American Horror Story Freak Show, S4E7: Test of Strength
Original Airdate: November 19, 2014
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
Jimmy is at Dandy’s house and he knows that something is wrong. The twins are there eating ice cream and Dandy and Gloria show him that they are not being held hostage. Gloria adds that they paid good money for them. Bette says that Jimmy lied about being the hero. Dandy is the one who killed the clown. Jimmy flashes back and realizes that Dandy was the clown trying to saw the twins in half. Jimmy tells the girls that they aren’t safe there, and that they have to leave. Dandy makes the mistake of mentioning that he knows Dot wants to have surgery, but that was something she only mentioned in her diary. She becomes upset when he boasts that he read their diaries, because there will be no secrets between them. He pleads with Bette to stay with him, but Dot tells her sister that there is something undeniably wrong with Dandy. The trio leaves, and Dandy stares at them in a horror-filled rage.
Jimmy tests the microphone as Eve starts playing the bass to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” He jumps into the song while Elsa sits in the audience and watches. We see Penny caring for Paul in his tent. We also see Dell in the bar asking about Andy. He hasn’t been seen since the last time Dell had been there. When the bartender says that you should never fall in love with a hustler, Dell loses his temper and smashes his far into the bar. When Jimmy finishes the song, Elsa starts to give him feedback and Jimmy says that he isn’t changing the story. Jimmy tells her that she was a liar, and all of the freaks know that she lied about the twins. Elsa denies any wrongdoing, saying that the twins ran away. But Dot and Bette are behind her, and Elsa is shocked to see them. Dot tells a different story, though, silencing her sister so that she can trick Elsa into welcoming them back to the show. She says that Elsa helped them to experience the finer things in life, but the show is their home and that’s where they want to be. Elsa is forced to graciously welcome them back or else she will look the fool in front of her performers.
Desiree helps Ethel walk up the walkway to the doctor’s office. They exchange friendly banter about their surgeries when they see a sign saying “closed for business.” They’re shocked. Inside the office, the doctor’s daughter is packing his belongings because the doctor killed himself. She blames them for what he did. She says his beliefs were challenged and so he smashed his hands before shooting himself. Neither woman can believe the story, but the daughter threatens to call the police if they don’t leave. “Get out, you freaks!” she screams.
Stanley is practicing his skill at the strength meter game. He manages to swing the mallet enough to register, and yet he can’t get halfway up. Dell walks by and Stanley tells him that he feels like a fairy today. Stanley teases him about not being able to “get it up.” When Dell threatens him, Stanley says that he saw him at the gay bar, and so did other people. Dell is about to take a swing at him when Maggie interrupts and points out that Dell might hit Stanley if he isn’t careful. Stanley is a master at manipulation, of course, and he planned to have Maggie around as a witness. He takes Dell into the tent and says that Dell has what he wants: no moral code, strength, and that he must do everything Stanley says. Stanley pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot him in the nuts if he doesn’t obey. He needs one of the freaks, dead, but clean. Dell doesn’t want to kill one of his own, but clearly he has no choice. He has a day to get the job done.
Jimmy and Maggie are in bed together in their underwear. He’s upset that the twins changed their story and made him look foolish. She says that they changed their minds. Jimmy says he will leave with Maggie, but he wants to figure out who the other clown was. He wonders if Maggie would recognize Dandy’s voice. She thinks he’s stalling, that he doesn’t want to leave.
Outside, Dell pours chloroform on a towel and goes to Eve’s tent. He tries to knock her out while she’s sleeping but she wakes up and beats the shit out of him, to the point that he cries uncle. She throws him out of her tent. “Who’s the strong man now?” she taunts as he lies on the ground, beaten and bloody.
Eve tells Ethel what happened to her. Jimmy is furious and wants to go to the cops, but Ethel says that they can’t go to the police. They need to kill him. Suzi and Eve remind him that he would be at his door with a gun if he’d attacked Maggie. Ethel tells Jimmy that they need to remember that hope doesn’t exist for them. They have to survive, and no one will take care of them but themselves. He can’t get away with it. “We can’t let the degenerate prick win,” she sobs. Jimmy says he can handle Dell. “You handle him, or we will,” she says.
Dell is teasing two men about the game, and the fact that neither one can ring the bell. Jimmy walks up and says that he wants to talk “man to man.” Pompous Dell tells him to let him know when the other man arrives. Dell wants to go into town, and Jimmy can buy him a drink. Then they’ll talk. Stanley gives a nod of approval to Dell.
Elsa asks the twins what they’re after. Bette drinks her drink while Elsa bemoans the fact that they have a Hollywood show. Bette is doing all the talking now. They don’t trust Stanley. With Dot’s approval, Bette says that she wants to be a comedian, and she’ll perform between songs. And they want 20% of the take. Elsa prods Dot, who says she wants 50% of the box office. And they want the money Elsa got from Gloria. Elsa is in deep trouble now.
