American Horror Story: Freak Show Episode 4 | “Snuff Films, Sob Stories and Heroes”

“What!? No Ethel Darling this episode?”

That was my initial reaction after this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show. I was starting to enjoy the Ethel train. Then they decided to deprive us of Kathy Bates’ impeccable acting.

But episode 4, titled “Edward Mordrake Pt. 2”, did not disappoint. After last week’s emotional roller coaster ride with Ethel. Ryan Murphy still has tricks on his sleeves about the back story of each carny.

(Spoilers ahead!)

Edward Mordrake (Bentley) was still on the look out for his next companion on the other side. I’m not so sure whether I’d admire how he saves the “freaks” from further shame or repulsed about not giving them a second chance.

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You could say he’s the “Angel of Death” for them, but he bores the hell out of me. No disrespect to Wes Bentley, he acted the part really well with his commitment to the accent and persona. But the whole vibe of Edward was far less creepy than those poor CGI animations in low-budgeted horror flicks.

Even the second face he has on the back of his head was, meh! The character was not that compelling. Still thanks to him, we had known how cruel life has been to our beloved “freaks.”

Since Ethel was not the “chosen” one he’s looking for. Edward visited the other carnies in Elsa’s (Lange) troupe. Legless Suzy (Siggins), Paul the Illustrated Seal (Fraser) and Salty (Neiman) & Pepper (Grossman), the Pin-heads.

We got a glimpse of the lives of Suzy and Paul. Both had a hard time adjusting and being accepted for what they are. Fortunately, they weren’t what Edward wants. Neither was Salty nor Pepper.

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Though Edward saved the best for last (or maybe not). He then showed up at Elsa’s tent, making our ring leader swoon with excitement at the presence of Edward. I still can’t believe that Elsa took Maggie’s (Roberts) bullshit about her future.

Due to her new found superiority at the thought of stardom. Elsa turned off Edward with her bossy and smug attitude. Pissing off Edward, thus calling her delusional. Edward snapped at her and made his other ghost companions take off Elsa’s prosthetic legs.

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“I’m not one of them.. I’m not one of them,” screamed Elsa. But in the eyes of Edward, Elsa is also a freak. He asked her to tell her story on how she became an amputee.

Surprise! Surprise! Elsa was the star of a brothel back in Germany. Patrons of this establishment were looking for more than just sex. Here their wildest and cruelest fetishes comes to life. Scat, Wet sports, Orgy, BDSM and many more allured guests.

Elsa did defend that she didn’t let her customers touch her, but added in that she was the best “Dominatrix” in all Germany that time. Let me also comment how Jessica Lange looked damn good in leather and platinum blonde hair.

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Some scenes during Elsa’s flashback did shocked me a bit. They really did show snippets of people having sex and other obscene visuals. A dash of soft porn-ish feel I might say.

Although I did find it very brave and very realistic (it didn’t bother me). I’m more concerned about the impact it has on other viewers.

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Yeah, they don’t hold back on blood and gore. But when it comes to the topic of sex, others might get rubbed the wrong way. I just don’t want them to lose viewers, that’s all. But it was very commendable, hope it pays off.

Going back, Edward’s back face was not moved by Elsa’s sob story. Rather it felt a deeper pain (The back face has a knack for detecting dark secrets). And if Elsa’s 50-shades-of-grey-stint was a lot to take, wait ’til you read more on what happened to her.

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There was this group of people she called “Watchers.” They enjoyed watching Elsa’s sadistic performance and paid her handsomely. In the most unfortunate turn of events, Elsa was drugged, strapped into a bed and got filmed by the “Watchers.”

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Whatever you’re thinking right now is absolutely wrong. For our lovely chanteuse got hacked in the legs with a chainsaw. The fame obsessed ex-dominatrix became the star of a snuff film.

Watching the scene of her anguish cries of help was disturbing, pitiful and barbaric. I can’t swallow the idea of her ordeal and it’s only a TV show. What more if it happened in real life (which really does). It reminded me of a movie I personally hated, “A Serbian Film.”

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Lucky for Elsa, she managed to survive and is now getting past her personal demons. Edward’s second face picked Elsa and commanded Edward to take her.

I was at the edge of my seat as the two taunted each other. Edward was ready to stab Elsa as she was embracing the idea of death. Jessica Lange delivered another splendid act. She aced every scene and executed another top calibre performance.

Meanwhile, Jimmy (Peters) and Maggie (Roberts) had a moment of their own. After accidentally discovering Twisty’s (Lynch) bad deeds, the two planned a life-threatening mission to save the abductees.

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Little did they know that Twisty had an accomplice. Dandy (Wittrock) bludgeoned them both to unconsciousness, adding them to the roster of victims.

