“American Horror Story: Freak Show” aired the shocking conclusion of its two-part Halloween special “Edward Mordrake Pt. 2” on Oct. 29. Tortured specter Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) meets with several Cabinet of Curiosities performers in an effort to ferret out a pure freak he will take to the underworld. In the riveting episode several sad backstories are revealed, including the horrific depiction of how Elsa (Jessica Lange) lost her legs.
There are several huge shockers in the heart-pounding episode and Ryan Murphy once again, brilliantly uses the powerful platform of television to shine a light on how people are often bullied and ostracized just for being different. The freaks’ stories are equal parts sad and riveting. They also offer a stark reminder of how terribly hard demeaning human-to-human cruelty is to endure.
Legless Suzy (Rose Siggins) lost her legs at two and her parents left her in a basket at an orphanage. She grew up homeless on the streets and stabbed a man in the leg, filled with jealousy for what she couldn’t have, she hit an artery and he died. She turned to the freak show after tiring of the streets.
Paul the Illustrated Seal’s (Mat Fraser) story is very similar. Everyone in the world around him hated him, so he began to hate himself. He got multiple tattoos in an effort to turn into the monster he thought people deemed him to be. He lived with the irony that despite other deformities he had a handsome face. Edward spares Pepper (Naomi Grossman) and her friend’s lives, dubbing them “innocent.”
The most traumatic backstory of all comes when Elsa describes how she was drugged as a prostitute and her attacker sawed off her legs with a chainsaw, filmed her torture, and then left her to die. This scene has a French Grand Guignol film feel, only Elsa is brutally tortured for real. This has to be one of the grittiest scenes across “American Horror Story” history and is very difficult to watch. Jessica Lange stuns in this shocking sequence that sheds so much light on the person Elsa lived on to become.
Overall, these stories are woven together with cinematic splendor. Each of the characters’ pain is raw and palpable and it’s easy to draw parallels between what they endured and the myriad ways entire groups of people have suffered over time such as Jewish people and the Holocaust, African-Americans and slavery, and gay people and hate crimes, and those born with disorders and deformities being abandoned, institutionalized and publicly shunned.
Cold, hard hatred and intolerance for anyone who is different from some “learned” definition of “normal” is perhaps one of the biggest horrors mankind has ever experienced. “American Horror Story: Freak Show” gives these ostracized victims a real voice and the insightful, resounding message that hatred and intolerance hurts and is never, in any way justified.
Raise your hand if you knew something terrible was going to happen to Jimmy (Evan Peters) and Maggie (Emma Roberts) when they break down in the woods. Part of us wants to cheer Jimmy on for being brave enough to help Twisty’s captive. Let’s be honest, though, part of us is dreading what terrible fate awaits him when he does.
Here’s the horribly frightening thing: Jimmy and Maggie never see Dandy (Finn Wittrock) coming (and neither do we). Once he knocks them out, an inescapable pit of dread begins to form. Suddenly, Maggie is center attraction, about to be sawed in half in a magician’s box. Thankfully, Jimmy knocks Dandy out, releases Maggie and everyone scatters. But, Twisty grabs Jimmy and we’re guessing he’s even more enraged that Jimmy broke up the party.
Eerie Edward arrives though, demanding Twisty’s story and for the first time, we feel sorry for this deranged murderer. He was born mentally challenged but genuinely loved children, until some dwarfs he worked with taunted him, belittled him and accused him of molesting the kids. They eventually drew all of the children away from Twisty. He couldn’t take it and tried to kill himself, only to live on after shooting off the lower half of his face.
We get a much longer look at the extent of Twisty’s injuries. John Carroll Lynch’s makeup transformation is extraordinary and his vulnerability in the sequence is heart-wrenching. The terrible thing is that Twisty was formerly benevolent, and then evolved into a mad murderer. There is a strong parallel between Twisty and season one’s Tate Langdon, played with fascinating complexity by Evan Peters.
We’re shocked and yet relieved when Edward claims Twisty’s soul. We can’t forget, whatever he once was, he became a murderer and kidnapper. AHS fans reacted strongly to Twisty’s departure on the show’s Facebook page. Some fans want to see Twisty return and when asked who was more terrifying, Twisty or Dandy, opinions varied in respect to a certain amount of sympathy they feel for Twisty.
After Twisty is dead, everyone escapes; the police extend gratitude and apologies to Jimmy and the troupe. But one dark fact remains: Donning Twisty’s mask after finding Twisty dead tips Dandy totally over the evil edge.
There is no choice but to grimace when Dandy returns home only to be taunted again by Dora. This time he won’t stand for it. He slits her throat and his first human victim is claimed. Once again, the question looms: Jimmy, what did you do?
Dandy wants one thing—revenge. No one at the freak show is safe from his wrath; least of all, Jimmy and Maggie. Jimmy rejected him as a show performer. He may also fault Jimmy for helping the prisoners escape, breaking up the party and killing his only friend.
Maggie and Jimmy are probably Dandy’s prime targets. He may take Maggie and torture her because he knows Jimmy cares about her. He could target Ethel, Jimmy’s mom. Anyway the demented clown’s cookie crumbles killing Dora is probably the tip of a murdering spree he’s been waiting to unleash. Can Jimmy and Maggie stop him before it’s too late? Or will they become his next innocent victims? Buckle up, because things will undoubtedly get much darker from here.
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” airs on FX on Wednesdays at 10 pm ET.