Season 4, Episode 9
Airdate: Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 9/8c on FX
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
“I love my monsters.” – Elsa
In the aftermath of “Blood Bath,” where viewers said adieu to some of their favorite characters, I felt several things going into watching “Tupperware Party Massacre” – fear, curiosity, and excitement. When a series like American Horror Story garners a reputation for a no mercy policy on character deaths, as a viewer you watch each new episode full of nerves, sweating for your favorite character; that is, when you’re not thoroughly disturbed by some of the episode’s gore. American Horror Story: Freak Show (AHS: Freak Show) is no exception to previous seasons full of surprising twists and turns. Dandy’s (Finn Wittrock) plans for the people of Jupiter continue to take the spotlight while managing to kick the door open to a whole new set of problems. Meanwhile, Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) takes a dark turn as the loss of his mother Ethel (Kathy Bates) sets off a series of unfortunate events. But have no fear; “Tupperware Party Massacre” doesn’t stray far from AHS: Freak Show’s signature style of shocking scenes and pools of blood!
There, There, Jimmy Boy
Oh my, let me preface Jimmy’s story line in this episode by giving props to Peters’ impressive performance. Since Meep’s death in “Massacres and Matinees,” where Jimmy’s screams of pain and grief break your heart, Peters has only gotten stronger in his performance, showing his character’s growing descent into madness and oblivion through the bottom of a bottle.
As Jimmy’s world cracks bit by bit from one tragedy to another, he sets himself on a path of compulsive and self-destructive behavior. Jimmy’s first scene has him spoon feeding Barbara (Chrissy Metz), aka Ima Wiggles, a very large woman hired by Elsa (Jessica Lange) to be the Freak Show’s “Fat Lady.” Although the length of time Ima and Jimmy share is vague, what is crystal clear is their intimate connection. “If you want it long and hard, I need you soft and wide.” Jimmy’s words, a drunk declaration, took me by surprise, making me worry about how this affair will end.
Although some may find Jimmy and Ima an unlikely pairing, I think their relationship is a dead end due to Jimmy’s state of mind. Sex and grief are a pattern for Jimmy; he even tried to get it on with his stepmother Desiree (Angela Bassett). Knowing this, I’m more worried for Ima and what she will do as a woman scorned. I don’t think Jimmy runs more along the lines of an Oedipal complex than true ‘lurve.’
Until the very end of the episode, Jimmy spends most of his time in a haze full of booze, sex, and hallucinations. In one particular scene with Ima, Maggie (Emma Roberts) and Desiree catch Jimmy nonchalantly having sex with Ima in one of the tents; it’s a graphic scene that seems more appropriate for shock value than for the story. Yes, it’s a moment for Jimmy and Maggie to confront each other since their split in “Blood Bath.” The sex scene could have been set up in different ways, but it deliberately shows Jimmy’s reckless behavior while degrading Ima in the process. “Look at these knockers! I swear she tastes like a lemon-lime lollipop.” Are we supposed to hate Jimmy or feel sorry for Ima? Maybe, it’s a bit of both.
It’s a Dandy Kind of World
While Jimmy’s character development is somewhat stagnant, it’s Dandy’s story that’s in full swing, and I love every over-the-top moment. What I find interesting is how Jimmy’s story arc revolves around his call to duty as a hero type while Dandy’s tale is a lesson in the birth of a villain. We’ve seen both Jimmy and Dandy’s lives run parallel to the people at the Freak Show. What’s fascinating is how much they always cross paths, one way or another. “Tupperware Party Massacre” seems like the start of a showdown between them.
When we first find Dandy, he is consulting Maggie for advice about his future. Unknowingly, she gives him the confidence to follow his “destiny” towards becoming a god. It’s during this visit that Jimmy finds Dandy again. Jimmy is on the losing end of their fight from the start as he stumbles around, failing to knock Dandy out. I can’t believe in that moment I actually preferred Dandy over Jimmy. Yes, a sloppy drunk Jimmy is not a good look on him. “I am your god, Jimmy. And I’ve decided you need to suffer. I’m going to destroy you and everything you love.” Dandy’s words are so calm and collected, sending chills down my spine. He is no longer a man with an emotionally arrested development or a mama’s boy; he is a full-fledged sociopath with a god complex.
By episode’s end, Dandy lives up to his promise while leaving a stack of dead bodies in his thrill kill crime spree. Poor Regina (Gabourey Sidibe), all she wants is to find her mother, Dora (Patti LaBelle), but instead she gets an indecent offer from Dandy requesting bath time together. I guess that’s one way to awkwardly change the subject after announcing, “Regina, I killed your mother….We buried her weeks ago, Mother and I. Recently, I killed her as well. And that’s when I discovered the power of bathing in blood.”
What I love about Wittrock’s performance is his ability to express an eerie sort of charm in Dandy’s eyes; he really does a marvelous job of looking angelic when the moment suits Dandy. It’s a testament to Loni Peristere and Brad Falchuk, respectively the director and writer of “Tupperware Party Massacre,” who know just the right angle of the camera and dialogue to set the atmosphere of a scene.
Never Tear Us Apart
My favorite story line of the entire night definitely belongs to the Tattler sisters, Dot and Bette (Sarah Paulson), who deliver a lot of the teary-eyed moments in “Tupperware Massacre Party.” It’s like watching an entirely different episode at points where the real drama and poignant moments show just how good AHS: Freak Show can be when it has to reel in the big emotional turning points of the story. Seeing Bette and Dot accept their life together as conjoined twins is a beautiful thing. Paulson’s ability to channel each sister with very distinctive qualities, from vocal tone to hairstyles, makes it feel like Dot and Bette are two separate individuals instead of one person. I love Paulson’s performance in “Tupperware Party Massacre;” she does an amazing job of delivering a heartfelt performance with her tearful expression as Dot and Bette discuss living separate lives. But it’s when Dot and Bette come to terms with their existence together as conjoined twins that I can’t help but wonder the kind of impact it will have on Stanley (Denis O’Hare) and Maggie’s schemes.
The American Horror Story (AHS) franchise tends to push the envelope each season with the quality of its content, whether the subject matter revolves around insane asylums or a school of badass witches. Until AHS: Freak Show, the horror themes relied heavily on common fears like dark magic and unseen forces beyond our control. This season, creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk turn the mirror towards humanity’s own inner monsters by redefining them in a very superficial way—beauty.
In “Tupperware Party Massacre,” AHS: Freak Show seems to revert to its familiar formula of shocking violence and bloodshed. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, but it leaves a lot of the story lines a bit uneven in their emotional tone. When a scene calls for some teary eyed moments, the actors are spot on. However, when some of the story lines call for graphic sexual content or violence, what transpires kind of makes you cringe. Overall, the character development is good and very strong in some places. The performances by the entire ensemble hold your attention, making it easy to overlook some of the gory content. Still, plenty of questions remain, and as far as cliffhangers go, I cannot wait to see what Dandy has in store for Jimmy. Also, will Stanley and Maggie get away with murder? Guess we’ll find out soon enough!
What did you think of “Tupperware Party Massacre?” Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @conallen.
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Photos: ©2014 FX Network. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.
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