The latest episode of ‘American Horror Story’ could have been titled “Everybody Hates Dell.” I get the feeling that Michael Chiklis’ strongman character probably won’t make it to the end of the season, with the number of enemies he’s collecting.
The episode is really titled ‘Test of Strength’, which I suppose is meant to have multiple thematic meanings.
We start with Jimmy at the Motts’ mansion to visit the twins. At first, they won’t leave with him. Bette believes she’s in love with Dandy, and Dot has been trying to collect enough money for separation surgery. It doesn’t take Jimmy very long to figure out that Dandy was the second clown at the bus in the woods, but he can’t prove it yet. When Dandy lets slip that he read Dot’s diary, she gets pissed and changes her mind about going with Jimmy. Bette agrees to go as well, if that’s what her sister wants. Dandy is a wee bit miffed, as you might imagine.
Jimmy brings the girls back to the circus and confronts Elsa about selling them to the Motts. However, Dot changes her story and now claims that Elsa was merely helping them run away of their own volition. Obviously, she’s working an angle here. In private afterwards, she blackmails Elsa into giving them 50% of the box office.
Dell’s secret boyfriend the gay hustler has gone missing, and Dell is kind of upset about that. (He doesn’t yet know that Dandy killed him.) When the bartender at the gay bar makes a flippant remark, Dell beats him up. Conveniently there to witness the altercation is Stanley the con man (or Richard Stanley, as appears to be his full name).
Later on back at the circus, Stanley tells Dell that he knows he’s gay, and blackmails him (lots of blackmail attempts this week) into helping him collect a dead freak. Dell stupidly tries to snatch Eve the Amazonian woman, who fights back and gives him a good beating for his efforts. She then tells Ethel, Desiree and Jimmy about what Dell’s done. Ethel wants to kill him (literally, murder him). She’s in a pretty foul mood after learning that her doctor killed himself – on account of Dell breaking his hands and threatening his family, which Ethel doesn’t know yet. Jimmy convinces her to let him talk to Dell first.
Dell agrees to talk to Jimmy at a bar, and actively works to get the boy drunk. Jimmy runs out into an alley to puke, and Dell picks up a brick to smash his head, because he’s planning to give Jimmy’s body to Stanley. However, Jimmy reveals that he knows Dell is his father, and makes him admit it. Dell loses his will to hurt his son. He drops the brick and gives Jimmy a hug.
This still leaves Dell in a bind, unfortunately. To make good on his promise to Stanley, he snaps tiny Ma Petite’s neck. As the episode ends, we see her body on display at the Morbidity Museum. And this time, it’s not a fake-out fantasy sequence.
In another side story, Penny the candy striper girl (Grace Gummer) returns home to collect some things before she runs off with the circus. Her furious father knocks her out and has a friend tattoo a lizard scale pattern all over her face. If she wants to live with the freaks, she’s going to be a freak.
I’ve been feeling kind of down on ‘American Horror Story’ this season. Honestly, there’s nothing in particular wrong with this episode (though I’m a little sad about Ma Petite). It’s a decent enough entry in the series. I’m just still waiting for something this season to wow me, and this certainly isn’t it.