American Horror Story Freak Show Episode 5 Watch: Repressed Homosexuality Meets Unrepressed Murder

By its very nature, there’s almost nothing beautiful about American Horror Story: Freak Show, but tonight’s episode was especially ugly. I’m having trouble convincing myself that it was enjoyable at all, or that it was more than just a series of repulsive incidents strung together by violence and hidden intentions. I’ll just have to keep telling myself, “At least there was no Edward Mordrake. At least there was no Edward Mordrake.”

Clown Killer 2.0

Let’s start with the most hideous story here: Dandy Mott gains confidence and another victim. His mom finds Housekeeper Patti LaBelle murdered on the floor, because Dandy doesn’t have the good sense to clean up after himself. (Although he later claims cleanliness and evidence-hiding are two of his motivations, the moron.) For whatever reason, he’s allowed to self-narrate his story, which involves working out a bunch and studying to become an amazing actor. But not to be in the movies, exactly. He just wants to be able to persuade people in real life.

To find his first victim as a solo hunter, he heads to a male prostitute-filled gay strip club, where he runs into strongman Dell, who is apparently a big old veiny ball of repression. Dell’s would-be boyfriend Andy, played by White Collar’s Matt Bomer, inexplicably heads off into the woods with Dandy to Twisty’s old headquarters. After the lamest game of 1-2-3 Redlight ever, Dandy proceeds to stab Andy…repeatedly…because he just won’t die. I’m not sure if Dandy’s confusion over Andy’s surprising survival was supposed to be funny, but his vicious skewering definitely didn’t arouse any chuckles.

Andy’s disappearance will certainly make waves in Dell’s mind, and Dandy is already going to be in trouble once Housekeeper Patti LaBelle’s daughter Regina (Gabourey Sidibe) shows up. She called and talked to the insufferable Gloria Mott, who lies and then awkwardly attempts to find some kind of solace for her terrible mothering in the past. I fucking hate this family. I never (ever ever ever) thought that I’d find a character I’d dislike more than Dylan McDermott’s pair of dimbulbs from seasons 1 and 2, but a changing of the guard may be in order.

100% Woman

What’s nearly worse than Dandy being proud of himself? Jimmy trying to finger Desiree and causing a miscarriage instead. (Vomits into a cup with a top hat on it.) But hey, at least it got her to a proper doctor, who tells her that she isn’t a hermaphrodite at all; she’s just got an enlarged clitoris (which can be surgically altered) and an abundance of estrogen. And while this particular attempt at having a child was unsuccessful, she can now try again.

But not with Dell. Desiree and Ethel have some girl talk at some point and Ethel clues her in on Dell being Jimmy’s father, and that Dell’s father also had lobster hands. The doctor’s own hands are now useless after Dell makes some severe threats, but it’s not even clear why Dell cares. He’s gay, and while he doesn’t want anyone to know about it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he must force Desiree to keep her micro-penis. Maybe he just wants her to stay uncomfortable with herself in that way, but there are other surgeons out there…

”Dot. Cupcaaaaake.”

Denis O’Hare’s Stanley is also gay, which could play out in some interesting ways depending on how he approaches certain people. But his main goal is making money, and it’s kind of ridiculous how much dough he’s spending just to try and get the Cabinet of Curiosities crew dead and on museum display. If his daydreams are to clue us in on anything, he first wants Paul the Illustrated Seal and conjoined twins Dot and Bette.

He’s trying to sway Elsa and the twins by telling them he works for a TV network and that he wants to give them both shows. Though Else at first would “rather be boiled in oil than be on TV,” she comes around to it after her musical performance turns the full audience against her. But first, she has to do something with Dot and Bette, like sell them off to Gloria (presumably), whose house Elsa arrives at for the episode’s ending. What’ll happen there?

While Stanley’s fantasy about Dot and Bette was also morbidly awful, I admittedly enjoyed it specifically for how messed up it was. Seeing Dot in horrified pain next to her dead and discolored sister was a far more successful disturbance than I’d have expected. Ew.

Even after saying all that, it still doesn’t feel like anything actually happened in this episode. Dandy got weirder, Dell got gayer, Desiree got bloodier and Jimmy whined about Meep some more. I knew killing Twisty off was going to cause some narrative problems; I just can’t tell if this episode proves that, or if this was how things were already going anyway. Oh well. Next week on American Horror Story: Freak Show: more inbreeding talk, probably.

R.I.P. Matt Bomer. We hardly knew your striped shirt.

american horror story freak show

Other Thoughts Floating Beneath the Big Top

I don’t give a flying fuck about Emma Roberts’ character, nor how she feels about killing any of these people, NOR how she feels about old juggling Jimmy and his aw-shucks stage fright. She’s obviously warming up to him, which I hope means she’s sorely disappointed by something later on.

So if Desiree is all woman, why does she only have her period a few times a year? That’s almost a genuine question, but I’m afraid of the answer.

Were there any baseball players named Derek in the first decade of the 1900s?

Why did that strip club have a Wanted poster of a Clip Art clown face? Just…why?

“I will be the U.S. Steel of murder.” Okay, so I hate the guy, but that line was fucking awesome.

Michael Chiklis’ “There are no other guys but me!” speech is awwwwful.

I don’t get why Matt Bomer’s character was described as “warped” when he joined the cast. So a male prostitute artist who is somewhat immune to getting stabbed is considered “warped” now? Well…I guess I can’t fight that.

I’m kind of hoping Andy is still alive next week though. Maybe his “freakness" is having a body made out of burlap.

Bryan Ferry in the strip club? Really? I’d thought that only the freak show performances hit upon more modern music but I guess I was wrong. “Fame” doesn’t count.

“She’s angling for something.”

“Who cares? I’d love a new hat.”

How strange that Elsa sings “Life on Mars” again, and that it starts off very much like it did in the first episode. That first performance, which similarly troubled Elsa, was also mocked by Dandy and Gloria, so what was the point in mirroring it here?

I hope they start selling Elsa’s elaborate mirror set in stores with her face in all the mirrors. That shit was banging.

Would anyone go watch a musical act named The Nanny-Biting Dandy Band?

“Mother said she was high yellow.”

Hurry up, Sister Mary Eunice! You’re needed here.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.