TV Review: American Horror Story Finale
The curtain may have dropped, but there are still actors on the stage. The season finale of American Horror Story: Freak Show aired Jan. 22 on FX and certainly left fans wanting more. While the ending tied a neat bow on each (remaining) character’s storyline, it was obviously rushed, resulting in a less than satisfying conclusion.
After two suspenseful, surprising episodes featuring Neil Patrick Harris as an insane magician haunted by his dummy companion Marjorie (AHS alum Jamie Brewer), the show seemed to have forgotten it needed to wrap up a few arcs. Maggie Esmeralda (Emma Roberts) and her vicious employer Stanley (Denis O’Hare) finally got their gruesome ends with Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) as Stanley’s final victim, or at least his claws were. With a new pair of wooden appendages fused like the originals, the audience was ready for a strong comeback from both he and the courageous freaks.
Of course, the freak show’s owner Elsa Mars is only looking out for herself in regular Jessica Lange fashion. Just like her counterpart in Coven, Elsa schemes her way out of trouble and leaves her “beloved” freaks to a terrible fate at the hands of the show’s real psychopath Dandy (Finn Wittrock). She moves on to a cruel Hollywood that ultimately bores her more than her Cabinet of Curiosities ever did.
It seemed like the finale would be an exciting hour and a half of vengeful freaks versus a deranged murderer. Instead, the writers felt they needed to tie everything up, and fast. Not long into the anticipated episode Dandy goes on a killing spree as the man with the golden gun and perfect aim. Every freak excluding Jimmy, Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) and Bette and Dot (both stunningly played by Sarah Paulson) is dead on the stage before the show is halfway over, leaving fans gaping at the hasty deaths.
The other character arcs are handled in a similar unexplained fashion. After handling the freak show, Dandy brings the twins home to a lovely wedding and private dinner. But wait, somehow Jimmy and Desiree have sneaked into the house as servants and poisoned Dandy’s food. They steal him back to the big tent where he fails to perform Houdini’s famous water escape, drowning in the most unexciting, dissatisfying way. After hours of watching the spoiled brat torture and kill the freaks, he gets one of the tamest deaths in American Horror Story history.
Fast forward a few months (because this finale has not skipped around enough) and Elsa is married to a Hollywood bigwig, Desiree has herself a fine man to look after her and Jimmy and the twins are expecting a baby. Elsa herself has been bored to tears by the limelight and agrees to perform on stage Halloween night to shake things up.
Fans that have watched the entire season may remember a certain Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) who haunts the stage during All Hallows Eve. With his new favorite companion Twisty (producers did promise he would reappear) at his side, Mordrake gives Elsa the release she wants, by stabbing her, once. Did the show’s producers feel there had already been too many violent deaths? Because this finale had some rather underwhelming ones, including an annoying, too-perfect happy ending.
Perhaps American Horror Story has been done. It is hard to not notice the many character similarities between Elsa and Coven’s Fiona Goode as the anything-goes matriarch. Emma Roberts more or less rehashed her mean girl act from the previous season as well. The names may change but, other than Sarah Paulson, the characters seem to stay the same as the writers appear to be running dry on ways to impress their dedicated horror-fans.
Luckily there is one redeeming factor to the franchise that will help make another season of AHS possible. The writers have finally begun to reveal some of the season crossovers. In the episode “Orphans” the audience was confused when sweet little Pepper was dropped off at a familiar hospital. Greeted by Sister Mary Eunice from AHS: Asylum, Pepper takes on her role as one of the crazies as series fans may remember. Also, Elsa’s tragic scene in which her legs are cut off is finally attributed to Nazi doctor Hans Gruper, also known as Dr. Arthur Arden of the asylum. The time frame makes sense, but how will Coven and Murder House along with, no doubt, another season all come together? With this finale turning out to be less than the showstopper hoped for and the series itself becoming repetitive to say the least (at least in regards to characters), the next season will have its work cut out for it.