The 10th episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show, “Orphans”, packed a lot into an extended episode. We got a few backstories, confirmation that the creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, are indeed calling back to the past editions of the show, a few old faces return and it was actually well written. Let’s go……..
-I never knew his name, but Salty has died in his sleep and Pepper is a mess, which is fair enough as the two were basically inseparable. Elsa says he dies of a stroke, but I don’t believe and just then, Stanley approaches her, so I definitely don’t believe her. He tells her he received a telegram from the TV network saying that Elsa has to go to Hollywood in three weeks, so she needs her rest, but Elsa wants to take care of Pepper, which also means Salty’s body. Stanley says he’ll take care of it, which means cutting his head off and sending it to the morbidity museum. So, that is two weeks in a row that a head is cut off before we get to the opening credits of Freak Show, and I wanna say it’s the third beheading of the season along with Ethel and Gloria Mott.
-Desiree reads Pepper a story and then tries to leave to prepare for her show, but Pepper throws a fit and starts breaking stuff. Desiree asks her if she is done yet and orders her to clean everything up, because Angela Bassett is not here for your shit. Ms. Bassett has been underused after wreckin’ shop on Coven. She looks like she’s about to give Pepper some sympathy until Pepper throws shit in HER direction and she’s like, nah, bruh, not here. Dell tries to interrupt during this exchange and beg for Desiree back, but again, she’s not here for your shit. She all but says, dude, you like penis, go do that.
-She goes to Elsa’s trailer to tell her about Pepper, which sparks Elsa to tell Desiree about Pepper’s story. Elsa wanted to start her own freak show and needed to find freaks, so she went to the place where people throw away what they don’t want: an orphanage. She finds Pepper and starts playing with her, and takes her to the show (just walking her out of the orphanage because the adoption process wasn’t shit back then, apparently), where Pepper starts dancin’ around, partyin’ like shit. I’m not sure what was entertaining about this to people, but I’ll let it rock because Pepper is one of the few genuinely good and pure things left on Freak Show, which scares me that she’ll die. She was also left at the orphanage by her sister, but more on that later.
-We also learn the story of Ma Petite, who came with a Maharaja that came to see the show, and Elsa wanted her, but the leader was like, nah. So, she offers him a Dr. Pepper…..and he loves it so much that he trades Ma Petite for three cases of the shit. Now, if I’m following this great leader, I’m like, dude, your negotiation skills are terrible. But Elsa gets what she wants and Pepper has to look after her, which gives her a purpose. Then Salty comes from a boys home in Cincinnati, and Elsa marries the two eerily similar people. This story in a nutshell is why you love American Horror Story. Desiree tells Elsa that she has to take Pepper to her sister since she has lost Salty, Ma Petite and Elsa will be off to Hollywood soon, and Elsa reluctantly agrees.
-Desiree comes through Maggie’s tent with her new man, Angus (THEO HUXTABLE), and we learn that Angus is a travelling salesman. Now, I have written down, “does Theo know about the triple-tittay action?” and literally, two seconds later, Desiree saunters on stage just shakin’ and swingin’ them shits, so I wrote, “well, there goes that”. Then Maggie goes on a rant about everything is going to go downhill for Angus and Desiree, and the two storm out of the tent, but Angus says something about being a Christian and not believing in future-telling. I wonder if there is anything in the Bible about messin’ with three-tittied ladies with crazy genitalia, but hey, believe what you wanna, bruh.
-Desiree finds Maggie, drunk, on the carousel to find out what the hell that was all about, and Maggie decides to spill that she and Stanley are working together, not to kill freaks and sell them, but to pickpocket the freak show customers. Then she tells the story of how they met as she was selling newspapers, but would steal shit as well. She gets picked up by a cop, who is played by Brandon Stacy, who myself and my homegirl Lindsay SWORE we saw before as Bloody Face from Asylum, but I looked through his credits and it wasn’t him; he was played by Zachary Quinto, who hasn’t been in AHS since. But Quinto played Spock in the new Star Wars movies; Stacy played Spock in something called Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II. This is JUST getting started.
-Back to Maggie, she rolls with Stanley because he saves her from being arrested, and the two form their team. Desiree puts two and two together that freaks have been dying since they arrived and even though Maggie denies it, Desiree doesn’t trust her at all. Maggie bails to her tent, but finds Bette and Dot, who give her money to get Jimmy out of jail since people won’t take too kindly to them. Seems like they have a plan of some sort; I just want them to kick Maggie’s ass.
