American Horror Story: Freak Show Recap: We’ll Have a Gay Old Time

American Horror Story

Pink Cupcakes
Season 4 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

American Horror Story

Pink Cupcakes
Season 4 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: FX

Since big villain Twisty the Clown was dispensed with last week, the big question going into this episode was, where is the season going to go? Well, we have our answer. This season is going to go gay. Gay gay gay gay gay. AHS: Get Your Freak On is gayer than all of Liza Minnelli’s ex-husbands. It is gayer than Marcus Bachmann’s sock drawer. It is gayer than bottomless brunch in West Hollywood. (Haha, JK, nothing is bottomless in West Hollywood.) It is gayer than a Ryan Murphy show full of aging divas singing anachronistic pop songs.

We know now that every male character on this season of the show except for Edward Dildohands (and maybe Seal Boy and maybe Pepper’s brother Salt) is a homosexual. The big shock was when Dandy showed up at Jupiter, Florida’s surprisingly busy-looking gay bar (really, there was that much hot trade looking to shake their danglers on stage in Jupiter, Florida?) was that Del the strongman was there as well.

Come to think of it, this all makes a bit of sense. The two women we know that Del has been with both have a masculine characteristic — Ethel has a beard and Desiree has  her ding-a-ling. He killed that gay dude in Chicago who was sleeping with his wife because he’s insanely jealous and also upset that sleeping with her hasn’t “cured” him yet. Part of his need to be the big macho man at the freak show probably comes from him overcompensating for feeling like less of a man because he’s gay.

Now here he is, in love with a hustler named Andy (it was good to see that none of Matt Bomer’s handsome talents were wasted in this guest role) and still trying to keep Desiree. I do find that a little odd, that he wants to stay married to her even though he’s gay. Maybe he’s just bi? Still, he cripples the doctor that offers to take away Desiree’s ding-a-ling and make her cosmetically into a woman. I think this was as much about keeping her a freak as it was about keeping her looking like a bit of a man. And, we know from his conversation with Andy, if he showed up at brunch, it would be bottomless no more.

Speaking of Desiree, her arc this episode was the most fulfilling for me. We get to see her go from sniveling in her trailer because Del won’t treat her right to being able to have the strength to walk out on him. It’s a common theme this season that the freaks are only freaks because that is what other people think of them. Desiree was always just a woman — one with a slight birth defect, but a woman all the same — but her mother wanting her to be a boy and her body betraying that notion is what really turned her into a freak. Now she has the chance to have babies, be normal, and live a conventional life. It was amazing to see her realize that she has choices other than being a freak.

While the psychology of Desiree and Del makes sense, I’m still thinking that Dandy is a bit confused. Well, not as person, which he very well may be, but as a character. My favorite moment of the episode is when he comes down in his robe and his mother finds dead Patti LaBelle in the dining room and Dandy pretends like he doesn’t know what is going on and Gloria immediately knows that he’s the one who killed her. She might be in denial, but she sure knows her son.

So, what did we learn about Dandy in this episode? His father was also a nutjob who killed vagrants and eventually killed himself. Gloria thinks that Dandy is messed up because inbreeding has caused their gene pool to get murky. Dancy wants to be an actor but his mother won’t let him, so instead, he got a Charles Atlas exercise book from the back of a comic book and has been working on his fitness in his play room. Now he wants to be perfect at murder like Patrick Bateman. (We learn this from a voice-over, something that we have not seen on this season and something we probably won’t see again. This is what I mean about the inconsistencies of the show. It just does whatever it wants without care to how episodes are normally structured, and then expects us to be so distracted by the blood, guts, gore, naked strippers, two-headed singers, and awful accents to notice.)

The thing about Dandy is that I still can’t quite figure out how it all fits together. Gloria says he has the same perversions as his father, so does that mean that his father is gay, too, or that they’re both just serial killers? When she said he killed vagrants, did she mean gay dudes or homeless people? And just why does Dandy want to go kill gay people like the beautiful hustler Andy? He says that he wants to murder because his mother won’t let him be an actor and express himself. By that, does he mean that he wants to express himself as a gay man and his mother won’t let him, so he goes out killing gay dudes to kill the gay part of himself? Or is he just a spoiled brat who thinks he’s above the law, and he’s killing gay people because he’s really killing his father for abandoning him? Maybe he’s just bored? Or is he just really messed up, and the gay thing is just a red herring? But Dandy is obviously so gay, and his mother indulges all of his whims, including the homicidal ones; why wouldn’t she indulge his homosexual ones as well? And he says the murders are revenge for the people who killed Twisty, but what does Twisty have to do with hot hustlers?

Something about all this just doesn’t quite add up. However, I will forgive it all for the excellent image of him in his tighty-whiteys covered in blood and terrorizing his mother in the garden. That’s one of the most sinister pictures we’ve seen all season.

The other gay dude we have to deal with is Stanley, whose plan to tell Elsa he works in television didn’t go quite as it planned. Oh, well, we got to see Jessica Lange go on an epic rant about how television will never be as glamorous as movies on a show on basic cable, which was so meta that you could just hear the writers snickering with glee behind the curtain.

As we ascertained, Stanley’s plan is to kill or poison all the freaks and then sell the whole lot to that creepy museum so that he can make a big payday. He’s concentrating his efforts on staying close to Elsa and, canny conman that he is, he knows that the best way to do that is by cozying up to her competition. It certainly didn’t hurt that Elsa was booed off the stage during her “Life on Mars” number. Maybe if she had done a song that the audience might have heard before, they might not have thrown all their popcorn. No one wants to listen to a band play their “new stuff.” That’s when most people go get another overpriced beer and a cinnamon pretzel.

Now, I liked that she did “Life on Mars” again, this time with an audience, so we can see how they would actually react to her performance. However, it seems like the anachronistic pop songs are gone for good. Wild inconsistencies are like aging actresses to Ryan Murphy — he’s never met one he hasn’t loved and tried to shoehorn into his programs at any cost.

Stanley tries to poison the girls with pink cupcakes so he can then stash their bodies in a barn, but Bette and Dot are not interested in sweets now that they have to watch their weight to be stars. We see their death as a boring hypothetical, which somehow robs some of the suspense and dread of what might actually happen to them. By showing us their fake death, it makes their real death seem inconsequential.

The real terror comes later and not from Stanley. Instead, it comes from Elsa, who says she wants to take them to get some new clothes.  For the record, I am still #TeamBette, mostly because she can’t be skeptical of Elsa’s motivation to go frock shopping. “Who cares,” she tells her sister, “I want a new hat!” A woman after my own heart, even though I only have one of them.

Elsa drops the twinsies off at Gloria’s house, thinking she still wants them, and we assume she takes them in as a distraction for Dandy. The problem is, I’m not that concerned about their well-being. We’ve only seen Dandy kill Patti LaBelle because she essentially called him a no-good whitey and laughed in his face. Then he killed a gay hustler. Bette and Dot are neither of those, so why should Dandy kill them? Just to entertain himself? Yes, he is for sure creepy and dangerous, but until we have a better idea of what makes him tick and just what sort of victims he wants to claim, it’s going to be hard for me to think that they’re in any immediate danger.

American Horror Story: Freak Show Ep 5 Recap