American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.04: “Edward Mordrake: Part 2”

Wes Bentley as Edward Mordrake.

Freak Show is quickly becoming my favorite incarnation of American Horror Story. This episode was absolutely horrific, heart-wrenching, nightmare-inducing perfection. A day later, I’m reeling. It is hands down one of the best this series has produced over the last four years.

I am desperate for American Horror Story: Edward Mordrake. Wes Bentley is outstanding. Since Elsa (Jessica Lange) summoned Mordrake last week, he can’t leave until he claims a soul to join his hellish entourage. This week we’re treated to the unsavory pasts of Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins) and Paul the Illustrated Seal (Mat Fraser.) Turns out Suzi shanked a man and killed him (hello, femoral artery), and Paul became the monster everyone claimed he was. Fraser has magnificent acting skills and he really sells Paul’s story. How much of that is based in personal experience, I don’t know, but I’m sure a fraction of his “lowest moment” comes from his reality. Predictable, Mordrake’s demon-face leads him to Elsa.

Mordrake pulls no punches in questioning Elsa and pinpoints exactly what’s wrong with her mentality, her “delusional ignorance.” We saw the first cracks in the season premiere when Elsa revealed she was an amputee. I suspected a number of things about Elsa’s backstory, but I never expected what show writer Ryan Murphy pulled on us this week. She was a renowned dominatrix (or minette) in Germany (which seems to fit her character well), but the real shocker was that no accident robbed her of her legs.

Horror Rule No. 6: Don’t drink anything given to you by creepy guys.

I can see where Elsa latched on to her desperation for fame. She became the victim of a snuff film. The director had her chained to the bed and her legs taken with chainsaws. I can’t remember the last time a scene on a television show made me press my hands to my mouth in shock. Mordrake thinks she’s the one, but then a tiny toy piano melody catches his attention.

Guys, this is something I never thought I’d say four weeks ago: Twisty (John Carroll Lynch) stole this episode. As horrific as what happened to Elsa was, Twisty (and later, his apprentice), raised the bar on American Horror Story.

Jimmy (Evan Peters) and Esmerelda (Emma Roberts) find themselves witnesses to Twisty chasing down Bonnie (Skyler Samuels), our runaway girlfriend from episode one. Jimmy gets the bright idea to follow him to help the girl, which means he broke not one, but two horror rules:

Horror Rule No. 7: Don’t follow the evil clown.

Horror Rule No. 8: Walking onto the Murder Bus is never a good plan.

The missing brother from last episode foolishly asks if he’s going to die. Yeah, probably.

Cue Horror Rule No. 9: There is always an apprentice in the shadows.

I’ll get to Dandy (Finn Wittrock) in a minute.

Finn Wittrock as Dandy Mott.

Here we have Twisty, musical accompaniment to Dandy’s first “magic” act (of murder) attempting to saw Esmerelda in half, when Jimmy clocks him. The kidnapped people flee, Dandy in pursuit, leaving Twisty and Jimmy (in the Murder Bus) alone. I, for one, did not peg Mordrake finding Twisty. My gut reaction of “NO DO NOT REMOVE YOUR MASK” was immediately replaced by the most physically and emotionally uncomfortable twenty minutes of my life. I felt terrible. Twisty, before he was a filthy, blood covered clown, was a simpleton in a carnival. He loved his job and he loved the children. He was “a good clown… a good person.” The dwarves in the freak show decided to bully him, implying that he molested the children and the cops would come for him. He returned to Jupiter, Florida to find out his mother had died. He continued clowning, wanting to make toys for children and entertain, but faced continual and constant rejection.

The reason Twisty is missing his lower jaw is because he attempted to blow his head off. Never have I felt such a strong reaction. My jaw dropped and I definitely teared up. This was not the backstory I’d imagined at all. Twisty broke my heart, guys, and I’ve spent three weeks railing at him for being a murdering creepster.

Even with half his face gone, Twisty tried to be a good clown. In his mind, he was helping, taking children away from mean parents, and bringing them toys, and keeping them safe. THIS, right here, is amazing character development. The writers really knocked it out with Twisty. I am so impressed and horrified and stunned, and part of me is glad that Mordrake chose him. His face is restored and I hope he finds solace with his new comrades.

With Twisty dead, who do you think arrives to take up his murdering mantle? I think my friend Nikki said it best on Twitter last night:

And what does he do but put on Twisty’s half-mask. I know they billed Twisty as a clown scarier than Pennywise, but they really, deeply, underestimated Dandy’s creep-factor. Dora (Patti LeBelle), fearless, lovely, unafraid Dora, at last gets the ending I knew she would. I’m glad she went down calling Dandy on his bullshit, but I am going to miss her so much.

Patti LaBelle as Dora.

Damn Finn Wittrock and that perfectly disturbing spontaneous giggle at the end. I am terrified. Please, someone, take this as an easy DIY/last minute costume and dress up as Dandy Mott. On second thought, don’t. And pretty much avoid any and all clowns, especially ones asking you “trick or treat?”

In breaking American Horror Story news, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka will be joining the cast (which is awesome because I might want Neil to play a sinister magician), and Lily Rabe will be returning as her Asylum persona, Sister Mary Eunice. She will be second character to cross AHS chapters, the first being Pepper, also from Asylum, played by Naomi Grossman.


Meghan Harker grew up in a small, awkwardly-named town in Georgia. She attended Brenau University, where she earned her BA in English and a minor in Graphic Design; she also attended the University of Cambridge, England, where she didn't quite master the perfect Oxbridge accent. She's an avid reader, writer, and fire spinner. She's currently working her first novel, a paranormal thriller. Visit her blog at ExquisitelyOdd.com.

Read all posts by Meghan Harker for Criminal Element.

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