‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ “Massacres and Matinees” Recap and Review

American Horror Story Freak Show Episode 2 Recap and Review
Michael Chiklis as Dell Toledo and Evan Peters as Jimmy Darling in ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ (Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/FX)

The psycho clown’s met his match, Elsa lost control (at least temporarily), and Jimmy found out the road to hell is paved in good intentions in episode two of American Horror Story: Freak Show. The second episode, “Massacres and Matinees,” aired on October 15, 2014 and introduced two key characters – Dell the Strong Man (Michael Chiklis) and his wife, the hermaphrodite Desiree (Angela Bassett) – and found one character hauled off to jail after a plan goes awry.

Characters continue to be fleshed out in episode two, with the reveal of Lobster Boy’s father and the emerging personality of the Dot half of the Siamese twins. Episode two also revealed the psychotic tendencies of a supporting character from episode one and provided additional details on life in the carnival.

Here’s a detailed look back at “Massacres and Matinees,” divided up into carnival and clown segments:

The Twisted Clown Story Gets Even More Twisted:

A toy store worker follows a tiny robot’s trail of blood through the store, unknowingly passing within feet of Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) who’s frozen in place next to other life-size clowns. As the employee follows the blood to a Halloween display, he finds the murdered proprietor’s head on a shelf. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even have time to scream before the clown stabs him through the throat.

Meanwhile in a much more sedate scene, Gloria (Frances Conroy) and her son, Dandy (Finn Wittrock), sit at opposite ends of a formal dinner table waiting to be served. Dandy’s bored with everything and his mom suggests he needs to meet a nice girl. Dandy hates that suggestion and declares his desire to be an actor. He runs off “in a mood” and the maid tells his mom that she found animal parts – fur and teeth – behind the tool shed and the neighbors stopped by looking for their cat. Of course we all know what torturing animals leads to, don’t we?

Later, Gloria cruises down the road and spies the clown walking on the side of the road following his latest murder. “Excuse me? Do you do private parties for children? I’ll pay you handsomely for it. My son’s been a little down in the dumps, maybe you can cheer him up,” inquires Gloria. The clown just stares. Seriously, who would pull up next to this creepy mass of clown-ness and want to bring it home with them? Apparently Dandy’s not the only crazy one in the family.

After being turned down by Jimmy at the carnival when he asked for a job, Dandy returns home pissed off and full of hate. Mom tells him not to worry, she’s gotten him his very own clown to do with as he pleases! Dandy and the clown engage in a stare-off as Gloria withdraws from the room. No matter what Dandy does, the clown just stares. When Dandy suggests a marionette show, the clown doesn’t respond and Dandy takes that as a ‘no.’ “Your silence is utterly provocative, but you’ll have to earn your keep, clown,” he says, offering the clown any toy in the box. When the clown looks through the box, Dandy looks through the clown’s bag and sees something hideous. The clown turns, hits him on the head, and flees the house. Dandy’s only slightly stunned and quickly pursues Twisty through the woods.


Inside the clown’s hideaway, the teen girl in the cage tries to escape but the boy’s given up. She finds a way out and tells the boy to be ready to run. The clown returns, unlocks their cage, and sits down across from his captives. He stares, slowly reaching into his pocket and pulls out the tiny robot. Winding it up, it walks toward the boy. The clown seems sad when the boy doesn’t react to it and reaches into his bag, pulling out the head of the toy store employee. The kidnap victims scream, she clubs the clown on the head, and they escape to the woods. Unfortunately, she crosses paths with Dandy who tosses her over his shoulder while the boy is held captive by the clown. Dandy tells the clown he’ll have to do a much better job of confinement if they’re going to have any fun, and any thoughts that Dandy had an ounce of goodness in him are dashed.

The Carnival Capers:

It’s a quiet morning at the carnival with everyone going about their chores or eating breakfast while in the city, the shops are vacant. A radio reporter says the town is fearful of the murders and now there is a police detective missing. It’s not surprising when two detectives pay a visit to the carnival, but Elsa (Jessica Lange) turns them away because they don’t have a search warrant. Before leaving they announce they’re shutting things down by enforcing a curfew at sundown.

Later, the freaks throw a feast and toast their killing of the cop, but Jimmy’s not in a partying mood. He’s never killed anyone before and he worries about the detective’s family. At night, Jimmy (Evan Peters), Eve (Erika Ervin), and Paul the Illustrated Seal (Mat Fraser) dig up the body parts so they can burn them, thus getting rid of the evidence. Jimmy reiterates how much he just wants everyone to give them a chance and not judge them based on their appearances.

