Recap / Danny Phantom S 1 E 20 Control Freaks

The first season finale of Danny Phantom. Just as a strange rash of ghost burglaries begins, Circus Gothika comes to town — a dark, bizarre, creepy Circus of Fear led by a Repulsive Ringmaster named Freakshow. Sam couldn't be more thrilled (her parents, not so much) until she notices how weird her friend starts acting whenever he gets near the circus. By the time she learns all the performers are ghosts under Freakshow's Mind Control, he's already recruited their newest member — Danny Phantom.

Notable for introducing the show's only fully-human, fully-fledged villain.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Arc Words: Freakshow's fond of repeating "Cross over to the dark side" and "Unleash your dark side at Circus Gothika."
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Danny undergoes this obligatory superhero experience in this episode.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Danny catches Sam Superman-and-Lois style twice in this episode.
  • Circus Episode
  • Cool Old Lady: Sam is shown to get along a lot better with her grandmother than with her Happy and Peppy Gary and Betty-esque parents.
  • Easy Amnesia: Danny says at the end that his time under Freakshow's control is "all a blur."
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Danny's voice sounds just noticeably deeper when he's turned evil.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Danny's clearly doing this at several points but is never able to resist the crystal ball's influence for long.
  • Foreshadowing: During the climax, since Lydia stayed behind to attack the audience at the big top, she's not around when the crystal ball is broken and the ghosts are freed from Freakshow's mind control. Reality Trip reveals this would have had no effect on her.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Sam tries to reach the brainwashed Danny several times.
  • Magic Staff: Freakshow controls ghosts with a staff topped with a magic, glowing, red Crystal Ball.
  • Not a Morning Person:
    Sam: Ugh, I'm a creature of the night doomed to a family of morning people...
  • The Power of Love: Of course Danny's able to resist the mind control whenever Sam's in danger.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The color scheme of Circus Gothika.
  • Red Eyes! Take Warning: The eyes of all ghosts under Freakshow's control turn red.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Sam's parents start a protest against Circus Gothika for corrupting the minds and fragile psyches of their youth. The place turns out to be even more sinister, but not at all in the way or for the reasons they believe.
    Sam: How ironic is it that I'm stuck under house arrest while my parents go to a free Circus Gothika show?
    Tucker: Only slightly less ironic than the fact that they were right about it being evil...?
  • Shout-Out: Freakshow's design and make-up just scream "the Joker."
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Mild version clearly done with this trope in mind — Sam's and Danny's parents don't get along, and Sam's forbid her from seeing Danny again, even getting a restraining order against him.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Two cops have an amusing exchange after they catch Danny trying to stop a jewelry store robbery.
    Cop #1: Hey, wanna take this stuff and blame the ghost kid?
    Cop #2: (annoyed sigh) You're under arrest.