‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Season 4 Finale Recap: “Curtain Call”


That’s it, folks. Another season of American Horror Story down the stupid, bloody, boring drain. What happened? Well, you can read the rest of this recap. Or you can read this, and see that I was right: Most of the characters died and I couldn’t give a single damn.

The finale splits itself into two distinct parts: one resolving the story of the remaining freaks, and one following the rise and fall of Elsa Mars. Let’s tackle the freaks first.

Things at the campgrounds move quickly. Dandy, who bought the Cabinet of Curiosities from Elsa last week, is a nasty, controlling showrunner, and so Paul, Amazon Eve, Penny, and a few other freaks knock him out. “You will never be one of us, and you don’t own us,” Paul says, before spitting on Dandy. They all quit.

Of course, relationships never end so cleanly on American Horror Story, especially in the finales. We see a scorned Dandy prepping his makeup and loading his gun. He walks calmly through the campgrounds, humming as he executes Paul and Penny and Legless Suzy and, after a close call with a hatchet, Amazon Eve. Desiree escapes, and Bette and Dot are taken captive by Dandy.

Jimmy comes wandering back to the campgrounds with his doll hands, limply scoops up some bread and realizes something is wrong. Everyone is dead, laid out ceremoniously on the stairway to the stage in the Big Tent. (That shot of Jimmy closing Eve’s eyes with his doll hands? Laughable.)

And then, oh god, a wedding? Yeah, a wedding between Dandy and Bette. Or is this just another dumb hypothetical flash-forward? No, it’s not. And Dot won’t be a part of the marriage. “I can get very nasty if my manhood is compromised,” Dandy says. He wants babies, too! “I’ve always found babies to be so adorable. But freak babies!?” Unfortunately, we’ll never see these freak babies, because it’s revealed that Desiree has worked her way into the Mott household as the cook Bette and Dot hired. Jimmy shows up, too, obviously, because everyone has to be there. They poison Dandy’s champagne, and shoot him in his right arm with his own golden revolver.

They handcuff him and put him in Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Cell. Surely to Dandy’s delight, Desiree tells him, “You may look like a motion picture dream boat, but you are the biggest freak of all,” just before starting the water into the tank. “Freaks shall inherit the Earth,” Jimmy says, as Dandy starts to drown. “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you,” he cries, petulant child he is, before finally shutting the fuck up. Jimmy, Desiree, Bette, and Dot are all eating popcorn as they watch him struggle. “Heck of a show,” Jimmy says, Dandy’s dead body floating in the tank. “That boy is a star,” adds Desiree. I want some popcorn. This would’ve been better with popcorn.

Anyway, now on to Elsa, who arrives in Hollywood and repeatedly tries, to score a meeting with a head of the fictional WBN. She fails, obviously, as you can’t just walk into the office of the president of a network — not now, not then. Instead, she meets with Michael Beck (David Burtka), who is the Junior VP of Casting at the place.

We don’t see how she got there, but Elsa becomes an award-winning host of a variety hour, complete with a record deal. (She’s married Michael Beck, and, in the bedroom she dominates him because she’s German.) Anyway, it’s around Halloween, and Elsa is insistent on not performing on Halloween. ALERT! In case you forgot, this is in reference to that Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) thing that played a part in the death of Twisty earlier in the season.

She runs off to Massimo (Danny Huston). They have a catch-up lunch, and Elsa is lookin’ fly in a psychedelic springtime dress. “Let’s run away together,” Elsa urges him. Massimo turns her down, and Elsa falls into a drunken stupor. Her husband and the president of the network approach her with some damning news: that snuff film footage from Germany has been dug up by a journalist. They also discover that she ran the freak show, and that all of the freaks are dead. Elsa’s career is ruined. She is a little bit sad about all of the dead freaks. So, she’ll just do the Halloween special and get killed. Why not?

(We get a little piece of the fate of Desiree who is with Malcolm Jamal Warner and their children, and Jimmy with Bette and Dot, happily married and pregnant. That’s sweet. Moving on.)

The show ends with one of the things that got it headlines to begin with: a David Bowie number by Jessica Lange. This time, it’s “We Can Be Heroes,” which totally isn’t a played out song to have in a TV show or movie at this point, nope. Admittedly, her white suit is fierce as hell. Edward Mordrake and Twisty come to kill Elsa, but apparently her place is “not with” them. She’s sent to some otherworldly freak show, where she and the rest of the dearly departed freaks will toil in the obscure hell of a perpetually delayed showtime.

Another Elsa number follows. She’s met with rapturous applause. It’s “Life on Mars.” The show grasps at a poignancy in the bookend, and it fails miserably. How boring, how predictable.

This is the last season that Jessica Lange will be on the show. Ryan Murphy confirmed that she’d be leaving via Twitter last night, and thank god. If this season hadn’t been such a mess, “Curtain Call” would’ve been a nice send off for her. Instead, it was just one last episode to sit through before American Horror Story can finally regain its traction by focusing on a different type of leading character for the next season. Unless, of course, Murphy just promotes Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, or Kathy Bates to the role of Lovably Awful Matriarch. Which might be fine. Just as long as they don’t put on a wildly inconsistent accent like the one Lange was sporting this year.