American Horror Story: Freak Show ‘Magical Thinking’ Recap

by on 01/08/2015

Did you have a nice holiday break? No disturbing psycho-sexual nightmares? No night terrors?

Hope you enjoyed it. Because American Horror Story: Freak Show is back to end that. What well of darkness will we stare into tonight?

The episode begins with a flashback to two days ago at the jail where Jimmy is incarcerated, as we see how Stanley separated Jimmy from his lobster claws. Since we’ve already seen them under glass at The American Morbidity Museum we know how this plays out, but Stanley’s plan is devious.

He convinces Jimmy that he’s not getting out of jail alive without a good lawyer, but that he has a wealthy client that will pay for Jimmy’s left hand. Jimmy almost rejects him before being reminded of Meep.

Stanley gets Jimmy to take some poison, which makes him sick. He threatens the guards that there will be trouble if Jimmy dies, so they let him take Jimmy off in an ambulance. At least, it looks like an ambulance, the gay hustler Stanley has been working with is driving. Uh oh.

“Dont worry Jimmy, you’re in my hands now,” Stanley says in the back of the ambulance before putting Jimmy under with gas. Oh, Stanley, your puns are almost as bad as your murders.

Jimmy wakes chained, by his legs, to the bed at County Hospital. He asks a nurse for something for the pain but she refuses because her friend was at the Tupperware party Jimmy was framed for massacring by Dandy.

Jimmy lifts his left hand, which is a bloody stump. He’s not that happy about it, but then he lifts his right hand. Also a bloody stump. Stanley took them both. Jimmy screams in pain and rage.

Dot and Bette are making what will be their final entries in their respective diaries before they give them up and burn them in a trash can. The gist is that they are finally at peace and at home with the freak show, and that includes embracing the freak philosophy of seeking “absolute pleasure.” Yes, they are randy and ready to go. They audition Toulouse the Dwarf as a potential lover, but reject him because, being French, he French kisses.

They don’t have to wait that long, though. A traveling salesman, Chester, played by a deeply psychotic Neil Patrick Harris, visits the freak show to sell lizards. But he seems more interested in showing off his magic tricks and talking about how he has tried to find work with circuses and fairs without success. Bette and Dot immediately take to him, he’s handsome and charming, although he mentions being wounded at Normandy during the war and having a metal plate in his head. He seems a bit unhinged.

From Chester’s POV we also briefly see a vision of Bette and Dot, warped and distorted as two other people. Bette and Dot take his stare for romantic interests, and through their telepathy decide on him as their first sex partner.

Dell visits Jimmy in his hospital room. He’s horrified to see Jimmy’s stumps, and tells Jimmy not to trust Stanley. He can’t convince Jimmy not to believe in Stanley, not without revealing what he knows, the fact that he murdered Ma Petite and the fact that Stanley is using Dell’s homosexuality as a blackmail weapon.

Instead, he takes a moment to bond with his son. Jimmy, being without hands, can’t eat the prison food left by his bedside. At Jimmy’s request, Dell feeds it to him. Jimmy says he’d like to buy the freak show from Elsa after she leaves for Hollywood.

Dell likes that idea and says he’ll go in on it. He talks about his own rough upbringing with his alcoholic dad, how he felt like a freak because he was the only one in his family not to have lobster claws. And he asks Jimmy’s forgiveness for leaving him as a baby.

“I took one look at those claws, and I ran away from you as fast as I could. I’m almost 50 years old, and I’m feeding my son for the very first time,” Dell says.

In Elsa’s tent Chester grovels for a job. Elsa is not impressed with Chester’s magic act, nor does she care about his ventriloquist act, with a dummy named Marjorie that’s so scary you want to die. But when she sees Chester’s careful accounting of the small sums of money he’s made with his magic act, she agrees to bring him on if he’ll also balance the show’s book.

“I am a simple man. But I have been to hell and back. You have given me, and Marjorie, a place, a purpose, a family,” Chester says.

As Chester is putting on his makeup for the show later, the dummy berates him for begging. There’s no one else around and it seems to have a cruel mind of its own.

Paul the Illustrated Seal overhears the conversation and interrupts. He notes that Chester has smeared on thick, theatrical, feminine makeup more suited for a drag show than a magic show, and says he should go easier because he looks like he’s performing in The Nutcracker.

“Nutcracker,” the dummy says sardonically after Paul leaves. Boy, Bette and Dot really can pick them, huh?

Elsa is packing for her trip to Hollywood, aided by Amazon Eve and Legless Suzi. Dell bursts in and says he’s going to kill Stanley. He tells Elsa about the horror with Jimmy’s lobster claws and Elsa sides with Dell, telling him he has to help Jimmy before he gets sent back to jail and, most likely, death at the hands of guards or other inmates.

As Dell storms off to do that, he’s approached by Amazon Eve. Although Amazon Eve still thinks Dell tried to rape her (he actually tried to murder her for Stanley to collect another specimen), she says she wants to team up with him to help Jimmy in a “strong man” and strong woman act.

Chester visits Bette and Dot in their tent. He brings them a music box as a gift for vouching for him. He also tells them that he’s discovered a number of magician’s props in storage, including the classic “sawing a woman in half” trick. This is the one that uses a contortionist and a rigged box, not serial killer Dandy’s bloodier, lower tech version from an earlier episode.

Chester asks Bette and Dot to be his assistant. They’re also a little freaked out by the idea of sawing a woman in half, saying they don’t want to have that done any more, but he explains that it’s a trick. At first they’re offended because they think he wants them because they’ll be distracting to the audience because they’re freaks, but when he tells them they’ll be distracting because they’re beautiful it wins them over.

