American Horror Story Recap: Neil Patrick Harris’s Butt

Photo: FX

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American Horror Story
Episode Title
Magical Thinking
Editor’s Rating

This will go down as a season of butts. We were regularly treated to shots of Dandy’s milky-white, patrician posterior, and then last night, we glimpsed the holy land of Neil Patrick Harris’s firm rear while his pants were down and he was fucking a set of Siamese twins. Considering we saw his schmeckle while he was drowning in his own blood during Gone Girl, this is quite an age for absurdly horrible NPH nudity.

Normally I would complain about the addition of what appears to be a major character in the third-to-last episode of the season, but (butt?) I will not, partially because of his ass, but mostly because his performance was just so wonderfully off-kilter and charming. I’m so used to seeing him play smarmy Barney in a suit on How Your Mother Was Dead All Along that when he showed up with all of his greasy charm as a Georgian chameleon salesman, I initially wrote him off. Little did I know, his character Chester is a tortured WWI veteran with a metal plate in his head and a murderous sidekick named Marjorie who is either a possessed puppet or some sort of psychotic alter-ego that he acts out himself.

Unlike most of the other characters this season, we learn Chester’s backstory rather quickly, and he is delightfully unhinged in a number of dark and wonderful ways. His wife fell in love with another woman while he was away in the war, and when he comes back, he has to live with the two of them and watch them have sex without joining in. When he first meets Bette and Dot, now happy to live among their kind in the freak show and hornier than every chicken hawk looking at Justin Bieber’s new underwear ad, he thinks they’re his wife and her lover combined. He sees them not as freaks, but as two beautiful women.  

But it’s Bette and Dot who are the sexual aggressors. Now, I totally see why Bette would fall in love with a handsome stranger, but does it make sense that Dot is heads over heel for him as well? I would think she might just be blinded by that round rump of his, but she wasn’t swayed by Dandy’s good looks (or money), so what is it about Chester? Ah, who knows. The scene when they finally lose the V-card (Why did I just say that? Am I back in Jay Lane’s basement in the eighth grade?) was very well-done, seeing both of their faces react to the action differently, but also the same. Who ever thought we’d be seeing tasteful conjoined-twin soft-core porn on basic cable?

Speaking of Dandy, he finds out that Chester molested the twins and steals Marjorie, telling Chester she ran away and is going to rat him out to the cops. Did Dandy bank on Marjorie wanting Chester to kill the twins? Is this all a part of his plan? Does he want to come in and rescue the twins so that they’ll have to love him back? Was that fur he was wearing made up of all of Jessica Lange’s old wigs from previous seasons? I just have so many questions, but Marjorie does tell Chester to saw the twins in half and, well, it seems like they might finally get their morbid wish.

This is the episode where it all starts to fall apart for our beloved freak show. (Do we love it, though? I don’t really.) It seems like things are careening toward the end of the series, but not necessarily in an exciting way. It’s more like there are only two episodes left and the writers are trying to dream up some sort of elusive endgame that they’ve never even quite glimpsed yet.

The biggest blow was the death of Del at the end of the episode. After finally going to Jimmy in jail and helping him after Stanley stole both of his hands (and, presumably, the proceeds they fetched), Del decided it was finally the right time to do the right thing for Jimmy. He enlists the help of Eve, who got to do something other than carry around Ma Petite for a change, and they break Jimmy out of a police transport, killing two cops in the process. We have no idea where they stashed Jimmy, but the cops show up at the freak show looking for him. I mean, how hard must it be to find a kid in a dirty T-shirt with two bloody hand-stumps wandering around southern Florida in the 1950s?

The whole time this was going on, I was wondering, Where the hell is Esmeralda? Well she was, well, it’s not quite clear. However, she brings back Ma Petite, shows her preserved corpse to Elsa, and tells him everything that has been going on. Elsa gets so mad that she and Desiree get Del to confess to killing Ma Petite and Elsa shoots him in the head. Peace out, player. Good to know you. Actually, not really. You were always kind of a jerk.

What’s funny about this stretch of the show is it doesn’t feel like it’s been building toward anything. During Asylum, we were always worried about Lana getting out and Sister Jude finally getting some justice (and/or comeuppance). During Coven, we were always wondering who was going to be the next Supreme and how that was going to affect the entire coven.

This season, we have — what, exactly? Twisty the Clown was dispensed with ages ago. Dandy, once on a bloody warpath, seems to have calmed down considerably, even being murky in his plans to kill Chester and get the twins back. He has taken Jimmy off the chess board (and gotten rid of those dildohands), but he’s not dead yet. Chester? We barely know him. We sort of want to see Elsa succeed, or see just how she succeeds given that Pepper saw a magazine cover with her as a star, but it’s nothing I’m really aching for. What are we left with? Stanley getting killed? Well, that’s sure to happen. Esmeralda and Jimmy getting together? I don’t think I really care that much.

I think we’re just going to have to suffice with Neil Patrick Harris’s ass and his creepy ventriloquist doll. So often this season has settled for the weird or the noir rather than something that is straight-up horror. From Chucky in Child’s Play to Annabelle and Poltergeist, creepy dolls has always been an exploitable vein of the genre, and one this show hasn’t done before. It’s good to see AHS finally going back to its roots and giving us some real horror in its final hours. Even if these last few episodes were as great as our introduction to Chester, it might be too little too late to save what has surely been a mediocre season. 

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