American Horror Story: Freak Show opened in Philadelphia at the American Morbidity Museum where Dr. Mansfield (Denis O’Hare) is attempted to sell a fake Baby Sasquatch alongside his partner in crime Ms. Rothschild (Emma Roberts). The proprietor, though calling Mansfield out on his fake specimen and fake degrees from Harvard, suggests that should he find something authentic, the Morbidity Museum would pay handsomely for it, and directs him and Rothschild to a freak show.

'AHS: Freak Show' Recap

At one of the last two freak shows in the country in Jupiter, Fla., Jimmy “Lobster Boy” Darling (Evan Peters) is mourning Meep’s death. Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) suggest they dedicate the night’s show to his memory, but Ethel (Kathy Bates) informs them that no freak show performs on a Halloween. Drowning in liquor after finding out she has at most a year left to live because of her cirrhosis of the liver, she recounts the story of the aristocratic Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley), who happened to have a second face on the back of his head that would talk to him. After finding some solidarity at a freak show, on Halloween he up and killed every “freak” in the place before hanging himself. Ever since, if a freak show performs on Halloween, one of the performers winds up dead.

While Elsa (Jessica Lange) is relaxing in her tent smoking opium on the default off day, she’s paid a visit by Ms. Rothschild, who is now going by the name of Esmeralda. Esmeralda claims to be a fortuneteller. When Elsa asks for her fortune to be read, she takes a look around the room and then sits down before her crystal ball and begins to tell Elsa exactly what she wants to hear: her career was stolen from her by Marlene Dietrich, but she’ll soon have her time to shine.

Meanwhile, the current stars at the Jupiter freak show – Bette and Dot – have gone to sleep. Bette wakes up in a panic, having had a nightmare that a doctor was about to performe surgery that would kill her in the interest of giving Bette the normal life she so desires. As it turns out, Dot was dreaming the same thing and was enjoying it so much she was reluctant to rise. Dot tells her sister that once it becomes possible, she hopes that dream will become a reality. Bette bursts into tears, not comprehending how her sister could do that to her.

In their private trailer, Desiree (Angela Bassett) tries to come on to her husband Dell (Michael Chiklis), but the Strongman has trouble getting it up. Del blames it on her coming on too strong, but she says he’s been giving her excuses for a while. He tries to manhandle her, but Desiree is having none of it and takes her booze outside. Del storms through the surrounding fields until he comes upon Ethel. Ethel tells him she’s dying and asks that he never tell Jimmy he’s his father, but to help guide him after she’s gone.

Dr. Mansfield tries to convince his wary accomplice to stick to the plan. He’s completely enthralled by the idea of getting the conjoined twins and he expects Rothschild/Esmeralda to kill them and bring them to him. There’s no question about what they’re going to do, only whether to pressure seal them or to keep them in formaldehyde. After the phone call, he gets naked with a “Viking God.”

Despite the protests of the freak show veterans, Dot and Bette decide to practice their act. They’re warned that even the slightest amount of performing could set Mondrake on them. Elsa interrupts their performance, not wanting to relinquish her headlining spot. In grand fashion, she performs, Lana Del Ray’s “Gods and Monsters,” which serves to summon Mondrake. Mondrake then begins his quest to find the perfect freak to join his undead troupe.

Mondrake first pays a visit to Ethel, delivering visions of previously slaughtered freaks before formally introducing himself. He tells her he’s there to add someone to his “coterie of freakish companions.” Ethel pleads with him to spare her. She then begins to tell him her life story, from Baltimore to Vaudeville to Europe and back. Her biggest and darkest shame was selling seats to watch her giving birth to Jimmy. “He’s never known anything buy exploitation right from the start,” she tells Mordrake. To Ethel’s surprise, Mordrake, acting on the advice of his second face, determines she’s “not the one.”

Also, the clown’s latest victim is the older brother of a little girl who harbors a deep fear of clowns. Desperately wanting the win the clown's approval, Dandy (Finn Witrock) cuts up the Howdy Doody costume his mother had the maid make for him to make himself a clown costume. Donning the garish ensemble, he pays a visit to the clown's trailer and begins to terrorize the little boy and young woman and helps him with his newest victim

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