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AMERICAN HORROR STORY: Freak Show (FX)

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Season 4 Episode 1

"Monsters Among Us"

When police make a terrifying discovery at a local farmhouse, the eccentric purveyor of the freak show sees an opportunity that will lead her troupe either to their salvation or ruin...[button color="black" size="small" link="http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/american-horror-story/episodes" target="blank" ]Official Site[/button]

Synopsis

A Tattler girl tells us it was Saturday, the third of September, when the world as she knew it ended.

Jupiter, Florida, 1952

The milk man arrives at a country farmhouse and finds it odd that yesterday's delivery is curdling on the front porch. He opens the door to the Tattler house and warily goes inside. The remains of a dinner are on the table, and Mrs. Tattler is dead and bloodied on the floor.

The milkman goes upstairs to investigate, armed with a rolling pin. Something unseen comes out, he creams.

Quick cut to a hospital, where a woman is being wheeled in. A nurse leaves the operating suite to vomit in the hall. The doctor uses an x-ray machine to assess the woman -- she has three kidneys and four lungs, two hearts with a shared circulatory system.

Later, a nurse reads the news story about the "monstrous creature" found in the Tattler house, who sources believe might be a relative of Mrs. Tattler. Penny the candy striper says she would have drowned her baby if it came out like that.

Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) arrives, bribing Penny with a Lucky Strike ("go ahead, they're healthy") and asking about the heavily guarded patient. She appeals to Penny's rebelliousness and gives her a business card: Frauline Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities. "Only by entering will you learn its secrets," Elsa says, inviting Penny to visit.

Later, dressed in Penny's candy striper outfit, Elsa talks her way into the secure wing, where the mystery patient is hidden behind a curtain. Elsa peeks in and sees her: a woman with two heads. Elsa wakes her up. "What pretty girls you are," she says, giving them each a balloon.

Elsa stopped by the farmhouse and got them a dress with a wide neck to accommodate theirs. The heads communicate telepathically, Dot is wary of Elsa and swats her hand away when she leans in to touch her face.

So Elsa turns her smooth talking to the left side, Bette, comparing her to Jean Arthur and giving her a puff of her cigarette (which comes out the other head).

Elsa starts prying, asking about their sex life. The one on the left giggles, the one on the right is disgusted. Elsa makes her exit.

Meanwhile, on a picnic blanket by Lake Okeechobee, a couple makes out. The boy runs to his car to get something. Behind the girl, something walks out of the nearby brush. A clown approaches the girl. It has a grinning, grotesque mask on the lower half of its face. The girl is nervous, but the clown genuflects and gives her fake flowers, then takes out bowling pins as the boy returns.

Just as the young couple starts to get nervous, the clown whacks each of them with his pin. The girl wakes up later to see the clown stabbing Troy to death with an oversized pair of scissors. She runs, but doesn't get far.

In a diner, Elsa cuts out news clippings for a scrapbook about movies. She notices Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) on the other side of the diner and confronts him. He has a leather mittens on his hands and she pointedly asks him to get her lighter to work -- which he doesn't. She thinks she's found them a place they can call home and he's being selfish, but he heard the landlord asking her to leave.

Flash to Elsa hanging laundry while holding a tiny but fully grown woman named Ma Petite, who is two feet tall. The landlord tells Elsa that even though she signed a year lease, she hasn't had any customers in two months and he wants the land for a revival that's coming to town. He says his wife doesn't like having the freaks staying in the field. "My monsters wouldn't hurt a fly!" Elsa insists.

Then she switches gears, showing him her silky lingerie on the laundry line and inviting him in for schnapps. He gets her meaning. She gets another month.

Back at the diner, Elsa taunts Jimmy, asking what the waitress would think of his deformity. He tells her it's over, but she insists she has a plan to change things. When the waitress asks her to settle up, Elsa tells her: "Oh darling it's on the house. Stars never pay." Then she leaves.

In a suburban house, a group of housewives complain about their bad sex lives. The host raves about something she found at a roadside attraction. One woman comes out of a back room, grinning and looking very relaxed.

It's the shy wife's turn. She goes to a back bedroom, where Jimmy Darling is waiting for her with his mittens off. She hikes up her dress and lies on the bed and he uses his lobster fingers to make her scream in ecstasy.

Back in the hospital Dot (the severe one) tells Elsa about the night of the murder. She says it was a robbery gone wrong. Bette says the man wore a fedora and reeked of Aqua Velva, but as she goes on Elsa recognizes the plot from "Gaslight."

Elsa knows their mother died two days before they were found with fresh wounds. She encourages them to get their story straight.

Late at night, a man gets up from bed somewhere and the creepy clown waits for him.

At the hospital, the news reports that Jeffrey and Mildred Bachman were found in their home after having been dead for at least a week. Their eight year old son remains missing.

