Weekend Music: Halloween Edition

Happy Halloween!

That’s all I’ve got. You shouldn’t be reading blogs today anyway.

You should be getting dressed for a masque, or buying loads of candy for the kiddies, or setting an empty place at the table, depending on what the day means to you. Whatever you do, observe it, I say. It’s my favorite holiday. TV blogging from Will and Luther tomorrow. Not necessarily in that order. I’ll see you next week.

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American Horror Story Freak Show Edward Mordrake, Part 2 Review

In the second-half of American Horror Story Freak Show‘s Halloween episode, disparate threads from the show’s first act come together, and we get back-stories for Paul, Legless Suzy, Twisty, and another piece of the puzzle that is Elsa Mars. We also see the resolution of Twisty’s murder spree and the evolution of Dandy. (Caution—Spoilers below!)

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The episode is a bit uneven. It starts strongly—we are simultaneously given pieces of Paul’s story and pieces of Legless Suzy’s story. Suzy was born with a spinal  condition that led to the removal of her legs, and that led to abandonment. Her parents left her in an orphanage, and when she grew old enough to leave, it was during the midst of The Great Depression. Paul was born different, and his only escape was to sit in dark theaters watching the latest new film. In perhaps one of the most lump-in-throat moments, he discusses his tattoos with Mordrake–Paul is tattooed practically all over, but there are no tattoos on his face because he couldn’t bear to ruin its beauty. It’s a “pretty man’s face,” he says. With it, and a normal body, he “could’ve ruled the world.”

But these sad stories aren’t what Mordrake and his second head are looking for. He continues his journey to find a “pure freak.” Pepper and Salty are dancing together in the tent. Mordrake smiles a little at their joy, watches them play for a moment, but knows they aren’t who he’s looking for, either. And so he makes his way to Elsa’s tent.

Out in the woods, Jimmy tries to convince Maggie to get off the road. They can’t afford to be caught by the police out in the middle of nowhere after curfew. Maggie is reluctant. She’s a little bit suspicious of Jimmy (who is patently offended that she suggest he’d take advantage of her). But the two are forced off the road by a car, hiding in the bushes until it passes. And there, hiding in the bushes, our two plots converge. Twisty has just had to run after his female captive, who has made a break for it. From their vantage point in the bushes across the road, Maggie Esmeralda and Jimmy see Twisty catch the girl and carry her away. Jimmy elects to follow Twisty and help the girl, and he and Maggie sneak about. Unfortunately, they’re caught by Dandy, who is also lurking in the woods. I must admit an amusement at watching one plot running around in the woods after the other plot and fess up to making lots of bad jokes about it, but it was quite irresistible, the camp of it all.

Back in the tents, Elsa, still buzzed from the opium, from her encounter with Maggie, from her performance, is in rare form. She rambles on about her performance, about the things she wants to work on, but Mordrake silences her, announcing his intention to take a pure freak with him to the grave. Oh, but I’m not a freak, Elsa protests–until the phantoms push her down, reveal her prosthetic legs. Elsa relents, but only slightly.

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We’re in the Weimar Republic in 1932. Germany is war-torn from the first war and just about to see the rise of Hitler. Its citizens are looking for release, and Elsa is an incredibly successful dominatrix in an underground wonderworld of depravity. Pushed to reveal more, to talk “about the legs,” she reveals a hazy, semi-conscious memory of a group of men who come in, push her down, take her legs, leave her for dead. (And I’m left going “hey weird” because one of the men in that room is instantly recognizable to me as a history professor at USM. That kind of thing happens from time to time, seeing people I know on the show, but when they’re Nazi leg-takers, it’s a little disconcerting. The cognitive dissonance is high.)

Anyway Mordrake and his band of ghostly freaks are clearly moved by this conversation, excited about what she has revealed, and they’re about to take Elsa. Meanwhile, I’m going no, no, we need Jessica Lange in the whole season. This is important, dammit. It’s reportedly her last season on the show, so let’s make it count. But luckily, Mordrake hears a small tinkle of music that somehow appeals to his ear, and he’s off.

In the clearing in near Twisty’s tent, he and Dandy are trying to stage a show. They’ve got Maggie Esmeralda tied up and are about to saw her in half, but Jimmy escapes and knocks over Dandy. Twisty seems a little taken by this, and he applauds, but he’s far less amused when Jimmy uses the advantage of the moment to encourage everyone to run and his hostages start to scatter. He’s able to grab Jimmy and take him to the trailer, and Dandy is off hunting the others as Edward Mordrake walks up to Twisty.

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The two sit and have a chat. Twisty is ordered to remove his mask, and I’m waiting tensely to see more than just the snapshot we got a few weeks ago. And it’s a horror–Twisty is missing most of the right half of his face. Mordrake orders him to calm down, to speak, that he’ll understand. And suddenly, we do, too.

Twisty was a clown in a traveling circus. He loved making children happy, but he hated the freaks, who were always very mean to him. When they accused him of enjoying the children’s company too much, he was horrified at their suggestions and at the idea that others in the town might suspect him, and he fled home, to Jupiter. But his mother, who he was coming to find, had died in his absence. A malaise settles over Twisty, and it worsens when his attempts at constructing toys and selling them are met with resistance. He puts a shotgun in his mouth and pulls the trigger but is ultimately unsuccessful at taking his own life. He fashions himself a mask, though, and decides to continue “entertaining the children.” This now means abducting them, killing their parents, terrifying them.

