American Horror Story: Freakshow ‘Orphans’ Review ‘Always One Of A Kind’


The Tragic Tale of Salty and Pepper

“The death of a beloved monster is always a sorrow…but never a surprise. If oddly formed organs or a random physical anomaly doesn’t claim them, then it’s the sheer intensity of their place. A carnies life burns larger and brighter than most. It is bound to extinguish sooner.” -Elsa Mars

Alas, the episode that I have been waiting for. And indeed, it was absolutely brilliant. Further, this ultimately confirms that Asylum was probably one of the best seasons of American Horror Story to date. Pepper, the unspoken, shy character who was always hiding in the background was seemingly a fan favorite from the first second she stepped on the screen in Asylum. And even though she has been mostly in the background in Freak Show, she was the star of this week’s episode, simply titled Orphans.

This episode had it all including some origin stories for some of our favorite freaks. What I liked most, however, was the back story of our beloved Pepper, how she came to Jupiter, Florida with Elsa Mars and how she ended up in Briarcliff in Massachusetts.

And to make things even more amazeballs, our good friend Sister Mary Eunice made her anticipated return. A big Freak Show welcome to Lily Rabe, whom I can only hope is present for Season 5. Still though, Pepper, played by Naomi Grossman, absolutely stole the show and our hearts. With barely a peep, it was truly a remarkable performance that should have people talking for years. Enjoy the review fellow freaks and let us all shed a tear for our sweet Pepper.

Salty Dog

Our episode gets started on a truly tragic note with the death of yet another freak. This time it’s Salty, one of the pinheads and also Pepper’s other half. I guess most of us on this planet won’t get to die in the arms of someone who truly loves us but Salty did. Pepper, however, is absolutely devastated and can’t bring herself to leave his body, even though it’s beginning to rot. Bring on the waterworks already and we’re only 3 minutes into the episode.

Then Stanley gets back on screen and my fists clench at the douchebaggery seeping out of his pores. We all know he’s up to no good and certainly this proves it:

Salt on a LogAnother trophy for his collection. Just nasty and disgusting stuff from Mr. Mustachio. Stanley also continues to persuade Elsa into her future in Hollywood and we all smell the bullshit from a mile away.

It’s not really clear how Salty really died but apparently he had a stroke. Although with Stanley lurking around every glory hole, do we really know for sure?

Then we get an absolutely sad but amazing scene with Desiree whom I have completely grown to love as much as Coven’s Voodoo Queen. She is reading Pepper some Velveteen Rabbit (and who doesn’t remember THAT story–if you don’t, your childhood probably sucked) and shows off just how sweet and sincere Triple Tits actually is. No one better lay a finger on her! Even Dell makes the observation that she would make a great mother one day.

bedtime-storiesOf course this all leads to what Pepper does best, like when she didn’t get her meatloaf:

Pepper TantrumBut Desiree has none of it and tells her to clean all this shitttttttt up! I love you Angela Bassett. Fantastic scene and some amazing acting from both.

Desiree meets up with Elsa for drinks and we finally get those flashbacks I’ve been eagerly waiting for. Elsa explains to Des that she joined a circus in Boston but she wanted to be in control. She knew there was a war coming and the boys would be sent off to fight so who would be left to perform? The freaks of course.

Freak Show or BUstThey would come for the freaks but stay for the star! Not a bad business model if you ask me. Elsa was a world class Entrepreneur and so she headed off to an Orphanage to start the recruitment process. And hit the JACKPOT!

King MeBy the way, I will also mention that the background music was stunningly beautiful throughout this episode. It’s the kind of stuff that makes your eyes well up with SALTY tears. Every single aspect of Elsa finding Pepper at the orphanage was stunningly beautiful, especially their exit. Elsa offered to adopt her but the orphanage just let them leave and Elsa truly loved Pepper with all her heart. And as bad as Elsa can be at times, it appears she actually does have a heart. So off they went…

peppermint-pattiesThe only problem was that Pepper had some needs. She needed someone to take care of, someone to be her Bae. And she also needed a soul mate. Luckily, fate would bring her both.