Jimmy awakens to the sound of a busted piano and Dandy’s yells. A make-shift stage was done by the psycho duo, while Maggie lies inside a box. Dandy was about to perform the famous chopping-the-assistant-in-half act. Only this time, it’s about to get real.

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Jimmy successfully got out of his leash and knocked off Dandy in the nick of time. He yelled for the others to run, making Twisty mad for ruining the show. They wrestled, but Twisty was too strong, rendering him unconscious and once again a captive.

Before Twisty had the chance to stab Jimmy. A green mist started crawling its way to the dilapidated van of Twisty. Signaling the arrival of Edward Mordrake, who had a change of heart in killing Elsa.

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Edward demanded Twisty to remove his mask and tell him his life story. Years back, Twisty was the most beloved clown of all, when the world was in need of laughter. He was a wonderful entertainer and the kids loved him.

Driven by envy, his co-carnies mentally harassed him one night with accusations of pedophilia. To an extent of insulting his mother and lies of a police in search for him.

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Paranoia set in for poor gullible Twisty and he left the group immediately. He decided to head back to Jupiter, Florida and discovered her mom’s death.

Now living alone in his van, Twisty was still optimistic. He had a plan of turning garbage into toys, which didn’t worked out well. Rejected and a cast-off, Twisty was pushed to the edge and decided to commit suicide.

Fortunately (or not), he only severed his lower jaw revealing why he always puts on his mask. Even after his unfortunate accident, Twisty was still a loner. We were also showed how Elsa’s troupe (particularly Jimmy), ignored him.

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He hated the freaks. He wanted the children to love him back. Then showed a flashback of his murdering spree.

When asked by Mordrake of his motives. He answered that he wanted to take away the kids from mean parents. Freeing them from chores and even getting a beautiful baby-sitter (referring to Bonnie (Samuels).

“I’m a good clown”, said Twisty. That sealed his fate and Edward took his life. I’m torn whether I’d feel sorry for Twisty. But he really did suffer as much as the others. His isolation from the world and being misunderstood for his early good deeds, drove him to becoming desperate.

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His life story was a vague representation of real life serial killer, John Wayne Gacy. Who murdered 33 people back in the 70’s and molested young boys. Their only difference was Twisty’s a bit good-natured and the motives were worlds apart. Twisty just lacked in the department of morality.

For now, we lost John Carroll Lynch in the cast. Even if it was a 4 episode arc, I certainly enjoyed the creep factor he brought to the show. He made clowns more frightening than it was before. Though I really think he should have stayed a bit longer.

But whenever a King gets dethroned, an heir takes over and continues the legacy. That’s where Dandy comes in. After discovering the limp body of Twisty (he didn’t cared that much). He grabbed the dead clown’s mask and wore it. Making him the next person everyone should be afraid of.

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Feeling like a rock star. Dandy went straight home and annoyed Dora (LaBelle) again. This time Dora had enough of Dandy’s childish games and scolded him. And Dandy also had enough.

In a surprising climax to this 2-part Halloween special. Dandy slit Dora’s throat using Twisty’s scissors. Dora was at disbelief as I was.

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Dandy looked shocked as well. Not until he started laughing, amused at how he enjoyed his new hobby.

Shout out to the Emmy peeps right now. You got yourself a nominee here. Finn Wittrock was a surprise this season. Who would’ve expect that someone will arise to meet the high standards of acting skills that Lange, Bates, Conroy, Paulson, Rabe, Bassett and Peters set.

He’s another one of Murphy’s crown jewels in AHS. Making me believe that he’d probably get an Emmy nod. My fingers are crossed.

Back at camp, a group of townspeople arrived at the freak show. Elsa believed that this was an angry mob that will drive them away. The tension in the air was potent as the two opposing sides faced each other.

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But after the so many awful things that happened this episode, things did a 360 and the people of Jupiter, Florida came to thank Jimmy for his heroic act.

They even shook his hands and brought goodies. Everyone was having a good time with the meet and greet. The mood was full of positive energy, no one could ruin it. Elsa took the opportunity to promote the show and in no time was sold out.

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Would this be a good start for Elsa and everyone? I don’t think so! I don’t want to be a debbie-downer but we are watching American Horror Story. People will die soon and darker secrets will be unveiled.

In conclusion, another fantastic episode. I’m a fan so I seem biased. But I believe you’d agree how perfectly executed this episode was. There were dark moments but was contrasted by a positive light. And there was no musical number this time (Yes! Ryan Murphy listens to fans).

So far, so good! Hmmmmm, maybe it is true that its their best season yet. We’ll see when we get to episode 5.

5 stand-out character/moments for episode 5:

1. Elsa Mars

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2. Chop, chop!

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3. This clown would change the way you look at them.

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4. Psycho Dandy!

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5. Jimmy Darling, the Hero!

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Photos by FX Network

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