Dr. Sylvester Mansfield and his assistant, Miss Rothschild, are awaiting the appraisal of a medical specimen (purportedly a baby Sasquatch) at the American Morbidity Museum. They are instead accused of fraud, regarding both the specimen and their credentials. The docent secretly reveals that the museum is failing and is desperate for new exhibits. She promises to accept any authentic piece without asking questions about its acquisition. Dr. Mansfield learns that many of the displays were obtained from freak shows, deciding to go to Florida with his assistant.
Trick-or-treaters prowl the neighborhoods of West Palm Beach, Florida. A little girl named Jessie, whose coulrophobia inspired her big brother's costume, sees Twisty lurking nearby. Jessie tells her mother, but she does not believe her. Her mother and her mother's friend notice the increase of children, as many kids have come due to the curfew imposed in the neighboring town of Jupiter.
Ethel finds out from Dr. Bonham that she has cirrhosis, despite years of sobriety. He informs her that she has roughly six months to a year left to live. He advises her to keep her meat intake to a minimum and to maintain her abstention from alcohol. His compassion moves her to tears.
Jimmy, fresh from digging Meep's grave, sulks into the tent where his fellow freaks are engaged in holiday revelry. Dot chides them for their mirth. She suggests that they dedicate the night's show to Meep. However, Ethel tells the twins that they will not have a show that day, citing the legend of Edward Mordrake: a noble and talented Englishman with a whispering face on the back of his head. Despite Mordrake's best efforts to kill the face, it drove him mad. His family sent Mordrake to Bedlam, but he escaped to a freak show. One Halloween night, he murdered his troupe and then hanged himself as his demon head smiled. The legend goes that if freaks perform on Halloween, Edward Mordrake will appear and take one of their souls with him. Jimmy does not believe the story, but Ethel corroborates that it happened to her former troupe. She begins drinking and Jimmy confronts her, but she brushes him off.
At Mott Manor, Dora has been urged to dress and laugh as Woody Woodpecker, Dandy's favorite character. Dandy is upset when Gloria tells him that he cannot go trick-or-treating due to the curfew. He then flies into a fury when he learns that the costume they made for him is Howdy Doody. Dora stands up to him and when Dandy orders her to clean up his mess, she refuses by saying that she works for his mother. Dandy makes some alterations to his costume inspired by his new "friend" Twisty the Clown.
Jimmy eulogizes Meep, who is buried with bourbon and chicken heads. Miss Rothschild arrives, her hair dyed blonde instead of her previous brown. She tells them that her name is Maggie Esmerelda and claims to be a fortune teller from Philadelphia in need of a job.
Bette has a nightmare of a surgical separation from her sister, who has a bright future planned without her. Bette wakes up and asks Dot, who shared the dream but found it pleasant, if she really wants to be separated. Dot claims she will find a doctor to do the surgery, believing that even if one of them dies the other has a chance at happiness.
Jimmy tries to convince Elsa that Maggie is for real, even if she's not a gypsy. Maggie demonstrates by gazing into a crystal ball, telling Elsa to open her heart to the spirits. While preparing for her act, Maggie sneakily glances around Elsa's belongings, deducing Elsa's passion for singing and hatred for Marlene Dietrich. She claims to see many dark tidings and a past injustice from a greedy and jealous woman who looks like Elsa. She sees this look-alike getting a standing ovation for singing, and reveals the woman to be not Elsa, but "Marlene," who stole her career. Maggie hears another future, a heartbreaking song created by Elsa, which is received with thunderous applause. Further, a refined man with dark hair will guide Elsa to stardom. Enchanted, Elsa immediately hires Maggie.
In the trailer, Dell lifts barbells while Desiree inspires him with her costume. Despite her vigorous rubbing of his crotch, he fails to attain an erection. Desiree is tired of excuses for his frequent impotence. He rages against her but she warns him off before leaving. He wanders, grumbling, into the field and is hailed by a drunken Ethel. Ethel correctly guesses the reason for his fight with Desiree. He admits that he was never in love with Ethel. She demands that Dell never reveal to Jimmy that Dell is his father. Dell is curious about why she is so thoughtful, and she reveals to him that she is dying. She wants Dell to guide and take care of him anyway. Dell further admits that he has been wondering lately what kind of father he would have made.
At the Manor, Dandy is dressed up as a "killer clown." He threatens Dora with a knife, but she isn't scared of him and threatens to call the police if she finds another one of his murdered animals. Dora asks outright if Dandy is involved with the killings around Jupiter. When Dandy threatens to kill her, she says that she knows he is too cowardly to kill a human. He tells her that he hates her and runs away, and she mutters that the feeling is mutual.
Maggie calls Stanley, her partner in crime, from a telephone booth. She tells him that she is ready to leave Florida and that she is horrified by the freaks. She recalls being introduced by Jimmy to the twins - Bette acts friendly around her while Dot is cold and subtly insults her. Stanley is excited about the prospect of harvesting parts from the twins. He ends the call, having to attend to a half-naked "Viking" man in his hotel room. The gigolo removes Stanley's pants and is shocked by what he finds within. Outside Maggie's phone booth, a patrol officer warns Jimmy and Maggie about the looming curfew and warns Maggie to stay away from a freak like Jimmy. Jimmy and the cop trade barbs about Meep's death before Jimmy and Maggie motorcycle away.
