8:26pm PT by Danielle Turchiano
'American Horror Story': Who Survived the 'Freak Show'?
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for the season finale of American Horror Story: Freak Show, "Curtain Call."]
More than a dozen murders, six musical numbers, two twisted clowns and one two-headed lady later, FX's American Horror Story: Freak Show has come to an end.
The dark period drama set at Elsa's Carnival of Curiosities in Jupiter, Fla., circa the 1950s introduced audiences to new performers (Mat Fraser, Finn Wittrock, Jyoti Amge), as well as new sides to long-time American Horror Story family members (Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters). Showrunner Ryan Murphy set out to make a season in which audiences thought a bit more deeply about prejudice and discrimination, taking away a "respect for what this group of people went through."
"It's a metaphor for the type of outsiders that are mistreated," Murphy told THR when the show premiered.
Of course, along the way with such a message were a lot of surprises, a lot of blood, and of course, some clues to how it might be connected to season five. Here's what went down during "Curtain Call," bringing Freak Show to a close:
Every season of American Horror Story ends with some kind of comeuppance for the bad guy(s) and a moment for the hero or heroine to shine. But on Freak Show, it at first appeared Dandy (Wittrock) would only merely see his dreams of taking over a successful show from Elsa (Lange) die when some of his star performers quit on him. He got his revenge by taking them out, one-by-one, in a calm massacre that invoked memories of season one's flashback to Tate's (Evan Peters) school shooting. After a season of big deaths but not many deaths, the body count was certainly higher than usual in this season finale.
While Dandy's massacre seemed ripe for another setup for Jimmy (Peters) to take the fall, Freak Show was out to deliver on Murphy's message of giving those usually mistreated their due. Thanks to some cunning planning, Jimmy, Desiree (Angela Bassett), Dot and Bette (Paulson) teamed to be the heroes of the season and finally take out Dandy once and for all. But not without having a little fun first — fun that saw Bette finally getting her starring role and convincing Dandy she was in love with him enough to marry him before shooting him in the arm and drowning him in Houdini's Famous Escape Tank.
They may not be the sociopath that Dandy was, but they understood how to make any moment — even death — theatrical. They certainly put on a show and turned the tables on someone who might otherwise just gawk and stare at the freaks on display.
Meanwhile, Elsa was far away in Hollywood and actually seeing her dreams of becoming a star be made possible by a shiny unicorn in the way of Michael Beck (David Burtka) — who gave her both the professional and personal success she was looking for when he also married her. In fact, she was so big she was supposed to take part in a Halloween show, and because her past (snuff films!) had caught up with her, all of her true friends were dead, and she still didn't have the love she wanted (Danny Huston's Massimo was dying), she decided to go ahead and do it, superstition be damned. "Might as well go out with a bang," she said before belting out "Heroes."
In what was by far the happiest of ending of any season, Desiree and Andre (Malcolm Jamal Warner) had their family, while Jimmy, Dot and Bette were about to start one of their own. Even Elsa, struck down by Mordrake (Wes Bentley), got what she wanted in the end — headlining a show with all of her friends in the afterlife — and to a packed house. The stars of this Freak Show all got exactly what they had coming to them.
But how does it connect to next season? Well, that still isn't clear. Murphy may have acknowledged that the top hat on the coffee cup in episode four was a clue, but the closest to top hats in the finale were Massimo and Andre's fedoras — unless you count Mordrake him. But he couldn't be back, could he?
What did you think of the American Horror Story: Freak Show finale? How do you think it will connect to season five? Weigh in on the episode in the comments below.