There’s no real angle on understanding American Horror Story: Freak Show. You find yourself looking back on everything that happened. You pin every plot point to a corkboard; you try to decode it, connect it, Beautiful Mind it into coherence. There was a museum of freak corpses floating in jars, and there was Wes Bentley as a two-faced undead aristocrat, and Kathy Bates’ accent, and Angela Bassett was a three-breasted hermaphrodite who wasn’t actually a hermaphrodite, and Emma Roberts spent a whole season just hanging out, waiting to get cut in half, and occasionally people sang David Bowie. Matthew Bomer and Neil Patrick Harris, Danny Huston and Gabourey Sidibe. And Malcolm-Jamal Warner???
The mascot of this season—the star, really—was our boy Dandy. Dandy Mott never made any sense, but the sheer incoherence of his character arc was a marvel to watch. He was like a chaingun shot through a megaphone ricocheting off a Taiko drum. In the first fifteen minutes of the American Horror Story finale, here is what Dandy does:
– Take over the Freak Show, which it turns out was always his lifelong dream this week.
– Immediately declare that he is the new star of the show and that his performance will be “Charismatic Crooning!” even though, as far as I can remember, Dandy hasn’t ever really sung on this show? Am I misremembering?
– Rule over the Freak Show with an iron fist, and all of the freaks just take Dandy’s craziness because they can’t quit because there’s nowhere else to go.
– Immediately get overthrown by the freaks, who decide that, actually, they don’t want to take Dandy’s craziness anymore, so they all quit, because apparently there is somewhere else to go after all.
– Put on a very dapper suit and pick up his golden gun and kill everyone in the freak show who isn’t played by a famous person.
– Get married to Bette and Dot two seconds after he massacres everyone they love, and promise them that they will live a wild life of adventure going on safaris and raising little freak children and not doing anything involved in show business, because Dandy got over show business at some point in the last five minutes.
– Act incredibly surprised when Bette and Dot tell him that, all in all, they’d prefer not to be married to the man who massacred everyone they loved.
– Say “I can’t die! I’m immortal!” which was sort of a plotline at some point.
None of this made any sense. I guess that the scene of Dandy killing everyone inside of the Freak Show was “shocking,” but not as much as the show thought. The big secret about this season of American Horror Story is that, for the most part, the most compelling characters were the characters who weren’t played by the series regulars. I’m thinking especially of Paul, played by the sad-eyed Matt Fraser, and Eve, a towering presence played with a wink by Erika Ervin. So didn’t it feel a bit weird when the show unceremoniously killed them off to make way for the stars?
There was something disingenuous at the core of this finale, I think. As Dandy died, Desiree intoned: “You may look like a motion picture dreamboat, but you’re the biggest freak of them all.” As Elsa died, she said: “I am the biggest freak of all!” Freak Show wanted its point to be that freaks are normal and normal people are freaks. This is a nice thought, and it’s certainly a good lesson that every parent should teach their high schoolers.
But in the end, there wasn’t much freaky about Freak Show. Jimmy and the twins live in happy domestic bliss, and Desiree and Malcolm-Jamal Warner live in happy domestic bliss. Elsa not only gets to achieve all her dreams of Hollywood celebrity, she also gets to realize that Hollywood is a totally fake place—and then spends eternity with her real friends back at the freak show. You remember, the freak show that she sold to a homicidal insane man who murdered one of the freaks, the freak show that she then re-sold to a different homicidal insane man who murdered all of the freaks.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
The End of the Show
Dandy is upset about the freaks making fun of him. So he puts on his finest suit and blows all their heads off. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. Eve puts up a fight, but not for long. End of the freak show. Dandy leaves with the Tattler sisters. Some hours later, Jimmy and his new hands walks to the dining tent. After taking a few bites, Jimmy looks around. Say, where is everybody? He runs into Elsa’s tent. She’s been gone for at least a week, but apparently nobody told Jimmy that. Nobody ever tells Jimmy anything. Remember when Jimmy’s dad showed up and became the new vice-president of the freak show and then was secretly gay and then killed Ma Petite and then freed Jimmy from imprisonment in a daring heist and then got shot in the head? Chiklis?
Anyhow, at stately Mott Manor, Dandy marries the twins in what I can only assume is only the second craziest wedding ceremony in Mott Family History. (The first-craziest is when Dandy’s great-grandfather Dando Mott married his own mother, Candy Mott, thus creating an oh-so-rare family-tree-inside-of-another-family-tree. The wedding was officiated by Ulysses S. Grant, who was played by Elton John.)
Dandy is so happy to be married! It’s what he’s always wanted this week! Bette promises to love and cherish him, and Dot promises to just go away whenever things are getting carnal. “I can get very nasty if my manhood is compromised,” says Dandy. “A stallion expects a certain respect from his mares!” Tee-hee, the Tatters titter. That’s Our Dandy!
NEXT: Not so Dandy now.