Come one, come all, you must be this tall to ride at the carnival!
And the Freak Show is officially opened for business with this slightly longer than usual opening episode. So let's get this crazy show on the road, shall we?
Written by Ryan Murphy And Brad Falchuk
Directed by Ryan Murphy
The Ringmaster On Mars: Meet Elsa Mars - a German ex-pat/chanteuse who is desperate to save her freak show from closing down and more importantly is desperate for the spotlight as she confessed to right hand woman, Ethel at the end of the episode. It's only one episode so far, but with Jessica Lange's past characters, there's something already about Elsa that I wouldn't trust, even if my life depended on it. She definitely had no problem being a killjoy with Jimmy's flirting with women and also the way she manipulated both conjoined twins, Bette and Dot Tatler into joining her show. As for her version of Life On Mars - it wasn't a match on The Name Game but I have a feeling that's somewhat intentional. On the plus side, Elsa is kind of likeable but clearly manipulative and I'm not entirely sold on Lange's German accent either.
Sweet & Surly: The main attraction of the episode however was Sarah Paulson, this time taking on the dual role of conjoined twins, Bette and Dot. While one may appear sweet and innocent and the other one something of a mood killer, both ladies have murder on their hands and are now forced to be a part of Elsa's troupe of freaks given that the authorities have deduced that their mother died at their hands. Between the two, I found myself like Dot all the more, even if she was relentlessly scathing throughout the episode. However, at least one person managed to dent her frosty demeanour but I like that she's not instantly trusting of Elsa, which will undoubtedly lead to bigger problems as the season progresses.
Freaks Among Us: While Bette and Dot were the obvious attraction of the episode, there was still the fact that we had lobster hands Jimmy (who made use of his hands in this episode), his bearded lady mother, Ethel (Kathy Bates's accents kept struggling here), Ma Petite, Pepper from Asylum (which seemed to be foreshadowed at), a guy who bites the heads off animals called Meep, a cortortionist as well as a drugged out candy striper named Penny to name a few. You think with this crowd, the shows wouldn't be dying out but the episode made it clear that residents of 1952 Jupiter were not happy with them and the episode ended up with Jimmy getting everyone to make a deadly stand against any future oppressors while a certain someone looked on. Leading to my next point.
The Clown: Yup, let's meet Twisty, shall we? I'm not gonna say he's the scariest clown I've ever seen in popular culture but he's certainly menacing enough to make an impression. In this episode alone, he killed one family and an unfortunate bloke named Troy while keeping the former's son and latter's girlfriend hostage in a caravan. Physically he looked gruesome enough with John Carroll Lynch being creepy without uttering a word and the fact that he's made it onto Elsa's patch should be very interesting in the next few weeks.
Money Can't Buy A Freak: But seriously spoiled brat Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) and his coddling mother, Gloria (Frances Conroy) certainly tried to when it came to acquiring both Bette and Dot. I'm not sure how they're going to factor into the rest of the season but there's already something rather off with Dandy (his fascination for freaks didn't seem like it was out of sympathy), which means that he could become seriously unhinged or annoying as the season progresses or likely both. Also likely to be killed off within the first half as well.
A fun, enjoyable enough opening episode that did what it needed to do. Next week, we're meeting Ethel's ex-husband and his new wife.