American Horror Story season 4 thoughtsPosted: March 25, 2015
I didn’t write about Freakshow. I tried with American Horror Story’s fourth season, but I couldn’t get through writing the first post because I realized I didn’t really care. In the first episode it was clear it had the potential to be great but it just wasn’t. There are about seven minutes of build-up in the episode to Bette and Dot or two-headed Sarah Paulson. But, Sarah Paulson did all the press for this season, we knew that was coming. If we had no idea and then boom! Two-headed Sarah Paulson! That would have been awesome. It was so much wasted potential.
That is how I felt about the entire season. The season also seemed to set itself up to have this problem. The scary, creepy hook for this season was the “freak” characters. But, we find out very early on that the “freaks” are not scary or creepy at all. It’s the “normal” people that are.
That made the freakshow’s back drop of characters not be scary or creepy but just a bunch of underdeveloped characters. The show told us the “freak” characters are not defined but what makes them freaks, but it didn’t develop any of them — except for possibly Paul — enough to give us anything else to define them.
As for the main characters, with the exception of Dandy, they were all just all right.
I have to give the best acting credits to Sarah Paulson and Angela Bassett. Sarah Paulson spent most of this season acting off herself and Bette and Dot had the best character development and arch of any of the characters. Angela Bassett was just as great and enjoyable at Desiree as she was as Marie.
I’m really annoyed that Elsa was Jessica Lange’s last character on the show. It fit with the show’s wasted potential problem. All of Jessica Lange’s characters, have been faded, past their prime, addicts, desperately trying to regain the power they once had. That’s probably the show’s intention and I get that, but it would have been cool for her to have been a level-headed badass just once. She’s Jessica Lange for fuck sake. Even Sister Jude, who might be my favorite fiction character ever, fell into this, but she at least broke out of it earlier than the other characters did. Also, why the accent? I know what a Berliner accent sounds like and I know what an American faking a German accent sounds like. That was the latter.
Evan Peter’s character Jimmy seemed to fall somewhere between Kit and Tate. He was kind of weepy and you felt sorry for him, but he also wasn’t a dead school shooter like Tate. He had some leadership qualities and generally I liked him but he wasn’t as honorable or open-minded as Kit.
Kathy Bates’ Ethel was a good character, even though I felt the hokey accent held the character back a bit. Frances Conroy’s Mrs. Mott was great but like all Frances Conroy’s characters she wasn’t around enough.
So to Dandy. Finn Wittrock was great and creepy and scary and everything this show is supposed to be. He tried to buy Bette and Dot in the first episode. He murder a ton of people, multiple in his playroom while crying. He then proudly exclaimed he is a serial killer to his childhood best friend while naked. And then he bathed in a claw-foot bathtub filled with blood. Now that is the kind of fucked up I am looking for from you, AHS.
Twisty was horrify too and I liked him. But, he was killed in the fourth episode. Leaving, all our horror to came from Dandy and Stanley. The “freak’s” vigilant justice wasn’t scary, because none of the characters were and we wanted that to happened. I wanted to see Meryl Streep’s Daughter’s dad be tarred and feathered and I wanted Stanley to get turned into the thing from the end of Freaks (1932).
Remember when people went missing in Asylum and they were either abducted by aliens, being turned into monsters by an ex-Nazi doctor or getting skinned by a serial rapist. That was way better than being kidnapped and murder by a con-artist with a big dick and barely-a-bad-guy Emma Roberts.
Also the final killing off of the characters seemed unceremonious. In all the other seasons, there has always been a slow dwindling of all the characters until only one is alive (or hasn’t died, in Coven’s case). Freakshow seemed like it didn’t work up to that well enough and had to have Dandy waltz through the freak show with a gun at the end to get us to that point.
Freakshow did break the one surviving character rule by have four (Desiree, Jimmy, Bette and Dot) left alive. I’m not sure how I feel about that, it seems to lower the stakes.
The way I feel about this series is that Murder House was OK, Asylum was freaking awesome, Coven was a fun hot mess and Freakshow was blah.