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TV Review: American Horror Story: Freak Show (Season 4, Episode 11)

01.08.2015by: Jake Dee

EPISODE: "MAGICAL THINKING"

THE SCOOP: Dell is hell-bent on busting his son Jimmy out of jail. Meanwhile, as Elsa gets ready to whisk away to Hollywood, the Tattler twins take a shining to a dapper traveling salesman.

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: After a two-week respite to let the cheery and mirthful time of the year pass, Freakshow returns this week with "Magical Thinking," which falls two episodes shy of the season finale. Not sure how you felt, but I was instantly digging the way this chapter opened up, with Stanely's perverted mug offering jailed Jimmy some kind of mystery-serum. Jimmy imbibes, slumps unconscious, and before you know it wakes up in a jail hospital bed with both hands cut-off at the wrist, his gory nubs swaddled in gauze. Good enough of a grateful welcome back from me! So to was the early intro of Chester (Neil Patrick Harris), a dapper, fancy-tongued huckster trying to join the Freakshow as a traveling salesman and slick magician. Elsa denies Chester at first, but after a quick ventriloquism bit with his doll Marjorie, Elsa agrees to let Chester warm up the crowd so long as he assists with the show's financial accounting. He's happy to do so. That is, until we see him psychotically arguing with the doll alone at night under a tent and heavy makeup. Whoa!

Bette and Dot take an instant liking to Chester. He makes them his magician's assistant, even using them as plants to saw in half as a major showstopper. The twins are smitten. But we can sense he's being too insincere, too sweet, especially giving his already established schizoid nature. In fact, the girls, so blind in love, actually walk in on Chester speaking crazily to his pint size dummy, but they obliviously lunge at him with sexual desire. He recoils, tormented by a long ago flashback, during the war, when he ruefully turned down a threesome with his wife and her girlfriend. He snaps, weeps, then finally agrees to take the Tattler twins' virginity. Of course, not without his creepy doll Marjorie by his side. See, old Chet has separation anxiety. He did back in the war, and does again when he comes back to the trailer to find Marjorie missing. He freaks, goes bat shit, then wanders into an up to no good Dandy, who knows of Chester's criminal past. More importantly, he knows where Marjorie is, and tells Chester that he's on his side.  Some good shite to come, no doubt!

Dell makes a play to bust Jimmy out of the pen and avenge Stanley for cutting off his son's flipper-claws. Well, Jimmy apparently cut his own hands off as a collateral for a lawyer to get him out. Under the aegis of Stanley. But Jimmy defends Stanley as the only other person looking out for him. Jimmy learns the flipper fists skipped a generation and his grandfather had them ridiculing Dell for being inept with two good hands. The nice moment aside, Dell still wants to find Stanley and press him a bit. But that doesn't quite happen. On the way back to camp, Dell gets pulled over by a state trooper. Defiantly, he cooperated by beating the ever loving shit out of the officer with a tire iron. He bashes the dudes brain in until it resembles a gooey mass of bloody pulp. The cops show up looking for him, but he goes home to find Desiree ready to bust his balls over it all. For being untruthful. And just as he spill his guts, Elsa spills his brains by unloading a hot-round into the back of Dell's head. He falls dead and the credits run.

So yeah, not sure if it was the time off, or the always entertaining NPH chewing up scenery, but I quite had a good time with Magical Thinking. It was also good to see Jamie Brewer return, this time playing the animated part of Chester's imaginary doll friend Marjorie The scenes of Chet arguing with himself in different tones, then performing murder on that behalf, was definitely a fun bit of eeriness that added to the overall show. I do wonder if he'll end up killing the twins, or if he and Dandy - the most effeminate pairing this side of the Jenners - will end up joining homicidal forces. That'd be pretty damn fun, I must admit. I also dug the unpredictable departure of Dell, coming moments after he got one last day with Jimmy and one last savage moment of murder. With only two more episodes, we shall see who'll bite the dust next!

BLOOD & GORE:

  • Jimmy awakens to find his hands cut off from the wrists down.
  • Bloody stubs gauzed off. Dell beats the brains out of a state trooper with a tire iron. His face is an unrecognizable mass of bloody pulp.
  • Walls splattered in blood after Marjorie (Chet) smashes her face in with a ball-peen hammer.

KILL OF THE WEEK: Wow! Has to be Dell - torn between the murder he committed and the vengeance he wants on behalf of his son - gets shot in the back of the dome by Elsa. Shocking on its own, but doubly so when you thought he'd catch a bullet from Desiree, who too was locked, loaded and aiming at his front-side. RIP Dell!

WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: When Marjorie becomes animated, no longer just a lifeless figment of Chester's imagination, in the form of Jamie Brewer (making her return to the series). She's a wooden doll one minute, then fully imagined into a real life person, talking, demanding that Chester actually saw the twins in half. Will he obey Marj like he always does and actually go through with it?

MOST BIZARRE SCENE: The greasy French midget who face licks Dot while she tries dating after the Dandy debacle. Wow! The little mustache, the spandex shorts, the un-bottled confidence. Bizarre!

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of this episode?

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