“American Horror Story: Freak Show” recap (4.4): Off With Her Legs

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In the past, American Horror Story has been a show I loved to hate. I’ve watched most of the past three seasons with a hand covering my eyes, not out of fright but embarrassment at the poor storytelling on display. So it ‘s kind of disconcerting to say that I am actually enjoying this season. The characterizations have been mostly consistent, the number of plotlines is manageable, and the pacing has been a slow burn, rather than a premature ejaculation of gore. That being said, it’s still early in the season, and I will never trust a Ryan Murphy joint with my whole heart because I am not that much of an idiot.

When we last met, Edward Mordrake and his demon face were scouring the freak show for a new edition to their coterie, Emma Roberts was posing as a fortune teller until she could stuff a freak in a jar of formaldehyde and sell him/her to “science,” and Dandy and Twisty added another captive to their collection.

This week, Mordrake resumes his hunt for America’s Next Top Freak, with a great deal more tact and sanity than Tyra Banks. First he talks to the legless lady, who confesses to stabbing and accidentally killing a tap dancer, because she was annoyed he kept constantly showing off his gams. Mordrake and his demon face apparently don’t like tap dancers much either, because they don’t consider this a serious enough sin to take the legless lady to hell.

ahs4.1 JUST, LIKE, FUCKING DANCE QUIETER.
Next, Edward visits Paul, the Illustrated Seal, who recounts a childhood of torment, that finally made him want to tattoo his body and become the monster everyone saw him as. When Mordrake asks why he didn’t have his face tattooed as well, Paul tearfully confesses he couldn’t bear to destroy his one handsome feature, the constant reminder of the life he could have had.

ahs4.2LOOK AT THIS FACE. THIS IS A SOLID EIGHT IN ENGLAND.
And with that effective bit of heartstring tugging, I am immediately drawn in to this week’s story, because it’s grounded in emotional stakes. AMERICAN HORROR STORY, HAVE YOU BEEN READING MY RECAPS?

Still in search of a “pure freak,” the definition of which seems to change a great deal over the course of the episode, Mordrake wanders into Elsa’s tent. Elsa assumes he is a manager sent by the universe to propel her to stardom.

Mordrake: But what about the way I disappeared in a puff of smoke? You don’t find that eerie?
Elsa: You were just overcome with emotion and arousal from my performance.
Mordrake: What about this little face on the back of my head?
Elsa: The better to appreciate me with.
Mordrake: What about my weird accent?
Elsa: Dahlink, you’re one to talk.

Mordrake is highly annoyed that Elsa is so self-obsessed that she won’t regard him with an appropriate degree of terror, so he orders his ghost freaks to remove her prosthetic legs.

ahs4.3I DO NOT APPRECIATE YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE THUS FAR.
Outside of Jupiter, Jimmy’s motorcycle runs out of gas, presumably from the strain of hauling Emma Roberts’ wig around. They argue/flirt for a little while, the charm of which is sort of offset by the fact that she wants to pickle him.

ahs4.4SELLING ONE HAND TO SCIENCE AND KEEPING ONE FOR ME.

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