall, stumbling upon the corpses of his family splayed out inside the main tent. Desiree appears to him, and they embrace one another in bellowing grief.
Photo by SAM LOTHRIDGE/FX
The unimaginable occurs as a wedding takes place at the Mott residence. Bette and Dandy tie the knot, with Bette seemingly in pure bliss. Following the ceremony, the three convene for dinner. Dandy becomes woozy all of the sudden, finding a couple of unexpected guests crashing the meal. Desiree and Jimmy join the twins in their revelry as they reveal to Mott that they’ve drugged him. Dandy passes out, only then to wake up chained and shackled inside Hardeen Houdini’s escape tank. Mott begs Bette to let him go, in which she declares utter hatred for him. Dandy finally gets his just desserts as Desiree cranks the knob, allowing water to pump into the glass tank. Sobbing and screaming, Mott slowly succumbs to the building water levels, and eventually drowns.

Elsa Mars finds herself in Hollywood, but Tinsel Town is being anything but friendly to her. During a spat with a secretary in the lobby of WBN, a kind stranger comes to Elsa’s rescue in the form of Michael Beck, the junior vice president of casting at the network. Fast-forward to 1960, and Elsa Mars is on top of the world. Honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, this Emmy winner couldn’t ask for more…or so you’d think. Apparently, getting everything you wished for isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Even with a home in the Hollywood Hills and the world adoring her, she finds her life void of true love. Massimo surprises her, and Elsa begs him to whisk her away. Despite his love for her, he solemnly refuses the offer due to his terminal illness.

Elsa falls deeper into despair as it’s revealed that a reporter has obtained the grisly 8-milimeter footage of Elsa’s snuff film, where she lost her legs back in Germany. It’s only a matter of time before the story is released, and destroys her public image. Her past comes back to haunt her even further as she also discovers that the troupe from Jupiter had been murdered all those years ago. The network demands Elsa performs for a Halloween special, which she initially rejects. With these new revelations though, she’s all too willing. On her final episode of The Elsa Mars Hour, this headliner delivers a show stopping number. During the live broadcast, the cameras pan out through the television sets to show Desiree happily married with a family of her own, along with a pregnant Dot and Bette beside Dot’s husband, Jimmy. 

Elsa’s insistence to perform summons Edward Mordrake. Mordrake sees her sacrifice for what it is: a suicide. She gladly welcomes Edward’s reckoning, only to find herself transported to another afterlife. Returning to the fairgrounds of Jupiter, Florida, Elsa walks into the main tent. The entire troupe is there, welcoming her with open arms, including Ethel. She’s returned to her family at last.

Freak Show’s “Curtain Call” goes out with a glorious bang. As the season’s finale, a lot was riding on tying up plenty of loose ends in little time, and it delivered. Finn Wittrock still remains the strongest of the pack for his callous portrayal as the sadistic Dandy Mott. With his deadpan expression and soft show tune humming, his chilling delivery during the freak show’s massacre is positively praiseworthy. In addition to his gratifying demise, the return of some familiar faces (Wes Bentley, John Carroll Lynch, and Kathy Bates) from past episodes rounds out a satisfying conclusion. The writers deliver a solid script with pungent dialogue that serves the cast and crew so flawlessly. The only thing I personally would have liked to see is what happened to Stanley. Did Mott kill him as well? That spat aside, Freak Show’s finale proves to be one of the best for its season.

American Horror Story: Freak Show – “Curtain Call” Episode Rating:  A
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