Bullseye (American Horror Story)

"Bullseye"
American Horror Story episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 6
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by John J. Gray
Featured music "Wenn Du Mal In Hawaii Bist" by Marek Weber
"September Song" by Jessica Lange
"Auf Wiedersehen Baby Ich Vergeß Dich Nie" by Singing Babies
"Violin Sonata No. 1: III. Funebre: Lento Espressivo" by George Antheil
Production code 4ATS06
Original air date November 12, 2014 (2014-11-12)
Running time 51 minutes
Guest actors

"Bullseye" is the sixth episode of the fourth season of the anthology television series American Horror Story, which premiered on November 12, 2014 on the cable network FX. It was written by John J. Gray and directed by Howard Deutch.

Plot

Elsa (Jessica Lange) directs the carnie laborers to move a large colored wheel from prop storage into the big top. With a stuffed dummy strapped to the wheel, Elsa gives it a spin and practices throwing knives. Elsa explains that it is for her television program. Ethel (Kathy Bates) worries that with Elsa leaving and Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) missing that they won't have much of a show left, but Elsa promises that all of them will join her in Hollywood. The carnies have prepared a birthday party with gifts for Elsa, including lingerie and makeup. One surprise is Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge), encased in pink crochet and promising to keep her warm at night. Elsa notices the carnies are gloomy, and they respond that they miss the twins. Elsa is furious, saying that the girls betrayed them and ran off.

At Mott Manor, Gloria (Frances Conroy) has Dora's replacement present Dandy (Finn Wittrock) with a surprise gift under a cloche: prophylactics. She wishes to prevent whatever horrors may come from the union of their own inbred heritage and faulty genes of the twins. Dandy announces his love of the girls and intention to marry, imploring his mother to let him go.

Later, Elsa and Paul (Mat Fraser) are cuddling in her bed. She thinks that he is falling in love with her. They've been carrying on an the affair for some time. He dresses while she muses that he could visit her in Hollywood. He says he is flattered that she thinks so much of him. She asks for her "cuddle" and he carries Ma Petite to her bed. At the home of Penny (Grace Gummer), Paul has his second secret tryst of the night. With her, he is truly in love. He wants her to love him for more than just sex. Her father (Lee Tergesen) enters while Paul hides under the bed. He chastises her for recent behavior, including her absence while with the freaks, and claims he is trying to keep her safe. Later, Paul enters a drugstore, looking for a gift for Penny. Dandy enters and demands attention of the clerk and intimidates the druggist into refusing Paul service, Paul stands up for himself and leaves, spitting outside the door. Under the big top, Paul and Jimmy (Evan Peters) discuss the missing twins, and Paul relays that Dandy's purchases were suspicious: all girly items. When Paul mentions Elsa, Jimmy rushes to her defense. Paul tells him that Elsa is not the guardian angel she appears to be, and that Jimmy is lucky he can pass in society.

Bette writes in her diary of her joy at Dandy's affections. He rolls in a cart of gourmet foods, and feeds Bette caviar. They watch a film in the Motts' private theater. Dot is not so easily deluded about their captivity. Dandy reads to them about the surgically-separated Brodie twins, and Dot realizes that Dandy can fund such a surgery for them. If she plays along, she may get to realize her dreams of stardom and Jimmy. Later on, the twins read about the death of one of the Brodie twins. Dot has reservations. Dandy interjects that they shouldn't have secrets between them. Dandy tells them that he is the true hero behind the death of Twisty. He insists that Dot tell him a secret, but she refuses, saying that he lied about Jimmy's role. Dandy flies into a rage.

Stanley (Denis O'Hare) and Maggie (Emma Roberts) meet in the field. Maggie tells him that the twins are gone, and he says he needs a quick payday. He suggests cutting Jimmy's hands off. Maggie balks, but he urges her to seduce and kill him. She counters that Ma Petite is more of a quick and easy bet and describes her plan to get her.

