Oh, we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be heroes just for one day.
In many ways I enjoyed this season more than the others. It was visually stunning; a general topic I didn’t think I’d enjoy but did, and it was more cohesive than most.
But it was light on the horror. The funny thing is, I’m not a fan of the genre, but I can respect it when it’s well done. I think they substituted horror with violence, and it cheapened things. Now no doubt, that’s not an easy line to draw, but there you go.
It was an especially manipulative season. It really seemed like no matter what, we love those freaks. It is ordained. Not that nearly all of them didn’t get theirs, but the narrative dictated that we be loyal to those lovable freaks. Forget that (nearly) every one of them was a cold-blooded killer, starting with the twins. Forget (you kind of have, haven’t you?) that they drugged and kidnapped people for their orgies. I’m not suggesting we should be devoid of compassion, but we shouldn’t have been pushed to such a 1-sided view. Elsa Mars in particular, while yes, I saw her as sympathetic, for the most part she used and abused people and was still complaining when she’d gotten everything she ever wanted, and she never looked back on her “monsters.”
Dandy’s murder, while visually stunning, was anticlimactic–downright cushy compared to most of what we’d seen, and particularly in light of all he’d perpetrated. (I’ll give you that “I hate you I hate you I hate you! was hilarious.)
Now, it’s rare I offer guesses or alternatives. I rely on television writers to surprise and challenge me. It’s a litmus test for my viewing–pretty much if I can outsmart the characters; if I can, let’s say, figure out the crime before the cops, then I’m not interested. With Murphy, sometimes he fails to use our human logic, but he’ll whack me instead with such a shocking twist, I can allow for it.
So in that light, what did work was the return of Mordrake. As soon as Elsa started panicking about Halloween, I was totes psyched they’d brought that back around, and especially excited to see Twisty.
Mordrake is magical, and was perfect. But Twisty–what a waste. A lame reprise for one of the great villain clowns of all time.
When it was over, and the final shoe didn’t drop, and I was staring at the screen waiting for one final BOOM, I quickly came up with a hundred ways it could have been better. And naturally some of these include the picking up of Murphy-esque dropped threads.
How about a final display, in the freakshow, in the museum, or on tour in a new freakshow (successfully run by the survivors) of Stanley, Dandy, and….maybe whats-her-name’s evil dad. All mutilated and stuff.
Another wasted opportunity was each of them seeing Elsa on television—not one of them noticed, oh my god she’s performing on Halloween? That could have been gorgeous. We meet each of them in their happy lives, and then one by one they are shocked into the past, riveted by what they know will happen next.
The biggest problem I had was Elsa’s ending. The Hollywood success story was awesome, but I’m talking about the last few scenes. Why she gotta get all redeemed? Basking in the eternal devotion of the best friend she’d murdered (among others)?
Sorry folks, that ending sold out on the horror. Jimmy, Desiree, Dot and Bette; they all could have joined in a final hell. Ooh, or we could have seen that, from time to time, they kill people–it’s just their thing. Or we could have seen a little freak-baby born, more horrifying than anything we’ve imagined, and them all cooing over it. He’s got his father’s eyes.
You lamed out, Murphy. Your people will win awards, but you lamed out.
Oh and PS. I know with Murphy more than most we have to work extra hard to willingly suspend our disbelief, and for most of the season it’s driven me crazy that the cops just never come around camp, (even though early in the season it was established that the cops, in fact, were highly suspicious of these folks and would be a constant presence), (and yes I get that the fact that so many freaks were killed and no one outside their world noticed was a reflection of that us/them inside/outside thing, and sure, most of them had no family or family who cared, illustrated by the Pepper story), (and YES we know Dandy pays off cops to stay away), but seriously, after Neil Patrick Harris turned himself in, we still never saw a cop? Stop.