American Horror Story: Freak Show is set in Jupiter, Fla., in 1952, where Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) has gathered a collection of individuals to be put on display and perform for an audience captivated by their strangeness.

American Horror Story: Freak Show Recap

Freak Show opens with a milkman making a delivery to a house out on a farm. Before he can drop off the milk, he finds an older woman who has been murdered and proceeds to go upstairs to investigate. There, he finds conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson). From the onset, it’s apparent that Bette is the more outgoing and flirtatious of the two, while Dot is more reserved and guarded, personalities different enough to cause plenty of tension.

Upon hearing about the twins, Elsa manages to convince the local candy striper (Grace Gummer) to get her in to visit with Bette and Dot. During the meeting, Bette showed her delight in making the acquaintance. Dot, however, was duly guarded about the stranger who was showing so much interest in them – even asking them if anyone had every “tasted [their] cherry pie.”

While Bette and Dot continued to chat with Elsa, at a nearby lake, a girl and her boyfriend were aruguing about whether or not to have sex. She was all for it; he was afraid it would result in a baby. When the girl says she has condoms, the guy goes off to the car and ends up meeting Freak Show’s ultimate villain, a clown. When the girl wakes up, she finds her boyfriend dead.

Following her meeting with the twins, Elsa sought out some sustenance at a diner, where she perused a copy of The Jupiter-Tequesta Inquirer. As she reads and opines about the entertainment industry, she bumps into one of her “freaks,” Jimmy “The Lobster Boy” Darling (Evan Peters). It turns out that Jimmy, despite his deformity, is quite a hit with the sexually frustrated women of Jupiter, who happen to be fans of his unusual appendages.

Bette and Dot will soon be joining Jimmy Darling and Elsa’s band of entertainers, but first they share with Elsa how they came to murder their mother. Apparently, Eudora Tattler wouldn’t allow Bette and Dot to go see Singin’ in the Rain at the Majestic in West Palm, which greatly irritated Bette, who was tired of living a cloistered life. In a fit of rage, she murdered her mother. Though Dot was initially terrified, she agreed to help Bette cover up the murder and was ultimately happy to be free of her. The two sisters might agree that they’re better off without their mother, but they definitely disagree when it comes to the Freak Show. Through voice over diary entries, Bette shares her absolute excitement about her future. Dot, meanwhile, believes that she’s just entered “new depths of despair.”

Bearded lady Ethel (Kathy Bates) is introduced as something of the Freak Show sage, while it’s revealed that the candy striper also participates in the show. When she begins to complain that she was drugged and taken advantage of by Jimmy it's soon revealed that it was an opium-filled orgy that the candy striper liked – though she still felt like Jimmy and his pals were monsters. Elsa then responds with the show's thesis:

“Ill tell you who the monsters are. The people outside this tent. In your town. In all these little towns. Housewives pinched with bitterness, stupefied with boredom, as they doze off in front of their laundry detergent commercials and dream of strange erotic pleasures. They have no souls. My monsters—the ones you call depraved—they are the beautiful, heroic ones. They offer their oddity to the world. Everyone is living the life they choose. But you—you, undoubtedly, would be one of those soulless monsters. Perhaps you already are."

Elsa’s biggest trouble at the moment is that TV is hurting the live entertainment industry and the Freak Show has been taking a massive financial hit. On the verge of getting kicked off their land, Elsa thinks that the twins might help her save the day. At first it looks like they won’t entertain the idea, and things get further complicated when a detective detains them for their mother’s murder. But saving the day, Jimmy sets them free after cutting the detective’s neck open. A love triangle between the twins and Jimmy is established.

In the end it’s revealed that Elsa has a second motive for bringing Bette and Dot to her Freak Show. She hopes they’ll work like bait, luring in an audience that will come to watch her and finally make her a star.

Freak Show airs Wednesday nights on FX at 10/9c.

Read more about: