There’s a theory making its way around sites such as Reddit
and Tumblr regarding the eventual fate of Twisty the Clown. Despite the
character’s omnipresence in a majority of the marketing leading up to the
premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show, fans are starting to wonder if
he won’t even make it past the first handful of episodes. At first it might
seem like a shocking turn of events to have the much-publicized Big Bad bite the
dust early on, but if this happens then it’s just a testament to one of
American Horror Story’s ongoing tropes: characters as concepts that can be
inhabited by several people.
It’s an idea that goes all the way back to season one’s
Murder House theme. Rubber Man was in much of the pre-air advertising campaign
and the mystery of his identity became a driving plot of the season’s first
half. Even when it was revealed that Tate had been the murderous version of
Rubber Man, we are shown several iterations of characters wearing that
suit/identity. Rubber Man became a concept beyond just a single character and
this trend would go on in the next installment of the show, Asylum.
This concept might just have hit its apex during Asylum as
Bloody Face was more than just Oliver Thredson—a reveal that wasn’t terribly
surprising if you knew what to look for—it was also the idea an idea of the
sins of the father finding their way to the son. Oliver’s son Lana would take
up the Bloody Face mantle but before the audience was let in on this, we were
given a delicious assortment of punk kids wearing fake Bloody Face masks and terrorizing
the desolate remains of Briarcliff Manor. It gave the show a chance to toy with
the concept of a certain character being inhabited by several people over a
span of decades. A deeper look into how evil is born and how it languishes
through the act of history repeating the mistakes no one learned from. This
advance of the trope was so much more layered than a hand-me-down gimp suit
finding various purposes.
With Freak Show there’s a villain that by the end
of the year will be the kind of over-arching concept and so more than one
character can inhabit the persona. Twisty the Clown is introduced early in the premiere episode
of Freak Show with a splashy entrance. His constant lurking punctuated with
seemingly random acts of violence established this grim figure as the new headliner
of our nightmares. But along came Dandy Mott, a character that fits so many of
Ryan Murphy’s favorite tropes. He’s aesthetically pleasing, sadistic, unhinged,
and pampered to the point of being completely disconnected from morality.
pretty boy with ugliness inside of him that gets the chance to connect with
after he makes Twisty’s acquaintance and that’s where things get interesting.
Here we have a character that actually made our veritable Big Bad turn tail and
run away like the cliché horror movie victim—all that was missing was for Twisty
to break his ankle while fleeing. It wasn’t enough to keep Dandy at bay and now
it seems as though young Mr. Mott will be taking himself on as Twisty’s
unexpected (and unwanted) apprentice of sorts. Promos for tonight’s episode
show him dressing up in his own clown outfit as he tries his hand at furthering
the lifetime mental scars of both of Twisty’s current captives.
But for someone with a temperament like Dandy Mott’s, enough
is never enough and so it seems that down the line he will grow frustrated with
Twisty’s game and seek to take over. The most damning evidence, other than the
fact that John Carroll Lynch is only a guest star while Finn Wittrock is a
supporting lead this season, can be found in the latest crop of promo pictures
from episode 4.04. In several of them, Dandy can be found wearing Twisty’s
half-mask. After getting that glance at Twisty’s brutal lower jaw situation it
would be very hard to believe that he willingly lent it to a protégé. It would
however, be likely that Dandy struck out at Twisty in one of his boredom
tantrums and is now enjoying displaying a trophy he can wear proudly. A far cry
indeed from the badly hidden animal remains of his prior kills. And similar to
the rubber man suit and skin mask before it, Twisty’s grin is more than just a
piece of a costume it’s a symbol.
The first Twisty might not last but his inspiration will live
on in another and take it from someone that has a slight bit of coulrophobia—everything
about Dandy Mott’s opening act in episode two was a thrillingly horrific
example of how all monsters are human on American Horror Story but true evil can live on as personas inhabitable by anyone.
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