American Horror Story Freak Show Episode 4 Watch: Elsa And The Clown's Twisted Backstories Are Told

If only everyone’s Halloween was able to take place over the course of two nights, instead of just those for American Horror Story. Tonight’s episode cut ties with John Carroll Lynch’s kidnapper-murderer clown with a heart of gold, and Wes Bentley’s two-faced Edward Mordrake also bid Jupiter adieu. I was temporarily stunted by this, wondering how the series would possibly go on, and then I was reminded just how big this cast of characters is, despite some of them being largely absent from tonight’s group of tales. Let your tongue waggle out of your mouth as we dive into the most important backstory of the night.

Rest in peace, CLOWN!

I haven’t been as big on ol’ jawless Twisty as I was before the season started. It appeals to me that the happiness of children is the carrot hanging in front of his eyes, warped and gnawed as that carrot may be at this point. The dead-eye glare, when juxtaposed with clown tricks, was much more effective than it was during slasher scenes. So I was ready for his backstory to cause me to take the Guinness World Record number of baths after watching it. (I had Guinness on my speed dial.) But what did we get? A bullied, simpleminded mama’s boy. Bo-ring. Luckily, his undercooked story was told in the most grotesque way possible, with Lynch’s high-pitched voice coming from behind an extremely disturbing prosthetic.

His past found him at a truly terrible freak show where the little people performers ran him out by saying children told the cops that he was touching them. (“You better scram, simpleton.”) It’s taken to next-level gross by their intentions for doing so: they wanted to be the clown so that the kids could sit on their laps. Ew. Anyway, Twisty’s failure spiral ends in shooting himself in the face, which is where his chin and stuff ran off to, and then his new motivation became finding children to entertain and killing whoever they happen to be around at the time. I was more interested in his mid-career as a trash-toy manufacturer, which was a really nice touch. So no more Twisty, though I sincerely hope for a spinoff with Mordrake and his band of grody superfreaks.

”Do you want to hear about Marlene?”

It’s clear the writers were going through the German World War II-era equivalent of Penthouse Letters for Elsa’s backstory, which didn’t do so much to let audiences into her emotional state as her physical one. She was a no-touch dominatrix working with all sorts of debauchery – including making a man sit on a toilet seat of nails while a group of people watched on – so I’m not shocked that her moral code isn’t rock solid at this point in her career. At first it’s just layers of gratuitous acts that don’t seem to have an underlying purpose, but in a vaguely clever Twilight Zone spin, Elsa becomes a subject of the snuff videos that her “co-workers” had been making. Her legs get chainsawed right off, and her life is never the same.

Maybe we do understand her emotional state a little better now, as she did plead for Mordrake to allow her into his superfreak posse. Like her legs getting taken, she seems more willing to walk into a situation where someone else can do her harm rather than ever doing anything to herself. She’s too proud when she’s the only one listening, but apparently doesn’t mind begging an evil spirit to take her out. And then she’s right back to shitting on Bette and Dot once the crowd begins to gather outside the tents.

”There can be no shame with you.”

Despite the episode being largely about Elsa and the clown, the opening shines a well-deserved spotlight on Paul the Illustrated Seal and Legless Suzi. The pinheads just ran around while Mordrake looked tickled. (Perhaps there will be more on Pepper later.) Sick of the mockery, Paul got tattoos covering his body to freak people out, but left his face alone because he’s handsome. (Killer scene for Mat Fraser.) Meanwhile, Suzi’s parents left her on someone’s doorstep in a basket, and she ended up killing a guy by stabbing him in the leg, which she’d grown to hate.

The scariest thing about American Horror Story: Freak Show is that Dandy Mott serves as prime antagonist now. I mean, the end of the episode involved the oh-so-bigoted townspeople in Jupiter showing up to praise and shower love on Jimmy and the freaks for saving the children from Twisty. I guess the cops are kind of douchey, and Jimmy will have his time with them, and Dell has certainly got some sinister motivations. But it’s all up to Dandy to keep this series’ suspense going. This shitty-drawers son of a bitch murdered Patti LaBelle, people! Somebody needs to turn him into Dandy Marmalade.

Other Thoughts Floating Beneath the Big Top

I’m intrigued by what Denis O’Hare’s character will bring to the freak show, as he seems intent on trying to get his prize by any means necessary. He’s definitely going to get murdered, but how much damage will he cause before that happens?

I nearly apologized out loud after laughing when Mordrake tossed Legless Suzi across the room. Also, that the tap dancer was always dancing right next to her.

Favorite scene in the show: When the clown wants that kid to say that toy made out of trash is his favorite toy. That was great, and a good callback to the toy store. And I think my favorite line delivery in the episode is when Jimmy tells the freak show crowd that the clown is “just a little bit kooky.”

“Never cared for dwarves. Power mad.”

Even though Twisty’s story is the most important one for the episode, it becomes the least important one for Freak Show as a whole, since it preceded his death. That’s disappointing, and kind of shines a weird light on how hit or miss this two-part Halloween episode was.

“Ejaculate gold.” Gold, Jerry! Gold!

I need one of those top hat coffee cups.

“Clown stuff.” You know how clowns are.

Explain to me how that girl got knocked out after being lightly tackled into a muddy dirt road. Maybe she was malnourished. Is this where the phrase “Eat dirt,” originated?

“Citizens of Germany expressed their misery with their cocks.” Best Jessica Lange line in the episode.

“I gotta pee. You try holding it on a bike for five miles.” Worst Emma Roberts line ever.

Someone needs to put a haunted house in the woods, complete with a clown performance. Shut up because your lower face has been blown off and take my money.

If Dandy is trying to kill Emma “Her Character’s Name” Roberts, then why does he bother wearing his mask out in the dark dark woods? He deserved to trip, and not just because he’s awwwwful.

Still wondering what Dell’s story is. I might have to beat it out of him.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.