American Horror Story Freakshow: “Blood Bath” Review
Have you ever cried during a reading of Emily Dickinson? If not, tonight’s episode, “Blood Bath” may lead you to do just that. As an episode, “Blood Bath” was aptly named. We saw loyal sisterhood, mock turtle soup, and an extreme Rorschach test fail. Episode Eight belonged to the women of American Horror Story: Freakshow. In it, Gloria gets serious about a problem as Regina gets proactive about her own. Penny makes a sound decision, Elsa commits to a bit, and Maggie continues to confuse us as we attempt to discern whose side she’s really on. We also got a visit from the Ax Man…sort of. Spoilers for “Blood Bath” after the jump.
“Blood Bath” begins with Gloria Mott telling her therapist about her son’s gradual descent into madness. By “gradual descent,” I mean he’s always been that way. Any idiot could see that he was growing up to be a murderer, even without having read about the MacDonald triad of indicators. Now I’m trying to remember whether or not Dandy wet the bed. Dandy killed the family cat and the gardener’s son Emil long before we met him. Dandy’s father before him was a killer. Given her marital history, Gloria’s lucky she doesn’t have a little Joffrey Baratheon on her hands. Actually, she might have been safer if she had… We don’t actually see the face of Gloria’s therapist. Dare I to hope that it’s Dylan McDermott? Unlikely.
Midseason television has been awfully killy this year—most of the shows I’m into have killed a major character in the last week. American Horror Story: Freakshow is no exception. We lost Ma Petit at the hand of Dell Toledo last week, not that he seems even slightly torn up about it. The rest of the troupe searches for her until Jimmy finds one of her dresses in the woods—ripped and bloody. Notice that it was Dell who told Jimmy where to look, ostensibly so Dell wouldn’t be the one who found the dress. It’s decided that, “an animal took her.” Needless to say, everyone is horrified. We haven’t seen Elsa this upset since she lost her legs. Ethel is unmoved by Elsa’s display.
The problem with being a liar is that people won’t believe you even when you’re telling the truth. That’s what Elsa faced when Ethel confronted her. See, Ethel knows that Elsa is not exactly opposed to killing her freaks. What is a “limehouse whore” anyway? Turns out, Ethel was listening when Elsa agreed that Richard/Stanley should murder the Tattler sisters. Everyone also saw what happened to Paul. So when Ma Petit disappeared after stealing Elsa’s spotlight—Ethel had no choice but to believe the worst of her oldest friend—Elsa Mars. Ethel’s brave confrontation got her a slap in the face for her trouble. When Elsa realizes that Ethel intends to shoot her and then herself, she takes matters into her own hands. Ethel winds up dead with a throwing knife to the eye. Damn. Did anyone else worry that Ethel had poisoned the mock turtle soup? Or that Ethel might end up in the not-Mutter museum.
Sad thing is, Elsa really was mourning Ma Petit. Watch for the amazing moment when Ethel shoots Elsa in the leg, only to see the bullet go right through. Ethel had no idea of Elsa’s condition. A flashback takes us to Danny Huston, last season’s Ax Man, as the brilliant doctor who created her beautiful legs—now ruined by a gunshot. BTW, Danny Huston is the half-brother of Angelica Huston, making him the uncle of the hunkalicious Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire, Kill Your Darlings). Danny Huston also used to be married to Virginia Madsen. Wild, right?
“Blood Bath” returns from commercial to hear Maggie’s outlandish story about picking flowers for Ma Pettit’s “memorial grave” and hearing a terrible crash that turned out to be Ethel killing herself. Dell confirms that she was sick, so it all makes sense, right? Cue another masterful Elsa performance. Disgustingly, Ethel’s head was liberated from the rest of her. Of course this was all a setup by Elsa and Stanley, with Maggie participating toward the end. Does this mean she doesn’t actually give a crap about Jimmy Darling? Could it mean that Maggie plans to lead him away only to kill him? What is her relationship with Stanley? Watching Jimmy comfort Elsa was profoundly uncomfortable.
