There are only a few episodes left in this season, which means it's time to start tying up loose ends. That means that character are dying off with a quickness, and, perhaps more interestingly, those shared universe theories are becoming much less, well, theoretical. This episode was heavy on the melodrama, with plenty of flashbacks and revelations about one of the more beloved freaks, Pepper.
Salty, one of the more underused characters in the show, shuffled off this mortal coil since the last episode, and Pepper is in deep mourning. It's flashback time! Elsa recounts to Stanley her own humble carny beginnings, and how she found Pepper in an asylum after Pepper's sister abandoned her there. Eventually, Elsa found Salty as a mate for Pepper; although Pepper is the light of Elsa's life, a truly innocent, beautiful soul, Salty was "so stupid," Elsa sighs, so she leaves Stanley to take care of the dirty work. Which means, natch, that the museum has a new addition to its collection. Poor Salty. Poor Salty's head!
Later, Desiree and Elsa share a schnapps and some more memories about Elsa's early life in the carnival and her love for Pepper, as well as Ma Petite's origin story. It's pretty weird and involves soda pop as a trade for this tiny "untouchable" lady, who then serves as an in situ child for Pepper and Elsa. It's kind of creepy.
Desiree's own maternal instincts are kicking in hard, and it looks like she might have found her Prince Charming. She brings Angus T. Jefferson in for a reading with Maggie Esmeralda, whose drunken advice gets a little bleary-eyed and hostile near the end. Cue a flashback to Maggie's past, complete with Maggie dressed as a newspaper boy with sticky fingers and her introduction to Stanley. Ah, family.
Jimmy has apparently been blackout drunk since his mother died, so he doesn't actually know if he killed all those ladies or not. Okay! Anyway, Stanley has the perfect lawyer for him, but lawyers cost money and Jimmy doesn't have any. What can Jimmy do to earn money in jail? As it turns out, it has a little something to do with those magical claws of his, but not quite in the way you'd think.
Cut to an entirely confounding scene where Elsa decides Pepper needs to be with her biological family, because being with the sister who abandoned her and wants nothing to do with her would be better than life in the freak show. Right? Wronnnnggggg. That shared universe comes into play now, with a tragic look at what the future holds for Pepper and just how she ended up in the care of Sister Mary Eunice in "Asylum." This spotlight on Pepper is one of the highlights of the season, primarily due to Naomi Grossman's humanizing performance. I get the feeling that Grossman brings something to Pepper that wasn't on the page; it doesn't help that out of all the freaks, the "pinheads" are almost entirely ignored and used as background scenery.
We also get a peek at Elsa's future, courtesy of a magazine cover. Hey, at least things worked out for someone... at least for a little while. I've avoided reading the shared universe fan theories, so I'm not sure if or how Jessica Lange's characters are all connected; however, if Elsa somehow transmogrifies into Sister Jude, well, Elsa will be getting her comeuppance.
Things In Jars
Maggie drags Desiree on a road trip to the Morbidity Museum in Philly, where we see the fruits of Stanley's labor. Desiree is horrified to see Ma Petite and Salty's head floating in jars of formaldehyde, but the museum's latest specimen makes Maggie faint. Guess Jimmy found another way to pay for that lawyer!
How does everyone travel so fast? What's happening at the freak show while Elsa and Pepper and Desiree and Maggie are all off gallivanting across the East Coast?
It's nice to see Dell remorseful, and the hoarse voice is a nice touch. Their scene together was about as sweet as it could be. Here's hoping Desiree gets her white picket fence and Dell finds his own happiness.
When are the twins going to give up on Jimmy? COME ON.
What's Dandy been up to? Surely nothing good!
If this is how the actors find out that their episodes are airing, I don't even understand how production on a TV show works.
West coast I just found out from my East coast twifam that my 1st episode of American Horror Story is on tonight!- Malcolm-Jamal Warner (@MalcolmJamalWar) December 11, 2014