Mordrake is entranced by the story. It leaves his second, evil head weeping. It’s Twisty who is the pure freak, and our deus ex machina clears up this story-line for us by murdering Twisty and taking his spirit to be a part of the freak show. I’m a bit sad about Twisty’s exit from the show though I understand its necessity to the plot.

But the townspeople of Jupiter are happy to have the killer caught, and they show up in droves at the freak show to make those thanks well known. Cue the entrance of Denis O’Hare, which is exactly what I suspected from Maggie Esmeralda’s fortune telling last week—he’s a “talent scout.” Oh dear. Watch out, Elsa. And across town, Dandy has gone home, wearing Twisty’s mask. He runs into Dora, and the two bicker, as usual. But this time he doesn’t stop when he wants to kill her—he cuts her throat before lifting the mask to smile a large, terrifying grin. Dandy has come-of-age.

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Next week, it looks like we’ll see more Dandy and Gloria, Something Bad for Dell and Desiree, and some deviousness on the part of our new talent Scout. And in the coming weeks we’re to get Neil Patrick Harris and Lily Rabe.

Episode Grade: B- Still a solid horror entry, but the deus ex machina ending to Twisty feels too simple, and despite all that happened, I found myself looking at my phone during the last half of the episode for the first time this season.

The Batman Column: Season 1 Finale

Good day, everyone! I know it’s been awhile, but working two jobs has kept me away from blogging for some time. However, I decided to take advantage of a little free time and come back to put together what will effectively be the season finale for my column here at Sourcerer. You, dear readers, have watched my blogging voice grow over the past months as I wrote my weekly Batman column that slowly began to grow into something more. The last couple of posts in that column dealt heavily with the ideas of narrative multiverses and correcting continuity errors by condensing storylines.

I hope to continue that trend when I do return; after all, it looks like Marvel may be headed towards its own Crisis on Infinite Earths with the recent teasers for its latest Secret Wars event that seems to tie into every major story from the past few decades. It’s no secret that Marvel has been playing with its multiverse a bit more over the past few years, with most major storylines featuring orphan characters from defunct universes, as well as time travelers from the past and many possible futures. It’s become a trope in many Marvel books that the timeline is effectively broken and in need of repair. Look for more from me as this event continues to develop.

Aside from my own work, I’ve also missed two very important events for comic book fans, those being Jack Kirby’s birthday (August 28) and Banned Books Week (September 21-27). Jack Kirby, the King of Comics, co-creator of Captain America, creator of DC’s New Gods, and primary creator of most of Marvel’s stable of characters, would have been 97 this year. I would like to wish belated good fortunes to his estate, and it looks like they’ve finally reached a settlement with Marvel over old rights. Further, I hope some of you were able to fit in such superhero stories as Watchmen or The Killing Joke during Banned Books Week last month.

That’s about it for this finale. Look for my column to return in full force in the near future, as well as small periodic posts here and at quaintjeremy’s thoughts. And as for a last comic book recommendation, I urge you all to go out to your local comic shops, talk to fellow fans, find books that will interest you, and follow them with all your heart. Keep the community alive.

I’ll see you all soon.

One more thing before I go

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Even though I said my Saturday Coffee post would be my last until I return from vacation, I can’t leave without announcing that Jeremy, the author of our most popular post, “Is Batman A Marvel Character Trapped in the DC Universe?” publishes his final post of 2014 on Wednesday. (I also owe Diana a Doctor Who review before I go, and I’m going to try my best to get that out.)

Without Jeremy’s help, we wouldn’t be planning this blog six months in advance and recruiting contributors right now. If you enjoyed his seven-month run of of weekly Batman posts and his comics recommendations, you want to look in here on Wednesday. As of now, Jeremy’s planning to return for the spring, and he is just as good with other comics as he is with Batman.code_seal_mar1955

We’re not posting on Monday or Tuesday this week. I’ve stirred things up a bit and  thrown a ton of ideas out into the blogosphere over the past ten days. I want to let things settle while I am on vacation and see where we are when I return.

We’ll have Batman on Wednesday, American Horror Story from Diana on Thursday, and take Friday off unless I decide to load a little weekend music. We will wrap up the week with a Walking Dead/Doctor who double feature from Luther and Will on Saturday. I promise not to publish the Doctor Who review at 2:30 a.m. like I did yesterday.

David is taking this week off, but he will be back. Give Comparative Geeks some love in the meantime. That’s the first blog aside from Part Time Monster I ever linked to. It’s one of only two blogs I’ve given guest posts to. David and Holly are awesome bloggers.

Other stuff:ninja

  • #SundayBlogShare is happening right this minute on Twitter. Sharing links on Twitter isn’t going to get you a lot of reads, but it might make you a friend or two.
  • I’m pretty sure we have a new contributor, but working out details and thinking about how to do the announcement up right. It might be awhile before we’re ready to go with it. I am also talking to three other interested bloggers. Thank you, Taylor Grace, for sharing the call for contributors.
  • I’ll be completely out of touch on Thursday, but from that point on, my vacation requires a lot of standing in line. So I’ll have pretty good visibility from the mobile and tons of free time. Those of you who have email and DM connections will be seen when you send me messages, but keep in mind that every form of text communication from the phone is laborious.
  • The world domination jokes were a hit last week, so have another 🙂

If this is your go-to blog and you’d like to try a new one out this week, take a look at Write On, Sisters! They are some fabulous bloggers, especially if you’re into writing. I met them during last year’s A to Z Challenge, and we’ve managed to stay in touch and make friends. I don’t link to them much here, so you may not be aware of them.

Have a great week, all. I’m off to share some links on Twitter.