Let’s be honest: this season of American Horror Story was a total failure. The fact that I actually couldn’t bring myself to review it on a weekly basis anymore says a lot. What a pity.
Why did this season suck? Well the answer is pretty straightforward: Freak Show was boring. And say what you want about Coven (which many people found to be a letdown after Murder House and Asylum), but at least that season was never a boring ol’ mess that felt like a third-rate soap opera. Freak Show started off with potential (particularly when Twisty the Clown was causing all sorts of havoc), but it frequently dropped the ball with redundant plot points, useless supporting characters, and frequent anticlimaxes. And was it ever actually scary? Nope, not in the slightest.
And what of our protagonist Elsa Mars? I can certainly see why this was Jessica Lange’s favorite season ever, but her character was an outright bore. Her arc offered absolutely nothing new. Much like every season, she played yet another vindictive wannabe hellbent on securing some sort of relevancy as time passes by. And how did this finale bring her journey to an end? It rewarded her murderous ways by allowing her to spend eternity being adored by the masses. Perhaps Fiona Goode’s conclusion last year (hell, hell, hell) would have suited her better. If this was indeed Lange’s final year of Horror Story, then she definitely did not go out with a bang.
The finale did have one impressive scene though: Dandy’s harrowing massacre of the freak show gang. It felt eerily close to a high-school shooting, and it was absolutely terrifying to watch. However, I can’t shake the feeling that having Dandy shoot down half the cast was the easy way out from a writing perspective. Instead of giving each of these characters a proper resolution, they simply had them brutally gunned down. Works too I guess? Thankfully, it was at least kind of cool to watch the surviving freaks band together and poison Dandy before ultimately putting on a show and drowning him to death. It’s a pity his demise wasn’t really satisfying since he disappeared for far too long. Yes, even this year’s villain had a muddled and unfocused story.
But then I remember, American Horror Story is an anthology series. So next year we can start fresh with a brand new premise, and the show can perhaps retain its former glory. Fingers crossed.
– Elsa slapping the secretary made me laugh.
– Dandy stalking poor Angela Bassett almost my heart pump out of my chest. Thank God Eve saved her (and sadly paid for it).
– So was there a link between Elsa’s saxophone player who was also in Coven? Do I care? They have zero chemistry.
– So Elsa’s famous videos finally came back to haunt her after a hugely successful career. But she was a victim in those videos, so I don’t exactly buy how damaging they would have been to her career. If anything, they would have brought her a hell of a lot of sympathy.
– I was at least happy to see Desiree with a family. Jimmy living with the pregnant twins however was thoroughly predictable.
– I can’t believe they had the nerve to bring back Edward Mandrake. He was the worst guest-star of the season. Props for continuity I guess? And Elsa dying on live TV was admittedly sort of cool.
– Ma Petite! I love this girl.
– I liked the callback to the premiere’s infamous “stars never pay“ line.
– Kathy Bates was horrible this year. Hated the accent, and her appearance here was unsatisfying.
– Back in that darn blue tux to perform again. Lame.
Dandy: I’ve always found babies to be so boring, but freak babies… oh… Do you think we might even make a three-headed girl?
Jimmy: (after Dandy drowns) Heck of a show.
Desiree: (munching on popcorn) That boy is a star.
Elsa: I have always, always, always been cursed. First by having my dreams ripped away. And now I am cursed by having them all come true.
An entertaining yet immensely anticlimactic end to a horrendous season. Better luck next year Ryan Murphy.