It’s just another week at the "Freak Show" – hermaphrodites and strongmen and clowns, oh my!

Here Come the New Folks: New faces arrive at Fraulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities, including Dell the Strongman (Michael Chiklis) and his wife Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett), a hermaphrodite with three breasts. They're on the run from Chicago, where Dell killed a guy for having an affair with Desiree, because – and this is a plot point that comes up frequently – he has a serious temper. Because he is, you know, a Strongman. Dun dun dunnn.

Jimmy, who to this point seems to have been the quote unquote "man of the carnival" despite the fact that he seems to be around 25, immediately dislikes Dell, who he thinks is too busy trying to take over the show with his plans for matinees and insistence that the cast keep away from townies to boost ticket sales.


This is problematic for several reasons, one of which being that Dell is actually Jimmy's father (cue rather terrifying flashback where it looks like Dell's about to kill his own child for crying), the other that Jimmy is on a rather vocal crusade to prove that freaks are just like everyone else, with the same problems and worries as regular people and, consequently, should be able to go out and eat at the diner and have normal lives just like anyone.

But the city-wide curfew means that no one can visit the carnival at night, and Dell's super aggressive with Elsa and Jimmy and anyone else that tries to defy him on the matinee issue. So, if you'd like to start putting your bets in on who Dell will murder with his bare hands before this season's over, feel free.

The Season’s Tonal Shift: For those who’ve been hoping for a return to the sassy camp that was the hallmark of last season’s "Coven"installment, well, you’re going to probably find yourself disappointed again this week. While there are certainly elements of "Freak Show" that are ridiculous to the point of being laugh-out-loud funny – see the scene featuring Frances Conroy’s Gloria Mott asking a dirty, ragged clown she finds wandering on the side of the road if he does children’s parties  – this season is dark, dark, dark. Basically: It’s "Asylum" with a prettier coat of paint on top.

Everyone's a freak, in some way, and everyone has a secret. Whether it's the folks who actually work for Elsa, coping with who they are by living among others like themselves, or people like the Motts, who ostensibly have everything, but are driven to intense helicopter parenting and renting street clowns because their privileged lifestyle is just oh so boring.

Dandy, who for some unfathomable reason Twisty decides not to kill when he has the opportunity to do so, is just as twisted as anyone in a carnival, helping the Killer Clown recapture the human souvenirs that escaped from his murder trailer and looking excited about the fun they can have. Even the wallpaper characters we see in other scenes – the patrons at the diner Jimmy takes his coworkers to – are all equally monstrous in the way they react to seeing the “monsters” up close.

Elsewhere, Elsa's been fairly nonchalant about Dell taking over her carnival, changes her mind as soon as she sees that he's made her something like fifth billing on the fliers promoting their act. Suddenly, she's okay with Plan Get Rid of Dell.

However, she remains nonplussed in the face of Jimmy's confession that he murdered a cop and is surprisingly fine with his plan to frame someone else for his crime. (Surprise: it's Dell!) Unfortunately, Jimmy is a terrible planner, as Dell realizes what's up almost immediately and moves the evidence in time to frame another freak.

Now, I can’t say I’m going to be sorry to not see the Geek biting the heads off live animals on my TV screen ever again (Yiiiiikes!), but still: watching a kid, clearly in terror and confused about what was going on, get beaten to death for a crime he didn’t commit is rather upsetting.

Jealousy’s Not a Good Look on Anyone: Anachronistic contemporary music made another appearance this week, as Bette and Dot worked on discovering what talent they could use in Elsa’s show. While Bette is the one who dreams of stardom, it’s Dot who has the actual talent, whipping a crowd of boys into a mosh pit frenzy via her rendition of Fiona Apple’s "Criminal."

Are we meant to find connections between the songs used this season? On the surface, Apple would seem to have little in common with Davie Bowie, whose "Life on Mars" was used to such great effect last week. But, either way, her performance is enough to unnerve Elsa, whose worst nightmare is coming true in front of us – that one of her monsters is going to outshine her as a performer.

Meanwhile, Bette is busy having her own dark night of the soul over the fact that it turns out her sister’s the one who seems poised to become a star, not her, when that’s been the one thing that’s always been her dream. Of course, Elsa’s right there to encourage her to hate the crap out of Dot and sow general seeds of distrust and discord. She insists that Bette’s the one with all the talent, really, and leaves her with a little present that looks a whole lot like a knife.

What happens if you're having a familial throw down with a family member that's actually attached to you? Looks like we're going to find out.

Moment I Actually Jumped Out of My Seat: Twisty the Killer Clown hiding beside actual clown statues was a moment of genuine fright, and a nice callback to virtually every horror movie you've ever seen.

Moment I Feel Kind of Bad About Laughing At: Dandy Mott’s weird obsession with his "The King and I" puppet set was downright hilarious. As a newcomer to "AHS," Finn Wittrock’s seemed a bit like he’s trying too hard thus far, but hopefully now that the story seems to have embraced his obvious crazypants tendencies, he can become more interesting. Runner up: Desiree explaining some of the more graphic talents she’s seen performed at Mexican freak shows. I’ll pass on the demonstration, please, Ryan Murphy, thanks lots.

I’m a Fan of Evan Peters, But: "Coven" aside (Kyle was just a useless waste), Peters consistently does some of the best work of any of the "AHS" cast who isn’t named Lange or Paulson. However, if we could engineer this season so we never have to see Jimmy cry and/or emote-scream in rage again that’d be awesome, because Peters is kind of terrible at it, and an ugly crier to boot.

Still on the Slow Path: Despite the addition of a couple new faces, we're still not even up to a full cast of regulars – no sign of Emma Roberts or Denis O'Hare as yet.

Interesting Callbacks of the Week: I never know how much "American Horror Story" wants us, as the audience, to draw parallels between the current season and those that have come before us. But it’s hard not to consider how similar Elsa’s response to Dot’s singing was to Fiona Goode’s realization that one of the "Coven" girls was a Supreme rising, and it certainly seems interesting to think about why the characters played by Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett both seems to be set at odds with one another (and over a man again, in a roundabout parallel).

Do these things mean something or are they just fun for fans? We'll have to wait and see.