Last night’s “Edward Mordrake (Part 1)” was a continued upswing from Freak Show’s first hour, reintroducing Denis O’Hare (Stanley) and Emma Roberts (Maggie Esmerelda) in characters already better than their Asylum counterparts. There were a couple of nods to John Carpenter’s Halloween, but the hour was remarkable less for its frights than the emotional backstory infusions. I don’t know about you, but I found myself sniffling more than once. Here are some of the highlights.
Kathy Bates Is Killing It as Ethel Darling
When Ethel told her physician she wasn’t crying over the bad news he’d just given her; she was crying because he was the first doctor to ever treat her with respect, I nearly started bawling myself. Kathy Bates stole this hour with her lip-trembling, emotional performance, a much more stable, I-think-we’ve-decided-Baltimore accent, and that sad re-telling of Jimmy’s “live freak birth.” Jesopus, Murphy!
Jessica Lange Covered Lana del Rey’s Gods & Monsters
Murphy promised and Elsa Mars delivered. I think we can all agree Jessica’s version is a far sight better than the original (and imo, much more enjoyable than her Bowie cover). La Lange also broke my heart with Elsa’s desperate need to believe Maggie Esmerelda’s seemingly obvious con. In other news, I’d love to see Elsa carry out her threat against Paulson’s Bette and Dot — both of whom are wearing on my last nerve.
Wes Bentley’s Glorious Edward Mordrake
As told by Ethel, the legend of Edward Mordrake (aka Mordake) portends that on Halloween, a freak will be kidnapped to hell by Edward’s (Wes Bentley) ghostly demonic half. Sporting a lovely accent and charming demeanor, Bentley’s top-hatted, twin-faced portrayal is the most alluring frightener since Oldman’s Dracula. Luckily, Edward’s demon rejected dear Ethel; I can’t wait to see who he goes after next week.
Patti LaBelle’s Kickass Dora
As the Mott’s housemaid and cook, Patti LaBelle’s Dora might have to succumb to a Woody Woodpecker costume (and perform an excellent impression), but she will TAKE NO SHIT. Standing face to face with Dandy, Dora dares the dipshit to carry out his deadly threat, but the cowardly boy knew enough to back off. Until that moment, Dandy seemed the scariest loose cannon in town, but Dora easily put him down. I predict Twisty will soon tire of Dandy; as a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to it.
“Thor,” and Denis O’Hare’s Impressive Package
Is that a Mjölnir in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Oh, Stanley… It’s good to see O’Hare with his tongue firmly planted back in cheek.
Twisty’s Most Excellent Stealthy Ninja-Clown-About-Town, and the Brothernapping
My one lament about last night’s episode was: Needs more Twisty! But as John Carroll Lynch proved, he’ll make the most of any screentime, silently slipping in and out of oblivious adults’ sight. That finger to the lip warning to the frightened little girl in bed was the capping crown of the night. Next week’s hour covers Twisty’s backstory; I’m so excited I would *almost* go wait in Twisty’s cage.
Oh and Maggie’s outfit — divine!