Warning: This recap contains storyline and character spoilers for this week's "Bullseye" episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Basically everything that happened in this week's installment of American Horror Story: Freak Show reinforced the cold hard truth the Tattler twins learned last week: Elsa is running this show and you'd be wise not to forget it. Or get in her way. Or question her authority or her decisions. Or, above all else, steal her thunder and get in the way of her second act.
Now that the alpha female has disposed of whom she perceived to be the biggest threat to her small screen comeback, she can spend her down time revisiting old skills like throwing knives at a person tied to a spinning wheel. Elsa told her monsters that Bette and Dot made a run for it through a backdoor at the dress fitting like an "ungrateful hydra."
Trouble is, a handful of the freaks aren't buying her story and all of them were down in the dumps about the Tattlers sudden disappearance. It didn't make for a very festive birthday party for their ringleader. Even their presents — like turning Ma Petite into a living hot water bottle — didn't please her. When Elsa finally lost her temper, she demanded they "start having fun this instant" and reminded them the sisters were the ones being "selfish" by abandoning their new family.
Meanwhile, Elsa's good times continued, though in the privacy of her tent, when it was revealed that Paul the Illustrated Seal is her secret lover. While she doesn't want anyone to know about their dalliances, she can't imagine hitting the Golden State without him and spitballs a plan where he is her lover and her driver unless she has a normal suitor coming around. At that point, he becomes the chauffeur only. He placates her saying, "I'm flattered that you would even give me a parting thought." She replied, "You do know how to please me."
Related: Jessica Lange on Playing Elsa's 'Contradictions,' Singing Bowie, and her 'American Horror Story' Future
But Paul's heart is elsewhere apparently as he has been carrying on an affair with Penny the candy striper since the whole group orgy and opium smoking incident. He told her he loves her and wants her to get to know him before they resume the physical element just as her overprotective dad barged in, forcing him to hide under the bed. When he went into town to buy her perfume, he ran into Dandy buying doubles of various women’s products including headbands. When he tried to do a little detective work, Dandy flipped and got him thrown out of the store by accusing him of being a thief.
The erratic encounter got Paul questioning Elsa's story once again. First, he voiced his suspicions to Jimmy (Evan Peters) who mostly shook them off. "Elsa has a dark heart for sure, but she saved everyone of us," Jimmy reasoned. Paul countered, "You can pass [in public, so] from your position Elsa looks like a guardian angel, but from where I’m sitting I see a jealous broad near the end of the line who’d kill anyone that got in the way of her one last shot."
Next, he confronted the grande German dame himself after she busted out a little Tony Bennett, with "September Song." He was trying to make a quick exit before sexy time that night, but she smelled the other woman’' perfume on him and demanded to know who he'd been with. When he refused to identify his secret lover, it turned into a blowout where he notified her that the general consensus among the curiosities was that she "did something nefarious" to the twins.
Related: 'American Horror Story: Freak Show' Cast On and Off the Red Carpet
He, of course, was correct: Elsa sold them to Dandy and his mom who had tried to buy them earlier this season. Dot likens their stay to servitude and only becomes interested in living there as a means to a surgical end. (This flash forward — where we see that she's been surgically separated from Bette, survived, and reunited with her crush Jimmy — works a lot better as a storytelling technique than many of the show’s previous ones.) Bette is smitten as she usually is with the young man. Dandy has been on his best behavior with the girls and spoils them at every turn. He even shunned the condoms his delusional mom offered to him saying, "I’m not going to violate those girls. 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 them."
Don't start ringing the wedding bells just yet, as Dandy appeared to fall back on his psychotic ways and soon threw a temper tantrum when Dot wouldn’t let him read her diary. He also lied about being the one who killed Twisty and saved the kids. When the twins were out of their room, Dandy broke into the journal and read a litany of horrid things about himself. It pushed him right back over the edge from whence he came. "Those girls were a cool stream of glacier water. My heart bloomed as they nourished it. I was never destined to feel love. I must accept this emptiness as a blessing not a curse. My purpose is to bring death."
As if on cue, Jimmy showed up to investigate just as Dandy had his epiphany and slipped a knife in his belt, but we'll have to wait and see what kind of reception lobster boy finds at Mott Mansion next week.
Elsa still wasn't finished with her rampage. She gathered the troops again and demanded that one of them get up on the wheel to prove they still trust her. Paul volunteered and took a knife to the stomach, which she claimed was pure fate and an accident but the injury seemed incredibly calculated. And if there was still a doubt, know that she also conveniently "forgot" to call the doctor to look at him, and instead plied him with drugs until Penny showed up looking for him. The freaks sat vigil for their pal while Ethel presented Elsa with her birthday cake. Her wish was to be loved, and she wondered out loud how these people she saved could accuse her of awful things. Counters Ethel: "Faith and loyalty can only take people so far. If I ever found out you were lying or did wrong by those girls, I’ll kill you with my own two hands."
What do you think — is Paul gonna pull through? Will Dandy relinquish the ladies or fight to the death? Will Ethel ever have to make good on that deal?
American Horror Story: Freak Show airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.