Barely any characters in American Horror Story live long enough to make it to the end, and “Blood Bath” was particularly exemplary of that. Featuring some of the best lines of the season and a few uncomfortable surprises, tonight’s episode was nonetheless a bit of a wash, with the soap opera approach jacked up to 11. I’m beginning to dread these episodes, which is dampening my de facto enjoyment levels of even the most outlandish shit. And now I can’t even hope to hear Kathy Bates’ Ethel say the phrase “I glued a looped spool to a blue doubloon under a full moon.”

”Who am I, if not your savior, huh?”

Elsa and Ethel have the longest conversation ever in the wake of Ma Petite’s faux-bloodied dress being found, leading everyone to believe that she’d been ravaged by animals. Well, Dell didn’t believe it, since he actually killed her, and Ethel didn’t believe it, because she thinks Elsa was responsible. Secrets are shared, such as Elsa’s story about Danny Huston’s sculptor making her pair of exquisite wooden legs, and lines are drawn. Ethel loved Elsa for their entire 14-year partnership, but that’s no more. It’s an okay scene, but it just told us things we already knew: Elsa is more about herself than her angels.

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Of course, the leg story came out because Ethel put a bullet straight through the wood in a botched attempt to wound Elsa. At any point thereafter, Elsa could have probably ended this little ordeal more quickly by knocking Ethel’s drunk ass out. But that would be too easy and wouldn’t offer the opportunity for Elsa to show off her expert knife-throwing skills. It also wouldn’t have allowed for that gloriously gaudy scene where the characters find the crashed car that Elsa and Stanley set up. Because people ALWAYS commit suicide by wrapping a tree-anchored chain around their neck and driving off. Such a guilty pleasure, that scene.

”Just a mother’s intuition.”

I love Frances Conroy, but Gloria Mott is one of the worst characters conceivable. She’s clearly in love with her son, who is a somewhat perfect physical specimen even if he’s mentally running on fumes. (I almost watched their big scene with my hands over my face, petrified that she was going to try and kiss Dandy.) She knows he’s a murderer – “I often thought of him as a foreigner” – and I guess the only thing she can think to do is have him talk to a therapist. It’s the 1950s, so medication wasn’t always at the ready, I guess.

I’m not at all sure why they didn’t reveal the therapist, only showing Gloria and Dandy talking to him. We get to find out about Dandy’s bad habits as a kid, mainly that he killed cats and probably young sons of gardeners. (Or at least one of each.) There’s no way that any professional could possibly “understand” Dandy enough to know that he’s the kind of person who would agree to see a shrink only if his mother kills the inquisitive daughter (Regina) of the housekeeper he already murdered. Regina is still alive at the end of the episode, though Dandy makes sure that Gloria is not. Does anyone out there really think that he would have killed himself had she not stopped him? Suicidal people don’t usually follow their attempt by bathing in a bathtub full of bloody water, unless that’s a hospital pamphlet I haven’t read.

Lizard Girl and Chicken Man

Lizard Girl, formerly Candy Striper Lady, is downright fucking frightening. It’s neither the hair nor the tattoos on their own, but rather the nightmare-ushering combination. Ethel’s death sparks up a “ONE OF US!” girls night where Desiree leads the charge to torture Lizard Girl’s shitty dad. Angela Bassett’s declaration the she was going to cut his dick off and shoot him in the face was positively amazing, although I seriously don’t understand how or why Emma Roberts just shows up and makes them stop.

Speaking of dumb Emma Roberts things, she and Jimmy, like, totally broke up or whatever, because she wanted him to stop drinking and get his emotions in check. (“I’m not General Patton! Christ!) Hopefully she dies next week on multiple occasions.

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”This pot pie is heaven.”

So Elsa decides to add a new performer to the show, and it’s a rather large woman named Barbara, who is soon nicknamed Ima Waddler or Ima Wiggles or whatever exploitative moniker Elsa landed on. I’m unclear of why Elsa is treating this woman with super-sinister respect, or why she makes an express point to tell Jimmy that he should take comfort in her massive bosom. I don’t understand this at all. And…I don’t care. The way they made the actress just stare at a fucking Baby Ruth with drooly gaga eyes was insulting, as if this were a Looney Tunes bit. Jimmy does cry on them titties, though, as she’s chowing down. I don’t even want to imagine what next week's American Horror Story: Freak Show will be.

R.I.P. Ethel. You were pretty okay at being a mom and keeping your beard clean and all that.

R.I.P. Gloria Mott. You were a fucking awful mother.

Other Thoughts Floating Beneath the Big Top

Okay, so I used to believe in Santa Claus and I’ll take the hit for that, but why in the fuck does Elsa still believe that Stanley is a Hollywood exec, even as he’s desecrating a corpse to help her out.

“Dora went to buy the squash. You understand, dear.” Excellent line reading, Ms. Conroy.

It was interesting to see the way the two deaths were handled in comparison to each other. Everyone (mostly) mourned Ethel being gone, with the blues and Jimmy’s drunken howls lighting up the night. But the rich and friendless Gloria was drained of her blood to use in bathwater. Not a lot of crossover room there.

“Although for me, death would be preferable to Tampa.”

Why did they put Ma Petite’s dress in a box and have Elsa unwrap it to discover what it was?

Danny Huston delivered my favorite line of the night when he told Elsa that her legs would still be beautiful even if her face wasn’t. That smile!

When Legless Suzy is walking around quietly on her hands, is it called “tippy-fingered?”

Even though I don’t much care for Neil Patrick Harris, he can’t get here fast enough.

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