American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.05: “Pink Cupcakes”

Denis O’Hare as Stanley.

Earlier this week, Ryan Murphy dropped another American Horror Story secret on us: each incarnation of his anthology series is interconnected with the others. This explains Pepper (Naomi Grossman) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) being present in Jupiter at the time of the freak show. I confess I’m a bit torn about this revelation. If done well, I believe it’ll be most of Stephen King’s work, with a deep vein that links time and place and character in a subtle but clever way. On the other hand, what I loved most about American Horror Story is how different each season was. They had their own mythos (and yes, aliens), and I saw them as isolated environments. It was the supernatural thread that kept the series together.

I don’t know. I can’t imagine the show running Murphy’s predicted ten seasons, but I guess we have to wait it out. What do you think? Have you caught any clues?

This week’s episode…was a significantly lackluster. There always has to be one, and with how last week ended—well, it’s a tough act to follow. I didn’t get a lot out of this episode, but thankfully Francis Conroy saved it.

Freak Show carries this wonderfully surreal quality to it, and we find ourselves back at the American Morbidity Museum for a gala! Everyone loves a party. Except when the main attraction is Paul the Illustrated Seal (Mat Fraser) dissected and in a specimen tank. American Horror Story is big on the fake-out deaths.

Emma Roberts as Maggie Esmerelda.

Stanley (Dennis O’Hare) has some twisted daydreams. I hope we get some background on him soon. I want to know why he hitched his wagon to Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts). She’s not down with the murder scheme, but for someone who refuses to kill, she’s got little in the way of guilt over Stanley wielding the knife. She’s not putting up much of a protest.

Oh, Gloria (Francis Conroy) of course you don’t hear the coffee on. Dandy (Finn Wittrock) murdered Dora (Patti LeBelle). I really loved this moment. Dandy is doing his best to act distraught and Gloria is having none of it. She grounds him. The stronger side of Gloria is what I hope we get to see more of. There are deep, deep problems within that family. But it must be nice to have hired help for your body burying needs. Gabourey Sidibe appears as Dora’s daughter, Regina, and you bet when she eventually arrives at the Mott residence, it is going down.

For me, Gloria is the highlight of this episode. The washy doting mother transforms into someone fiercely protective of her son and I hope Dandy appreciates her. What? Even serial killers love their moms. Gloria calls his penchant for murder the “affliction of the wealthy,”and I don’t disagree. I love the reference to the theory of Jack the Ripper possibly being one of the Windsors. We now also know that Dandy’s daddy hung himself. I wonder what his “affliction”was.

Matt Bomer as Andy, Finn Wittrock as Dandy Mott.

I’m glad we’re getting into Dandy’s head. I could live without the visual of him being a world-class serial killer in his tidy whities, but I suppose it is a frugal way to murder and not have to buy so many clothes. I firmly believe he’s a sociopath. His monologue about killing is practically masterbatory. Finn Wittrock’s doing an amazing, and frankly frightening, job with this character, but Murphy’s getting a little heavy-handed with the chest stabbing. Well, it is American Horror Story after all.

Horror Rule No. 10: Don’t follow your date to the Murder Bus in the woods, even if he paid you $100.

It appears Dandy’s jumped on my rules train, so I also present Dandy’s Rules for Being a Good Killer.

Rule No. 1: Make sure all evidence is gone. Start with the limbs.

Sound advice, Dandy.

“Pink Cupcakes” also saw the return of the musical portion of the show. I can’t decide if I feel sorry for Elsa (Jessica Lange) or not. Mostly not. What happened to her was terrible, but she’s so bent on finding herself in the limelight. Obviously, she didn’t take lessons away from her encounter with Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley), and now Stanley has his hooks in her. Stanley offers her a television show, she calls it “the death of art.” Of course, she changes her tune once she gets booed off stage.

The incorporation of David Bowie’s “Fame” is exactly what I wanted with the anachronistic soundtrack. Thank you! I hope there’s more of this, especially if it’s Bowie.

I’m still digging on these hyper-colored scenes and also, I will never eat a pink frosted cupcake again. We get another daydream of twins Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson), severed at the shoulders, in a display tank. The dream lasts considerably longer than the opening scene, and I was starting to think we were seeing into the future instead into Stanley’s mind.

Horror Rule No. 11: Don’t take sweets from strangers.

I wonder how Dot would actually feel if someone poisoned Bette. We know she promised to kill her a few episodes back. Stanley is also offering them a TV spot. Elsa’s green-eyed monster will rear it’s ugly head, I bet.

The other spot of sunshine in this otherwise lackluster hour was Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett). Props to Ethel (Kathy Bates) for being so supportive of her ex-huband’s wife. Turns out Desiree is 100% full-formed female with an extra jolt of estrogen. A little cosmetic surgery, and she’ll be just like every other woman, and more to boot. Dell (Michael Chiklis) is, of course, livid, but does he have a right be to, considering he’s got a boyfriend on the side? I guess we know why he was taken with Ethel and Desiree. There was no better moment than Desiree storming out to room with Ethel. Brilliant.

Oh, and Elsa decides to get rid of the twins by selling them to Dandy. Awesome. We’ll see how well that goes.

Hopefully next week we’ll get back to the fun, excitement and interest. I guess not every episode can be perfect.

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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