American Horror Story: Freak Show – Season 4, Episode 6: “Bullseye”

Elsa Mars and Dandy Mott are two of the most bothersome antagonists to be crafted by the American Horror Story series, and yet the nature of their misdeeds is in stark opposition. “Bullseye” exposes Elsa’s villainy as a conscious choice, whereas Dandy’s seems to have hereditary roots. Intriguingly, the twins function as the catalyst that divulges these rivaling temperaments.

Elsa’s true colors start emerging in “Massacres and Matinees,” when the twins prove to be more formidable competition than Elsa had imagined. Instead of the benevolent savior that she presents herself as, the real Elsa emerges as fame-hungry and selfish. When the twins actually threaten her hypothetical television career, she shifts from mere jealousy to action by dumping the girls at Casa de Mott. This move reveals a new and more unstable Elsa, and Paul the Illustrated Seal is really the only one to notice how much of a hazard Elsa has become. He tells Jimmy so much by commenting that she is “a jealous broad at the end of the line who’d kill anyone or anything that got in the way of her one last shot at it.” This sentiment is confirmed by Elsa herself through her command of the bullseye wheel and daggers. It is meant to look like “fate” when Paul is struck, but the assault was clearly intended. In her opening monologue, she relates, “I control my fate. I have survived because I know one must be willing to destroy anyone, anything – even the things you love – to keep the gods in check.” While her relationship with Paul appears strictly sexual, she feels betrayed upon learning of his girlfriend, and even more betrayed when she realizes that everyone suspects her in the “nefarious” disappearance of the Tattler twins. She has to kill Paul – or at least attempt to; time will tell. She has to keep the gods in check.

Conversely, Dandy feels no control over his destiny following his time with the twins. He experiences a similar betrayal to the one between Elsa and Paul, but there are some key variations. Hopefully we will soon learn more details surrounding the Mott family genealogy, but for now we are aware the Dandy is the result of inbreeding and Gloria does not want an already soiled gene pool mixing with that of conjoined twins. She presents Dandy with a platter of prophylactics, but he seemingly has no interest in sex. In fact, his intentions are considerably innocuous by Dandy’s standards:

[blockquote source=Dandy Mott”]I would never violate those girls. I love them. I didn’t think I could feel love until I met them. My heart was lost, and it took a woman with the vision of four eyes to find it, and the love of two hearts to give it back to me . . . I’m going to marry those girls, Mother. We’re going to be together forever.[/blockquote]

Dandy affiliates sex with violation and love with marriage (see my previous discussion “Tighty Whities and the Duality of Dandy Mott”). Regardless, he does manage to violate Dot’s privacy by breaking into her diary and thereby breaking his heart. Much like Elsa learns of the camp’s mistrust towards her, Dandy learns what Dot really thinks about him. She is only tolerating Dandy for his money. She does not love him. While Dandy’s response initially mirrors Elsa’s – raging around and knocking things over – he gradually moves into a display of legitimate emotion. Kudos to Finn Wittrock for so convincingly conveying the difference between the two. We can see in Dandy’s eyes what we cannot see in Elsa’s. Then again, we’re not meant to see anything authentic behind Elsa’s facade.

Upon reading the diary, Dandy’s world shatters and he realizes what he truly is:

[blockquote source=”Dandy Mott”]Those girls were a cool stream of glacier water. My heart bloomed as they nourished it. And now it’s all gone. There is nothing left but the dust and the scorpions inside of me. I was never destined to feel love . . . I know why I was put here, Mother. My purpose it to bring death.[/blockquote]

Dandy actually believed that Dot and Bette were his salvation. He felt normal with them and assumed that they could develop their own brand of the picket fence. How quaint – conjoined twins and an inbred sociopath living together in marital bliss. He now fully acknowledges that he can never have that type of life. He fully grasps, and even embraces, what he is; his internal “freak” is beyond his control. Elsa speaks of manipulating fate. Dandy speaks of accepting destiny. Nothing good can come from either standpoint.

Freak Show has been precisely crafting a parallel between Elsa and Dandy since the first episode of the season, but “Bullseye” confirms that it is a parallel of opposition. Surprisingly, Dandy emerges as someone at least vaguely worthy of compassion, whereas Elsa is only further established as a cold-hearted bitch.

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