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American Horror Story recap: Freak Show' recap: 'Orphans'

Pepper provides a bridge between American Horror Story seasons past and present.

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American Horror Story Freak Show
Michele K. Short/FX

American Horror Story

TV Show
run date:
Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters
Current Status:
In Season

“The death of a beloved monster is always a sore one, but never a surprise,” says Jessica Lange’s Elsa at the beginning of American Horror Story: Freak Show‘s fall finale. In reality, the line should read the death of any character on American Horror Story, as it’s never a surprise, but then we’d be entering some real meta craziness, and we have much more time for that later in the episode. Sadly, there wasn’t as much death as there was a lot of talk in Freak Show‘s fall finale, but there was enough intriguing bits to make us impatient for new episodes in 2015.

As I am filling in for you regular AHS recapper, Darren, I hope you’ll all appreciate with me how very Batman-like “Orphans” was with its freak show origin stories, one of which involves the sale of Ma Petite in exchange for three cases of Dr. Pepper. Who would have thought my fellow Indians would love Dr. Pepper so much? I guess Thums Up had yet to be invented in the ’50s. (Look it up Americans, it tastes so weird and good.)

The episode began with an end. Salty had finally succumbed to his pinhead fate and died, supposedly of a stroke according to Mama Mars, though his surprising death had a bit of a Stanley-esque ominousness to it. But that might have just been thanks to Stanley later chopping Salty’s head off of his stinking body and displaying it for the morbid museum. Just another day in the life of a fake talent scout, I presume? In the midst of the clean up, Desiree is acting mighty motherly with Pepper, reading her stories and sassing it up when Pepper throws a fit. She later learns from Elsa about Pepper’s past—which is about as depressing as the time when Matt Bomer died on Freak Show. Remember that? Low blow, AHS writers, low blow.

Pepper’s life was always unfortunate: Her sister couldn’t handle her and dropped her off at an orphanage, where she lived until she was 18. She was rescued by Elsa, who was looking to begin her freak show wrangling career. She simply walked out of the orphanage with Pepper in hand; no one there was too worried about losing Pepper to the outside world. Back in Jupiter, Elsa and Pepper continued to grow their freak show with the addition of Ma Petite, who should receive a lifetime supply of Dr. Pepper for having to be imprisoned by a royal dummy for as long as she was his “pet.” Ma Petite ended up being a kind of child to Pepper, and later Pepper received a mate in the form of Salty, who came to the freak show after Elsa wrote letters for someone to fill Pepper’s romantic loneliness. The first iteration of Match.com, people!

Meanwhile back in the present day, Desiree forgives Dell for his overall horribleness, and somehow so do I because as Darren says #BecauseChiklis. Later Desiree and Angus visit Maggie/Esmeralda to get a reading on their hopefully white-picket future. The reading starts out alright with happiness, rainbows, and sunshine, but ends with a black pit of tar much like one Desiree has experience with and much like the soul inside Maggie herself. The fake psychic, who seems to be using Shawn Spencer/Psych-like techniques to draw up visions of her employers, has clearly been spending too much time with Jimmy as his drunk is rubbing off on her.

Desiree confronts Maggie on the merry-go-round (almost always a staple in creepy shows and movies), Maggie reveals that she and Stanley are fakes but doesn’t seem to care about doing anything to make up for her sins, yet. When Desiree tries to interrogate out their reason for coming to Jupiter, Maggie plays dumb and says it’s to pickpocket freak show customers, which might be the lamest and worst lie I’ve ever heard. Desiree agrees, “I wasn’t born on a farm, but I do know bullshit when I smell it.” (Is Desiree a relative of Drake? Because their lines are very similar: “Look just understand that I’m on the roll like Cottonelle.” I’m pretty sure Desiree came up with this for the rapper.)

NEXT: Freak show, you in danger girl.