UK TV VOD review: American Horror Story: Freak Show Episode 12 (Show Stoppers)
Alice Slater | On 20, Jan 2015
The tricksy thing about American Horror Story is that, from the first episode of each reboot, no one is safe: at any point, any character can die, any character can fall in love, any character can fall from grace and any character can rise from the ashes, reborn. Characters can switch teams, change agendas, sacrifice or save themselves within the blink of an eye – and it seems all of the above is squeezed into this week’s slice of Freak Show.
The opening and closing scenes mirror those of Tod Browning’s Freaks, the infamous 1932 movie to which American Horror Story creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy owe a lot of thanks. The ‘one-of-us-gooble-gobble’ references have flowed thick and fast, from the individual aesthetics of the performers to the fierce loyal bond shared within carnival, and Episode 12 really is a love story to the original source material. A really, really violent love story; this is perhaps the most grizzly episode of Freak Show to date.
As Episode 11 specialises in revelations, so Episode 12 must deal with some resolutions. The season-long yarn of establishing exactly who has killed whom and put what into which pickling jars is finally unravelled and, in typical American Horror Story style, it’s a 2:1 ratio of the deliciously dramatic and the utterly gross.
Once again, Neil Patrick Harris is a scene-stealer as Chester, the ventriloquist-magician, as he attempts to transform the show into a more magical Marjory-oriented (Jamie Brewer) affair.
There is also – rather thrillingly – another crossover character from Season 2, a character that we have in fact encountered before in a Season 4 flashback, although at the time we didn’t realise who we were dealing with.
The other tricksy and somewhat magical thing about American Horror Story is that the dead never stay buried: whether they return as ghosts, mud-spattered zombies, are reincarnated through witchcraft or just reappear in a good old-fashioned flashback, well-loved characters are never truly mourned until the credits roll at the end of the season finale. As we pass the penultimate episode of Freak Show, we have to acknowledge a tragic truth: next week, we will say goodbye to Academy Award winner Jessica Lange, who announced her retirement from the show last year. No matter how many characters from seasons past are to be threaded between future seasons, with Lange’s departure, we must also bid farewell to Constance Langdon, Sister Jude Martin and the Supreme Fiona Goode.
Black armbands at the ready.
American Horror Story: Freak Show is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are also available.