A new day is dawning at the Freak Show in Jupiter, Florida. Some of the freaks are under the big top, relaxing, eating breakfast and listening to music on the radio. Jimmy changes the channel—not an easy task when you’re Lobster Boy—and a somber voice announces that schools have closed. The town is in a panic. There are 4 unsolved murders, 1 missing child, and 1 missing detective. The boys in blue are out for blood. Two suits arrive to speak with Elsa Mars about searching the premises. She has nothing to hide, but insists on a warrant. The detectives tell her the town will soon have a curfew and this will hurt business. Dot and Bette stroll in and the detectives try to question them, but Elsa protects them from further interrogation.
In town at the toy store, a properly dressed young man is carrying two cups of coffee. He calls out for Mr. Handly, but hears no response. A drum is on the floor and a wind-up robot is walking down a trail of blood. As the young man follows the blood, he doesn’t pay attention to the three clowns against the wall. The one in the middle is not like the others. Not since Stephen King’s It has a clown been so disturbing. His elastic strapped, $hit-eating grin and dirty clown clothes say what he does not. He’s a killer. Just as the young man finds Mr. Handly’s head on a shelf, Twisty the Killer Clown thrusts a knife through his neck.
Jimmy and the gang are digging up the detective from the campgrounds in order to burn him and dispose of his ashes. The cops will be coming back. Jimmy tells the gang that the detective had to die or the twins would have being taken away. Jimmy also has the bright idea that if they just let the townspeople get to know them, they’ll see how “normal” they are. The detective’s badge is given to Jimmy to get rid of.
Dandy the spoiled boy and his mom Gloria are at the dinner table, seated at opposite ends. He’s bored. So bored. The maid (Ms. Patti LaBelle) brings in the snails. Escargot, again? How boring. Dandy drinks cognac from a crystal baby bottle because life is so unfulfilling. He wants to be a thespian, and because Mommy doesn’t understand, he storms out. The maid informs Gloria that the neighbors are looking for their cat and she found fur and teeth in the tool shed. Sorry, Charlie.
Back at the campground, a trailer with the words: Strong Man, pulls up. His name is Dell Toledo and he makes a pitch to Elsa for him and his wife to join the freak show. His wife, Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) has a special talent—she’s a three-breasted hermaphrodite. We’re shown a flashback from three weeks earlier. Desiree is having sex with a teenage boy. Dell walks in and breaks the kid’s neck in one swift move. With a killer on the loose in Jupiter, Elsa is worried that the town’s people might turn on them. She decides that having a strong man around is a good idea.
Mommy Gloria is driving around, looking for her son, and instead runs into Twisty the Killer Clown walking down the road. She offers to hire him for a private children’s party. His wicked grin says he’s in. Her son Dandy is at the carnival, begging for a job. Jimmy just laughs and sends him away, telling Dandy to thank God for two good hands. Dandy storms off and bangs his head against the steering wheel of his new convertible. When he arrives home, Mommy has a surprise for him: Twisty the Killer Clown is there to become his friend.
Bearded Lady, Ethel, sees Desiree leave the strong man’s trailer. She walks inside and we learn they know each other. Ethel tells Dell he’s not welcome and to stay away from Jimmy. We’re shown a flashback of Ethel preventing Dell from breaking the neck of Lobster Baby. He’s Jimmy’s father. Dell informs Ethel that he is now her boss, and by the way, he’s married to a real lady now.
It’s rehearsal time and Dot and Bette are going to sing. Bette’s voice can shatter glass, but Dot sings Dream a Little Dream like an angel. Elsa clearly looks threatened. Desiree tried to suggest shooting ping pong balls from their hoo-haw’s, but Elsa turned that down. Dell barges in and broadcasts that starting tomorrow they will have 3:00 matinees until the curfews end. Elsa doesn’t think people will come in the heat. She says when the darkness moves in and speaks of mystery, that’s when the imagination comes out to play. Dell sets Elsa straight on who’s calling the shots. No lady is the boss of him.
Dandy is putting on a puppet show for Twisty, but Twisty looks completely bored, don’t let that grin fool you. Dandy demands to be entertained. While Twisty is looking through the toys, Dandy goes through the clown’s bag. His eyes grow twice their size, and before we know what Dandy sees, Twisty hits him over the head with a bowling pin, knocking him to the ground. Twisty is out of there. He doesn’t realize Dandy is following him.
Jimmy and the gang stroll into the town’s diner, putting his plan of getting to know them into play. Things start off polite and normal, but etiquette quickly fades as shouts of meatloaf are chanted. Dell the Strong Man storms in, dumps a plate of food in Jimmy’s lap, and says, “If you’re going to give these guys a free show, who’s going to want to buy tickets.” The man has a point. Outside, Dell beats the crap out of Jimmy.
The girl and little boy are still locked in the school bus and haven’t been eaten yet. Twisty returns, opens the cage and crawls in with them. He pulls out the wind-up robot and points it toward the boy. When this doesn’t make the little boy happy, Twisty reaches in his bag and pulls out a severed head. Everyone screams. The girl clunks Twisty with a block of wood, she and the little boy run out of the bus just as Dandy is walking up. He grabs the girl as she begs for help. Dandy returns her to the bus.
The first matinee has arrived and a pretty good crowd has turned up. The show opens with pint-sized Meep the Geek who bites the head off an animal. Next up, the twins. Dot sings Fiona Apple’s Criminal; Bette sings backup. The crowd loves them. They move closer to the stage and give a standing ovation. Elsa’s blue eye shadow is turning positively green.
The police return with their warrant. They’ve received an anonymous tip that Dell Toledo is involved with the detective’s disappearance. Dell blames Jimmy for this. Nothing is found in Dell’s trailer, but they do find the missing detective’s badge in Meep’s tent. Police take Meep away and throw him in jail with guys that are three and four times his size.
Elsa visits the sleeping twins in their tent, waking only Bette. She is trying to drive a wedge between the two, using Bette as her pawn. Before leaving, Elsa places a knife under her pillow.
Jimmy is drunk. He’s upset over Meep. Ethel tells him that Dell is bad news and to stay away from him. Jimmy has no idea Dell is his father, and right now, all he wants is to go save Meep. But it’s too late. A truck pulls up and sack is tossed like yesterday’s trash. Jimmy opens the bag and finds Meep dead.
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST on FX and FX Canada.
I am so lucky to combine blogging with my guilty pleasure of watching reality TV. I read all the comments and respond to most. Feel free to reach out to me. If you like fiction, I have two published novels: Three Days in Purgatory and A Reason to Run.