Edward Mordrake continues to interview the show members to find his corrupted sinful “freak” to add to his party – interviewing Paul and Suzi (he passes over Pepper and her fellow because they’re too innocent and full of joy to know shame), learning their history of them being cast out and shunned. Paul becoming tattooed to try and scare the people who rejected him – but not his face, because he’s handsome and everyone would see he was handsome if they didn’t see his short arms. And Suzi once, in desperate rage and jealousy, stabbed a man in the leg which killed him.
He goes on to see Elsa who is sure he is there to develop her talent and make her a star, while she lavishes contempt on the other members of the troupe – and Edwards calls her on it most gloriously. When his ghostly troupe grabs her, she insists she’s “not one of them” and they take away her prosthetics, revealing her legs are missing below the knee. Edward throws in more scorn
So it’s time for Elsa’s story, in 1932 Berlin with lots and lots of “sexual deviancy”. She was a dominatrix – a reluctant one, she talks about “trading away her humanity.” At one trick she was drugged, filmed – and they cut her legs off with a chainsaw and then left her to die. A soldier who had fallen in love with her and was stalking her saved her (something Elsa never forgave). The film was distributed.
Edward’s second face declares that she is the one – and Elsa begs him to take her, that she has nothing left to live for. He is ready to stab her – when he hears music
Outside of town, Jimmy is driving Esmeralda back to the show when his bike cuts out – he tells her they need to make their way back through the woods because they can’t be seen during the curfew. She is duly suspicious and dubious about walking through the woods, at night, with a man she doesn’t know – and doesn’t take “you’re not my type” as much of a reassurance.
At Twisty’s little prison, the young woman reassures the new captive and is still determined to escape. When Twisty comes back, she manages to make a run for it. She runs to the road before Twisty tackles her – Esmeralda and Jimmy hear her screaming and hide. They watch as Twisty carries her away and Jimmy follows to see if he can help. He tries to make Esmeralda stay behind but she adamantly refuses. Jimmy realises the clown is the serial killer – and Dandy appears behind them, knocking them both out.
When they wake up, Dandy and Twisty perform for their captive audience – starting to cut the captured woman (does she have a name?) in half with a saw; Jimmy gets free and punches Dandy, saving her. They look at Twisty to see if he will attack – and he applauds them. Ooookay. Jimmy tells everyone to run. Everyone does – but Twisty captures Jimmy.
Dandy chases the others – Esmeralda sends the three captives to the road while she lures Dandy away. Dandy has one of his tantrums.
It was Twisty’s music Edward heard and he appears as the clown holds a pair of shears over Jimmy’s body. Edwards demands Twisty remove his mask (despite only his eyes showing, Twisty looks like a scolded school boy. It’s very very creepy). He does, revealing his disfigured mouth – and Twisty tells his story.
He was a clown at a show, but hated the “Freaks.” It’s apparent that Twisty was probably developmentally disabled. They drove him out with rumours he was a paedophile (Edward throws in some contempt for Little People). Trying to be a toy maker didn’t work for Twisty, and confused and angry he tried to kill himself with a shotgun in the mouth – and he survived. And now he thinks she saved children, killing their mean parents and even getting them a baby sitter. Edward stabs him and he joins their ghostly troupe – his mouth now healed and unscarred.
Dandy returns to find Twisty’s body – and he puts on the mask Twisty wore.
The police arrive and investigate, Esmeralda and Jimmy are interviewed but they can’t identity Twisty or Dandy because of the masks. Esmeralda calls Jimmy a hero but Jimmy refuses any praise from the same police who caused Meep to die
Back at the camp, Elsa and Jimmy talk about Edward – and then a huge crowd of cars arrive, to thank Jimmy for what he did. Jimmy is stunned as everyone treats him as a hero and the whole town is friendly to the performers on the show. Elsa invites them all to buy tickets to that evening’s show – and Dell looks on looking troubled
Elsa’s also reduced Bette and Dot’s prominence in the show due to her jealousy – and Stanley finally arrives, presenting himself as being a talent scout called Bishop Spencer. Of course, Elsa makes room for him.
Dandy goes home to scare Dora – who isn’t even remotely afraid of him. And he slits her throat.
Edward’s take down of Elsa’ superiority, her contempt and the apt way he describes her as thinking she’s a “benevolent zookeeper”.
His point about her using contempt for others to raise herself up is also interesting. She’s an amputee but looks down on the “freaks” of the show even though some of them are “freaks” because they amputees. She was a sex worker, but looked down on the other “whores”. She always has a reason for why she’s “not like the rest of them”. It’s a complex and powerful narrative we see repeated
I also liked Esmeralda and Jimmy’s back and forth – he’s fixed on the oppression he faces, he sees the townies as the problem, people who aren’t “Freaks” – but completely misses that Esmeralda has every reason to be wary of a man and that persecution for being a “freak” isn’t the only oppression out there.
However, we have issues. “Sexual deviancy” seems to include a lot of BDSM and same-sex relationships. The sex worker narrative of Elsa does emphasise how vulnerable and frequently victimised sex work is which are certainly important messages especially since it didn’t present Elsa as disposable even as she was victimised. It was about her – she wasn’t a random point or casualty. It was about Elsa, it was Elsa, the person Elsa’s, story. But the media presentation of sex workers is inevitably about victimhood. I’m also really unhappy with the idea that, until Twisty appeared on the radar, Elsa was Edward’s choice of victim – when her story was all about victimhood not any evil on her part.
And Twisty – non-neurotypical serial killer.
I did like that Suzi and Paul both got to tell their stories and raise their prominence as characters on the show.
And the kidnapped woman, who really needs a name, was pretty awesome.
Dora (yes IMBD changed the credits this week) dying annoys me – I loved that she may have been playing a maid but that didn’t mean she was going to take shit from her employer or her employer’s son – her putting Dandy in his place was glorious – and now she’s dead. Gah. I also want to know exactly what demon this show has sacrificed to. Because there’s some infernal pacts going on that they managed to get Patti Labelle and Angela Bassett to show up for this (Desiree had one line: “I’m a lady and then some”. Yes.).