In this opener, we meet Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) as she recruits Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) to join her freak show after she murders her mother. We learn that Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) is a horn-dog (surprise). Twisty (John Caroll Lynch) murders several people, and is completely terrifying.
- When Jimmy and the Amazon are walking on the side of the road, some men throw rocks and call them freaks. Jimmy says, “Sometimes I can’t stand it, the way they look at it, the way they treat us.” The Amazon replies, “That’s show-biz.”
- When the candy striper accuses Elsa of drugging her against her will, Elsa says, “My people show their oddities, providing a laugh or a fright to people in need of entertainment. Everyone is living the life they chose.”
- Jimmy argues with Ethel (Kathy Bates) about leaving the show to help the people with their problems, especially alcoholism.
- Jimmy and the freaks protect Bette and Dot when an officer comes to arrest them for their crime.
The Big Q
Is choosing your life just another way of choosing your problems? How much choice do we really have? Are our problems meant for us?
In the end, several characters battle loving and hating their lives and problems. Jimmy decides to solve his problem: if he can’t leave the show, he’ll make it what he wants–a safe place for all of them. Elsa, who has portrayed enjoyment of her work, in the end admits to using Bette and Dot to further her own fame. Finally, with Bette and Dot, it’s unclear how responsible they are for their mother’s murder. Only one of them took the action, but the other would a guilty bystander. You’re never supposed to kill your mother. Then again, being cooped up for their entire lives is a form of child abuse. Without their deformity, they never would have been put in the position to murder.
Where else did you see characters destined for their problems?