American Horror Story Freak Show Episode 3 & 4 “Edward Mordrake”: My Unsolicited Review

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Note: This has been here for days now. I was entirely convinced that I’d published it, but since I’m a complete moron, that wasn’t the case.

I know that I haven’t posted in what feels like for-effing-ever, but if it’s any consolation at all, I feel incredibly badly about it. Let’s just chalk it up to me sucking, life sucking and then take it from there. Due to this aforementioned sucking (I’m really not liking the way this sounds), I wasn’t able to review last week’s episode of American Horror Story. But, since the Universe is a magical place where things sometimes tend to work in our favour, last week and this week’s episodes were continuations of each other, so I’m just going to combine them into one review.

From the first couple of episodes, I’d made it clear that, although I was enjoying the show’s return to it’s dark and spooky roots, I wasn’t exactly sure where it was heading (in terms of plot and characters). At the end of “Edward Mordrake Part 1”, I was left in more confusion than ever – seriously, I literally went, “WTF did I just watch.” However, after part 2, I think there’s a little bit more clarity and development in the show.

Let’s begin with the most WTF-worthy aspect of the episodes: Edward Mordrake. Edward Mordrake was handsome, charming and educated nobleman who seemed to have everything that he could desire. However, unbeknownst to most, he’d been born with a hideous face at the back of his head, which allegedly whispered dark and terrible things that only Edward could hear. Despite many attempts at killing his horrific second face, it remained, and it drove him mad. Though he was eventually sent to an insane asylum, he broke free and joined a freak show. During a performance on Halloween night, Mordrake killed all the freaks and then hung himself. The carnie legend is that if freaks perform on Halloween night, the ghost of Edward Mordrake is summoned and one of the freaks is killed.

Although this is actually a true story – or, at the very least, a true legend – I figured that it had only been included to add to this season’s air of creepiness. When the Edward Mordrake character (played by Wes Bentley) is actually summoned during one of Elsa’s rehearsals, I officially realised that I had no bloody idea what was going on, because there’d been no hint at any supernatural element of the show thus far, and then BAM, we’re hit with the apparition of ghosts.

Bette and Dot’s story took a bit of an intensely macabre tone, with a shared dream/nightmare between the two of them revealed that Dot has her sights seriously set on finding a doctor who will surgically separate them, even if it means one of them dying. This would be forgivable if it didn’t appear so much that Dot is convinced that she will be the one surviving the surgery, effectively guaranteeing her freedom and happiness. It’s funny how one scene can so rapidly change your perception of a character. So far, I’d actually quite liked Dot, even looking past the curt way she often spoke to her sister, chalking it up to her merely having to be strong for them both (especially considering how childishly naïve Bette is). Right now, though, she could have been Edward Mordrake’s intended victim and I wouldn’t have minded, making this the first season out the show so far that I haven’t been completely head-over-heels in love with Sarah Paulson’s character.

With Meep’s death and burial came an addition to the freak show. “Esmerelda”, a pretend fortune-teller (played by Emma Roberts) has entered the camp in an awful get-rich-quick scheme to procure the body of a freak and sell it to the highest bidder. Even though her crystal ball-reading abilities are faker than a three dollar bill, she is able to successfully convince Elsa of her authenticity… which really wasn’t that difficult, considering that Elsa is so delusional, all Esmerelda had to do was tell her that she’s a great talent and will soon be discovered by a talent agent.

Ethel has been diagnosed with having cirrhosis of the liver, and given only a few months to live. She keeps the news from Jimmy, but confides in Dell, who responded surprisingly compassionately to the news. She becomes the first of the freaks visited by Edward Mordrake, and when he demands that she share her pain and tragedy to him, we learn of her history. This was one of the better aspects of the two episodes, as hearing the life stories of these so-called “freaks” served to make us appreciate more fully the horrors that they’ve experienced, and therefore the relief that they feel at being with others like them.

