Performer of the Week: Freak Show's John Carroll Lynch

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | John Carroll Lynch

THE SHOW | American Horror Story: Freak Show

THE EPISODE | “Edward Mordrake: Part 2

THE AIRDATE | October 29, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | Arguably, Lynch could’ve been Performer of the Week every week since Freak Show’s debut. After all, from the moment we saw him in costume as Twisty — and glimpsed the rage behind his haunted eyes — he scared us silly. But in the wake of his heartrending work this week, there could be no debate. Just as Mordrake’s demon face knew that Twisty was “the one” for their unhappy family, we knew that Lynch was “the one” for us. How could we not?

In beat after crushing beat, the actor made us feel more for his terrifying alter ego than revulsion — even with the clown’s ruined maw exposed. As Twisty told the tragic tale of his downfall — from popular children’s entertainer to failed toymaker — his portrayer forced us to put ourselves in his (metaphorically) oversized shoes. So, by the time he was through, we had no choice but to understand the frustration of being, as he put it, “a good clown” shut out of the vocation that gave him a smile that wasn’t drawn on his face.

In years to come, Twisty is sure to be remembered as being one of American Horror Story’s — and, for that matter, pop culture’s — most disturbing monsters. But, thanks to Lynch’s sensitivity, we’ll never forget that there once was beauty in the beast.

The MiddleHONORABLE MENTION | The Middle ordinarily depicts firstborn Axl as the quintessence of self-confidence. So it was refreshing to see his portrayer — the hilariously loose-limbed Charlie McDermott — play a bit of uncertainty. When the college sophomore spent Halloween night locked in the library, he confessed to a bust of Shakespeare (which he named LeBron) that he had no clue what being a business major meant for his future. “Am I gonna be a businessman?” he wondered. That McDermott was able to give such a vulnerable performance without sacrificing any of Axl’s quirks suggests that he has in common with his character an enviable surplus of awesomeness.

FitzHONORABLE MENTION | Throughout this early stretch of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s sophomore run, Iain De Caestecker has poignantly portrayed Leo Fitz as a brilliant young man whose world was rocked by a brush with death — and right on the heels of him professing his feelings for colleague Jemma Simmons. The salt in the wound: Simmons left FItz soon after, robbing him of the partner he’d long had at his side. As such, we’d been waiting for a Fitz/Simmons reunion, to gain greater insight into the “break-up,” and De Caestecker did not disappoint. Things were, to say the least, awkward as Jemma attempted re-entry into Fitz’s orbit, until her almost foreign presence on the Bus prompted him to snap, emotionally, “You left! I needed help…. You gave up on me.” De Caestecker broke our hearts — for not the first time this fall — as Fitz struggled to make sense of the abandonment. Little does he know, as Jemma would reveal to Mac, she only left out of concern for his well-being.

What performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below and let us know!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Samantha Swank says:

    Finally Iain gets some love! He is knocking it out of the park this season.

  2. Jojo says:

    Iain deserves legitimate Emmy consideration. His performances all season has been incredible.

  3. Joey says:

    So glad you picked John Carroll Lynch. He’s been absolutely fantastic to watch this season.

  4. Emily says:

    Viola Davis (who is arguably fantastic every week) blew me away with that monologue in the courtroom this week.

  5. OM says:

    I’m so happy that you mentioned Iain de Caestecker this week! He’s been amazing this season, especially when he confronted Ward. And I know it’s never going to happen, because Agents of SHIELD is a network show of a genre that rarely gets recognized by different award shows, but he deserves an Emmy nomination.

  6. Sarabeth says:

    Eden Shur (Sue, the Middle)…every single week!!

  7. Karen says:

    Carrie Preston has been fantastic in the Good Wife.

  8. katedfw says:

    It’s pretty rare when you can take the scariest clown from repulsive and evil and actually make you feel compassion for him. He is still evil but it was heartbreaking to see how he arrived at that place. Now watching Dandy take his place is even scarier!

  9. webly3 says:

    I can’t believe I felt sympathy for the clown after all the horrible things he did. I agree 100% with this pick.

  10. Lisa says:

    John carroll lynch was mesmerizing this week as twisty. He essentially took everything we thought about a murderous clown and turned it on its head in one fifteen minute act. Even at his most silent, lynch made you feel the emotions behind the mask with just his eyes and mannerisms

  11. Matt C. says:

    John Carroll Lynch was fantastic. I never imagined I would feel sympathy for a killer clown.

    Also, Viola Davis deserves a mention, as always. That courtroom scene gave me chills.

  12. But Gemma Simmons decided that she needed to leave without discussing it with him first because she was too afraid to share the burden with Fitz.

  13. Kim R says:

    I don’t watch AHS but I do love that you picked the 2 honorable mentions. As Axl poured his heart out to “LeBron”, how many kids watching could relate to those fears? Well done. And Fitz just makes me tear up every time he is on screen. I am still a bit confused to why Simmons felt she had to leave. I can be slow sometimes. :)

  14. titoveli says:

    the 2 psychos on NCIS stole the show this week specialy the lil psycho girl

  15. I love that Iain is getting recognition for his amazing performances thus far. He has been sublime.

    I am also thrilled to see you recognizing Charlie McDermott. He is, hands down, my favorite part of The Middle and the reason I tune in each week (followed closely by Eden Sher’s Sue). As I watched his conversation with LeBron I thought, What a nice departure from the usual Axl swagger, and what a great job the actor is doing in showing vulnerability, Axl-style.

    As for John Carroll Lynch, well, let’s just put it this way: I had to stop watching this season of AHS because of Twisty.

  16. DL says:

    So thrilled to see John Carroll Lynch get recognition for his amazing work! Here’s hoping Finn Wittrock will get picked for his performance as Dandy in subsequent weeks. He’s phenomenal as well.

  17. Joey Padron says:

    Glad Iain got some love. He’s been great this season so far.

  18. Wendy says:

    John Carroll Lynch was amazing.

  19. dave says:

    Finally thank you for featuring Ian he’s amazing on shield as fitz he’s become my fav character now but I still am gonna wait for him to feature as performer of the week and he certainly will

  20. shreya says:

    Iain de caesteckers seriously deserves some emmy love which will obvisiously never happen they have those same 5 nominees every season!
    Fitz can easily become irritable but in his hands you look forward to Fitz’s scenes every week to see that him recovering and I want to see fitz score a win he’s been on the losing end for a very long time and you really root for him to recover from his brain damage
    I’m kinda hating jemma right now but I can understand her point of view as well

  21. Rhonda says:

    Charlie McDermott is an underrated gem! He frequently veers between bravado and vulnerability and completely sells both without losing any of the comedy or becoming sappy. So glad to see him get a well-deserved shout out!

    And seriously people, watch The Middle if you’re not. Best family comedy since Roseanne in my book .

  22. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    JCL from AHS: Freak Show SMART CHOICE!!!! He deserves that sh*t ahaha!

  23. I certainly don’t think Lynch’s performance could be argued, but I think Sonequa Martin-Green’s work on The Walking Dead this week was honorable mention worthy.

  24. Donny Lamb says:

    I got the show (American Horror Story) right in my prediction; however, I thought you go for Jessica Lange. She made her character’s back-story especially poignant this past week. I thought for sure I’d nailed it when I saw her. Then again, I’m still reeling from your pick from last week. (Jensen Ackles???? Really??)