‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Episode 5 Review: “Pink Cupcakes”

By November 6, 2014
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Full disclosure: last week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Freak Show” gave me a lot of hope. We’re almost halfway into this season and I feel bad in saying this…but it’s been a bit of a letdown so far. Sure, there have been some strong moments, but mostly, “Freak Show” has been feeling a bit lackluster. That’s why “Edward Mordrake Pt. 2” was a refreshing change of pace for the season. So with the rejuvenated and depraved storylines introduced last week, I approached last night’s episode titled “Pink Cupcakes” with three handfuls of hope…and it wasn’t bad.

The episode opened up on Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts) and her sleazeball partner Stanley (played wonderfully by Denis O’Hare) as they await a new unveiling at that American Morbidity Museum we were introduced to a few episodes ago. The first case that is revealed showcases the preserved carcass of Seal Boy. While it’s a powerful image, to be sure, we quickly realize this scene is all a fantasy being played out in Stanley’s mind. Not to be discouraged, though, he and Maggie further their plans to acquire some freak show specimens while meeting in his hotel room. A discovery of some lewd magazines featuring a bunch of fit men furthered Maggie’s judgement of Stanley and prompted a homosexual slur I’ve never heard before: a “poof.”

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Back at Elsa’s Cabaret, Stanley makes his way into the aging diva’s tent while Maggie approaches Jimmie to read his palms. And while Maggie’s real purpose in interrupting Lobster Boy’s rehearsal is to coerce him into leaving the show, Stanley is working his own sort of magic with Elsa Mars. Here, he claims to be a Hollywood TV exec and offers Elsa her own show. Her initial reaction towards the concept of a television series is quite negative. Remember, it’s 1952! But after a less than stellar performance of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” (again with this?) to a sold out tent, she has a newfound interest in the snake oil that Stanley is selling.

The following day finds Elsa dressed in her finest silks and applying makeup while David Bowie’s “Fame” plays. It’s still odd to hear contemporary music in every episode. This isn’t a Baz Luhrmann movie! But still, the reason the song was placed in did not go unnoticed. As Elsa leaves her tent for her big photo shoot, she spots Stanley driving away with Bette and Dot in his back seat. Hey jealousy!

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Let’s backtrack a bit back to Stanley’s fantasy from earlier. The narrative in “Pink Cupcakes” was a wee bit confusing, to be honest. In the next part of this scene that plays out in his mind, he unveils the upper torso and heads of the conjoined twins back at the freak museum. So, when he explains to the curator how the twins died and we cut to a pretty little picnic scene, it’s evident that this is where he murders them. How, you ask? Well, with poisoned pink cupcakes. And while this scene continues to play out with Bette eating and dying from the poison, reality suddenly reared its ugly head as Dot refuses the cupcake for both of them. Like I said – slightly confusing!

While this whole storyline is playing out, we are given more insight into the life and times of Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett). It’s taken 5 episodes, but Ms. Bassett finally gets to work some of those finely tuned acting muscles. Not only are we treated to a rather gross – and borderline incestuous – scene with her and Jimmie, but we are informed that Dupree was pregnant with Dell’s child. Unfortunately for her, due to some “messing around,” she lost the baby. On the plus side, she found out she was all woman and just had some extra testosterone which caused some of her lady parts to be more endowed than usual…if you catch my drift.

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During this difficult scenario, Dell is nowhere to be found and Jimmie has to step up to MC the show. Somewhere, not too far away, there is a gentleman’s club where like-minded men associate. And it’s in the confines of these walls that Dell Toledo had been spending much of his time. We find him having a heated and passionate conversation with an employee of this establishment named Andy (Matt Bomer). A quick cut to the chase: Dell Toledo is gay and it’s a difficult pill for him to swallow.

After their tiff, Dell storms out of the bar and heads back to his trailer only to find out that Desiree has seen a doctor who has offered her some corrective surgery. As to expect with his violent tendencies, Toledo heads to the old man’s office and breaks his fingers to keep Desiree’s “tiny penis” from being destroyed. Wow, I can’t believe I just typed that sentence…

It’s time we talk about Dandy Mott. Now that Twisty is out of the picture, it’s Dandy’s time to shine and I must say Finn Wittrock gets my respect as Dandy is the most interesting character on “Freak Show.” After his murder of Dora (Patty LaBelle) last week, it seems that Mr. Mott has found a new calling: murder! His mother finds the mess he left in the kitchen and instead of calling the police, she helps bury the truth in their backyard. There’s an interesting conversation between the two alluding to Dandy’s father being a psychopath. This leads us to a semi-naked fitness scene where Dandy Mott almost seems like he’s doing his best homage to Dexter Morgan and Patrick Bateman.

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When Dandy heads out on the town, he finds himself at the same bar Dell has been frequenting. And unfortunately for Toledo, Dandy Mott escorts young Andy back to Twisty’s creepy bus in the marshlands. It’s here that the Dandy puts on the half-clown mask and commences to stabbing Andy way too many times. And if all the stabbing wasn’t enough (Andy doesn’t die easily), Dandy takes to cutting off his body parts and dumping them in a bathtub filled with acid. How very Walter White of him!

After seeing Stanley ride away with Bette and Dot, Elsa takes action into her own hands and gives the conjoined twins a ride into town under the promise of mentorship. Instead, her motives become clear as she pulls up to the Mott residence. She’s planning on getting rid of her show’s main attraction. Dandy’s about to get a new toy!

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While last night’s episode of “American Horror Story: Freak Show” wasn’t as creepy and depraved as last week’s, there was still enough fun and twisted tidbits to keep us going. And while the narrative seems a bit disjointed and confusing, the transformation of Dandy Mott into full blown psychopath was a refreshing and crazy thing to explore. Here’s hoping next week’s episode finds new layers of depravity to peel through!

What were your thoughts on last night’s episode of “American Horror Story: Freak Show”? Stab them violently into the comments section below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.