AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW It's entirely appropriate that "American Horror Story: Freak Show" would have two episodes devoted to Halloween, that time of year when everyone gets to play pretend that they're whomever they dream of (or fear) being. As Jimmy says over Meep's grave, the dude loved Halloween. "It was the one day he felt like he would have been one of them... But he wasn't one of them. He was better," Jimmy said, adding that Meep would occasionally sneak the odd chicken head into some unsuspecting trick-or-treater's bag. What a rascal that Meep was. Poor Meep.

Tonight's episode introduced the last few main characters: Emma Roberts as the spiritualist/grifter Maggie Esmerelda; Denis O'Hare as Maggie's partner in crime, Stanley; and last but definitely not least, Wes Bentley as the two-faced monster Edward Mordrake. Mordrake is a dapper gentleman ghost with fine manners and many talents; he also has a demonic face on the back of his head that whispers evil things to him and forces him to do bad things. Before he died, he was sent to an asylum, and later a freak show, where he snapped and killed everyone. On Halloween, of course. In the "AHS" world, there's really no such thing as a superstition, so as soon as Ethel warns everyone not to even practice on Halloween lest they rouse the murderous ghost of Mordrake, it was a done deal. However, the ridiculously genteel Mordrake was just one of many treats tonight's show had to offer.

Boo! Here come the spoilers.

Medical Nightmares

"AHS" is never a light and sunny affair, but this episode offered up some truly torturous medical scenes. The first, with Ethel, is surprisingly moving and serious. Ethel heads to the doctor with some aches and pains that it seems she's been dealing with for quite a while; going to the doctor is not only financially difficult but, as a bearded woman, probably really unpleasant for many reasons. When the kindly doc tells Ethel she has cirrhosis of the liver and perhaps six months to a year to live, she begins to cry.


"I'm crying because you're the first doctor ever to treat me with respect," she tells him, and adds that maybe if she'd met him sooner, her entire life would be different. It's not hard to imagine the sort of treatment Ethel has probably gotten from medical professionals in her life, and why going to the doctor with any ailments wouldn't be at the top of her to-do list.

Dot and Bette had an entirely different sort of medical nightmare. Dot's dreaming that they're laying on a surgical table, about to be sawed apart by a daring doc so Dot can start her awesome new life as a famous singer and wife and mother. Bette's trapped in the dream too, but from her point of view, it's a nightmare. And not just because at least one of them would die from such an operation. Dot's gone from uptight and morose to haughty and full of herself in no time at all, and Bette is getting pretty annoying too. It's a good thing that these headliners took a back seat this episode.

When we meet Maggie Esmerelda and Stanley, they're trying to hustle a supposed Sasquatch fetus in a jar to some nice folks at the American Morbidity Museum. That doesn't fly, but seeing Chang and Eng's conjoined liver in a jar, and hearing what sort of prices that kind of thing would fetch, gives Stanley a bright idea. The woman at the museum tells him she'll pay big for something similarly strange, no questions asked, so Maggie and Stanley head off to Jupiter to see if they can find any freaks with spare parts.

Dark Revelations

Ethel starts hitting the booze again, because hey, why not? She has a little heart-to-heart with Dell about her impending death and all that jazz, and she tries to get a little closure with him about their life together. She also begs him to look after Jimmy after she's gone, while at the same time asking that Jimmy never find out Dell's his real dad. Now, how exactly is that gonna work?


Maggie Esmerelda does a good cold read on Elsa for her audition as the show's new spiritualist. Music, Marlene Dietrich, a dreadful betrayal in her past, etc. etc. Maggie Esmerelda spins some yarn about a tall dark stranger who will help Elsa's career, and boy, that sends Elsa into a tizzy. The show is closed for the night because everyone is afraid of Mordrake's ghost; they don't even want to practice, but Elsa insists. Cue the billowing gusts of absinthe-green smoke, because here's Mordrake! Once he's done creeping around Elsa's show, he goes to find a freak to kill, as is his wont. He heads to Ethel's trailer, but apparently Mordrake's evil demon face has a questionnaire for each would-be victim, and Ethel's tragic life story bums them out so much that Mordrake and his evil demon face decide they should just kill someone else. Ethel wants to die, but it's not her time yet.

As per Ryan Murphy's teasing tweet, Elsa does a woozy, wonderful cover of Lana Del Rey's "Gods and Monsters," and even Mordrake falls in love. What more is there to say? Listen to it here.

I Remember "Halloween"

You didn't think they'd forget about Twisty and his new BFF Dandy, did you? There are several nods to the 1978 classic horror film "Halloween" here, from Twisty lurking behind a hedge to the interesting point-of-view shot when Dandy picks up a mask and puts it on. Young Michael Myers is also dressed as a clown when he gets all stabby on his big sister because of her slatternly ways. Dandy heads out to Twisty's terrible murder van to see if he can have any fun with the hostages, but he can't even stab anyone correctly. Sheesh.


I was wondering what, if anything, the "AHS" crew would do with the marvelous Patti LaBelle, whose character Dora works for the Motts. As it turns out, Dora raised Dandy, and what a treat that must have been. And while she'll suck it up and dress like Woody Woodpecker to please Mrs. Mott, she isn't scared of Dandy one bit, even when he's towering over her, dressed like a maniacal clown and wielding a butter knife. Things were a little touch and go, but thankfully Dora will be sticking around a little while longer.

Worth Noting

Chang and Eng's conjoined liver is on display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia; Maggie later mentions she's traveled all the way to Jupiter from Philly.

Stanley's taste in rough trade is imaginative, to say the least. Thor might have left his Mjölnir at home, but it seems that Stanley has his own special talents.

Dell has his own secret shortcoming that both Ethel and Desiree know about, and it has to do with how lifting all those weights is restricting the blood flow to his junk. Maybe that's why he's so mad?