Last week, I had some choice words for American Horror Story: Freak Show. But just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a season by its premiere.
After all, isn’t that what this season of Freak Show is all about? Not judging by first impressions…right?
To everybody’s sigh of relief (or gasp of fear in this case), the most recent episode of American Horror Story finally delivered some scares worth tuning in for. And it’s no surprise that they were all courtesy of Twisty – the clown that would make Pennywise want to run away.
The initial draw of this episode was the fact that we get to see what’s behind – or what isn’t behind – the smile-mask that Twisty wears. Which, while visually shocking, was pretty predictable.
The real factor of fear in episode two of Freak Show came within the first ten minutes – delivering one of the most suspenseful, unsettling scenes in American Horror Story history.
When a toy store employee finds the owner is missing, the (already creepy) vintage toy store is made downright ominous when a wind-up toy robot walks out from around the corner, trailing blood behind it.
In a nail-biting scene – the employee naively follows the figurative bread crumbs while Twisty looms over him in the shadows cast between two life-size clown statues.
You can probably guess what happened next.
Just like the premiere, the clown was the star of American Horror Story: Freak Show in this episode. There’s no apparent method to his madness, making his every move as unpredictable as the next. He kills some people, he kidnaps others, he lets some go. We just don’t know what his game is, which makes him the creepy wildcard that we all love to fear.
But while Twisty’s mute rhyme without reason is scary enough, a much more vocal player has arrived to keep us on our toes. Dandy – a spoiled rotten man-child with a Norma Bates level mother – went from annoying secondary character to a terrifying force majeure.
Dandy’s dark side is revealed at the beginning of the episode when he kills the family cat. Even so, his J-Crew appearance and thespian dreams make him seem like he’d be a victim of Twisty – not an ally. But after Dandy’s mother hires Twisty to cheer Dandy up (a parenting move which kind of makes his psychosis make sense), he follows the clown into the woods where he runs into Twisty’s female captive mid-escape.
What looks like the girl’s ticket to safety takes a stomach-dropping turn when Dandy scoops her up and says, “Clown, look what I have for you! You’ll have to do a much better job of confinement if were going to have any fun.”
Now we’re talking.
The twist in Dandy’s character was on par with Dr. Oliver Thredson’s reveal as Bloody Face in American Horror Story: Asylum, with a similar damsel in distress setup. There’s a fantastically unsettling juxtaposition set up between the pastel-claden Dandy and the grungy, dirty-looking Twisty. And while Twisty’s silent lurking in the shadows is creepy, Dandy’s motive is outright scary; he’s malicious because it’s fun.
At the very least, the show is starting to deliver real scares. And sociopathic Dandy brings fear in a human form.
It’s still not exactly the quality of story that was sold to us through teaser trailers. But if they continue sprinkling dark, disturbing moments throughout the show in the form of Twisty and Dandy, then we’ll have heart-pounding scares and “what the fuck” moments that could make American Horror Story: Freak Show worth keeping up with.
(Featured photo courtesy of FX)