Show Stoppers (American Horror Story)

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"Show Stoppers"
American Horror Story episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 12
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Jessica Sharzer
Production code 4ATS12
Original air date January 14, 2015 (2015-01-14)
Running time 44 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Magical Thinking"
Next →
"Curtain Call"
American Horror Story: Freak Show
List of American Horror Story episodes

"Show Stoppers" is the twelfth episode of the fourth season of the anthology television series American Horror Story, which premiered on January 14, 2015 on the cable network FX. It was written by Jessica Sharzer and directed by Loni Peristere.


The Freaks hold a feast to welcome Chester (Neil Patrick Harris) as the new owner of the freak show, but after Elsa (Jessica Lange) asks him to leave her and the troupe alone, she reveals their true intentions. Maggie (Emma Roberts) reveals to Stanley (Denis O'Hare) that she told them everything he had done, outing him as a con artist and a murderer. They also reveal the head of the Museum of Morbid Curiosities curator; Lillian Hemmings (Celia Weston), whom Desiree (Angela Basset) had murdered for revenge. Stanley pleads with them to let him live, claiming Elsa isn't to be trusted, and that she was the one who murdered Ethel (Kathy Bates). The freaks ignore him and proceed to chase Stanley around the camp with weapons, presumably murdering him under a wagon.

Dandy visits the twins (Sarah Paulson) and warns them of Chester's dark past, but they demand him to leave after saying they don't trust him. Elsa introduces Jimmy (Evan Peters) to an old friend of hers, Massimo Dolcefino (Danny Huston), who intends on making him a pair of prosthetics just as he did with Elsa. In a flashback, Massimo tells them of how he went after the men who took Elsa's legs, and slaughtered them one by one. All except the leader that is, Dr. Hans Grüper (who also appears in American Horror Story: Asylum, mainly as the alias Dr Arthur Arden), who shot Massimo and tortured him until he was later released by a General.

The next day, Chester rehearses the new routines. The twins, now suspicious of Chester, admit they no longer want to be his assistants after he asks to saw them in two as part of his performance. When they leave Maggie volunteers to do the trick instead and enters the box. While hallucinating about his deceased wife and her lover, Chester rigs the trick so it can't be performed properly. Not realizing what he had just done, Chester saws Maggie in half, killing her. To the freaks dismay, they find her body and decide to bury her. Chester runs out of the tent to his room where he then "murders" Marjorie (Jamie Brewer) for making him commit all those atrocities.

Dot and Bette warn Elsa that she needs to leave immediately, as her monsters intend on killing her to avenge Ethel's murder. Desiree and the others raid Elsa's tent, but find that she's already gone. A bloody and distraught Chester walks into a police station and admits to a murder, revealing Marjorie to the confused officers.

Elsa meets with Dandy before she leaves town and receives $10,000 in exchange for the freak show. As Dandy revels on his new stage, he discovers a mutilated Stanley, who now resembles Meep. His arms are amputated stumps, his lower torso is completely missing and his tongue has been removed, in an obvious homage to the fate of Cleopatra at the end of Tod Browning's Freaks, which Elsa referenced at the feast before the freaks attacked Stanley.

Massimo delivers Jimmy his prosthetics, revealing wooden replicas of Jimmy's lobster claws. Jimmy calls them perfect, finally accepting himself for who he is.