American Horror Story Episode 13: “Curtain Call”
A recap and review of American Horror Story Episode 13: “Curtain Call”
(photo courtesy of fxnetworks.com)
Sullywood Rating: 7/10
What We Learned:
Come one, come all! See the last episode of American Horror Story: Jessica Lange errr…..Freak Show! It’s time to close the curtain (get it….close curtain….”Curtain Call”….I’ll leave now) on this current and potentially last season for Jessica Lange, especially the way this particular episode wrapped up. But we’ll come back to the closing in a bit. First, we have to say goodbye to all of the characters we grew to love all season, and I don’t mean because it’s the final episode of the season. The “freaks” have had enough of Dandy and his new ownership plans, which basically means running the show into the ground because nobody in their right mind would come and watch him sing. Sorry Dandy. Instead, they revolt and quit, hoping to work as door to door salesmen….perhaps that’s a stretch, looking at you Paul. Anyway, Dandy moves on with the show, and as we all expected, he went on stage and sang a beautiful array of songs. Sigh, if only. He instead embraces the one talent he has, and kills every….single…freak…alive. Well, except for Angela Bassett, Sarah Paulson, and Evan Peters, who are too famous to die.
After the massacre, we arrive back at Mott Manor where we are invited to see the wedding of the century for Dandy and the Tattler twins. Attendance quite low though, couldn’t imagine why? I would think that the cop on Dandy’s payroll could have at least made an appearance as the witness (probably didn’t want to hassle with Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a gift) But wait, is this wedding what it appears to be? NOPE, it’s all a trap (Admiral Ackbar would be proud of you all), and with the help of Jimmy and Desiree, the twins drug Dandy and give Dandy the opportunity he’s always wanted….to perform for an audience. While Dandy was hoping to be a singer, he is going to have to settle at being a magician (hopefully he’s better than NPH). The three amigos…sorry Dot, four amigos, place Dandy in Hardeen Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Cell. (I surely didn’t have to look that one up) He fails at his attempt to escape and while letting out one last, glorious “I hate you”, drowns. I actually wasn’t quite sure what would happen to Dandy in this episode. Part of me thought that while Dandy believed he was indeed a God, I wondered if maybe the show would actually go in the direction that he actually could not die, would’ve been more interesting. The show has history of going all over the place, so why not Gods? And with that, we end “Curtain Call”.
Wait, that’s not right. Ahhhh yes. Forgot about that the last half of the show that follows Elsa Mars and her path to stardom in der Hollywood, CA. Anyone else feel like we were actually watching “The Elsa Mars Hour” with this segment? She arrives in Hollywood and despite the metaphorical Hollywood door slamming in her face, Elsa Mars doesn’t take nein for an answer! She is lucky enough to meet a fellow German, who works for a studio, and not only convinces the poor lad to give her a show, but they also get married. Years later, Elsa has achieved her dream to be a star in Hollywood, except, not all is well in Elsa Land. For all of you hoping to start your own freak show someday in order to make it in Hollywood, take note, this may not be what you really want!!!! Elsa and her husband’s marriage is not doing well, probably because Elsa really prefers artists, and by artists I mean someone who can make perfect, fake lobster hands. That’s right! Ye ole axeman himself is back, Massimo Dolcefino. (Raise your hand if you remembered his full name and could say it? Anybody? Everybody! I’m the only one? Damn!)Elsa wishes to run off with her old flame, but he’s got a little secret. He’s unfortunately dying of lung cancer and doesn’t have long to live. Elsa returns home where she is confronted by her husband and the head of the studio she works at. She believes its over an argument that happened earlier with her and her husband about not performing on Halloween, which we found out earlier in the season doesn’t really work out well for freaks. Instead the studio exec reveals that he has a copy of the snuff film she was in years ago where she lost her legs and we the viewers saw earlier in the season. Desperate and unhappy with her life, Elsa agrees to perform on Halloween fully knowing that Voldemort, I mean Edward Mordrake, will be summoned and she can live on with his band of merry freaks, including our pal Twisty from what seems like an eternity ago.
Elsa sings her heart out to David Bowie’s “Heroes” (love that song) in hopes that Mordrake will come. But not before a nice montage showing Desiree happy and married to Angus and their children. Also, we see that Jimmy and the twins are married with twins of their own on the way. As we pan back to Elsa, as planned, Mordrake and his merry men appear to take Elsa with them, she hopes. Instead, she is not chosen to join them and is killed by Mordrake. Now, although I love the song, I’m really not sure what it pertains to. I don’t feel like any of the surviving freaks were heroes nor do I feel like they were finally accepted by the world. Back to business. We are then taken back to the freak show where everyone who has died seems to be stuck in some sort of purgatory, including Ethel. After Elsa and Ethel briefly chat about what had happened and where they were, Elsa gets on stage to perform again. This time, something new, oh, no? Life on Mars? again? Okay Elsa, fine. The song starts up and the screen fades to black in “Curtain Call”, which closes out another season of American Horror Story.
I believe like most, this season was disappointing mainly due to the potential of the theme, the characters, and the writing we’ve been privy to in the past. But nothing this whole season seemed to make any sense, including “Curtain Call”. There didn’t seem to be an end game or goal for our characters to achieve, with the exception of Elsa who wanted to be uber famous. Every other season of AHS seemed to have a clear direction or at least an ideal resolution that you expected from it, but not Freak Show. Every episode almost seemed like it was from Tales from the Crypt, new story, new ending, no real consequences. I thought once again that Evan Peters was underused (not as bad as Coven where he is literally just a zombie after the 1st episode). I found the character of Dell Toledo and his killing of Ma Petite quite maddening when we saw Maggie come to her sense and not kill her the episode before. Also, not quite sure what he added to the show, and I mean both the TV show we are watching and the Freak Show in the actual story. Speaking of the show itself, I wanted to see it performed way more often than it was. I get there really weren’t paying customers, but watching them utilize their talents is one of the most intriguing aspects of using this theme, and it fell short. I thought the Twisty character was fantastic, and he was killed off way too early. I’m not sure if the producers didn’t realize how much love the character would get, but if they did, very bad choice to kill off the fan favorite 4 episodes in. I have to say, this was the first season where I found myself waiting for some of the episodes to end. There really wasn’t anybody to root for, no white knights, no heroes, which I found so ironic that they played “Heroes” in “Curtain Call”. But maybe its supposed to be ironic? I have no idea, ask Ryan Murphy, if he is still indeed with this project.
Many are wondering if this is indeed Lange’s last season and if “Curtain Call” was her last episode with the horror anthology series she has been a part of since its first season back in 2011. Many believe Lange is as crucial to AHS as fireworks are to the 4th of July. Is that true? I suppose we’ll find out, but I firmly believe the show will go on and be fine. That’s not a slight on Lange in the least bit. I’m truly not sure there is AHS: Asylum, Coven, or Freak Show without Lange’s fantastic performance as Constance in Murder House. I will say though that Elsa Mars was by far the weakest character Lange has played in the series and there were some episodes I felt intrigued without her presence. Mainly due to the fantastic performances of Paulson, Bassett, and this year’s MVP, Finn Wittrock. I firmly believe he will be back next season, and if not, there will be many disappointed fans.
So what are your thoughts on the season as a whole? Will Jessica Lange be back? What will be next season’s theme? And who in the world shot JR? (Sorry bad joke, I know, I know). Thank you for reading my unqualified review and opinion.
Did “Curtain Call” meet your expectations?