‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Season 4 Episode 13 Recap: “Show Stoppers”


“Show Stoppers” begins, quite literally, with the ending implied in the title: Stanley’s show is put to an end. It’s a merciful end, but for the viewers, not Stanley. This subplot was one of the few overarching elements of the show, and it was one of the limpest. When the head of the morbid museum’s curator was placed in front of Stanley, presented to him by Amazon Eve, it signaled his end, and it was maybe the first time the end of a character elicited an emotion: pure happiness. After that, the show moves quickly, and a bunch of stories start to unravel, making haste to wrap things up for next week’s finale.

We find ourself first with Jimmy and his loss of hands. Elsa arranges for the carpenter who made her legs, Mossimo, (Danny Huston) to come and make him new hands. He and Maggie have a bit of a blowout, he blaming her for the loss of his hands, she assuring him she’ll make it right. (Man, Evan Peters is bedridden at some point in every season of this show.) Of course, Elsa and Mossimo had a brief romantic relationship. Mossimo killed all of the guys responsible for taking Elsa’s legs, except for Hans Gruber — the Nazi doctor who worked in season two’s Briarcliff.

We get a very brief flashback to Jimmy’s first performance, remembering his mother, and the way she calmed his nerves. When I say brief, I mean brief: The scene is probably 10 seconds long. We don’t see much else from Jimmy after that. We only see that Mossimo makes Jimmy a new pair of hands, and they look exactly like his old hands that gave him his “Lobster Boy” namesake.

Meanwhile, the love affair between Bette, Dot, and Chester continues, with Marjorie begrudgingly thrown to the side after she gives ’em her puppet stare as she as the twins ride their man. Obviously, Marjorie wants them dead. After, Dandy shows up to the tent of the twins, telling them how upset he is that he wasn’t the man to have their hand in marriage — but that he offers them protection in the form of information. They don’t listen, but, whatever. It doesn’t really matter.

Chester has his first meeting as owner of the freak show, and he tries to change his finale so that Bette and Dot are sawn in half. They resist, and so Chester enlists Maggie. Chester hallucinates, thinks that Maggie is his former wife and so locks her feet in place so that they can’t be pulled into the box. And then he saws her in half and all of her guts spill out onto the stage.

Frightened, he runs back to his tent and gets into a fight with Marjorie and, apparently, stabs her … to death? As far as Chester can tell, he’s killed Marjorie, a real woman, and he brings her to the police station. Marjorie is just a dummy, of course. It’s not made super clear what happens to Chester after that, but judging by the rest of the episode, he gets locked up in some kind of asylum. (It’s a real shame that Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t in Asylum, because that would’ve made for a less convoluted link than the Gruber twist.)

Back at the camp, Desiree doesn’t mourn Maggie for long. “Steal her jewelry, then bury the bitch,” she says. Then she and the rest of the freaks, who have figured out that Elsa killed Ethel, go to find Elsa. Bette and Dot had warned her about it, though, and she flees her tent.

We see Elsa and Dandy in a car making a transaction. Dandy has, of course, purchased the freak show for $10,000. He takes inventory of his new property and hears something squirming in the far corners of the big tent. In a cage, he sees Stanley, who has been transformed, through various amputations, into a very goddamn creepy looking Meep. This, paired with the gross amputation and subsequent spilling of guts, is easily the most disgusting episode of Freak Show yet, and it even had a few key plot points thrown in. This is the same thing that happens every year, when the writers realize they’ve got to stop spinning wheels and cross the finish line with some sort of traction, and so fill the last two episodes with all of the action, plot, and grotesquerie that we hope for throughout the season.