AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW Recap: “Tupperware Party Massacre”

     December 11, 2014


Who would have thought a tupperware party massacre would come hand-in-hand with some major emotional breakthroughs?  Dandy’s murderous rampage may have stolen a good deal of the spotlight, but American Horror Story: Freak Show episode 9, “Tupperware Party Massacre,” is also a standout because it moves a number of key characters forward, and in promising directions at that.  Folks like Dell and Elsa seemed irredeemable, but after the events of this episode, it looks as though a little remorse and a common cause could be exactly what they need to stop the monotony of their selfish behavior and make them engaging and possibly likable characters as well.

american-horror-story-episode-408-finn-wittrock-gabourey-sidibeRemember when Dandy was merely a snob with a habit of throwing nasty fits?  He’s come a long way since episode 1.  You would think it couldn’t get any worse than killing your own mother, but Dandy takes his psychopathic behavior to a new level in “Tupperware Party Massacre.”  In a way, he’s grown up.  A part of me suspected Dandy would lose it without his mother and come to realize that killing her was a major mistake, but it appears as though he’s going the opposite route.  Not only are his murders getting more advanced, but Dandy’s also happier and more in control than ever.

Even though we’ve seen Dandy behave like a despicable infant and murder innocent people, it’s actually tough not to be swayed when Finn Wittrock turns up the charisma.  He’s moved well beyond kicking and screaming.  Dandy now knows what his charm, family fortune and newfound confidence can do for him and it makes him an even more enthralling and threatening full-blown villain.  It’s unfortunate that Gabourey Sidibe’s cameo amounted to nothing, but the idea of Dandy recruiting a sidekick of sorts is far more promising than anything Regina was doing for him.

Meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, we get some game-changing scenes for Bette, Dot and Elsa.  Elsa doesn’t get much screen time this episode, but she does get this one brief moment that actually manages to suggest she has a heart.  Sure, Elsa’s tried to convince Bette to kill Dot and sold them to a violent lunatic, but for some reason, I’m still eager for a reason to forgive her.  When we get that flashback of her insisting that she loves her monsters, it’s a rather absurd jump for the character after all she’s done, but that’s the Elsa I’ve been longing for since episode 1, so it instantly takes precedence over the terrible things that she’s done.  (Although I do suspect this is the result of the weeklong gap between episodes and the fact that there’s been ample time for the effect of those terrible things to wear off.)

american-horror-story-freak-show-character-poster-sarah-paulsonAs for Bette and Dot, it’s so refreshing to finally have them on the same page.  The show definitely sold the duo as two very different people, but still, they’re sisters and it’s been tough to swallow the thought of Dot being willing to throw that away for “a normal life.”  We get some interesting scenes out of the twins’ conflicting hopes and dreams, but the characters have so much more potential now that they’re working together.  Perhaps breaking them down to build them up was the point all along, but regardless, I’m thrilled we’re finally past the sibling rivalry stage and that they’re making moves to make a better life together – even if their first big move doesn’t really pan out.

Poor Jimmy.  “Tupperware Party Massacre” is a rough episode for the guy and, in turn, it’s a rough episode for the viewer, too.  It’s hard to watch Jimmy throw his life away A, because he’s already been established as a likable leader and B, he’s just a disgusting drunk.  I hope Ima Wiggles wasn’t just added to the show to be a source of comfort for Jimmy.  That scene between Ima, Jimmy and Maggie is brilliantly written and brimming with tension, and suggests that Chrissy Metz has some serious sass and can bring more layers to the character.

But after the excess of “cuddling” with Ima and sucking on a bottle, Jimmy finally has his big breakthrough.  I thought it was going to happen when he has the vision of Ethel, but it was actually a nice surprise to see the twins have such a profound effect on him.  That scene between Bette, Dot and Jimmy is some of the rawest emotion we’ve seen on the show yet.  There was some talk of the three of them being freaks together, but for the most part, it was just a conversation between three people overrun with intense feelings for one another.

american-horror-story-episode-408-michael-chiklisAnd lastly we’ve got Dell who’s in a similar situation as Elsa.  He’s partially responsible for Meep’s death, he tried to kill Eve with his bare hands, he murdered poor Ma Petite and now we’re expected to forgive him because he’s upset enough to hang himself?  Okay, kind of.  If you’re going by real life standards, clearly Dell should be put away for life for what he did, but this is a show and it’s a show about of group of people who are a million times stronger together.  The idea of Dell finally learning his lesson and becoming a better man for his son is just too appealing to turn down.  But, with just four episodes left, this is the last straw.  Should Dell waste this revelation and turn to the dark side yet again, that will be a devastating problem for the character.

Overall, the episode isn’t as defined as it could have been, but “Tupperware Party Massacre” is still a step in the right direction after “Blood Bath.”  As Dandy develops, he continues to be able to justify the more shocking, violent material, and now it seems as though some of the other main players will be giving American Horror Story: Freak Show the emotional backbone it needs to effectively bringing everything together.

Episode Rating: B+

Odds and Ends: 

  • “I’m your god, Jimmy, and I’ve decided that you need to suffer.  I’m going to destroy you and everything you love.  Oh, it will be so much fun.” – Dandy
  • Nice to meet you, Angus T. Jefferson (Malcolm-Jamal Warner).  Now please explain why you’re on this show before I forget you even exist by the next episode.
  • “And I swear she tastes like a lemon lime lollypop!” – Jimmy  “You keep your mitts off of him or I’ll jump on your ass and I’ll flatten you like a cracker.” – Ima  “You’re nothing!  You could be a pillow, a donut, a sock!” – Maggie
  • american-horror-story-episode-409-emma-roberts-erika-ervin-rose-siggins-naomi-grossman-mat-fraser-christopher-neiman“Leftovers?  Is that was these are for?  Keeping old food fresh? … When you protect the past, you lose the future.” – Ethel
  • “It’s going to be lonely.  I should have anticipated that.  I’ll get used to it.  Get out.” – Dandy
  • “I’m above the law, beyond the law.  I AM THE LAW!” – Dandy
  • That shot of Bette and Dot where they’re both so low in the frame that you can’t see below their necks may save some money, but it’s an ugly visual.
  • “You could never survive without me.” – Dot  “I know.  I would like to think I could, but I don’t think I could actually stand being alone.” – Bette
  • “I would rather one of us truly live than both of us withering away together.” – Bette
  • “Me?  I’m never half cocked.” – Stanley
  • “I’ve been imbued with the light.  I have seen the face of god and he’s looking at me from the mirror.  I can think of nothing that can stop me now.” – Dandy
  • “You dig a hole – for her.  You work for me and I will pay you one million dollars – cash.” – Dandy
  • “My sweet, sweet sister is the purest part of my soul.” – Dot
  • Congrats on the Golden Globe nods, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates!