American Horror Story: Freak Show – TV Series (Season 4)
Running Time: 60 minutes
Starring: Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Denis O’Hare, Emma Roberts, Frances Conroy, Michael Chiklis, Finn Wittrock, Jyoti Amge, Grace Gummer, Erika Ervin, Mat Fraser, Rose Siggins
Season 4 of AHS follows one of the last remaining freak shows set in the 1950s in Jupiter, Florida. The series starts off with Elsa Mars (Lange), the owner of the Elsa Mars’ Cabinet of Curiosities, struggling to keep the show afloat. So, she jumps at the first opportunity that will bring in a crowd, and persuaded two-headed, Bette and Dot Tattler (Paulson) to join the show which comprises of the lobster boy, Jimmy Darling (Peters), his mother, the bearded lady, Ethel (Bates), the world’s smallest woman, Ma Petite (Amge), Amazon Eve (Ervin), Legless Suzi (Siggins), Paul the Illustrated Seal (Fraser) amongst many others. But conflict rises within the “family” when Dell Toledo (Chiklis) shows up out of the blue and joins the show, along with his wife, a three-breasted woman, Desiree Dupree (Bassett), shortly followed by con artists, Stanley (O’Hare), and Maggie (Roberts) who plot to murder the performers and sell them to a museum. Further trouble stirs when Gloria Mott (Conroy), a wealthy lady turns up to watch the show with her son, Dandy Mott (Wittrock) who become obsessed with the two-headed twin.
Ryan Murphy returned to the 50s for this season, creating yet another creative, intense and one of the most twisted yet rides in the AHS realm. I have to admit I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of freak shows ever since I was a kid, and discovered there were such shows. So, I was very excited when Murphy announced the theme of this season. The show started off strong, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen in next week’s episode. Up till the end of the Halloween specials, then it got a bit anti-climatic, but thanks to Dandy’s spiral, the show picked up its momentum again and kept it going ever since.
There are various notable guest stars this season, from Neil Patrick Harris as the magician/war veteran, Chester Creb to Wes Bentley as Edward Mordrake to the show’s most advertised character, Twisty the Clown portrayed by John Carroll Lynch. I cannot write much about the amazing-ness of these characters, to avoid spoiling some of the main plots of this season. However, I will gush about the psychotic character, Dandy Mott, played by the AHS newbie, Finn Wittrock. Wittrock gave an amazing performance as a psychopath. His performance reminded me of the greats in this category such as Norman Bates by Anthony Perkins, Jack Torrance portrayed by the great Jack Nicholson, Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman, and Wittrock’s performance in the season finale definitely reminded me of Heath Ledger’s Joker. I really hope the show will bring him back for Season 5, and give him another memorable and challenging role as this, but with more screen time! Meanwhile, performances by AHS alums; Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters and Frances Conroy, to me, were overshadowed by newcomers, and some not-exactly-alums-but-still-relatively-new-actors, and guest stars from those mentioned above to Erika Ervin, Mat Fraser, Grace Gummer, Ben Woolf, and Naomi Grossman. Denis O’Hare on the other hand, gave a captivating performance as con artist, Stanley. It was a shame that Lily Rabe had an incredibly minor role in this season; it would’ve been great to see her in a more important role since Rabe had been delivering some notable performances since Asylum.
Visually, this season was a shame when compared to that of previous seasons. It felt as though the show’s cinematography peaked on Asylum and had been slowly descending since. The overall story for this season, admittedly, is better than Coven and at times, Asylum. But to put the seasons in order, Murder House still tops the list, followed by Asylum, with a close gap to Freak Show, and lastly, Coven. Fans have already begun to guess the theme of Season 5 since Episode 1 of this season, and FX’s president, John Landgraf claimed Season 5 to be “an unusually large reinvention.” I was never one to guess the themes so far, so I won’t start down that road, however, I’ve always rooted for certain alums to return for upcoming seasons, so I’ll start down that path once again.
With Jessica Lange still on the fence about returning to next season, the show does feel a bit shaky. And here are some of the actors I would REALLY love to see return to the upcoming season: Zachary Quinto in another charming yet creepy role, Taissa Farmiga paired with Evan Peters (not Emma Roberts – his chemistry with Farmiga is much better on-screen), Lily Rabe in any major role, the amazing Frances Conroy, Sarah Paulson, Denis O’Hare, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott in any role, Finn Wittrock, Danny Huston (if Lange is returning to the show), Grace Gummer in hopefully a bigger role, and Kate Mara. One can only be hopeful!
Overall, Freak Show had been an intense, entertaining and an absolute bloodbath of a ride with notable episodes: Monsters Among Us, Edward Mordrake (Part 1 & 2), Blood Bath, Orphans, and Show Stoppers.
Rating: 8 out of 10