The breakout star of the season, Twisty the Clown, continued his reign of horror, terrorising a little girl with an intense fear of clowns. (Fun fact: fear of clowns is called coulrophopbia. You’re welcome). It turns out that I was wrong on two counts in regards to Twisty. Edward Mordrake paid the murderous “entertainer” a visit in part 2, and we finally learn of his story. Firstly, though I called his choice of victims in my last review “random”, it turned out that he had a genuine reason for targeting those that he did. Secondly, it seems that he wasn’t interested in building a little family, after all. Rather, he was… actually, I’m not entirely sure what he was doing. At one point, they made it seem like he was building a little audience, and then that got scratched and we learned that he was “protecting” children from the freaks. Now, we can understand that since we learned that, before he’d become a knife-wielding psychopath, he’d been a simple-minded yet gentle entertainer of children who’d sincerely loved his job until he’d been misled and chased away by a group of freaks who’d accused him of molesting the children, driving to commit a very failed suicide attempt. As such, the appearance of a new freak show would understandably force him to become angry… the “protection” of the children, though, I don’t really understand. How in the hot damn hell was he “protecting” children by killing their parents? How was he “protecting” children when he only kidnapped one child amongst all the people that he’d murdered? If he were really protecting kids, wouldn’t he have also kidnapped the little coulrophobic girl who was being tormented by her brother, instead of the brother himself? I’m not quite sure the writers completely thought this one through.

Regardless, Twisty met his match against Edward Mordrake and when the two-faced ghost determined that Twisty was truly the one he was after, he wasted no time in killing him and claiming his soul to join his grisly band of freaks. Although his existence meant the torture and murder of innocent people, I’m actually sad to see Twisty go, especially when you realise that under the terrifying mask and bloody hands, he’s actually a really gentle soul… if maybe too slow for his own good.

Twisty might be gone, but his awful mask found a new face to call home with Dandy. Can I just say that after seeing what Twisty had left for a mouth, I was genuinely physically disgusted when Dandy so unhesitatingly put that mask on over his own mouth? Even thinking about it now is grossing me the hell out. So far, Dandy has been portrayed as an immature, hot-headed brat prone to violent outbursts. However, especially from his confrontation with Dora last week, he’d also been an obvious coward, with far more bark than bite. However, now that he’s assumed the role of Twisty 2.0, this craven nature has fled, and we’re now unfortunately dealing with a sociopath with a newfound bloodlust.

Given all this background information on some of our characters, and a clearer idea of who our villain(s) may be, we can now see the show taking clearer form. We just need to see if the execution is just as good. I’m also hoping that this season doesn’t rely too heavily on the celebrity power that they’ve got racked up in lieu of an actual storyline. In case you missed it, Hollywood gay superheroes, Matt Bomer and Neil Patrick Harris, will both be making appearances during this season. I love me some Bomer and Harris and will enjoy seeing them both, but that won’t stop me from bashing the plot if it turns out to be stupid.

Another piece of awesome news, Lily Rabe has been confirmed to appear this season. Turns out, she’s going to reprise her role of Sister Mary Eunice from Season 2’s Asylum, which is all kinds of awesome for two reasons: 1) Lily Rabe! 2) an American Horror Story season crossover! However, logically speaking, I don’t know how that works out. After all, if Sister Mary Eunice exists, then that must mean that Sister Jude exists. But how is that possible when we have Jessica Lange playing Elsa Mars?!

HA! Looking at me trying to apply logic to a show that depicts a two-faced ghost reaping the soul of a faceless murderous clown! How cute.

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3 thoughts on “American Horror Story Freak Show Episode 3 & 4 “Edward Mordrake”: My Unsolicited Review”

    1. I don’t hate it… not at all. I have to say, though, this is the first season so far where I’m not dying to see what the following week has in store. Still got plenty of time, though, so that just may change.

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      1. You know, I didn’t know how to word it, but what you said is exactly right. I think that’s why I’m struggling – I’m not on the edge of my seat waiting for more like I was in previous seasons. We shall see how things continue on…!

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