Elsa serenades Paul with "September Song". He is looking for excuses to leave. She notices that he smells like perfume and demands to know who else he is sleeping with. He rebuffs her, saying that they are all there to serve her and counter-demanding to know what she has done with the twins. Outraged, she calls for all the carnies to be awakened. She brands them ungrateful and wants to confront her accusers. She guilt trips them by saying it was her who saved them all and tosses the empty boxes from her party, and is upset they don't trust her. She says they can prove their trust by volunteering for the wheel of death. Jimmy starts, but Paul interjects that it should be him. Paul is strapped into the wheel, Knives land near his shoulder, crotch, and finally deep into his bowels. The carnies hurry to get him medical attention, but Elsa is not so upset.

Penny tries to sneak away from the house, but is stopped by her father with a shotgun. She says that she is meeting the man she loves and he will have to shoot her to stop her. Maggie sneaks into Ma Petite's room and carries her off. When they reach a barn, Maggie says they are going to play a game and that the little lady should hide inside a jar like a butterfly. Maggie reluctantly prepares to pour in formaldehyde. Penny arrives at the freak show, looking for Paul. Elsa has him smoking opium for the pain. He knows that she didn't even call a doctor. Elsa admits that she wouldn't shed a tear for him because of his betrayal. Penny bursts in, wanting to know how long since the ambulance was called. Elsa says they are in no rush.

As morning comes, Ethel ices the birthday cake for Elsa, much to Jimmy's chagrin. He expresses doubt that Elsa is telling the truth about many things. Eve (Erika Ervin) is frantic that Ma Petite is missing, but both Maggie and Ma Petite return, saying they've been chasing fireflies. Maggie tells Jimmy that they should soon run away together. He says there is something he needs to do first and to have her bags packed. Maggie enters her tent to find an irate Stanley. He is infuriated that he has been cheated out of his prize in Ma Petite, and that her immediate backup plan must be to trade in Jimmy's hands.

Gloria brings an ailing and upset Dandy snacks. He has been reading their diaries. Dot wrote about her disgust and boredom with Dandy, and how she is using him for his money. Dandy cries while Gloria reads it aloud. Gloria suggests he dote on Bette instead and inspire envy in Dot. He responds that the twins nourished his soul, but that nothing is left inside him but a wasteland. Now, he says that he will know no mercy and accept his "emptiness" as a blessing, not a curse. He says his new purpose is to bring death. Jimmy stops by and talks to Gloria, claiming a friendship with Dandy. Dandy tells his mother to let him in, that Jimmy is there to retrieve the twins.

Ethel waits for Elsa with a slice of cake. Elsa muses that they are a kind of family. Elsa reveals that she had a sister who died in infancy, and that she only reminded her parents of their loss. Elsa crafted her own family and says she loved them all, but that Ethel is the sister she deserved. Ethel advises her that no-one trusts her anymore. Ethel swears that if she discovers that Elsa has lied about the twins, that she will kill her. Elsa's birthday wish as she blows out the candle is to just be loved.

Reception

Reviews

The episode received mixed to positive reviews from television critics. Matt Fowler of IGN wrote: ""Bullseye" wasn't bad at all, but it was sort of a flatliner when it came to providing thrills. The spinning wheel bit made for an interesting gambit, but it still seemed like it could have gone further. And while I like the prospect of Dot and Bette trying to separate themselves, their arc this week with Dandy felt a lot like filler. We'll have to see how everything shakes out with Dandy and Jimmy's pow wow."[1] Erik Adams of The A.V. Club gave the episode a A- rating, writing: "When "Bullseye" drops a chainsaw, it loses a pinky toe at most. This is the episode that's been waiting to fight its way out of Freak Show all along, catalyzing the season's potential energy into the genuine spectacle of histrionic freakouts and hypnogogic fantasy."[2]

Ratings

"Bullseye" was watched by 3.65 million viewers and was the highest rated cable broadcast of the night. The episode received a 1.8 ratings share among adults 18–49, down 0.3 from the previous week's episode.[3]

References

  1. ^ Fowler, Matt (November 12, 2014). "American Horror Story: Freak Show - "Bullseye" Review". IGN. 
  2. ^ Adams, Erik (November 13, 2014). """American Horror Story: "Bullseye. The A.V. Club. 
  3. ^ "Wednesday Cable Ratings: 'American Horror Story: Freak Show' Wins Night + 'South Park', 'American Pickers', 'Key & Peele' & More". TV by the Numbers. November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
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