His Dark Materials
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While the season's suspense is building nicely, "Test of Strength" is basically a filler episode that does nothing more than tease future tragedy.
It's an hour-long game of chicken, coming close to chloroforming Eve and braining Jimmy, but backing off at the last second.
[Penny's] briefly allowed to suggest what this series could've been all along, if it had bothered to plant roots, to develop a sense of stakes, and to tend to a long game.
American Horror Story sets its own conventions each season, but then it is constantly smashing them. It never gets us complacent enough to really shock us out of our complacency.
From the second "Test of Strength" begins, it is clear that someone is going to die.
The body count on Freak Show has been relatively light thus far -- certainly compared to the resurrection-happy Coven. Are we just being set up for a huge mass-murder of lead cast members in the back half of the season?
"Test of Strength" had some great moments and some time-wasting moments but overall I'm still glad that AHS: Freak Show exists and remains unpredictably maddening and/or wonderful from week to week.
"Test of Strength" may have mostly been power plays and backstabbing, but it was tight, focused and really helped Dell feel like a more present character.
"Test of Strength" feels like a series of barely-connected vignettes, to catch us up on what everyone has been up to.
It's possible the real "test of strength" referenced in this week's American Horror Story: Freak Show title is whether you can watch the last five minutes without covering your eyes.
As much as the episode benefits from a more singular focus, as opposed to the scattershot plotting of last week's offering, there are certain inconsistencies.
Obviously, the show still needs time to recover, but I have faith they'll get there- sooner or later, that is.
[Murphy] just keeps recycling everything over and over again, only changing the names and the backdrops each time to give the illusion that each season is fresh and new.