American Horror Story: Freak Show continues as Jupiter, Florida has been in the “grips of terror” for two weeks now. After four reported deaths, there are still no arrests. Parents are keeping their kids home from school. Businesses are keeping their doors shut. A curfew is in place until the murderer is found.
The police detective (whom we know is dead) has been missing for two days. Two cops come looking for Elsa, who says she and her freaks have nothing to hide. But she won’t let them search without a warrant. They leave, for now.
A young boy working at a toyshop returns with his boss’ diner order to find a little windup robot toy walking in tracks of blood. He follows the path, passing Twisty standing motionless in the background. Of course, the worker takes no notice. Instead, he continues down the blood track, which leads him to the severed head of his boss. He jumps backwards, piercing his body through the knife Twisty is holding directly behind him.
Dandy Mott and his mother Gloria are having dinner, which of course he’s unsatisfied with. He reaches for his crystal baby bottle, which naturally doubles as flask. Our man-child gets stranger by the second, as we watch him pour a drink. His devoted mother only encourages this behavior by catering to his strange needs. But as a good mother should, she does warn him against living on cognac and sweets alone.
Dandy is frustrated with his life because he wants to be a thespian. He’s angry with his mother for not letting him join the traveling circus—his true calling. He comes from a bloodline of great individuals, his mother says. But Dandy is never dandy and he storms off like the child he is.
The housemaid explains to Gloria how she found “parts” behind the shed and a neighborhood cat has been missing, implying Dandy has some freakish habits. She takes it further by suggesting Dandy has something to do with the murders, which Gloria will hear none of. She is his mother, after all.
The self-proclaimed strongman Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and his full-blown hermaphrodite wife Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett) arrive at the camp in a car and beat-down motor home. They’ve come to seek refuge and Elsa is their last resort.
Dell opens the motor home door and out walks Desiree, acting more diva-like than Elsa Mars herself. “I hope this is a pit stop,” she says to Dell as he guides her to Elsa’s fabulous tent. As it turns out, three weeks ago in Chicago, Dell snapped a young man’s neck after walking in on Desiree and a now de-virgined boy having sex.
Dell explains to Elsa that Desiree is a star, with her three breasts and male and female genitalia, but Elsa sees more potential in Dell. Elsa needs someone to bark at her command and Dell fits the bill.
Gloria is driving when she spots Twisty walking alone alongside the street. She slows the car and after analyzing him for a few seconds, somehow decides he would bring a smile to Dandy’s face. If we didn’t already know this lady has a few screws loose, we do now.
Dandy finds his way back to the freak show and tells Jimmy he wants to join the show. He says he belongs with the freaks, but Jimmy’s heard this before. Kids always want to run away and join the freak show. Dandy has no business with the show. He’s rich and more importantly, not deformed in any way. Jimmy tells him to scram home and Dandy does as told.
Dandy returns home frazzled and his mother, again, rushes to his rescue. Overjoyed with her new find, she presents Dandy with Twisty, leaving them alone with an assortment of toys she’s sure they’ll have fun with. Twisty’s strange demeanor doesn’t faze him either.
Ethel pays Dell a visit in his motor home. In a flashback, we see Dell holding a baby boy with deformed hands. He’s sure the boy will never live a normal life because of his deformity and wants to kill him, but Ethel pulls a gun on him and tells him to leave and never come back. Now that he’s returned, Ethel is unsure of Dell’s motives. She warns him to stay away from Jimmy, but Dell insists he wants nothing to do with his son.
During rehearsal, Bette proves to be a talentless singer. Even Desiree is throwing around suggestions. As a gifted piano player, Desiree is already showing potential as a team player, which is surprising given her initial high-maintenance impression.
Jimmy suggests Dot try singing. She’s reluctant, but she’s a sucker for lobster boy and starts a soft rendition of a song. To everyone’s surprise, the girl can sing. The only two people who don’t seem impressed are Bette, who doesn’t want to be back-up, and Elsa, who’s threatened by the new star potential. Dell suggests doing matinee shows in order to make money during the strict curfew, but Elsa dismisses the idea. Her spectacle is meant for the strangeness of the night, she says.