23 Flavors

First up, we get another mini origin story with the arrival of an Indian entourage who, obviously, are bearing gifts. Apparently this guy is one lucky slave because he also happens to be rich and has some mini slaves of his own. Good time to be a serf apparently.

EntourageCutest little entourage eva! Ma Petite is back and with the recent arrival of the Entourage trailer, I simply couldn’t resist 🙂 Only this time, it’s an all Indian entourage and Ma Petite is their shining star. Elsa immediately NEEDS Ma Petite but the Indian dude can’t part with his fave pet. Talk about hard bargain. Luckily Elsa has a plan, a very simple plan.

Dr. Pepper Al;ways One Of A KindWho woulda thought. Now I simply loved this for a number of reasons. First, I love Dr. Pepper and all of its 23 flavor goodness. Second, this episode was all about Pepper, so why not? And third, Elsa makes a damn fine endorsement for the soda! Need I say more? In classic AHS fashion, the Indian slave loves the stuff and sells Ma Petite, his prize possession, for a mere THREE cases!

Oh and in case anyone is wondering, they even got the slogan from the 1940’s right, which is truly amazing! Time to bring these bottles back Dr. Pepper! Check it out below:

Drink a Bite to Eat at 10, 2, and 4 o'clock.Notice the 10, 2 and 4…well now you know what that’s all about 🙂 Great stuff Ryan Murphy and co. And officially, Ma Petitie joined the Freak Show which, as we all know, turned out rather tragically for her as well 😦

But at least we got to see how she got there in the first place. I can only hope we get more of these back stories in the last 3 episodes. Ahem, AMAZON EVE’S back story especially, cus she is a bad ass! And Nintendo, if you’re listening, playable character status in Super Smash Bros. is a MUST!

Our MunchkinOf course, Pepper still craved a husband or someone she could love. So Elsa wrote every Orphanage in the country hoping to find Pepper a soul mate and online dating sites were officially born. But in all seriousness, she found Pepper that special someone, that someone most of us will never find and it just breaks my heart, and yours too I’m guessing:

Dont You Want Somebody To LoveJust adorable. A love story for the ages as Elsa says. They never hurt a soul and never sinned.

And then back to reality 😦 Pepper has lost everyone she has ever loved and everyone’s heart is now hurting.

Hands Off

Meanwhile, Maggie is still bullshitting around with her crystal ball only this time Des sees right through it after she gets all pessimistic with her and Angus. Des confronts Maggie on the carousel and we get another back story. Ryan Murphy had alluded to the fact that Maggie is a freak in some way but we have yet to see this happen so I’m not sure if he’s just pulling all of our penis legs at this point! But ya, Maggie used to be a little boy…wait, what?

NewsiesMaybe she does have a penis leg after all? I swear someone must have a penis leg in this show or else!!!! But ya, Maggie is a paperboy who likes to steal fur coats and other fine things. It was only a matter of time before sleazebag Stanley came to her rescue, possibly because he thought she was a boy.

Hands Off Perv

I think the whole season would have been much, much better off with more of these origin stories instead of packing them all in one episode, but at least we’re getting them now. Stanley befriends Oliver Twist and the rest is history.

Course Des doesn’t buy anything Maggie is telling her. Ya see, Desiree is officially onto these con artists and she’s about to KILL THEM DEAD if ya catch my drift. Triple Tits for president!!!!

that-is-some-bull-shittttAngela Bassett definitely needs more airtime and I can’t wait to see how this all plays out in the final 3 episodes.

And Stanley is obvs up to his dirty tricks again, this time paying Lobsterboy a visit in prison. They have a conversation about getting him out but clearly Jimmy is too poor to get a lawyer, so Stanley has a proposal that might get him out of his little situation.

i-got-an-idea-and-its-doucheyI gotta say I was pretty shocked with the final results of all of this as well, as was Maggie. She spills the entire can of beans on her partner in crime by bringing Des to the House of Oddities where they are preserving all the dead freaks and things are about to get interesting.

