Tuesday, November 4, 2014

American Horror Story: Freak Show, Episode 3 & 4

Lots of Halloween stuff to get out of the way as we begin preparations to celebrate the American Day of the Lots of Dead that is Thanksgiving. So let's just get into it.
  • Dispassionately going through the motions as a lead tour guide/owner of the American Morbidity University. = +3pts (For staying in character.)
  • Dennis O'Hare being allowed to act in AHS without make-up. = +5pts
  • Twisty the Swamp Clown covers the classics. = +2pts
  • Freakshow performers handle grief the way carnies traditionally do, by eating bales of hay and bobbing for apples. = +4pts
  • It appears Edward Moondrake has moved on from the elliptical meaning of floating plastic bags and embraced the certainty awarded from the bodies of dead carnies. = -2pts
  • Watching Pattie Labelle humiliate herself on the offhand chance she gets to sing a song that at some point reminds people she is Pattie Labelle. = -5pts
  • Just to be sure, carney freaks confirm Meep's death by tossing a bunch of chicken heads on a ratty coffin while emptying a fifth of whiskey. = +2pts (You never know with Meep, he sure was a prankster!)
  • Sharing dreams with your sister whom you also share a body with. = -3pts
  • Those dreams involving fantasies of her brutally sawing you from her. = -6pts
  • Evaluating a potential new psychic while high on opiates. = -3pts
  • What you missed that Halloween reference earlier in the episode? Don't worry, Ryan Murphy has you covered with the obligatory Carpenter mask-cam! = -2pts
  • Dandy totally dandies up his first kill. = +2pts
  • Minority Horror Survival Tips for the Modern Age: When confronted by someone who's planning to murder you, don't run. Just tell them what you really think of them. The more disdain in your delivery the better! = +4pts
  • Forcing your little sister to call you Master Mike. = -5pts (Ew.)
  • Oh look, another musical number. = -10pts
  • Edward Moondrake's super power apparently resides in his gamma farts. He who smelt it...is dead. = -2pts
  • 10-cent live freak birth ticket leads to a show that's about as awful as you imagined. = -10pts
Episode Score: -18pts

Things aren't looking so great for AHS this season. You wouldn't know that this was the "Halloween" episodes of AHS, unless of course you caught all of the Halloween references, which rather than playing like clever Easter eggs, feel more like desperate mining for proven ideas. Your turn, TJ!

Thanks, Sean!

Have you heard the news about Edward? Though he’s been an urban legend since the 1800s, he hasn't turned up with much significance in modern storytelling apart from Tom Waits immortalizing him in song. That was until Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy stylized him as the Phantom of the Freak Show. When we last left off, Poor Edward was currently shaking the freaks down for their deepest, darkest secrets. Let the scoring resume!
  • True Freakshow Confessions, hosted by Poor Edward. = +5pts 
  • Bleeding to death from a leg wound inflicted by a legless woman. = +2pts 
  • “Tattered waste of oxygen” is the Scorecard’s new go-to for pretentious insults. = +3pts 
  • When asked what the clown makes the children watch, we're really glad that his victim answered with, “clown stuff.” Knowing how Falchuk and Murphy are, we barely scraped by from seeing the Swamp Clown twisting his filthy whirligig. = +6pts 
  • Jimmy Darling and his psychic friend are as horrified at seeing the Swamp Clown tackle a young girl as we were. = +4pts
  • When the ghost of a dual-faced aristocrat asks you to tell your darkest story, we hope that you could come up with something more interesting than the time a guy thanked you for making him sit on a torture toilet in a Berlin bondage club. = -5pts 
  • German chainsaw amputation porn, established 1932. = -8pts 
  • Dandy and the Swamp Clown entertain the kids and Jimmy Darling with the old “saw the fortune teller in half” routine. = +3pts (Because she didn't see that one coming!) 
  • Jimmy Darling doesn't use his lobster claws to Zoidberg himself free. = -2pts 
  • Instead, he knocks Dandy the eff out with a wild haymaker. = +4pts 
  • The Swamp Clown tears his face off once again to regale Poor Edward with the tale of how he went from this jovial entertainer of children:
    ...to this wretched murderer of Floridians. = +6pts
  • Lesson learned: never be nice to children around dwarves. Your simple kindnesses and lack of worldy experience are a canvass for them to paint with the bitter tar of reality. = -15pts 
  • The nanobots are relieved to find that even characters on the show want nothing to do with the Swamp Clown’s filthy whirligig. = +2pts 
  • Clown Shotgun Suicide will be opening for Puddle of Mudd and Trapt at the nu-metal revival concert at this summer's Palm Beach County Fair. = -8pts 
  • As the Swamp Clown vanishes into the mists with his new friends, his old pal Dandy puts on a happy face. = -6pts 
  • In true renegade style, Jimmy back-sasses the coppers when they congratulate him on being Jupiter's man of the hour. = +4pts 
  • Though Jimmy and the rest of the freak show soak up praise from the very people who drove them to the outskirts of town, Bette and Dot get damn near booted out of the performance. Harsh! = -4pts 
  • Patti LaBelle is too sassy for her own good. = -7pts 
  • Ending the show with no musical number (which is infinitely better than listening to Jessica Lange belting out Tom Waits). = +10pts
Episode Score = -6pts
Season Score = +21pts

We hope that you scorehards enjoyed origin stories, because almost everyone spilled their necks (literally and figuratively) over the course of the past two episodes. While the whole idea of Edward listening to tragic tales had so much potential, learning too much about a character as enigmatic as Twisty sapped the terror from him.

As the silent Swamp Clown whose efficiency in the area of murder was proportional to his inefficiency at entertaining children, Twisty was pure nightmare fuel. Knowing that he did so in some innocent campaign to save children just took too much of the menace away. We liked him better when he was as bloodthirsty as he was mysterious!

Moreover, the steps that Twisty took from being a developmentally impaired clown to a junkyard artisan to a cunning psychopath desperately needed to be fleshed out. An entire episode could have been devoted both to Twisty's fall from sanity and to explore the grit of why he became the menace to south Florida. Instead, his story lost too much steam from rushing at the start and ended up more stitched together than his costume. Though he was most assuredly a sympathetic character, he devolved too quickly into a monster whose credo was, “I hate freaks and love kids – blargh!”

Oh, well! Now we'll have to put up with Dandy following in Twisty's big floppy footsteps for the rest of the season. Thanks, Brad and Ryan!

Score Technician(s): Sean McConnell & T. J. Geise

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