‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Episode 4 Recap: “Edward Mordrake: Part 2”

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This, the most genuinely scary episode yet, was much more fitting for Halloween. Part two of the Edward Mordrake story opens with a plume of his green smoke as he and his second demon face interview all of the freaks about their pasts, and find out why they are where they are. We learn about Paul and Suzi, their history in dealing with the injustices of un-ordinary people, but they aren’t who Mordrake is looking to add to his collection of freaks. No, at first, that seems to be Elsa.

Elsa is hilariously ignorant of the fact that Mordrake is not a talent agent. When he tells her who he is and what he wants with her, he commands his errant undead freaks to rip off her fake legs, and then we get into Elsa’s backstory — “her misery, her true darkness.” It’s Berlin 1932. “The citizens of Germany expressed their misery with their cock,” Elsa says, and she was on the receiving end of a lot of misery.

Elsa’s flashback is maybe the most graphic look at BDSM that’s ever aired on cable television. She puts a leash on a client and forces him to sit on a nail-studded toilet seat. (I may have gasped audibly.) Eventually, she became a star in snuff films. “They said I made the men ejaculate gold.” That was until, on a certain film set, Elsa was drugged and tied up. Then, a group of men wearing stockings over their heads chainsawed her legs off.

When Elsa finishes her story, Mordrake’s demon face says she is the one, and Elsa begs him to take her — to kill her. But Mordrake starts to hear the music of a melodica, and decides he isn’t done interviewing potential candidates.

Meanwhile, Jimmy and Maggie (that’s Emma Roberts’ fake psychic/con artist) run out of gas near Twisty’s bus prison, where the captive woman has mounted an escape. Jimmy and Maggie see Twisty recapture the woman, and they go to investigate. While they peer through the windows of the bus, Dandy the Clown comes up from behind and knocks the both of them out. Finally, it seems Dandy has done something with himself.

Dandy and Twisty quickly set up their own ramshackle freak show, with Maggie in one of those magic saw-them-in-half boxes and Twisty pounding away at the melodica. As Maggie is just about to be sawed in half by Dandy, Jimmy knocks him out and sends everyone scattering. Dandy chases after Maggie, but Jimmy is recaptured by Twisty. He’s taken back to the bus. It’s there, with Twisty about to impale Jimmy with his shears, that Mordrake appears.

Mordrake forces Twisty to take off his mask, and we see his deformed, maimed maw. He tells his story, which began with him as a regular, traveling clown — though it’s revealed he was never exactly the smartest guy of the bunch. (His mom dropped him on his head. “Too many cocktails,” he says, far too sweetly.) A bunch of the freaks in the show, maybe motivated by their own pedophilia(?), where he worked taunted him, told him the police were coming for him because he molested children (even though he hadn’t).

Eventually, Twisty returns to Jupiter because he can’t work as a clown. He’s at his wit’s end, so he tried to kill himself by with a shotgun, except he couldn’t. He just shot off his mouth. Still, he created his iconic mandible and tried to go back to clowning. But, “The children forgot that they loved me,” he says. “The freaks were stealing them just like before.” So, that’s why he kidnapped them, with the girl supposed to be the child’s babysitter.

When he finishes his (surprisingly touching) story, the demon face weeps, and Mordrake kills Twisty. His spirt gets up, his mouth back in tact, and he and Mordrake and his new family wander off into the darkness.

Soon after, Dandy comes upon Twisty’s dead body, takes the fake jaw for himself, and walks off into the woods, probably set upon keeping the killing streak of Twisty alive — by killing Patti LaBelle.

After everything is settled, police interview Jimmy and Maggie, and things seem to be going well, with Maggie rightfully giving Jimmy the glory for breaking up the horrorshow that Dandy had planned. Jimmy, on the other hand, insists on making a point to the detective, reassuring him that the death of Meep is going to be avenged. So it’s like, did Jimmy just jeopardize the freaks’ chance at being accepted by the greater population?

Turns out no, he didn’t, because the whole town arrives to the grounds of the freak show with brownies and cakes and a whole, lovely Pleasantville vibe about them. Elsa takes advantage of the crowd, announcing the show for the night now that the curfew is over (because Twisty is dead!), and Dell harrumphs out of his tent toward the scene, obviously not happy that Jimmy is getting so much of the attention of the crowd.

The episode closes with the entrance of Stanley (that’s Dennis O’Hare’s con-artist, buddies with Maggie), dressed up as a would-be talent agent. This is the suited man Elsa was promised by Maggie when she had her fortune read. And this, along with Dandy, is probably going to be the main conflict in the episodes to follow. (Alas, no musical performance this week. Bummer.)

It’s interesting that Twisty was eliminated so early on in the season’s run, but it’s not surprising. AHS has always plowed through so many plots in a season, but Twisty was one of the more intriguing aspects of this year. Luckily, the writers orchestrated these two background-heavy episodes just before they took out Twisty, who was the most immediately gripping thing about an otherwise middling start to the season. It’s a shame he’ll be disappearing along with Wes Bentley, too, who was sadly underused in his two-episode stint. Ah, Edward Mordrake, we hardly knew ye. Even though, apparently, you were once a terrifyingly real person.