AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW Review 1.05 “Pink Cupcakes”
You go on and do your worst. 'Cause once they change me down there, I'm gonna be too much woman for you anyway.
"Pink Cupcakes" was a little bit of a junk-drawer episode for American Horror Story: Freak Show - even more than usual, that is. Normally I don't have any trouble choosing a single line of dialogue that ties together the theme of the episode, but this week, there really wasn't an overarching theme. Everyone's plots were forwarded to at least some degree, and we were treated to some telling character reveals, but all in all the episode didn't feel as thematically coherent as, believe it or not, American Horror Story often is (even when it's narratively incoherent).
That's not to say I didn't enjoy the episode - I really did. And not least because we finally got the Angela Bassett-centric story I've been clamoring for, and of course that magnificent woman rose to the occasion and then some. Desiree's been drowning her sorrows since Dell took off after the fight of last week, and while she and Jimmy find themselves passionately entangled (seal boy sure knows how to use those flippers, doesn't he?), Desiree suffers a miscarriage. I love seeing Ethel take Desiree under her wing, knowing what it's like to be impregnated by Dell. Ethel takes care of her, and once Desiree discovers the truth about herself and about Dell, she leaves him. The truth about Dell, of course, is that he's Jimmy's father, but the truth about Desiree is more shocking: she's "all woman," and while it makes me sad to know that deep down, she wanted that so desperately, I'm glad that the knowledge has given her the strength and confidence to leave Dell.
Dell, whom I want so badly to hate but find myself feeling an insuppressible sympathy for in spite of myself. It's interesting, though not surprising, that Dell is a closeted gay man, and it gives the big bully some much-needed nuance to his blowhard character. His scenes with Matt Bomer - a welcome, if brief, addition to the cast - really made me feel for Dell. He loves Desiree and wants to do right by her, but he's quelling his true nature in order to be with her. But once Andy (Bomer) makes it clear that all of his exchanges with Dell have been of the professional variety, and then Dell returns home to find Desiree preparing to undergo surgery to become a more physically typical woman, Dell freezes in the fear that he will be left alone, and takes devastating measures to ensure that this doesn't happen. (But I continue to love how incapable of bullying Desiree he is, no matter how hard he tries. Desiree will just not be bullied, strong man or no.)
I think Andy's character is a really interesting one-off for the series, and I can see why Bomer took the role. Andy's an artist and a prostitute, and he feels no shame for the way he makes his living. Dell keeps offering to take him out of Jupiter and away from his sordid life, but Andy - in addition to being wisely skeptical of Dell's big talk - isn't all that interested in leaving. He likes his job, he's good at it, and it affords him the time to work on his art, the thing that truly matters to him. It's a shame his life has to end so brutally, in a horrific murder by Dandy (Andy and Dandy! Just got that), but I like that Andy's physical strength and enthusiasm for life made him nigh unkillable for the first half of his evening with Dandy, who must have believed his next murder would go as easily as his first. ("You're making me feel bad! Stop it!") We also learn that Dandy's lust for killing is genetic and due to the inbreeding prevalent in many wealthy families, and I think I'm just going to continue to enjoy his dynamic with Frances Conroy, because it's simply and completely wonderful.
And finally, our last thread of the episode belongs to Stanley, Elsa and the Tattler sisters, as Stanley renewedly attempts to worm his way into the freak show in hopes of becoming the well-paid star of the American Morbidity Museum. Although I knew Bette and Dot couldn't really be dead, the scene in which Dot is sobbing on the bed next to her already decaying sister was really affecting, and reminded me how creatively rewarding, if physically annoying, this performance must have been for Sarah Paulson. I'm DYING to see what happens when Dandy tries to go up against Dot next week - I suspect it'll look a lot like Dell trying to intimidate Desiree.
And finally, presented for your memorizing pleasure, Dandy's amazing voiceover monologue:
I was destined to be the greatest actor of all time.
Monty Clift? If I had been in A Place in the Sun, George Stevens would have had me do the walk to the electric chair shirtless.
I mailed away for one of those Charles Atlas exercise routines they advertise in the back of the Superman comics.
And I practiced acting faces in front of the mirror:
sad, happy, moody.
But mother wouldn't let me.
I hate her!
But she can't keep my greatness in the slips.
One door closes, another opens.
And this body is America:
strong, violent and full of limitless potential.
My arms will hold them down when they struggle.
My legs will run them down when they flee.
I will be the U.S. Steel of murder.
My body holds a heart that cannot love.
When Dora died, she looked right into my eyes,
and I felt nothing.
The clown was put on earth to show me the way.
To introduce me to the sweet language of murder.
But I am no clown.
I am perfection.
I am greatness.
I am the future...
and the future starts tonight.
Maggie Esmerelda is clearly feeling guilty about Jimmy (though evidently none of the other innocent freaks she's selling out), and she tries to warn him, via palm-reading, to leave Jupiter before Stanley can get his hooks into him. "You could do anything you want!" she tells him, as he tries and fails to kiss her. "Anything except that, I guess." Jimmy's still a dreamboat, but if he's not careful with Maggie he's going to slip into M'lady territory.
"I would rather be boiled in oil than be on television."
Tonight the World's Tiniest Woman played the World's Tiniest Violin for poor fucking Elsa.
I love the kind doctor who tends to the freaks without judgment, and though it's terrible that Dell broke his hands, I'm just so relieved he didn't kill him.
So great to see Gabourey Sidibe pop up as Dora's daughter, and I'm happy to know that she'll be putting her considerable wits toward uncovering what happened to her mother. But it needs to be said: that wig is atrocious.