The news report concludes the same maniac killed them and Mrs. Tattler. Dot and Bette hear the news.

In a rundown trailer in the swamp, the boy is being held in a cage next to the teen girl. She tries to get him to eat. The clown returns and tries to get the boy to smile, showing him a clown wind-up doll. Then he freaks him out with a rattle and blows a balloon animal, getting angry when it bursts. He starts throwing things at the cages, terrifying the captives, but he doesn't break through.

Dot and Bette pack up at home, where Elsa finds them. She accuses them of killing their mother.

Flash back to Bette getting angry at their mother when she won't take them to a movie, or let them leave the house. Suddenly, Bette picks up a nearby knife and starts stabbing her mother. Dot tries to stop her, but it's too late.

Elsa has pieced it all together. When Dot claims that Bette didn't know what she was doing, Elsa presumes Dot stabbed her sister to cover it up. Elsa says she wants to save them.

Bette writes in her diary about finally feeling free from the shadows on September 3. It's the day the Tattlers joined the freak show.

Bette is dazzled by Elsa's pink tent and feels like a movie star. Dot is gripped by despair.

At the freak tent, they meet Jimmy Darling, who winks at them.

Dot writes about Elsa's "henchwoman," the bearded woman Ethel. She tries to convince Dot to break her hunger strike, telling them Elsa can be their salvation. Elsa found Ethel in a drunk tank and put her on the stage, where she belongs.

Dot says their nobody's "trained monkey." But Ethel tells them the freak show is as good as it gets for people like them.

Jimmy worries to Elsa about the cops sniffing around the twins, but Elsa plans to tell them they've been with the show for a month and only found their mother when they went to check on her. Pepper paints Elsa's nails as she lounges.

Out on the road, a carful of young punks harasses Jimmy and a few other freaks by throwing bottles.

In the tent after dinner one night, a disheveled Penny the candy striper comes in ranting that she needs to go home. She says she was drugged and ravaged, but Elsa only laughs, reminding Penny she liked it. She shows Penny the 8 mm footage she's watching, showing a happy Penny, stoned out of her mind in an orgy with Jimmy and most of the other freaks. Penny admits she liked it, but then says she's going to tell everyone about the depraved monsters.

But Elsa lectures her that the bored, stifled housewives in town are the depraved ones.

Ma Petite comes in with Pepper and announces someone just bought out the whole show.

Ethel counts the money her son Jimmy made in his last evening of entertaining housewives. He's angry and ready to leave the show for a normal life. She tells him there is no normal for them, and to convince Dot and Bette to stay instead.

In their tent, Jimmy sees a police detective arresting the twins for murder. When the detective calls them monsters, Jimmy gets angry and whistles for back-up. The freaks arrive. As the detective lectures and calls them freaks, Jimmy takes out a straight-razor and slices his throat.

Dot thanks him for saving her and her sister.

Later that night, Dandy Mott and his mother Gloria are the only ones in the audience. He's snooty and entitled and she's enabling and accommodating. The show begins.

Ethel opens, introducing the man with hands for arms, Pepper and a man who looks just like her, and Ma Petite in a cage. Elsa takes the stage in a powder blue tuxedo and sings David Bowie's "Life on Mars." (Sample lyric: "Oh man! Look at those cavemen go/ It's the freakiest show.") She stands at a mike while the freaks perform behind her on trapezes, juggling, glitter flying through the air. It ends and Elsa feels terribly alone.

After the show, Dandy Mott finds Dot and Bette and propositions her. Back out front with Elsa, and Jimmy watching, his mother Gloria clarifies that they want to buy the girls. She'll go as high as $15,000. But Dot and Bette reject the offer, saying the show is their family. It's music to Elsa's ears. Gloria gets in a dig at Elsa before they go. "By far the most freakish thing of all tonight was your pathetic attempt at singing," Gloria mocks. Elsa tries to pretend it doesn't hurt her.

Later that night, the Ferris wheel turns without any riders and the Merry Go Round horses go up and down alone -- except for one scary solitary clown riding in the dark.

The freaks follow Jimmy in a grim procession to bury the detective. He gives a speech saying the detective was trying to take their right to be happy. "They want us monsters, well fine, we'll act like monsters," Jimmy rages, promising that anyone who messes with any one of them will end up like the detective. The freaks converge on the body, all wielding knives and begin hacking it to bits. Standing in the shadows, the clown watches.

Ethel brings Elsa her dinner in her tent, where she's smoking opium. Elsa confesses she didn't bring the twins to save the show, she brought them to save herself. She's hoping to finally become a star, like she's always wanted, and hopes it isn't too late.

Ethel gently takes the pipe from Elsa and assures her she'll become a household name.

Left alone, Elsa cranks up her phonograph and takes off her pantyhose, then her legs, which end below her knees.

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