‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Episode 4 Review: “Edward Mordrake Pt. 2”

By October 30, 2014

It only took us 4 episodes for “American Horror Story: Freak Show” to feel like it’s finally hitting its stride, but we got there. In last night’s episode, “Edward Mordrake Pt. 2,” we received a continuation of this year’s Halloween one-two punch that the series is now known for. And while last week’s episode left something to be desired, it’s pretty safe to say that this week’s episode surely picked up the slack. Spoilers below – you know the drill!

With “American Horror Story,” it has become an obvious expectation that the series will deliver a certain level of creepiness and scariness. And given the namesake of these past two episodes, it’s rather odd that Edward Mordrake was not the ominous type his myth led the audience to believe. In fact, he just reminded me of some old goth acquaintance from my past. You know, the type you’d want to have a drink or two with while pouring your heart out. That, my friends, is the main purpose of Edward Mordrake.


In his casual visits with the circus inhabitants, we are treated to a few backstories of some of the performers. This adds some nice layers to these characters and kudos should again be given to Murphy & company for hiring these amazing performers. And while he moves from performer to performer, Mordrake eventually ends up in Elsa Mars’ tent. In his pursuit for her deepest darkest pain, Elsa lets us in on her past. So, of course her past involves bondage work at a sex club.

Working as a dominatrix shelling out extreme punishment to Germans in the 1930s seems like low hanging fruit here, but given my reference to old goth friends from the ’90s…well, maybe that’s just the obvious road my mind takes. Regardless, the scene with the toilet seat did make me cringe just a wee bit. Oh, you Germans!

It’s in this sex club that Elsa began making a name for herself and her “performances” soon began to draw a crowd. She refers to these masked perverts as “The Watchers” so when they ask her to star in her own movie with them, of course she says yes. Soon, she finds herself drugged on a bed, with two assailants wearing pantyhose on their heads. One, holding the camera and one holding a chainsaw – the snuff film in question depicts poor Elsa having her legs violently cut from her body. While I’ve been subjected to “snuff” films in the past, this scene really delivered a gruesome and cringe-worthy blow. In other words, I cringed yet again!

While this scene alluded to Elsa being Mordrake’s next victim, Poor Edward is distracted from her tent by music which takes us back to Twisty. It’s somewhat hard to believe we are only 4 episodes into this year’s installment of “American Horror Story” and that may be because of the quick over-saturation of the creepy clown. He debuted on the show as what I dubbed the “Scariest. Clown. Ever.”, but that quickly turned to fascination and appreciation of the work John Carroll Lynch was delivering here. But given his regular appearances in these 4 episodes, it began to feel like they might be running out of clowny schtick for Twisty.


They read my mind. In “Edward Mordrake Pt. 2,” Twisty is visited by Edward Mordrake who coerces the clown to remove his mask and give up his deepest darkest pain. With this request, two things immediately stood out: John Carroll Lynch delivers his first spoken dialogue as Twisty and the viewer really gets a good look at the gnarly maw that was once his whole face. It’s a rather grossly cartoonish sight but once he speaks, it becomes quite evident how much of a simpleton Twisty really is. A simple-minded victim, really. And for the first time ever in my 38 years on this planet, I began to feel sympathy for a freakin’ clown. The f*ck?!

With his tortured backstory told, Mr. Edward Mordrake’s pursuit for a true remorseless sinner was fulfilled. And on the 4th episode of the 4th installment of “American Horror Story,” Twisty the Clown was put out of his misery. Before I forget, it should be noted how intriguing I found the addition of Jimmie and Esmerelda into the Dandy/Twisty storyline here, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed that this plot point wasn’t explored a bit more. But when a clown door closes, God opens a clown window. I’m sure that’s how that phrase goes…


The freak show experiences a happy break as the townsfolk arrive to praise Jimmie’s work in capturing the killer. It seems the performers may finally gain the acceptance they yearn for and deserve. It’s a nice moment but with shows like this one, it won’t last. With Twisty dead, Dandy takes the killer’s mask and his psychotic tendencies blossom. I’m not sure what Ryan Murphy was thinking in casting Patty LaBelle as Dandy’s maid Dora. She didn’t have much to work with in these episodes but maybe that’s for the best? Whatever the reasoning, Dora met her demise as Dandy slashed her throat in his lavish dining room. There’s a new clown killer in town!

The focus in “Edward Mordrake Pt. 2” was on a select few characters from the ensemble; while we did get glimpses of the cast throughout the episode, it was this focused storyline that helped make last night’s episode a good one. Not to mention, the backstories of both Elsa and Twisty helped to make the series feel fresh again. Dark and truly f*cked up, but fresh nonetheless.

What were your thoughts on last night’s episode of “American Horror Story: Freak Show”? Tell them to my demon half face in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.