At the bar, Dell and Jimmy drink cheap liquor. Dell wants another drink but Jimmy isn’t a big drinker. He tells Dell that the women want to string him up by the balls. Dell tries to say that he tried to talk to Eve about doing an act, but she smashed him up. Dell tells Jimmy to take another drink. Jimmy tells Dell that he has to get serious because the women are going to mess him up. Jimmy couldn’t care less either way, but the show has had enough trouble this year. As Jimmy drinks, he starts talking to Dell about how nice it is to be out in the world. One year they missed their Tampa booking and stayed in the snow. It was freezing. He killed a rabbit and made a coat for Ma Petite. He enjoyed the cold because he could wear his gloves like every other guy. Dell tells him to take the gloves off. He tells Jimmy that if anyone looks at him funny he’ll break his skull. “Unless it’s a girl, right?” Jimmy asks. Both men start laughing. Outside, Jimmy is puking when Dell almost clocks him with a brick. Jimmy says that he knows who Dell is. He has always known. The famous Toledo Lobster Clan. He knows Dell is his father. Jimmy wants to hear Dell say that he’s his father. He begs him. Dell nods slowly. “Yes, son, it’s true,” Dell says. They hug it out, and you can see the fear in Dell’s eyes as he realizes the predicament he’s in. He pulls Jimmy against him and helps him home.
It’s dawn when they get back. They’re both singing. Elsa tells them they’re drunk and she won’t allow them to wake everyone up. Desiree tells Jimmy that it’s not too late to make something of his life. Dell admits that Jimmy is his son. Elsa tells him that it must be courageous to admit such a thing after 24 years. Dell tells his son the Toledo Family code, that once you let a woman tell you what to do, you’re handing your balls over. “I want to keep my balls,” Jimmy proclaims drunkenly. Jimmy tells Elsa that they aren’t going to let her boss them around anymore. They stagger off together, laughing at making noise. Dell puts his son to bed, and Jimmy says “Goodnight, Dad.” Dell is floored. Stanley is outside the trailer. He tells Dell that he’s trying his patience.
Penny returns home and her father asks if she was at the camp again “with him.” She says she’s going back and that he’ll have to kill her to stop her. She taunts him and says that he’s too vain. He says that he can make it so that no one will believe she is part of his family. He figured she’d be leaving, so he invited his friend Morris to the house. Morris is covered in tattoos.
Bette is now platinum blonde. Dot says she looks like their mother. Bette thinks she looks like Eve Arden. The hairdresser has worked on people with two chins, but never two heads. Bette proposes a new act—the metamorphosis, where the caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Elsa passes Dot a letter.
The letter, from Elsa, notes that she didn’t say much during their negotiation. She questions what the money is for. They must work together, the note says. Whatever it is that she wants, Elsa will help her to get.
Pepper comes into Elsa’s tent with a note. She sends her off for another drink. The note tells Elsa that she wants something. She wants the doctor in Chicago to separate them. She needs help finding him, and her secret is safe if Elsa helps her.
Penny’s dad watches as Morris finishes his work. She wakes up and cries that it hurts. He stands over her and shows her a mirror. He has had her entire face tattooed, and her tongue is forked. She screams.
Elsa dines with Stanley. He comments on her lack of appetite. She wants to talk about a problem, that the twins are back and dedicated to destroying her. Elsa says Dot wants to have the operation. She needs Stanley to find the doctor in Chicago, and then they can be separated. Stanley steals Elsa’s steak and proposes a mercy killing to end their suffering. Ethel hears the whole conversation, and she doesn’t like what she heard. You can see that the wheels are turning in Elsa’s head. She says she has heard about managers who would kill for their clients, and now she has one.
Dell goes into Ma Petite’s bedchamber with a box. She opens it and sees a beautiful dress. She goes to try it on while he waits. She looks gorgeous. She needs his help with the zipper. He says that she looks like a little princess. He hugs her and smothers her in the process, twisting her neck just enough to kill her and not ruin her body. “I’m sorry,” he whispers.
Paul wakes up when he hears a noise in his tent. Penny walks through the darkness and into the light. When Paul sees her, he hugs her and says that this is all his fault.
There’s a party at the museum. Madame Curator says that they have a new gift. It’s a very rare specimen that they believe will bring thousands of visitors. She pulls the veil off to reveal Ma Petite’s body in a jar. She’s wearing the purple dress that she died in.
Well. Ma Petite is dead, Paul’s girlfriend looks like a lizard, and Dell is a bona fide murderer.
See you in two weeks, fellow Freaks!