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Massacres and Matinees 

With a killer on the loose, police impose a curfew on Jupiter. Elsa hires a strongman, unaware of his dark past with Ethel.


Ryan Murphy (created by), Brad Falchuk (created by) | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Sarah Paulson ... Bette Tattler / Dot Tattler
Evan Peters ... Jimmy Darling
Michael Chiklis ... Dell Toledo
Frances Conroy ... Gloria Mott
Denis O'Hare ... Stanley (credit only)
Emma Roberts ... Maggie Esmerelda (credit only)
Finn Wittrock ... Dandy Mott
Angela Bassett ... Desiree Dupree
Kathy Bates ... Ethel Darling
Jessica Lange ... Elsa Mars
John Carroll Lynch ... Twisty the Clown
Skyler Samuels ... Bonnie Lipton
Naomi Grossman ... Pepper
Patti LaBelle ... Dora Brown
Jyoti Amge ... Ma Petite


Things aren't improving at the box office for Elsa. With the sudden rash of murders, people are afraid to go out at night and the town has announced a nighttime curfew until the killer is caught. Gloria Mott and her son Dandy attend a show but are not impressed. Ethel Darling, the bearded lady, is upset to see that her ex-husband Dell Toledo and his current wife Desiree Dupree arrive looking for work. Elsa takes them on and decides to let Dell run things. Jimmy decides to get rid of Dell by framing him for the murder of a police detective but it all goes horribly wrong. Gloria sees Twisty the Clown walking along the road and brings him home as a plaything for Dandy. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Horror | Thriller


TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

15 October 2014 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A drummer in several bands prior to becoming an actor, Mat Fraser did his own drumming for this episode. See more »


Dot Tattler sings "Criminal" in the twins's matinee debut. The show is set in 1952; Criminal was not written by Fiona Apple until 1997. See more »


Elsa Mars: No matinees. No, people don't come to see freaks in the heat of the day, they come in the evening, when the darkness moves in and speaks of mystery, the unknown. When logic loosens its vice grip and the imagination comes out to play. Night allows the stars to shine and we come alive. No, daytime is for kiddie shows, clowns and Kewpie dolls. Maybe that's what you're used to, but you're in a real freak show now, my freak show.
See more »


References Freaks (1932) See more »


Indian Love Call
Written by The Call
Performed by Sarah Paulson
See more »

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User Reviews

All tell, no show...still no captivating wonder
16 October 2014 | by ArchonCinemaReviewsSee all my reviews

After mixed sentiments regarding the American Horror Story Freak Show premiere, we brave on to episode two, titled: Massacres and Matinees.

Monsters Among Us had rich settings and lively characters but with more literal telling than ominous foreshadowing we had our mixed expectations and doubts for episode two. If anything can be told from the title, Massacres and Matinees, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk were sure to up the blood and performance.

After another disappearance and suspected murder is discovered, a citywide curfew is in effect, threatening to shut down the Freak Show. Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities gets a strong man and another 'freak' added to its lineup from another carnival. Spoiled and nastily tempered Dandy, played by Finn Wittrock, receives a ghastly gift from his doting mother Gloria, played by Frances Conroy. Elsa and the crew work toward putting on a better act to improve ticket sales and Bette and Dot earn their supper.

Again the set designers Adie Kaplan and Brian A. Waits, along with the rest of the art department, out-do themselves with further glimpses behind the curtain of the Freak Show. We even get to see the lavish mansion in which Dandy and Gloria Mott live, which gets highlighted further with beautiful framing from episode director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

Unfortunately Massacres and Matinees suffers the same ills as the premiere. All is literal with Freak Show, and nothing is a mystery, no dark allusions, gone are the nuanced implications to a marvelous season. It is incomprehensible as to why Murphy and Falchuk insist on shedding the spotlight on each character's seeded history rather than leaving breadcrumbs for a culminating final reveal. Unless the hindsight and genius are simply nowhere to be found.

Rather than compacting and centering the episode on a focal point, after the muddied and entangled first episode, each plot forges forward, intricately branching out in at least five directions. Massacres and Matinees follows the formula of attention grabbing opening sequence, time filler and then a hook at the end.

Freak Show lacks the clear viewpoint of a visionary with intention. Cheap tricks like modern music and murder scenes can only appease and subdue fans for awhile before the luster of 'what once was' wanes.

If the ending of the episode proves anything it is that next week's episode will be even further convoluted than the last.

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