American Horror Story Recap: “Orphans” [Episode 10]

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This week’s episode was both the most disjointed and yet connected show of the season so far. On the one lobster hand, Jimmy’s arrest for killing the women of the Tupperware party was barely covered, and on the other hand, we see how the dots connect from Asylum to Freak Show – so let’s get started.

The show opens with the passing of Pepper’s soulmate, Salty, who has apparently died in his sleep. The freaks are dropping like crazy at the carnival, so it’s skeptical as to how this really happened. When Stanley makes an insensitive remark, and Elsa tells him to leave, he presents a letter to her from the head of the television network about her future in Hollywood. Stanley wants Elsa to rest and he will take care of everything – and by everything he means chopping off Salty’s head and selling it to the Morbidity Museum.

Desi is reading a bedtime story to Pepper when Dell slips in the tent and asks for a second chance. Desi says no, that she can never truly make Dell happy. Dell leaves and we never see him again the rest of the episode. When Desi tells Pepper she needs to leave so she can get ready for tonight’s show, Pepper throws a fit and tears up her tent. Desi tells her to clean up her shit.

However, Desi doesn’t get ready for the show, instead she goes to Elsa’s tent and has a Schnapps. We are shown a flashback of 1936 when Elsa was a mere chorus girl fresh in America, but had her sights set on being in charge. She started her own collection of oddities and Pepper was her very first monster. Ma Petite was the second whom she purchased for three cases of Dr. Pepper. Such sweet irony, but the trio was a family for a while, until Elsa noticed Pepper needed more. That’s when Elsa found Salty at a different orphanage. Now, Pepper has lost almost her entire family. Desi recommends locating Pepper’s sister – the woman who dumped her at the orphanage all those years ago. Great idea, Desi!

Maggie is getting drunk in her tent. Desi and new beaux Angus come in all lovey-dovey for a reading. Maggie sees that Angus is a traveler and door-to-door salesman. He is a dreamer. They will move out west and live in a house with a white picket fence – then everything will fall to shit because all things eventually do. Angus and Desi leave.

A little later Desi confronts Maggie, who is still drinking, and tells her that it’s Maggie’s future that is rotting away along with a man in a jail cell. Maggie spills the tea and tells Desi that she’s no fortune teller. Desi cackles and says she knows that. Maggie says that she and Stanley are pick-pocketing partners and he’s no Hollywood talent scout.

There is a short flashback to 1941 Kansas City when Maggie, who was an orphan, gets caught stealing in a hotel and Stanley rescues Maggie from being arrested. She’s still indebted to him because all those years ago he fed her, kept her out of the rain, never laid a hand on her (only because he wasn’t into girls) and protected her. Desi wants to know what they want with a bunch of freaks. Maggie lies and says they pick the pockets of customers who come to the freak show. Desi doesn’t believe Maggie and threatens to “kill her dead” if she finds out it’s something worse.

When Maggie goes to her tent, Bette and Dot are waiting for her. They want to help Jimmy. They hand over money they’ve saved so that Maggie can hire a lawyer. Maggie, who is still drinking, lashes out at them. This is the first real acting chance that Maggie has had all season, but she makes a pretty lousy drunk – unlike Jimmy who was better at it. Dot tells Maggie she must not really love Jimmy. Bette tells Maggie if she doesn’t help Jimmy he’ll end up like Meep.

Finally we see Jimmy. Stanley visits him in jail and shares a sob story of how he too was an orphan, and has a plan to help him hire the son of a great lawyer. But it will take money and Jimmy doesn’t have money. Stanley asks Jimmy if he killed those women, but Jimmy doesn’t know. He can’t remember if he sliced and diced, then threw six women into an indoor swimming pool, because he blacked out. Stanley has another idea of how to get the money. The camera flips upside down and shows Jimmy’s hands.

Elsa and Pepper visit Pepper’s sister (who is Kyle’s molesting mom from Coven) Rita. She explains that she couldn’t look after her dim-witted sister and find a man and have kids – though she never had kids – so Elsa points out that she’ll have Pepper to keep her company and make her martinis. Rita says her husband Larry is not going to like this. Elsa and Pepper have a touching goodbye.

Maggie has asked Desi to accompany her to the Morbidity Museum to help her connect the dots. They see Ma Petite in a jar of formaldehyde. Maggie tells Desi that Stanley sold her for $3000. Then they see Salty’s head in a jar. But wait for it, when the scarf is removed from their newest exhibit – hands from Lobster Boy – Maggie faints.

We have a flash-forward of almost ten years to 1962 Massachusetts. Rita is consulting with Sister Mary Eunice (Yay! Lily Rabe has arrived!) and tells about the surprise baby she had at almost 50 years of age. We learn that Pepper really didn’t kill her sister’s baby, the reason she was committed to the Asylum, but it was a plot hatched by Rita and Larry to set Pepper up. Pepper was a kind and loving caretaker, the only one that baby had in its short little, life before Larry murdered him.

Pepper is led away in a straight-jacket and delivered to her future home of Briarcliff. Sister Mary Eunice finds Pepper crying and realizes that redemption is closer than she thought. She takes Pepper under her wing as her special project and puts her in the library to straighten up the books. While stacking issues of Life Magazine, Pepper spots Elsa Mars on the cover. Elsa has become the television star she always wanted to be.

Things to ponder:

  • I doubt we will see Sister Mary Eunice again. Was her point in this episode merely to “connect the dots?” If so, were you satisfied?
  • In all those episodes of Asylum, you’d have thought they would have mentioned that Sister Jude was missing her legs.
  • Since we now know that Elsa achieves fame, is her character on the show pointless? Is this the end of Elsa?
  • And finally, the show won’t return until Jan 7 but when they do, Neil Patrick Harris joins the cast and seems more sick and evil than Dandy. It will be a long three weeks.


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