We've seen a lot of disturbing things happen to a variety of characters on American Horror Story throughout the years, but Wednesday night's AHS: Freak Show episode "Test of Strength" really managed to test the strength of our own composure. You all remember Penny the Candy Striper, don't you? Pretty, in love with Paul, Meryl Streep's daughter. Yeah, that girl. Anyway, her dad was none to thrilled to hear she had plans to run off and join the circus, or rather sideshow in this case, so that she and Paul could live happily ever after. Unfortunately, he did not take to the idea very well. So much so that he asked his friend Morris, a tattoo artist to cover Penny's entire face with tattoos and cut a slit in her tongue. Why exactly? Well, you see that's the tricky part.
I'm not entirely sure what the purpose was in him doing this. Sure, it was absolutely horrifying to see a father willingly allow his daughter to be mutilated. But what exactly did this accomplish? Perhaps he felt that if she was going to live with the so-called "freaks" then she should become one herself? He mentioned how much his reputation as an electrician means to him, so I guess these tattoos could help camouflage the fact that they're related, thus ridding him of the shame of being associated with her. (I had no idea the electrician game was so intense in the '50s. The more you know!)
Still, I would've thought someone like him would try and lock his daughter up so she wouldn't leave, not transform her in such a permanent way. He didn't even try talking to her about his concerns. I don't know, it just felt like there were a lot of different options out there other than an ink makeover. Bottom line, though: this dude won't be winning any Father of the Year awards anytime soon. Also, where did Penny's father even come to meet a guy like Morris? Do they share the same barber or something? Does. Not. Compute.
Clearly, the purpose of this was for Ryan Murphy to shock us. Which… I'd say mission accomplished. However, it just would've been nice if at least the motivation of it all made sense. Like when Penny's father referred to the fact that she was waking up. How was she not awake through all of this?!?! I wasn't aware that tattoo artists also carried their own personal anesthesia kit. Or maybe it was chloroform. Either way, this guy must've been in boy scouts or something because he certainly came prepared.
But I doubt this little act is going to go unpunished. Given the promo we saw at the end of the episode, Penny will come back to pay daddy dearest a little visit, and I doubt it will be of a friendly nature. If his goal was to try and create a monster, he may just get his wish.
Images: Michele K. Short/FX