Near the end of “Tupperware Party Massacre,” Regina and a police officer go to confront Dandy, who has just admitted to murdering Regina’s mother (and also expressed the benefits of bathing in blood). He proclaims that he has seen god, and that he was in the mirror, furthering Dandy’s sense of disillusionment and flat-out insanity. Yet, he shows his godlike power and prowess of puppetry, by offering the police officer a million dollars to kill Regina and work for him. Without hesitation, almost as if Dandy has suddenly possessed the man of the law, the officer turns his gun and puts a bullet through Regina’s head. At that moment, Dandy IS god, but it’s not for the reasons he believes. It’s not because he now routinely fills a bathtub with blood and wades in his crimes, it’s really because of the money, but he doesn’t realize that.
“Tupperware Party Massacre” is all about the godlike power that people can hold over others, using love, power, money, etc. It’s also one of the most jumbled, confused and strange for strange sake episodes of Freak Show so far.
The most unbalanced part of all this is the power Stanley holds over a larger and larger part of the Freak Show each week. He’s manipulating Elsa with illusions of grandeur, while they both try to convince the Tattler sisters to basically kill themselves. Meanwhile, he’s blackmailing Dell over his interest in men. At this point, Stanley is the most unintentionally comical character of the show, most notably in the weirdest scene so far this season, where he shows Dell his “gift,” then asks Dell is he wants to touch it, saying “secrets are fun.” It’s so childish and weird, and doesn’t really fit into any larger point, besides the vain nature of Stanley. The power of Stanley has led Dell to attempt his own hanging, and it’s a genuinely sad scene, with Ethel’s memory haunting even his own suicide. His suicide note to Jimmy is also incredibly depressing. Considering how monstrous we’ve seen Dell get, his vacillating nature between evil and sad, misguided man highlights the fact that we actually care if Dell does die. This is a testament to how far AHS has come this season.
Stanley’s power over Esmerelda and the Tattler sisters also makes things incredibly awkward for Jimmy, who has his worst episode by far. Now he’s drinking away his problems, as well as feeding Ima, and “finding comfort in her bosom.” Now yes, Jimmy has always been a confused character, wanting to have a real life, but also not wanting to abandon his freak show family, but his flying from one woman to another this season is not only borderline obnoxious, it’s boring. First it was Dot, then Esmerelda, momentarily with Desiree, and now Ima. This episode, Dot and Bette both decline the operation to separate themselves in order to make Dot happy with Jimmy, but then Jimmy throws off her advances in order to go back to Esmerelda. Oh yeah, and he is still drunkenly pleasuring the women of the Tupperware group.
At the very least, his involvement with Dandy makes Jimmy interesting once again. After drunkenly yelling to Dandy that he knows what he did, Dandy vows to destroy everything Jimmy loves. And when you’re god, you can do that type of thing. Dandy goes so far as to murder the entire Tupperware Party, moments after Jimmy leaves, framing Jimmy for the crime at the end of the episode. Good! At least Jimmy has something to do, other than switch between women again.
As of right now, Dandy has the most focus, with the other characters feeling like they’re floating around in whatever way to support his story. For example, I had no idea where the Tattlers were until this episode, and frankly I didn’t care. Sarah Paulson’s performance while the two decide to stay connected is quite excellent, but then their motivations for going back to Jimmy just doesn’t work. Bette says she can close her eyes and “go away” if Dot and Jimmy want to have some alone time together, but when Dot and Jimmy start kissing, Bette joins right in, as if that was what was decided. That could’ve been a great opportunity to reintroduce the split-screen Tattler POV that the show used to employ.
“Tupperware Party Massacre” takes Freak Show one step closer to what has plagued American Horror Story seasons in the past, with strange and uncharacteristic character choices, and an abundance of sexual and violent imagery just because—why the hell not? This season has used sex and violence sparingly to be very effective, but with this episode, it just doesn’t feel like it fits. Freak Show has been much better balanced than previous seasons, so hopefully this isn’t the part where things start to go to hell.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.