Dot and Bette (Sarah Paulson) are relaxing outside when the Ethel the Bearded Lady (Kathy Bates) tells them to get up and start rehearsing. Dot says they’re not performers but Ethel says they have to sing for their supper. However, their argument is interrupted by the arrival of Dell the Strong Man and his three-breasted hermaphrodite wife, Desiree. He’s come to beg Elsa for a job and claims the real star of their family is his wife. That leads to a flashback of Dell breaking a man’s neck when he finds him having sex (consensually) with his wife. Elsa wants to know what having a hermaphrodite makes the husband. Dell replies, “The happiest man on Earth.” Even though there’s no money, Elsa believes the place needs a strong male presence and hires them on.

It seems Ethel and Dell have a history, and that history is they were once married and Jimmy is Dell’s son (but Jimmy doesn’t know this).

As rehearsals go on, it turns out Bette is tone deaf. Jimmy suggests Dot try singing directly to him, and she has a beautiful voice. Dell comes in and reveals he’s planned 3pm matinees until the curfew is lifted but Elsa says no way. “Daytime is for kiddy shows, clowns, and Kewpie dolls,” she answers. Dell says no woman is his boss and the show will go on at 3pm the next day.

Next, we find Jimmy back at the diner but this time he’s brought his fellow performers. The freaks all sit at the counter, ready to order, and Jimmy reminds them to about their manners and to use their forks and napkins. Dell’s right outside putting up flyers and when he sees them inside, he’s furious. He forces them to leaved and beats Jimmy in front of the group. Jimmy returns to the carnival and tells Elsa Dell’s out of control and is moving forward on the 3pm matinee even though she said no. Elsa’s ready to just let that slide when Jimmy shows her the playbill with her name last. Elsa reconsiders her opinion.

Dot wows the crowd and Bette and Elsa are both obviously jealous of the way the men crowd the stage as she sings. As Dot sings, Jimmy slips out of the tent telling Dell he needs to use the restroom. Shortly thereafter, the police return with a warrant to search the grounds for the missing detective. They ask for Dell’s tent and Elsa points it out. Nothing’s in the trailer, so they search every tent. Dell knew what Jimmy was up to and removed the evidence he planted in the Strong Man’s trailer and put it (the detective’s shield) under Meep’s bedroll. The police haul away the screaming Meep who, like Game of Thrones’ Hodor, only says Meep in varying levels of intensity. Once at the jail, Meep’s surrounded in his cell by large, burly men who believes he’s a serial killer. Things aren’t looking good for poor live-animal-eating Meep.

Elsa visits Bette while they’re in bed, and as Dot sleeps Elsa whispers in Bette’s ear that Dot wants her sister to feel ashamed and wants to fill her with doubt as to her own worth. Elsa tells her she should be the star, not Dot, and that she believes Dot has a dark soul. Before leaving the room, she places a knife under Bette’s pillow.

Jimmy’s never been drunk before but as things are falling apart, he hits the bottle. Determined to confess, he heads out of the tent at the same time a car pulls up and tosses out Meep’s lifeless body. Jimmy screams in agony, knowing it’s all his fault.

The Bottom Line:

Dandy found a like-minded psycho in Twisty and the pairing of the two should lead to a bloody murder spree that’ll push the boundaries of cable TV. Is it possible Twisty will wind up looking like the sane one when compared to Dandy by the end of the season? Dandy’s not only evil, but manipulative and of such social standing that he can influence potential victims into allowing him into their homes without having to sneak in like Twisty. It’ll be interesting to see where the writers take this storyline and how far they’ll let them go into their twisted, sick world before one – or both – exit the show.

“Massacres and Matinees” also gave us a hero to cheer for, if you can get past the fact that he murdered a detective in cold blood. Jimmy’s got a good heart, but he doesn’t plan things well and acts much too impulsively. Still, of all this season’s characters it’s Jimmy, his mother, and the kidnapped pair in Twisty’s hideaway who audiences can actively root for.

And it was shocking to see Elsa allow anyone, much less a man she just hired on, take on such a big leadership role in the carnival. His usurpation of power has ruffled feathers across the freak show community and Elsa has to act soon to take back the reins or loss them forever to this homicidal maniac. Although we were just introduced to Elsa in episode one, I thought she was represented to be a woman completely in control of her business. Hopefully this power change won’t last long and Elsa will regain authority over her show.

All in all, “Massacres and Matinees” was a terrific follow-up to the season premiere. Characters were developed and fleshed out and additional potential storylines were put in place for upcoming episodes.

GRADE: B

-By Rebecca Murray

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