Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen American Horror Story: Freak Show Ep. 4 – “Edward Mordrake Part 2.”
“I’m a lady… and then some!” — Desiree
When a show relies on its ability to shock and scare its audience week after week, its Halloween episode has a pretty high standard to meet. Luckily, AHS is not a show to shy away from expectations; so they gave us an hour of twisted, tragic backstory and the root of a whole generation’s clown phobia.
After being shut down last week by the force of Kathy Bates’ tears, Edward Mordrake still needed a soul to steal. Jessica Lange saw Kathy’s humiliation and raised her war-ravaged Berlin, dominatrix work and snuff films. I have never questioned Jessica Lange’s mastery at chewing up scenery, but stuck in the middle of last season’s schlock it turned into a joke. This season we’re reminded of the power it wields in an equally strong script. Its absolutely magical and no small part of what I’m about to say.
All season I’ve been cautiously complimenting Freak Show for maintaining all the aspects that make AHS great while avoiding the pitfalls it always manages to stumble into. I may regret this later, but I’m no longer cautious about it. This is season is great, perhaps even the best yet. In the face of the Halloween episode it could have gone crazy and introduced aliens or pig-faced people or something, but instead it kept its focus tight (relatively speaking) and gave us one of the best episodes, Halloween or not, in AHS history.
AHS exalts in skewering classic horror tropes, so its crazy it hasn’t given us a “car breaks down late at night on Halloween, so lets take a shortcut through the woods” before. Of course in this case the woods also happen to be home to not one, but TWO crazed killer clowns.
While Jessica Lange tearing down the house didn’t impress Edward Mordrake, he was impressed by Twisty’s tragic tale. And so was I. Mostly, I was impressed by the show’s ability to garner sympathy for a character I was still so utterly repulsed by. That takes some serious skill.
So, rest in peace, Twisty. You were one of the creepiest villains AHS has ever had and you’re terrifying smile will live on in the nightmares of many for decades to come. Unless, of course, your protégée turns out to be so devastatingly evil he erases all memory of you from our traumatized minds.
And so, with the killing of one crazed maniac suddenly the townsfolk were all brownies and handshakes for the freaks. And thus there was peace and harmony in the kingdom. Not that it will last, of course. We still have nine more episodes to go and crazy clown killers can only support the plot so much.
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