Hands OffSo are these really Jimmy’s hands? I assume yes. Looks like Jimmy gave up his money makers for a lawyer. Bad choice if you ask me. Maggie ends up fainting at the sight of this and it looks like things are about to get REAL in Jupiter now that Des knows exactly what is going on. SHITTTTTTTTT!

From Briarcliff To Hollywood

Back to Pepper’s story. Elsa heads off to visit Pepper’s sister (who also played FrankenKyle’s incest-obsessed mom from Coven) and convinces her to take in Pepper now that she has lost everyone she has ever loved. Poor Pepper, this is clearly a disaster waiting to happen.

Planet of the ApesThen the real fucked up shit begins. First off, Lily Rabe is back as Sister Mary. YAY! She is awesome.

The Return of Sister MaryBut then all the fucked up starts. Pepper’s sister has a baby named Lucas who was deformed. Pepper loves her like a sister should but clearly the parents are not fit to be parents. They’re all making Pepper make martini’s while she is taking care of the baby on her own. Good for you Pepper. Clearly these parents belong in prison or in an Asylum 😉

Ima RetardAnd we finally find out how Pepper ends up in Asylum. Apparently, her sister and retardo husband can’t take having a freak for a kid and so the father, pictured above in all his glory, decides one day to go and FRAME Pepper by murdering his own baby. Unbelievably tragic stuff AHS! And damn it, you had us ALL in tears after that one. So this whole infanticide thing that was mentioned in Asylum was clearly false.

Luckily though, Sister Mary Eunice gets some words out of Pepper and it’s the most adorable thing in the world. We now know why Pepper was treated the way she was in Briarcliff. And she certainly didn’t deserve to be there in the first place. Also, there has been MUCH speculation about an Area 51 type setting for next season (aka Operation Top Hat), and I am totally DOWN for this as it would actually add more to the whole alien abduction story from Asylum that really was never explained. Let’s all keep our collective fingers crossed that this actually happens! 🙂

That said though, Sister Mary sees some good in Pepper and it’s a great moment:

where-briarcliff-beganAnd then, the shocking moment at the end. Like holy fucking amazeballs! This totally blew my mind because I did NOT see it coming. A picture is worth more than I can even say:

SpeechlessSo we now know that Elsa Mars does, in fact, make it to Hollywood. The only question we have to ask ourselves now is HOW!? ZOMG after this episode, the final three should be absolutely fantastic, I just hope that certain people make it out of this season alive. Of course, we will all have to wait until the new year to find out. But this, THIS, is how I feel after this episode:

We Love You PepperGive Naomi Grossman an Emmy NOW! An EPIC performance from an EPIC actress and I can only hope she gets the credit she totally deserves. Way to go, you single handedly brought the Freak Show back to life. Can’t wait for the final 3 hours. 🙂

The Verdict

EPISODE SCORE: 10 / 10  An unbelievably remarkable and tragic tale with a twist ending. The story of Pepper will forever be remembered as one of the best episodes in American Horror Story history. I can still remember some of my favorite LOST episodes (for those readers who also happen to be LOSTIES) because they were so emotional that they were impossible to forget. Well, this is one episode of AHS that will be impossible to forget. Even my MOM was talking about this one and that…well, that just doesn’t happen folks. Not to many television shows can make a grown man cry but Pepper did and it was worth every tear. Thank you Naomi Grossman, what a performance.

It looks like Neil Patrick Harris will finally be joining the cast and things are about to get magical. AHS returns on January 7th with Magical Thinking and the preview has my mind racing. Here’s hoping that Twisty and Mordrake also make a return in the final three episodes:

One Freak To Rule Them All

Freak Show PollNot much to say here because I all know whos freak train were all riding on after this episode. Dr. Pepper anyone?

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2 responses

  1. Do you know who did the instrumental background music during the opening scenes?

    1. I’m not sure but I’d love to find out because it’s great! 🙂

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