American Horror Story: Freak Show S04 E03: Edward Mordrake, Part 1



What you don’t know can kill you. We learned that on last week’s episode. Who could’ve foretold that Dell Toledo and Jimmy’s attempt to frame each other would cause the death of Meep, or that Elsa would be jealous of Dot’s singing abilities or that Dandy was crazier than Twisty? Who would have seen this coming? Maybe what the sideshow needs is a Fortune Teller. Yeah, that’s exactly what they need. Don’t you think?


I was wondering when we would see the delightfully wicked Denis O’Hare and his appearance on tonight’s show was worth the wait. Stanley (Denis O’Hare) is a con artist and his latest scam is trying to pawn off a fake Sasquatch baby to the American Morbidity Museum that houses several medical specimens of well-known freaks. He’s kicked out of the museum, but not before the curator tells him she’ll pay a pretty penny for a real specimen. Right here in Philadelphia, we have a museum called the Mutter Museum and it houses many a bizarre medical specimen, my favorite being the “Soap Lady”.


Stanley sends his trusty sidekick, Maggie Esmeralda (Emma Roberts) to weasel her way into a job at the sideshow. Using the persona of fortune teller, Esmeralda uses clues inside Elsa’s tent to tell her fortune. Elsa falls for the “tall dark stranger bearing gifts” song and dance reading and hires Esmeralda on the spot.

Bad News

Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates) has had one too many drinks during her whole sorry life. Can you blame her for wanting to drown out her sorrow? Life is hard on women and especially if they’re poor, divorced and left to raise a young child on their own, but add in the beard and the fact that her son has claws for hands…what can I say?


The doctor tells Ethel that she has maybe six months to live and no more drinking. Ethel is touched by this man’s kindness and compassion. I don’t care how good a doctor you are, if you don’t respect your patients; if you don’t listen to them; if you lack compassion, you’ve failed your calling.

Every series has that one character that is the show’s “Rock”; the solid ground; the normal one; the person that holds the others together. Ethel is that rock. She’s the one that observes and dispenses good advice. After Dell Toledo has a fight with Desiree; he can lift weights but not much else. Ethel tells him she’s dying and for him to look after Jimmy. I wouldn’t trust Dell Toledo with a paper bag.



I have sisters. I love them, but if I had to spend every second of the day with them, we’d probably kill each other. Now, imagine if your sister was attached to you. Dot dreams of living a life without Bette. She wants to save up money and find a surgeon to do the job. Bette, on the other hand, can’t picture life without her sister. “Wouldn’t you miss me?” she asks Dot. Sorry Bette, but Dot wants out.

The Curse

After Jimmy and the others give poor dead Meep a burial complete with chicken heads (I love the writing on this show. Sick minds) Ethel tells the twins why they can’t perform on Halloween. Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley), a wealthy, educated and handsome young man, had placed a curse on any freak foolish enough to call him from hell by performing on that hallowed eve. Edward had a secret while alive. He had two faces; one handsome, the other hideous and evil. There are accounts that Edward Mordrake was a real person. Who knows, I didn’t see him at the Mutter Museum.


Inspired by Esmeralda’s prediction that she would be more famous than Marlene Dietrich, Elsa belts out one hell of a great song about Innocence lost which calls forth the spirit of Edward Mordrake. Edward has to take a freak sacrifice and he picks Ethel.

Howdy Doody

While Twisty is purveying the neighborhood and watching the kiddies going door to door for their candy fix, Dandy is having a meltdown. He doesn’t like his Howdy Doody costume that Mommy bought him. Gloria Mott is a ding-a-ling, but Dora (Patti LaBelle) the maid is cool. She has no time for nut jobs and she knows all of Dandy’s dirty secrets. I keep waiting for Patti to sing. I hope it’s soon.


Dandy is one dangerous dude. He takes his Howdy Doody costume and creates a clown outfit. Is he trying to imitate his hero, Twisty? Unable to frighten Dora, he goes to the school bus to terrorize the girl and boy. Twisty is busy bringing back his Halloween treat and a little girl will never get over her fear of clowns or the loss of her older brother.


Dot and Bette have a new competitor for Jimmy’s heart. Elsa is determined to make it to Hollywood. Stanley is into con games and big men. Ma Petite (Iyote Amge) is the most delightful and happy person at the sideshow. Jimmy’s worried about his mother’s drinking.


Ethel is picked as the sacrifice by Edward Mordrake, but before he can kill her, she is required to tell her sins. She was a big star, once. She made the mistake of falling in love with Dell Toledo, a loser who managed her act right into bankruptcy, and then forced her to exploit their poor infant son. She’s ready to die. She can’t carry the shame of what she did to Jimmy any longer, but Ethel can’t catch a break: her liver is screwed up, her life sucks and she only has six months to live. Edward Mordrake would have done her a favor by killing her, but she wasn’t bad enough and she gets to live…at least until her liver kills her.

I don’t know about you, my little lot lice, but I can’t wait until next week. This show keeps you awake at nights. I’m afraid Twisty might drop in.

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