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Blinded by the Light
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The dark themes of "Massacres and Matinees" are reminiscent of themes of season two, only more vibrant this time around.
Twisty is my least favorite part of the season so far, but the throat-clenching tension of "Massacres And Matinees"'s cold open uses John Carroll Lynch's character to marvelous effect.
This show needs some butching up, but when it happens, the patriarchy invades and tries to destroy everything that we've come to love.
The second episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show allows us to leisurely soak in the considerable atmospherics of Elsa's (Jessica Lange) financially imperiled Cabinet of Curiosities.
The novelty and newness of the season premiere has worn off, the world building has mostly subsided, and the show has to start digging into its mystery and plotting. To say that's been a sore spot for much of the FX series' run would be accurate.
The second episode of Freak Show was directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, whose sensibility is garish and loopy but also precise and formalist, like Wes Anderson directing a snuff film.
"Massacres and Matinees" was both scary and relaxed and set up a lot of very compelling threads that will probably be tugged on for the next few episodes.
As early as it may be in the season, I'm enjoying the Freak Show characters and story.
It's probably way too early to make a judgment call on this season of the show so far, but it's essentially a slightly lighter-toned version of season two, aka Asylum, only much more colorful.
This season is dark, dark, dark. Basically: It's "Asylum" with a prettier coat of paint on top.
In the early going anyway, Freak Show is more concerned with serving up a series of indelible moments than connecting them via a strong, compelling narrative. And that's okay for now.
"Massacres and Matinees" not only introduces new characters in a way that makes sense, but also gives us far more depth into the character dynamics.
But - again, compared to other seasons - they're letting this one take its time... We sense some confidence in the scripts this time, as if people know exactly where they want to go and how they're going to get there.