Chester tells them that one of the reason he picked them is because he reminds them of “old friends.” This cuts to a quick scene of two women having sex as Chester watches with Marjorie.

The twins take part in Chester’s act. It goes off without a hitch, except we see the cop Dandy has hired to cover up his murders watching from the shadows.

Jimmy is loaded up to go to prison by two cruel guards. As they’re transporting him, the driver sees Amazon Eve in the road. With amazing brute force she hurls a rock through the moving prison truck’s windshield, spraying glass all over the guards, and then jumps out of the way at the last minute.

The guards get out to attack her, but phase B of the assault starts as Dell leaps for the woods and brains the guard threatening Eve with a tire iron. Another guard shoots Dell, but he keeps running and clubs the guard over the head with, mashing his head over and over until it looks like a ripe, squashed tomato. They free Jimmy from the van.

Bette and Dot prepare for a night of sexy time with a quick montage of them shaving, applying perfume and getting into lingerie. They interrupt an argument between Chester and Marjorie, saying they have something “urgent” and offering themselves to him.

Bette and Dot are a bit too naive to realize that Chester is acting really weird. Whenever they touch his crotch or do something else sexual he grabs the plate in his head as if in pain and his ears ring.

We get an extended flashback to Chester, in his military uniform, watching his wife Lucy and her girlfriend Alice having sex as Marjorie sits on his lap. Alice reluctantly invites Chester to join in if he’ll leave Marjorie out of it, but Chester just heads off to his garage saying he’ll practice his magic.

Eventually, Chester gives in to Bette and Dot’s charms. On the condition that Marjorie can be part of the activity.

“I’m sorry. She relaxes me,” Chester says.

“Whatever you need,” Dot says.

And so we get a relatively graphic sex scene of Bette and Dot losing their virginity, with more Neil Patrick Harris butt than I signed up for. Bette and Dot enjoy the moment.

But Dandy is furious. At his mansion he berates his pet cop and demands to know if Chester and the twins are in love. The cop can’t tell him. Dandy has not given up on the twins and whines that they were supposed to be his.

Later we see Chester stuffing Marjorie in a chest. She is not happy with this, but he says he’s found a good place for himself and he likes Bette and Dot. The dummy screams she’ll tell everything.

This kicks off a flashback to Chester checking his case and not finding Marjorie at his home. Alice enters and says she hid it for his own good. She berates Chester for acting crazy, for still wearing his uniform four years after the war, for not being able to get it up without Marjorie. She says it might be the plate his head.

Chester gets physically violent and as he is threatening Alice, we see a creepy glimpse of Marjorie in the hall. Only it’s not the dummy, it’s a real person made up to look like the dummy.

Paul visits Chester in his caravan. He’s angry. He says the freaks put together a collection to buy the show, but Elsa turned them down because she already had a buyer.

This kicks off a scene showing Chester in Elsa’s tent, buying the show for $1,000, about $9,000 in today’s money. It turns out when Elsa saw his accounting book she wasn’t impressed by his math, she was impressed by the numbers that showed he had money. Her conditions are that he doesn’t fire anyone or change the show, and he agrees.

Chester asks Elsa if he can keep the antiques in her tent. She asks him if they don’t seem a little feminine for him, but he says he’s giving the tent to Marjorie. She will be the headliner of the show after all.

We see Chester run back to his caravan to tell Marjorie the good news. But she’s missing.

The cops aren’t too happy about Jimmy’s escape and the murder of two police officers. They roll up in force.

Elsa stares them down, implying that they’ll never find Jimmy. But Chester complicates things, running out and begging the police to hunt for Marjorie. When they find out he’s babbling about a dummy they push him out of the way and proceed to tear the freak show apart.

Chester searches the carnival for Marjorie, but he runs into Dandy instead. Thanks to the work of his cop, Dandy knows everything about Chester, including his fixation on Marjorie and how he killed his wife Lucy and her lover Alice.

“What a sicko,” Dandy says without a trace of irony. Then he asks for all the gory details of how they died.

We get a flashback to what happened to Lucy and Alice, although its from Chester’s memories and a bit suspect. He comes home to find Lucy dead on the floor, and then sees Marjorie, as a real person, sitting astride Lucy in the bed, beating her corpse to a pulp with a ballpeen hammer. There’s blood everywhere. Marjorie says they should have included them.

Chester thinks Dandy’s going to turn him in, but Dandy surprises him by saying he’s on his side. He even tells him where Marjorie is, in the big tent.

In the tent human Marjorie is sitting in a chair on the stage, eating grapes and being creepy. Chester tells her bought the show, that she can bet the headliner. But she wants one more thing before she’ll forgive him.

“You’re a magician. You’re going to saw the twins in half,” Marjorie says.

There’s a quick scene where Maggie visits Elsa in her tent and says she has to show her something.

Dell skulks back into the show, moving with pain from his gunshot wound. Desiree is waiting in his caravan, with a gun.

He tries to tell her he’s changed, about how he’s connected with Jimmy and all of that, but Desiree wants to know who he’s killed. Besides the cops, of course.

This scene is intercut with Maggie taking Elsa to a tent and showing her Ma Petite’s corpse in formaldehyde.

Slowly and painfully Dell finally admits that he smothered Ma Petite because he was being blackmailed by Stanley.

A bullet rips through his head and he falls, revealing Elsa with a revolver behind him.

“That’s all I needed to hear,” Elsa says. End of episode.

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