American Horror Story: Freak Show – Edward Mordrake (Part 2) – Review

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been vocal about my hopes for Freak Show to kill off a few of the characters and to delve further into the character of Twisty and his homicidal rampage. Well, it looks like Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have clearly been reading my weekly rants as they decided to kill two birds with one stone.  Or one Twisty with too much exposition.  Either way, it turned out to be less of a relief and more a case of ‘Be careful what you wish for’.

This week, Edward Mordrake concluded his search for an evil soul, being repulsed enough by Twisty’s story of being the world’s most misunderstood entertainer to take him under his top hat.  In doing so, the problems with this season, and particularly this episode, became glaringly clear.  In what I assume is an attempt to give every character their moment in the spotlight, everyone in this season is simultaneously talking too much and talking about nothing in particular.  American Horror Story is ultimately a show about evil in this world, and yet for some reason almost every evil character is given a ‘redemptive’ final soliloquy before they bite the dust.  Fiona Goode was worried about disappointing her daughter, Angela Bassett was defending those who faced oppression due to their race and both versions of Bloodyface were dealing with some pretty upsetting mommy issues.  I had hoped that Freak Show would avoid these hollow explanations in favour of creating characters who could simply be described as inherently evil.

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Alas, now we can add Twisty to the list of fallen antagonists we are suddenly expected to pity, as ‘Edward Mordrake (Part 2)’ details how he took to murder in revenge for being unfairly bullied by freak show performers.  The most upsetting thing about his confessions was the realization that he isn’t frightening at all once he speaks, and it lacked the emotional impact the writers were clearly aiming for.  While the mangled jaw beneath that grotesque mask was one of the more successful aesthetic scares this season, this too just proved that the creators of American Horror Story are much more adept at (or simply more concerned with) creating a frightening visual than any truly terrifying characters.  Lifting the mask on Twisty was certainly jaw dropping, but for all the wrong reasons.  Also, I know he’s just a character in a TV show but the various ‘RIP Twisty’ and ‘Poor Twisty’ tweets I saw this week were pretty disconcerting.  HE KILLED A LOT OF INNOCENT PEOPLE! IT IS OBVIOUS HE SHOWED NO REMORSE! STOP WITH THE PITY!

Aside from the death of what was evidently a beloved bloodthirsty clown, we were treated to a description of how Elsa lost her legs (in what looked like an X rated excerpt from Madonna’s ‘Truth or Dare’ perfume commercial), and the blossoming love between Maggie and Jimmy.  Jessica Lange’s performances in this show have displayed a level of commitment to the cause that’s rare in television today, and I really hope this season isn’t her last.  Not just because she is often the most watchable element of the show, but because it would be unfair to viewers if the character of Elsa Mars was her swan song.  Her role as a power-hungry matriarch with a terrible secret often seems like little more than a retread of her role in Coven, and it’s a shame to see an actress with such talent being wasted like this.

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As infuriating and unfocused as this season is, I can never give up on American Horror Story.  Luckily for me, there was a bright spark in this episode in the form of Dandy.  Finn Wittrock is a sorely needed addition to this show, outperforming the AHS veteran Evan Peters at every turn, and his inevitable descent into madness should hopefully become this season’s pivotal plot.  It would be nice to see him share scenes with Bette and Dot.  Wittrock and Paulson are slowly becoming the most intriguing stars in the Freak Show and seeing his simmering maniacal tendencies battle Paulson’s already dueling Siamese sisters would be exhausting in the best possible way.

Join me next week for my opinion on the next forty minutes of colourful and nonsensical scenes masked as an episode of American Horror Story.