Is Scream Queens scary? Furthermore, does it even want to be? The time has come to finally assess the camp/horror mash-up in the area that counts: Is it at all horrifying for the viewers to watch at home?
Of course Freak Show would end this way. It makes perfect sense that a season that’s never been totally willing to invest in a particular character as a hero or a villain figure would be brought to its conclusion by someone who the audience had known previously through just a two episode mini-arc before the season’s halfway point. Freak Show has flirted with protagonists (Jimmy, Bette and Dot, etc.) and antagonists (Twisty, Stanley, Dandy, etc.), some better and some worse, but none of them have fit particularly well in the roles they appeared to be slotted for. Accordingly, the death of an entertaining but emotionally inconsequential character (Elsa) at the hands of an even less important character (Edward Mordrake) seems to be a fittingly anti-climactic conclusion for the finale, “Curtain Call.”
Over the past few weeks, Freak Show had been finally appearing to move somewhere. Dandy was establishing himself as the season’s definitive antagonist, Jimmy’s love triangle with Maggie and Imma was bizarre but intriguing, and Bette and Dot’s relationship was becoming a suitable emotional core. This week’s episode, “Orphans,” only briefly (and unsatisfactorily) addresses the latter two conflicts, and it entirely ignores the former.
After the somewhat languid pacing of American Horror Story: Freak Show in the season’s first half, this week’s aptly titled episode “Blood Bath” kicks things into another gear. Though Twisty’s death felt unexpected and climactic (despite occurring only five episodes into the season), the clown’s untimely departure now appears relatively inconsequential compared to this week’s events.
The cold open hints at the episode’s overall trajectory. As Gloria sits on a couch recounting Dandy’s troubled childhood, the viewer gets a stronger sense of just how twisted her son is. While the show always made it clear that he was far from a normal child, the images of him preparing to cut a young girl’s hair off and the discussion of him murdering a cat leave no doubt about his problems. As I’ve talked about extensively in earlier reviews, subtlety has never been Freak Show’s aesthetic goal, but Murphy goes out of his way in the scene to emphasize Dandy’s depravity. Though it feels a bit over the top, it does jibe with the episode’s bloody conclusion.
American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 11: “Protect The Coven” Directed by Bradley Buecker Written by Jennifer Salt Airs Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on FX With only two episodes left in American Horror Story season three, I fear it is little too late, to elevate Coven past the quality of the Asylum and Murder House. …
American Horror Story, Ep.3.07: “The Dead” stumbles over vexing questions of race and gender politics
It only took seven episodes, but American Horror Story: Coven finally injects a bit of three-way necrophilia. New alliances are formed and bonds are broken, as opposing forces and clashing personalities collide. “The Dead” movies the plot forward with some interesting twists, but in the end, it leaves us with a few troubling questions.