Dandy is performing a puppet show with Twisty as his audience. He’s not impressed with his new toy, who just sits there silently, but the clown does intrigue him. He tries to get Twisty to perform, giving him some toys to sift through while he searches through the clown’s suspicious bag of belongings. But Dandy’s snooping is obvious. Twisty hits him over the head and makes a run for it. Dandy awakens quicker than expected and follows Twisty back to his lair.
Jimmy returns to the diner. The waitress is all smiles until she sees Jimmy’s un-mittened deformity and the company he keeps. Jimmy and his crew take their seats to get served. Some guests leave, disgusted with the freak’s appearances. One woman even asks if the group could eat somewhere else because her daughter is getting upset. Paul the Illustrated Seal (Mat Fraser) grabs a plate of leftovers from an empty table with his tiny arms and slaps the waitress’ hand away as she tries to bus the plate.
The owner refuses to serve the freaks, riling them up. Dell, who was outside hanging show posters, sees the scene and comes inside. He calls out Jimmy for bringing the freaks out in public. They’re supposed to stay on camp, and, as the new enforcer, he’s going to make sure that happens. To make the message clearer, he beats up Jimmy as everyone watches.
We turn to Bonnie and Corey still trapped in the bus. She grabs a piece of wood and keeps it hidden until the clown comes back and sits in the cage with them. They’ll soon find out Dandy is following at a distance. Twisty takes out the small robot from the toyshop and tries to entertain the boy. When he fails to get a reaction, he whips out the severed head of the toyshop owner instead. The hostages scream and Bonnie hits Twisty with the piece of wood and she and Corey run for their lives.
Bonnie runs straight into Dandy’s arms and he carries her back to Twisty, as she screams that the clown is a murderer. Twisty grabs the boy and the new dynamic duo carries their hostages back onto the bus. This is what happens when Dandy doesn’t get what he wants—he partners up with a murderous clown.
Jimmy storms into Elsa’s tent. She can see his bruises and he wants Dell gone. But Elsa is giving his matinee scheme a try and says the show needs strongman to keep everyone safe—a direct slap in the face to Jimmy. He hands over the dead detective’s badge and she realizes how much she’s underestimated Jimmy’s devotion. Once Elsa realizes she’s had a strongman all along (and after Jimmy shows her the bill Dell was posting with Elsa’s name written small and at the bottom), she has no problem turning on Dell.
The freak show begins with Dell presenting the singing Siamese twins for the first time. Dot loves the spotlight and being a bad, bad girl, as the song goes. Elsa and Bette are, again, less impressed. Every guy in the audience is swarmed up in front of the stage, drawn towards Dot. Bette wants nothing but to dart off stage and hide.
The show ends and the cops come back to camp with a warrant to search the premises. Their primary suspect is Dell, but they find nothing in his trailer. Elsa, Jimmy, and Dell exchange a number of looks. It’s clear Elsa and Jimmy planted the detective’s badge in Dell’s trailer. But Dell saw this as it panned out and placed the badge under Meep’s bed instead.
The detectives find it and take an innocent Meep to the station and throw him in the tank. Under the assumption Meep’s the big, scary killer going around town, his fellow tankers jump him as he cringes in a corner in complete fear.
Elsa tiptoes into Bette and Dot’s tent to congratulate a disheartened Bette on her performance. She butters Bette up, telling her she’s the real star. As soon as Bette blushes at the thought, Elsa destroys the fantasy and tells her Dot will try to prevent her shine. She places a small knife next to Bette alongside the bed. But Bette wouldn’t kill her sister … or would she? She does play with the idea, lifting the knife as she starts to tear.
Jimmy is lying drunk on the stage. His mother walks up and takes the bottle. He’s never drank before and she’s worried. He blames himself for Meep’s arrest and can’t let Meep go down for his crime. He has no choice but to go to the police station and confess. Meep won’t last a night in jail, he says.
He stumbles out of the tent and his mother follows. A pickup truck drives by and a group of men toss something wrapped and tied out the back. Jimmy unties the rope and reveals Meep’s dead body. His distraught cries gather the freaks. Jimmy’s emerged as a leader. His proclamations about “freaks being just like everyone else” are getting repetitive, but his heart is in the right the place.
With Meep’s death, the town of Jupiter is on the brink of a full-blown war.