‘Freak Show’ says ‘auf Wiedersehen’ to star and taste

January 29, 2015


Cody Sexton
Managing Editor 

Elsa Mars (played by Jessica Lange) singing David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” in her show–Photo courtesy of YouTube

Elsa Mars (played by Jessica Lange) singing David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” in her show–Photo courtesy of YouTube


The freaks of “American Horror Story: Freak Show” took their final bow in the finale of the show’s fourth season Wednesday, Jan. 21.


Excuse the untimeliness of the finale review. I had to catch up on the four episodes leading up to it due to a complete lack of desire to follow this season.


It is no secret the latest season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology horror series failed to live up to the hype it promoted. But, at this point, it’s our own fault for falling for his lies.


No stranger to disappointment, the fans of “American Horror Story” had just gotten the terrible taste of the show’s third season, “Coven,” out of their mouths when Murphy served up a season as bitter as bank lobby coffee.


For those who might eventually return to watching “Freak Show” when it makes its way to Netflix, be forewarned, the following includes spoilers.


After Elsa Mars (played by Jessica Lange) makes her way to Hollywood, having escaped from her freaks who planned to kill her to avenge the death of Ethel (Kathy Bates), she leaves them in the legal care of Dandy (Finn Wittrock).


Dandy, the show’s breakout star of the season, quickly learns just because he is the product of incest who jumped on the serial killer bandwagon, he is not really a real freak talented enough to fill the tent with spectators.


After a less than warm welcome from his charges, Dandy goes on a killing spree, the likes of which “American Horror Story” has not seen in some time.


Where “Coven” was afraid to kill any of its characters so as to not be bothered with having to introduce new ones, “Freak Show” was the complete antithesis. After throwing punches with Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin), Dandy kills every freak left at the camp except for Desiree (Angela Bassett) and the conjoined twins, Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson).


American Horror Story: Freak Show

American Horror Story:
Freak Show

Not long after the massacre, Jimmy (Evan Peters), returns to the camp to find his family slaughtered. Reunited with Desiree, the two set out to rescue the twins who have been kidnapped and forced into a shotgun wedding with Dandy. In an all-too-easy rescue, the show’s last remaining freaks enact vengeance in a completely anti-climactic way which, to quote the ill-fated Dandy, was “boring.”


Across the country in Hollywood, Elsa is stalking network executives and slapping secretaries in an attempt to become the star her self-important ego believes she is destined to be. A scene I would not be surprised to learn was inspired by actual events of Lange’s life.


One thing Lange has in common with her “Freak Show” counterpart is late-in-life recognition. Since the show’s beginning, she has become a household name, or at least a prominent one in college dorms and gay bars.


Granted, she is an icon in close step with Meryl Streep, but Lange owes all of her current success to “American Horror Story.” A seemingly delightful person whose elegance is a constant reminder of the grace of old Hollywood, it pains me to criticize her. However, Murphy is to blame. If there is one thing he is known for, it’s getting lazy with his work. (For further examples watch the later seasons of “Glee” or “Nip/Tuck.”)


Maybe Murphy is aware of his tendency to take great ideas with amazing potential and burn them out too quickly, which is why he is already working on another anthology, “American Crime Story.” This new installment will recount famous crimes in American with the first season focusing on the O.J. Simpson trial.


Elsa finds her fame by way of vice-president of casting for WBN, Michael Beck (David Burtka) and she is instantly lifted to stardom with her own variety show, hit records and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Of course it does not take long for the sins of her past to come to haunt and humble her newfound diva status. Once her network finds out about the German snuff film that left her without the lower part of both legs, she is given her pink slip. It is in that moment Elsa concedes to the demands of her boss to perform a Halloween special, something she adamantly refused to do beforehand as it is bad luck for a freak to perform on Halloween.


Knowing her future holds little for her, Elsa takes the stage on Halloween night only to be greeted by the ghost of Edward Mordrake (Wes Bently), who has come to kill her for performing another mediocre cover of a David Bowie song that could only be described as not terrible.


As Elsa belts “Heroes” in her thick German accent and says “auf Wiedersehen” to the mortal world, the survivors of her former freak show watch on TV from the comfort of their own new lives. Desiree has a husband and children and Jimmy has married the Bette half of the conjoined twins, both of whom are pregnant. While seeing Jimmy and Bette (and technically Dot) happily married, it feels halfheartedly thrown together. Like Ted and Robin from “How I Met Your Mother.” You want them together at the beginning of the show, but as it goes own, interest is lost in their love story and seeing them together in the end does not feel organic.


While the finale lacked luster for the show, fans just have to remember the season was, in all honesty, not that great anyway. But when observed from a larger point of view, it served as an appropriate send off for Lange, who is not reported to return to the show for the fifth season.


After Elsa’s swan song, she awakens in what could best be described as her heaven. She is reunited with her freaks in their old tent where she is set to perform in front of a full house for the rest of eternity.


Though Elsa got her happy ending, “American Horror Story” fans did not. What should have been a perfect project for Murphy to combine his talent for grandiose stage performances like in “Glee” and grotesque body mutations as seen in “Nip/Tuck,” the season was a bigger disappointment than “Coven.”


“Freak Show’s” final episodes were not even worth watching to look for clues about next season’s theme. Even the desperate attempt to tie the seasons together by introducing characters from “Asylum” were a transparent attempt to mix things up and a failure.


At this point, no Easter eggs were needed to know what theme will be scary enough for the next season. It will simply have to be named “American Horror Story: Season 5.”


Email comments to cls068@latech.edu.


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