American Horror Story: Freak Show Season 4 Review “Edward Mordrake, Part 2”

American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 4 Edward Mordrake Part 2 (7)

On the latest episode of “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” we finally got to see who was added to the coterie of ghostly freaks belonging to “Edward Mordrake,” and the answer was indeed a surprising one. But was it a wise one, on the behalf of the writers?

As Mordrake (Wes Bentley) continued to question everyone in the show, it became readily apparent that most of the denizens of the Freak Show were more sad than anything else, if not entirely innocent, save a few notable exceptions (looking at you two “pinheads,” Pepper and her pal). The decidedly less innocent and obvious choice seemed to have been- and sort of was- Elsa, of course, who told Mordrake her sordid tale, after first mistaking him as the stranger “Esmerelda” foresaw paying her a visit.

It seems Elsa was once a high-end dominatrix type back in the early 30’s in Germany in Berlin at a fetish house that made “Cabaret” look like a rest home. If you thought that stag film that Elsa made of the nurse’s shenanigans with the freaks was bad, the flashback we saw here certainly gave that a run for its money- not to mention pushed the boundaries of what was allowed on cable TV. We’re talking S&M, two men having sex with a pregnant woman, homosexuality (On a Ryan Murphy show? You don’t say!), and, most shockingly, some Golden Showers type action. We’re not talking R. Kelly levels of depravity, but that has to be the first time I’ve ever seen a woman urinate into a teacup in anything, cable or otherwise. Stay classy, “AHS.”

Also mentioned but not shown, thankfully, was bestiality, though that was on the “menu,” according to Elsa, as was sex with amputees- of which Elsa was notably not one- yet. Instead, she was a leather-clad lady of the night specializing in humiliation and torture, like something out of “The Night Porter” or “Salon Kitty” but worse. At one point, she had a soldier on his hands and knees and on a leash like a dog, and ordered him to sit on a toilet spiked with nails! That cannot be sanitary, much less safe.

All the while people paid simply to watch, which is how, I suppose, we as the audience ourselves, were meant to feel- as voyeurs in the sickest of displays. I can’t say I enjoyed any of this, but I suppose I do admire its chutzpah. This is certainly not a show that pulls many punches, or if it does, it certainly pushes all the boundaries of good taste whenever it can. However, is it truly scary? Not so much, which leads me to the big twist- or should I say Twisty?

After detailing how she unwittingly signed up for a snuff film in which her legs were actually chain-sawed off as people watched and filmed it, Mordrake had all but made his choice and Elsa had all but surrendered to her fate, when suddenly music rang out in the air, subverting Mordrake’s attention. He went in search of the source, ultimately discovering that it was a gathering involving Twisty the clown (John Carroll Lynch) and his young apprentice Dandy (Finn Wittrock), who were putting on a show for their literally captive audience, which, in addition to Bonnie, Mike and Tommy, had expanded to include Maggie (aka Esmerelda) and Jimmy, who ventured too close to the action when Jimmy spotted Bonnie trying to make a break for it and gave chase to rescue her from the homicidal clown.

Twisty managed to grab Jimmy and tie him up again and put him in the bus, while Dandy went after the rest. But while they were gone, Mordrake showed up and asked Twisty for his tale, allowing us a better look at his mangled face, for better or worse. It turned out that Twisty was actually a sympathetic figure, who was once a beloved children’s entertainer before some jealous dwarves at the carnival he worked at spread rumors that he was a pedophile, effectively getting him fired, and ultimately blackballed from the carnival industry. Because his mother had dropped him on his head as a child, he was more than a little slow-minded, and was not able to adequately defend himself, and without his favorite thing to do, he fell apart, descending into madness, especially after a failed attempt at suicide via shotgun- hence the nasty face injury.

Turns out Twisty, in his insanity, actually saw himself as one of the good ones, kidnapping Tommy from what he saw as an abusive situation, and saving a damsel in distress, Bonnie, from being deflowered, and to serve as a babysitter to Tommy. Of course, this was hardly the reality of the situation, but in Twisty’s frame of mind, it made for a, well, twisted sort of logic that was oddly sensitive and caring. Leave it to “American Horror Story” to make a psychotic clown relatable and compassionate, in his own way.

After that story, it was clear who Mordrake’s choice would be, and he wasted no time in dispatching with the clown in question. In death, Twisty finally found a group he fit in with, so I suppose it was a happy ending of sorts. Alas, it came at the expense of Dandy’s companionship, who, let’s face it, had more glommed onto the situation than anything. To that end, he grabbed Twisty’s mask for himself- talk about unsanitary again- and assumed his mantle, going home and killing Dora after she sassed him one time too many for his tastes. Patti LaBelle, we hardly knew ye!

Things also ended on a somewhat happy note, as Jimmy was congratulated by various townspeople for helping to save Bonnie and company, and ending the killer clown’s reign of terror. Needless to say, Elsa leaped on the opportunity to take advantage of her carnival’s newfound notoriety, leading to a sold-out show that evening. It was genuinely heartwarming to see the freaks celebrated instead of ridiculed and mistreated for once, though I suspect it won’t last, this being the type of show it is.

Indeed, with the arrival of Richard Spencer, aka Stanley (Denis O’Hare), Maggie’s partner-in-crime, it was clear their troubles were far from over. Posing as a talent agent from Hollywood, Stanley wasted no time in insinuating himself into Elsa’s life, who, as ever, was all too willing to anyone that appealed to her vanity. I think it’s safe to say this won’t end well.

That was about it, really, and I must say, this episode went into some decidedly unexpected places, and I’m not just talking about that insanity in Berlin. I was genuinely surprised to see Twisty go so soon, and a little worried, in a way, as he was the closest thing the show had to a legitimately scary antagonist. With Dandy taking over, the show just won’t be the same, least of all with his being such an unsympathetic figure. Granted, we didn’t know Twisty was until this episode, but, though we don’t know his back-story, admittedly, it would seem that there’s little to feel sorry for in this spoiled rich kid that acts like a brat and enjoys killing animals and Patti LaBelle. For shame.

Hopefully, the show will rebound from this somehow, but I wonder if Dandy will be able to fill the big old vacant clown shoes of good old Twisty. Or Stanley, for that matter. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Until then, at least Twisty went out on a high note, adding another solid Halloween episode to the “AHS” vault in the process. He will be missed.

What did you think of “American Horror Story: Freak Show” this week? Were you satisfied with Twisty’s story and conclusion? Are you sad to see him go? Do you think he’ll be back somehow? (I was thinking that maybe Mordrake will return to fetch Elsa in the end after all.) What do you think about Dandy taking over for him? Will he make for a suitably scary antagonist? Will the goodwill of the people of Jupiter last? What nightmare will befall the town next? What do you think Stanley’s master plan is? Sound off below, and see you next week!