-Stanley visits Jimmy in jail and gives him some story about being an orphan as well, and asks Jimmy if he killed those women. Jimmy says he doesn’t remember as he was quite drunk, but can you kill nine women at once and not remember? Anyway, Stanley says he can get a lawyer, but he needs money and Jimmy doesn’t have any. He then leaves, but comes back and says he has an idea of how to raise the money, and looks at Jimmy’s lobster hands. Them shits probably go for a pretty penny.
-Maggie finds Desiree the next day and begs her to come to the morbidity museum because she is done with the lies, and Desiree doesn’t believe her at first, until she sees Ma Petite’s body, followed by Salty’s head. But the kicker is seeing Jimmy’s hands, and Maggie is like, nah, this has gone too far now. There are a ton of questions going on via text, namely if Jimmy would bleed out and how the hands got there that fast, but now I conclude that it’s American Horror Story and logic is for suckers. Also, Angela Bassett vs. Emma Roberts in an acting match is like me against Mike Tyson in his prime. And the thing is, Roberts was probably at her very best in this episode.
-Elsa takes Pepper to her sister in Massachusetts, and her sister, Rita, is played by Mare Winningham, who isn’t even listed in the IMDB for this episode. But she was in Coven for a couple episodes (she was Evan Peters’ mother who molested him) and she has been in a ton on TV and movies, so it continues. She’s a wicked bitch, but also, something doesn’t sit well with me. She messes up the “clogged pipes” line when telling Elsa why she couldn’t have children, and she walks away talking to herself. Something is amiss.
-Elsa then says goodbye to Pepper, and a brotha got all in his feelings. This is the first time this season that Elsa has been worth a damn and she is genuinely sad to be doing this, and even though it is selfish because she has to do what is best for her, Elsa still has ties to Pepper, who was her first freak. It’s pretty heartbreaking, especially when you know that Rita doesn’t give nary damn about Pepper.
-We come back from commercial and Rita is speaking to someone about her troubles with Pepper, and how she had a child that had something wrong with it, but it never says what and we never find out. But we do find out that someone is Sister Mary Eunice……who is played by Lily Rabe, and I start partyin’. She is one of a few that has been in all four seasons of AHS, along with Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters and Frances Conroy. Rabe played the Sister Mary role in Asylum, and she was Nora in Murder House and Misty in Coven (although the Stevie Nicks thing got real weird, real fast). So obviously, the two are speaking at Briarcliff, which is the setting for Asylum.
-A little aside: I heard that all of the AHS seasons were connected somehow, but I never knew that Ryan Murphy purposely did it, and this smacked me in the face. Again, my homegirl called it earlier in the episode with the orphanage, but a lot happened in this hour and I never thought much of it until we saw Sister Mary, and for as nonsensical and ridiculous as American Horror Story is, to make all these connections between four stand-alone seasons takes a lot of skill. Well done, Murphy (Falchuk too, I guess, but I’ve read Murphy is the driving force. Maybe he’s the one who does all the interviews and such, but Falchuk has written and directed his share of AHS episodes).
-Anyway, Rita tells about her home life, which she makes seem is hell for her, but really, she is lying in bed, making Pepper take care of her deformed baby while fixing her martinis, and she accuses Pepper of trying to seduce her husband, who is a dick in his own right and comes up with a plan to kill either Pepper or the baby, or both, it isn’t clear at first. So what he does, is drown the baby after kicking Pepper out of the nursery, and the couple frame Pepper for the murder, which is how Rita comes to bring her to Briarcliff. We see Pepper in a strait jacket, banging her head in sadness against a wall, when Sister Mary comes into her room and after a conversation about the baby, she sees remorse in Pepper. Sister Mary wants to make Pepper her redemption project and takes Pepper to the messy library, where she teaches her to pile up magazines such as Readers’ Digest, National Geographic and Time. Pepper is Rain Man with that shit, but as the episode ends, we see her picking up an issue of Time…..that has Elsa on the cover, and Elsa is now a huge TV star.
I’m putting “Orphans” up in the all-time pantheon episodes of American Horror Story, and while there have been a couple episodes this season that have been very good, they’re not topping this, and if you would have told me that an episode about Pepper would steal the season, I would have called you a liar. Pepper gave Elsa humanity after a season of being just awful, and she really tied together all of the AHS seasons with old faces coming back, and hell, she made me want to go back and watch Asylum; not to mention, they gave Angela Bassett some burn after I said she was underused this season. If you bailed on Freak Show before this episodes, I really don’t blame you, but I recommend “Orphans” highly. The only problems are that we now have to wait until January 7th for a new episode due to the holidays (because nothing says Merry Christmas like American Horror Story), and the sinking feeling that this could be the peak before a disaster of a finale.