American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.07: “Test of Strength”

In Season 4, Episode 7 of American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.07
Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) want two very different things (and people).

I think this week’s real “test of strength” is how long we can endure what I’m pretty sure is the soggy middle of Freak Show’s story arc. I knew over-praising it would come back on me. Is it just me, or has it all felt like filler since the Halloween episodes? I guess when American Horror Story isn’t rushing into random plot devices, it’s dragging the same five variations out as far as they’ll stretch.

There were a few nice things about this episode. Let’s start with Dandy (Finn Wittrock). Honestly, Dandy is the best part of this show, and we just don’t get enough of him this episode. Jimmy (Evan Peters) solved last week’s mystery of Where Are The Twins? Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) are, of course, hanging out with Dandy, eating caviar and basking in luxury. Dot still isn’t convinced of Dandy’s “good intentions” and is furious when he admits to reading her diary. With a little urging from Jimmy, Dot demands to leave. Bette’s fallen for our favorite murderer and is even convinced he’s the one who saved those kids from the Murder Bus, but in a shocking turn of events, Bette chooses Dot over Dandy.

What I found most interesting about their exchange is Dot’s overwhelming love for her sister, despite knowing full well that Bette wants them separated, at the risk (and likely, hope) of Dot’s death. I’m curious to see where the writers are going to take them. Once back at the freak show, the gals have a few demands to make from Elsa (Jessica Lange). Bette gets a makeover; Dot demands to meet with the surgeon Dandy mentioned last week, Dr. Oscar Sugar. So much for the bonds of sisterhood.

The twins aren’t the only ones with a bone to pick with Elsa. Jimmy’s so mad with what she did, he invents grunge rock decades before its time. I still hate the musical numbers, but I love both Evan Peters and Nirvana enough to accept his rendition of Come as You Are. I still think it would have been better overlaid with his bringing the freaks to that diner in Episode 2. Oh well. I’ve got him pegged as the next major character to die. Paul (Matt Fraser) called Elsa out last week, and look what happened to him.

In Season 4, Episode 7 of American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.07
Stanley (Dennis O’Hare) has Dell (Michael Chiklis) exactly where he wants him.

Let’s talk about Dell (Michael Chiklis) a moment. With his boyfriend not-so-mysteriously vanished, Dell’s got no outlet for all his aggression. He beats the crap out of the bartender, after all. And who’s there to witness his little show of angry but Stanley (Dennis O’Hare). Nothing like a little black mail material to force someone to commit murder for you. The smattering of gay jokes certainly helps your edge, there. Kill me a carney, and no one needs to know about your boyfriend.

First Freak of the Week: Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin). Del tries to chloroform her and she kicks his ass to hell and back, breaking his nose and all the gender stereotypes. I wish we got to see more of her character. I hope we do.

I’m not sure why Stanley’s kicking around the freak show. Even if he’s posing as a Hollywood agent, no one just hangs around all the time. It’s creepy. Shoo.

She win’s Quote of the Week: “Who’s the strongman now?

Watch out, Jimmy. Esmerelda (Emma Roberts) is coming for you.

We do get some nice father/son bonding between Dell and Jimmy, and Jimmy is no fool. He knows exactly who Dell is. Evan Peters nailed that exchange. Guys, if Elsa doesn’t chuck a knife into him, I’m pretty sure Esmerelda’s (Emma Roberts) going to kill Jimmy. I can’t tell if she genuinely wants him to get out or if she’s just as screwed up as Elsa.

Penny (Grace Gummer) is not just a throwaway character!
And then there’s Penny (Grace Gummer), our wayward candy striper turned lovesick dame. Maybe you shouldn’t be so flippant with begging for death. Turns out Daddy has something much worse in store for pretty Penny. She wants to join the freaks? Fine. Poor Penny comes home after tending to poor Paul and gets a nasty surprise: a full facial tattoo and split tongue. Looks like she’s our Lizard Lady and Paul is just devastated by what’s happened to her.

I’m glad Penny is more than a dime-a-dozen throw away character. Here’s hoping for a developing story and not wasted potential.

Sadly, our body count rose again this week, and not in the way I expected. Apparently Doctor Bonham (Jerry Leggio) blew his top after his encounter with Dell. I’m not sure how he pulled the trigger with two broken hands, but I guess logic doesn’t always apply. Worst of all, Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge) had her neck broken by our alleged Strongman. Poor little butterfly princess is now on display at the American Morbidity Museum, and you bet once the freaks find out, they’ll unleash hell on Dell’s ass. No one puts Ma Petite in a glass specimen jar.

Meghan Harker grew up in a small, awkwardly-named town in Georgia. She attended Brenau University, where she earned her BA in English and a minor in Graphic Design; she also attended the University of Cambridge, England, where she didn't quite master the perfect Oxbridge accent. She's an avid reader, writer, and fire spinner. She's currently working her first novel, a paranormal thriller. Visit her blog at

Read all posts by Meghan Harker for Criminal Element.

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