Gloria returns home with an armful of pressies for Dandy—only to find Regina there, demanding to speak to her mother. When Gloria explains that Dora is out buying squash, Regina is unimpressed. Gabby Sidibe is delightful as always. How funny is it that she and Dandy were playing Chutes and Ladders? Back on the grounds, Jimmy’s memorial speech for his mother is lovely. Apparently Ethel loved to read her son Emily Dickinson, “I’m nobody! Who are you?” in particular. After the burial, the men go for a drink while Dessy says a few words. Desiree, Penny, Eve, and Suzi decide to dole out a bit of justice—in honor of Ethel. Hear that, Penny’s Dad? You need to pay!
Dandy goes to the therapist, only because Gloria tells him the doctor wants to test his genius. His Rorschach results are hilarious and expected. Dandy has also been reading about the practice of gaining someone’s strength and wisdom by eating them. He wonders if Elizabeth Bathory might have been onto something. When Regina informs the Motts that she’s going to the cops if she doesn’t see Dora by tomorrow—Dandy tells Gloria that she has to kill the girl. Meanwhile, Elsa heads out to recruit new freaks and comes upon a portly woman named Barbara. She does have a pretty face. It doesn’t take much persuading for Barbara to become the troupe’s new Fat Lady.
Penny knows her father is a violent ass, so she tells the other women they don’t have to help her. They do anyway. The women break in and capture Penny’s dad with ease, then take him back where the “soup” is already at the simmer. In the big tent, Elsa confronts Jimmy about his drinking. His job is to lead, and he has failed thus far. The look on his face when Elsa introduces Barbara is hilarious—and turns to horror when Elsa points out that Barbara’s ample bosom could provide him with ample comfort. Um, what?
American Horror Story episodes tend to ramp up at the end rather than winding down. When we see that Penny’s dad is about to be tarred and feathered, we feel like laughing as we cringe. Penny does the pouring herself, and the whole ordeal looks damn painful. Desiree intends to relieve her victim of his junk before killing him and leaving him out for the gators. Maggie investigates his pained screams, and makes an impassioned speech against the murder. Penny, who has only been a freak for a day or so, decides to spare her father’s life. Once again, the freaks prove themselves to be better people than the Normals. Penny takes her place as the Astounding Lizard Girl. Meryl Streep must be hella proud. 🙂
Gloria tells her doctor that she and Dandy are taking a cruise. She believes Dandy to be too fragile for confinement. When her doctor warns her that he fears for her safety, she tells him that his services are no longer required. Dandy believes himself to be born from deadly sin. His parents were second cousins, which I’m pretty sure is legal down south. Why do they hate the Roosevelts? I bet that’s a great story. Mrs Mott pleads with her son to see that he has a sickness. Duh. Dandy believes his mother hates him, but she tells him she’s always adored him—even the madness. But Gloria is done, tapped. She’s got nothing left. The rest of this scene is madness. Dandy moves to kill himself, then turns the gun on Gloria instead—and lands a perfect kill shot to the head.
In the morning, Jimmy is still sloppy drunk. When Maggie confronts him, he breaks up with her. Poor Jimmy. Booze makes everything seem even worse than it is. When Jimmy sees that Barbara is still around, he finds himself drunk and sad enough to take comfort in her ample boson after all. She’s surprisingly cool about it. That Evan Peters is pretty adorable. Back at the Mott home, Dandy and his naked butt chill out in a tub…a Blood Bath. Get it? Is he bathing in Gloria’s blood to gain her power? It certainly seems so.
American Horror Story certainly came back from a week off with a killer episode that packed the punches, the slaps, and the gun violence. “Blood Bath” was totally emotional as it robbed us of both Kathy Bates and Frances Conroy for the whole rest of the season. Five more eps without either of them? Sad times. Thanks for the lovely performances, ladies. You’ll be missed.
See you’s next week!