Jessie is teased by her older brother, Mike. Mike is standing in the doorway to her bedroom and is too absorbed with himself to notice Twisty creeping up behind him. Jessie is too horrified to make a sound. Mike finally notices Jessie's expression and turns to find Twisty looming over him. He screams, alerting his mother and her friend. Their mother arrives at Jessie's bedroom and asks her where her brother is. Jessie points to her open window, claiming that the clown took him.
Bette and Dot are doing a rehearsal of their performance, unafraid of the Mordrake legend. Paul and Eve try to stop them, but Elsa enters, dressed elegantly, telling them that the legend is just a stupid superstition. Dot thinks that Elsa should wait until they are done before her own rehearsal, but Elsa shoots them down. Elsa demands that the carnies take up instruments while she sings Lana Del Rey's "Gods & Monsters." Edward Mordrake emerges in a green mist in the carnival grounds. Entranced by the music, he enters the tent and approaches the stage to watch the performance. Paul and Eve are visibly scared at the sight of him, but Elsa is unaware of who he is and is instead pleased that Maggie's prediction has come true. When Elsa bows, he disappears.
Ethel is in her trailer and she begins to see the ghosts of those who have performed on Halloween. Mordrake himself appears, confirming the reality of the superstition. He occasionally speaks to his whispering face, distracting him from his interview with Ethel. He says that the face will know if she speaks falsely, and he bids her to sit with him and answer his questions. He wants the story of her fall from grace, which she gives: she once had a popular burlesque show and fell in love with Dell, who became her manager and advised her to leave the troupe and go solo. Dell also tells her to stop her comedy burlesque act and do a drama act reciting Shakespeare, believing that the upper-class want culture, not comedy. The act goes horribly and Ethel is ruined.
However, the demon face wants to hear of her darker, deeper shame. Ethel admits that she and Dell were, at one point, penniless and unemployed and that she was carrying Dell's son at the time. Out of desperation, Dell sold tickets for a live show of Jimmy's birth. Moments after Jimmy was born, people ridiculed his deformed hands and Dell offered people the chance to hold the "monster baby" for money. Ethel laments that Jimmy has known nothing but exploitation from his first breath. Mordrake is moved by her story, and other ghosts arrive and look on. Ethel bows her head, telling Mordrake that she is ready to be taken. The demon head whispers "Not the one..." and she looks up to discover that Mordrake and the other ghosts have gone.
Dandy is masked and in a clown costume for Halloween. He visits the bus captives and tries to lure them with candy before trying to stab them. Twisty brings the new catch of the night, and Dandy exclaims in delight that they will have more fun.
Dr. Myron Bonham
Dr. Myron Bonham was doctor who had made a commitment to take care of Desiree Dupree after discovering that she was not a hermaphrodite as she had believed her whole life, but a woman with some particularly pronounced sexual traits.
Despite his good intentions, the doctor was threatened by Dell Toledo, who broke his hands so that he could not operate Desiree.
Unable to pursue his career, the doctor committed suicide by shooting himself.
He was a minor character in Freak Show, and was portrayed by actor Jerry Leggio.
- This episode marks Wes Bentley's first appearance in American Horror Story.
- Edward Mordrake to Ethel Darling: "Thank you for your pains, dear lady. I'm sorry you had to relive any of this."
- Ethel Darling: "You know what, Doc? I ain't crying 'cause you told me I'm gonna die. I'm crying 'cause you're the first doctor to ever treat me with respect. I just c-can't help thinking my whole life might have gone different if I'd met you sooner."
Cast and characters
- Sarah Paulson as Bette and Dot Tattler
- Evan Peters as Jimmy Darling
- Denis O'Hare as Stanley
- Emma Roberts as Maggie Esmerelda
- Finn Wittrock as Dandy Mott
- Frances Conroy as Gloria Mott
- Michael Chiklis as Dell Toledo
- Angela Bassett as Desiree Dupree
- Kathy Bates as Ethel Darling
- Jessica Lange as Elsa Mars
- John Carroll Lynch as Twisty
- Wes Bentley as Edward Mordrake
- Patti LaBelle as Dora Brown
- Erika Ervin as Amazon Eve
- Jyoti Amge as Ma Petite
- Naomi Grossman as Pepper
- Mat Fraser as Paul the Illustrated Seal
- Rose Siggins as Legless Suzi
- Celia Weston as Lillian Hemmings
- Skyler Samuels as Bonnie Lipton
- Major Dodson as Corey Bachman
- Jerry Leggio as Myron Bonham
- Christopher Neiman as Salty
- Drew Rin Varick as Toulouse
- Road to Utah by Pere Ubu
- Zwischen Heute und Morgen by Greta Keller
- Lazy Daisy Blues by The Goldtones
- Gods & Monsters by Jessica Lange (originally performed by Lana Del Rey)