It is a credit to the show that I feel so strongly about it that I'm compelled to write. That is one of the few positive remarks you're going to get out of me for it. (Spoilers below.)
I get that I'm probably over-thinking this. Hell. I'm certain I'm over-thinking this. Don't care.
So yeah, fans of AHS should bloody well know (and I do mean bloody) to expect by this point in the show's 4th season. We get it. It's got gore, it's got murder, it's got… well, not suspense. But we'll get to that. It's greatest assets are its stellar cast, and its shameless love of shock value.
If only its writing and characterization were nearly so good.
Yes, some of its characters are clearly on their way to being fleshed out, breathing, 3-dimensional people we'll come to actually care about. Three or four immediately leap to mind.
The strongest hopefuls in that department are:
Jimmy Darling: A bright young man with a heart of gold, he's strong, willful, and not afraid to [clears throat] get his hands dirty to protect and provide for his fellows.
Bette & Dot Tattler: An inseparable duo, Bette and Dot have different desires and personalities that don't perfectly mesh. Dot wants a life in the limelight, I suspect that what Bette wants, more than anything else, is to be left alone.
Ethel Darling: A recovering alcoholic and bearded lady, she's seen a lot, been through a lot, and knows how to put the show's best interests first. Awesome. She's even good at looking after…
Elsa Mars, a fading never-was who still clings to dreams of stardom. The highest she's ever climbed was running her own freak show. Still. There's a little cunning there, grim determination, ego, and passion. This is a character.
This is not.
This is a cheap gimmick, wrapped around a wasted actor. There is nothing remotely scary about this murder clown, because he is exactly what he appears to be.
I've watched him through two episodes, and aside from one moment where his mask slips (and reveals exactly what I expected), he looks so perpetually fucking bored. (I suspect that's the actor, John Carroll Lynch, wondering what to do with so little material.) The only people in danger from this empty cliché are small children and the morons dumb enough to let him get within arms reach. Seriously.
I mentioned a lack of suspense: Suspense is knowing when there's a bomb under the table, and wondering when it could go off. Twisty is not a bomb under the table. There is no mystery to him: He walks into a scene, acts verrrrry slowly for a bit, and then attacks someone. Every. Single. Time. That is not suspense. That is a spin cycle.
There's the plot, which has so far been interesting. Freak show arrives in town, apparently on its last legs. The siamese twins are seduced into joining said show, days after one of them murders their oppressive mother. The Sheriff attempts to arrest them (also known as doing his job), and is murdered for his trouble.
In fiction, killing a cop is generally considered one of the stupidest crimes imaginable, because the other cops will leave no stone unturned in avenging their fallen comrade. Case in point: a shitload of other cops arrive and toss the tents, looking for evidence. They find it— the late Sheriff's badge— under the bed of one of the freaks.
Who put it under his bed? A Strong Man named Wendell Toredo. How'd he get the badge? Wendell found it after Jimmy planted it in his trailer. How'd Jimmy get it? Well, he killed the sheriff. (No word on shooting the Deputy, though.)
This would all be very tragic and very interesting, if the unwitting victim of their short stack of frame jobs was not 'Meep the Geek'.
This is Meep. Don't let his looks fool you.
This is not a character. This is a plot device wearing a blue chicken outfit. Meep kills baby chicks for a living, has the vocabulary of a Pokemon, and doesn't really understand anything about what's going on.
Meep is arrested on suspicion of murder, and literally does not last five minutes in jail before his cellmates murder him… because of reasons.
This show has so much potential going for it, so much juicy murder work to be done, and it spends it carelessly on… Meep. And Twisty. Two figurines who do exactly what's expected of them, and nothing more.
There are other characters involved, but they verge closer to the 'caricature' end of the spectrum, so they don't really warrant much attention right now.
*whew* Okay. Rant over. Vitriol, expended. Thanks for that.
[Edit: Let me be clear. I have a twisted, unhealthy love/hate thing going with AHS. I couldn't quit this show if I wanted to… and I don't. This show evokes strong feelings in its viewers, even if they hate it. That's a GOOD thing. A lot of shows risk coming off as blasé or forgettable. I don't think you're going to find anyone who watches AHS and doesn't have strong feelings about it, one way or the other.]