UK TV VOD review: American Horror Story: Freak Show Episode 13 (Finale)
Shiny happy endings6
Elsa's final performance10
Alice Slater | On 27, Jan 2015
Aside from The Walking Dead (which will outlive us all), all good things must come to an end. It’s with a heavy heart that we must say farewell to the carnival, as Episode 13 marks the final chapter in our American Horror Story: Freak Show adventure.
“Our world is dying,” is Paul the Illustrated Seal’s (Mat Fraser) sombre explanation as to why life onstage under the erratic command of Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) is still preferable to leaving for another show: there is no other show, there is no other stage, there is no other option. Dandy is, of course, having a hoot and a half as the show-tune singing frontman of Elsa Mars’ (Jessica Lange) Cabinet of Curiosities, but his lack of business acumen proves to be a slight hurdle in the way of true success.
The finale of any American Horror Story season usually hinges on death, redemption and the future, and Freak Show is no exception. It seems to be a rule in the universe that we leave the characters – whoever survives to tell the tale, that is – looking ahead to a brighter tomorrow.
Episode by episode, American Horror Story is as brutal, as unforgiving and as merciless to its characters as Eli Roth or Rob Zombie are to theirs: no one is safe, no one has a Sidney Prescott-style get-out-of-jail-free card, no one is guaranteed to make it to the end credits, so a brighter tomorrow is a rare jewel awarded to only the most beloved characters. As finales go, Season 4 doesn’t give a hoot: it’s a white knuckle ride that doesn’t care about your feelings.
The problem is that series creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy are total suckers for a happy ending. In this instance, the desire to tie all those complex plot threads into one neat bow of good feeling seems to have out-trumped the truly satisfying, heart-in-mouth ending that the series deserves – the inevitable ‘brighter tomorrow’ almost warrants sunglasses.
We’re not necessarily gunning for a totally bleak everything-is-terrible-Funny-Games ending – such a conclusion wouldn’t feel right after spending 12 hours investing in the stories of these characters – but there was plenty of room to take things a few shades darker and it may have been a bolder episode had things gone differently for Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) and the Tattler Twins (Sarah Paulson).
Although a brief reprieve from two of Freak Show’s most iconic characters is an unexpected bonus, Episode 13’s wrapping up of strands ultimately feels a touch rushed compared to the satisfactory plot arcs already concluded within the show, such as Twisty the Clown’s (John Carroll Lynch) adventure time or the unfortunate fate of Richard Spencer (Denis O’Hare).
Ultimately, the conclusion of Season 4 marks a turning point in the American Horror Story canon. Season 5, wherever it takes us, has the freedom to bring old favourite characters back into the mix. It will be a completely new beast – and we can’t wait.
American Horror Story: Freak Show is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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