We are all just spinning on the wheel. There is but one way to keep off the wheel. It's not youth. It's not beauty or true love. I know how to stay off the wheel. I control my fate. I have survived because I know one must be willing to destroy anyone, anything, even the ones you love, to keep the gods in check.
Last night's episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show was, to be honest, a bit of a bore. Elsa spent much of the hour throwing tantrums and demanding loyalty from the freaks she manipulates and terrorizes, and I found myself fed up with all of them - with Elsa for behaving like such a toddler, and with her hordes of "monsters" for putting up with it. Paul the Illustrated Seal is the only character who really stands up to Elsa (until a great scene with Ethel at the end), and Mat Fraser's wonderful performance reminds me that this series needs to spend more time telling the stories of its peripheral characters.
The actors on Freak Show who have real physical abnormalities are, by necessity, able to take a more authentic approach to the material, and it feels exploitative to just have them just standing around in the background, given a half-dozen lines an episode if they're lucky. Fraser, Jyoti Amge (Ma Petite), Erika Ervin (Amazon Eve), Rose Siggins (Legless Suzi), Drew Rin Varick (Toulouse) - can even one of these guys get a real story, please? Paul almost did this week, and I was immediately engaged in his romance, but of course it only lasted a few moments before looping back around to how it affects Elsa. If Paul doesn't survive that gut wound, I will be affronted. Elsa exploits those in her cast of freaks, to be sure, but it's starting to feel like the real exploitation is coming from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Every time Elsa cradles Ma Petite, I, too, am tempted to coo at how adorable and tiny she is, but then I remember that Jyoti Amge is a real, adult person and I feel icky about it.
Our other plot this week follows Dot and Bette as they're being courted by a dashing Dandy, who believes he's found his soulmates: "My heart was lost, and it took a woman with the vision of four eyes to find it, and the love of two hearts to give it back." Unfortunately for Dandy, only one of those hearts is returning his love, and he predictably throws a hissy fit when Dot doesn't fall as easily prey to his extravagant charms as the naive Bette. Dandy and Elsa both want nothing more to be loved, but they both go about this desire in the most childish, petulant way.
And what will come of the love Jimmy is desiring from Maggie Esmerelda? I feel like she's only kissing him and offering to run away with him because she wants to protect him from Stanley, and I actually really admire that. Esmerelda's redemption is unsurprising but still rather nice. Did anyone think for a second that she'd be able to drown Ma Petite? I felt very little suspense in that moment, and to be honest, there wasn't a second of suspense or horror in the entire episode. But that usually means American Horror Story is gearing up for something pretty spectacular, so I look forward to discovering what that is next week.
"I'll kill you with my own two hands." Kathy Bates is so badass on this show.
Someone buy Ma Petite a pony right goddamn now.
I love so much when Dandy complains that he misses Dora, and his mother replies breezily, "Well, hindsight is 20/20, dear." Frances Conroy, you are a gem.