TV Review: American Horror Story: Freak Show (Season 4, Episode 7)


THE SCOOP: After strongman Dell is blackmailed into killing one of his own, the female Freaks band together to ensure he doesn't continue. Meanwhile, Dandy's murderous mien strikes the suspicious eye of Lobster Boy Jimmy, and The Stattler twins turn the tables on Elsa.

The Following May Contain Minor-To-Major Spoilers. If You've Not Seen This Episode, It Might be Wisest To Stop Reading Here!

THE SKINNY: Well well, what a melodramatic halt of sorts the 7th episode of American Horror Story: Freakshow came to this week, ay? I mean, where was the goddamn bloodshed! Oh well, dubbed the Test of Strength, the title not only refers to strongman Dell and the emotional might he displayed, but also in the way certain characters are beginning to leverage power over one another through nefarious blackmail, which proved to be a major theme this week. But first, the episode picked-up where we left off last time, with Jimmy strangely cavorting around at Dandy's mansion with Dot and Bette. We learn Dandy and Bette are in love, which the former deems a good enough reason to perform, by his sadistic self, separation surgery of the twins. Yup, he wants to cold cut those bitches in half! But after Dot telepathically reveals Dandy's true nature to Bette, she quickly bolts, telling Dandy she'll always choose her sister. Of course, Dandy throws weepily enraged hissy-fit at this news, yet his murderous motives remained muffled for the remainder of the episode. Which sucked. However, Jimmy caught a suspicious note in Dandy's behavior, even going so far as considering taking Maggie back to the palatial Mott estate to see if she recognizes his voice as the second clown-killer.

But back to the blackmail. The main storyline this week continued with Stanley's quest to whack a freak, in pristine fashion, so he could make a killing by selling it to the American Morbidity Museum. His newest line of recourse? Well, since he knows Dell is seriously closeting his own homosexual tendencies, Stanley convinces him that, in order to keep Dell's secret on the Q.T., he must do the dirty work himself and murder one of his one. Dell reluctantly agrees, knowing he'll never find work as a strongman if he's outed as a gay man. So, who does he try to kill first? A giant woman freak, who hilariously turns around and kicks his ass something good. Pretty tough to see Vick Mackey get tossed around like a f*cking ragdoll like that, but hey, Dell (Michael Chiklis) redeemed himself quite well later on when he, in a drunken fit, confessed to being Jimmy's dad. To the whole fairgrounds! For a normally seedy and sordid perv-show, this was a pretty genuine and tender moment between Jimmy (Evan Peters) and Dell, even if wildly overdramatic. Hell, Dell couldn't even come to kill his heretofore disowned son in order to preserve his sexual secret. Nope, in the stirs the ire of Ethel and the rest of the female freaks who won't put up with his bullshit and violent temperament. But does that stop his ass from performing the most dastardly task...my man stone snapped the neck of the Ms. Patel like a popsicle stick!

Meanwhile, remember Elsa's promise to the twins about making it big in Hollywood (that in turn a ruse by a Stanley)? Well, the twins have found some wit, and used their rarity and high demand to leverage their own power-play against Elsa overbearing behind. They straight blackmailed the German ex-pat into turning Bette into an Eve Arden comedienne, with 50% of the box-office take going right into the twins' pockets. To boot, they want a hard cash bonus upfront! It will be interesting to see who blinks first and who will end getting the shaft! And speaking of getting shafted, how about us the audience. In addition to being on the short side, this episode gravely lacked the level of blood and guts we've come to see this season. Let's hope it's just one of those slow-down, between episodes that really sets up the pawns for an absolutely gory third-act chess game.

So yeah, not the most inspiring Freakshow attraction thus far, but hopefully one that lines-up the many ducks to unpredictably fall come seasons end. While "Test of Strength" hardly lived up to its title in terms of the gore and grue we're normally accustomed to, there were some decent acting moments, albeit melodramatic at times, that should pay off toward some kind of empathy/sympathy down the road. The scenes between Dell and Jimmy were particularly touching, almost belonging to a different show altogether really, but also good were the tension-filled blackmail trades shared by Elsa and the twins, as well as Dell and Stanley (that's Lange, Paulson, Chiklis and O'Hare by the way...all tremendous actors). Beyond that, the real test of strength will come in the following weeks, when Freakshow wraps up its wonderfully warped merriment in some kind of satiable resolution.

KILL OF THE WEEK: The only the kill of the week, which occurred at the conclusion of the episode. Dell, after a pair of botched attempts, finally murders Ms. Patel, the world's smallest woman. In a charming lead up, he embraces her, holds her, then, in one fell swoop, snaps her little neck like a toothpick.


  • Bloody face and nose from Dell getting his ass kicked around by a huge woman.
  • A tattooed bloody face with severed/forked tongue

WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: Because I still so thoroughly detest any and all musical numbers on this show, why the hell did Jimmy start banging out a version to Smells Like Teen Spirit? Unacceptable!

MOST BIZARRE SCENE: I suppose the most outlandish scene happened when Grace Gummer's character, Penny the Candy Stripper, gets hideously and torturously tattooed all over her face and tongue forked.

Extra Tidbit: How did Test of Strength measure up to you?



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