American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 4 – TV Review

American Horror Story Freak Show Jessica Lange Elsa Dominatrix Edward Mordrake

In only one year? Nice.

No, it’s actually the Elsa story.

And it involves not only S&M fantasy heaven, but also chainsaws and no anaesthesia.

What else do you expect from German pornography?

TL;DR Elsa’s backstory is gory and tragic; Edward Mordrake ends up choosing Twisty of all people to be his kill; Dandy ascends to fill Twisty’s role; the curfew is lifted and the freak show gets business.

See? Performing on Halloween has its benefits.

So we’re picking up with Edward Mordrake, who is still on the hunt for the freak who he will kill and force to join his crew of dead losers. He interviews some minor characters who pass the Face’s test, then settles on Elsa. He makes her tell her tale of woe: she worked as a dominatrix in a deviant German brothel back in 1932. She didn’t enjoy it, but hard times and all that. Eventually, her shadowy bosses upped the ante and drugged her, tied her to a bed, chainsawed her legs off while she was still conscious enough to feel everything, then passed around a film recording they’d made of it. Lovely. The Face decides to move on. Meanwhile, Jimmy and Esmerelda happen to stumble upon Twisty and Dandy’s trailer of horrors. They’re briefly captured by the clownsome twosome, but manage to escape and free the other captives. Edward then appears to Twisty, intrigued by him. Twisty tells his own tale of loss: he loved his job as a childrens’ clown, but the freaks in his carnival alleged he was a paedophile to mess with him, which ruined his career and sent him into a spiral of suicidal depression (his pretty mouth is from a shotgun-to-the-mouth that didn’t pan out), which I guess led to homicidal insanity. The Face is moved to tears by this bullshit, and Edward stabs Twisty to death so he can join his ghost gang. Jimmy and Esmerelda are hailed as heroes by the police, and the locals later turn up to support the freak show with a sold out show. And Dandy returns home, having been shaken by Twisty’s death, and slashes the throat of his sassy, black maid.

She pushed her luck. Let’s be honest.

Again, much like last week, I enjoyed myself this episode.

It’s focused. It’s tidy. And Edward and his immortality seem to fuck off.

Thank God.


Why I hate this episode:

I’m not fond of the reason he left, though. Firstly, Twisty’s story is ridiculous. Oh, boo hoo. You’re a simpleton who lost his job. The next logical step in your life is to become a vicious serial killer for “teh gud of teh childrenz.” Shut the fuck up. The fact that the Face is moved to tears by this crap is a bloody insult. Who knew Edward Mordrake and the devil in the back of his head were such pussies?

Secondly, if Edward was paying close attention to Twisty’s story, he’d know that Twisty’s impetus for killing was to protect children from being entranced by the freak show. Because he hates freaks. Edward is only supposed to take freaks into his gang, right? Does a failed suicide attempt with a horrible scar (which is hidden and never used to freak anyone out, by the way) make someone a freak? The emos of the world better watch themselves, hey.

Jimmy acts like a total brat when the police are trying to congratulate him for saving Twisty’s captives (and presumably killing Twisty, which is what they think happened, despite Jimmy’s protestations). Instead of taking a compliment, he instead uses the moment to grandstand to the detective about how the police are responsible for Meep’s death and vengeance will be his blah blah blah. Jimmy’s got an entire bag of chips on his shoulder.

The Face’s decision to move on from Elsa is mainly due to her sudden insistence that she wants to die and he should just kill her. Where did that come from? Reliving the memory of her mutilation is pretty traumatic, but I don’t believe that Elsa would so easily capitulate.

I was never Twisty’s biggest fan, but where is the season going to head from here, without him?

Contrary to my earlier interest, I am entirely over Dandy at this point. There’s only so much tantrum-throwing I can put up with. He’s so one-note and annoying. Add in arbitrary murderousness, and he’s at best tolerable as a device to provoke drama. Otherwise, shut up.

Oh, and Dandy takes Twisty’s mouth mask and puts it on. Without wiping it off or anything. That’s gross, dude. Do you know how much saliva must have been constantly leaking into that thing?


But it’s not all bad:

Twisty is dead. Provided Dandy at some point takes off his clown costume, we can now put to bed the “scary clown” crap. It wasn’t cool.

Esmerelda is the slow-burning standout from this episode. She is initially hesitant to help Lake Girl when she and Jimmy witness her being chased down by Twisty (she’d made an escape attempt), but once she’s in amongst it, she proves herself to be resourceful and heroic. Jimmy saves her from being sawn in half by Dandy as part of his show, and she runs off together with the three captives. Once they’re close to the road, she sends them off to safety while she risks herself to distract a pursuing Dandy. Then, to cap off her selflessness, she tells the police that Jimmy is the true hero of the night. What a sweetie.

After the news breaks, hordes of townsfolk converge on the freak show to thank Jimmy. Unlike his reaction to the detective, Jimmy is gracious enough to accept their thanks, and the whole scene is rather heartwarming, as the townsfolk mingle happily with Jimmy and the other freaks. So at least Jimmy knows how to save face when it counts.

Esmerelda’s partner turns up at the end of the episode. He’s dropped the Mansfield alias and is now calling himself Richard Spencer, a Hollywood talent scout. That should help rebuild Elsa’s fractured ego following the revelation that her handsome admirer from last episode was actually a literally two-faced kill-seeker.

Elsa is effortlessly sexy as a dominatrix. And her mutilation is skyscrapingly cruel and bizarre. It made me laugh in horror. It’s magnificent.

She was later saved from death (the Watchers, her saw-happy employers, left her there to die) by a client who had fallen in love with her. Love hurts so good. Especially when the woman you love makes you sit on a toilet seat made of nails.

Lake Girl was only kidnapped by Twisty because he thought she could be a babysitter for the children he would subsequently abduct. He was a thinker, that clown.

Oh, and in their lone speaking scene, the Paulsons are upset to find out that they’ve been demoted in the new production of the freak show. They are now the warm-up act for the pinheads. Elsa is a jealous, bitter, old queen.

American Horror Story Freak Show Elsa Edward Mordrake

Fair enough.

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About ijusthateeverything

Sincerity is death.

8 responses to “American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 4 – TV Review”

  1. Teylen says :

    Didn’t like the episode.
    While before their German was okay, kinda good even,… this time they would have really gained some profit by having someone on the set who does speak german. The German spoken in Germany was barely understandable,… I had to read the subtitles,… and wish I hadn’t because its really been some stupid dialog.
    Apart from the generalizations that let me reconsider if I didn’t like to prefer the typical German-Nazi doctor from Season 2 over the “Ya all into kinky SM porn” thing in AHS Season 4.

    Black Maid did indeed pushed her luck hard, yet sadly the most sympathetic character is gone. Plus Frances didn’t show up and Junior is an annoyance.

    Well, wondering where it will be going. Given the major conflict appears to be gone.

    • ijusthateeverything says :

      I expect Dell will become more diabolical or something. Esmerelda and her partner’s scheme to kidnap and kill the twins seems to be the most pressing issue, but I don’t find them particularly horrifying.

  2. Teylen says :

    Oh plus,… Langes Performance of playing a women who has to walk on prop-legs is not convincing (at least not me).

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