American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 10 Review: Orphans

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Pepper, Elsa's first freak, took center stage on American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 10

Her story, as it happens, is one of the most sad we've learned so far. It also links directly to American Horror Story Season 2 making it one of the most interesting.

When audiences were first introduced to Pepper in Briarcliff Asylum, we were told little about her other than she was a murderer. That, as it turns out, and as many always suspected, was untrue.

Pepper was a victim of those who should have loved her, including Elsa Mars.

After Salty's death, Pepper was understandably distraught. His passing coming so quickly on the heels of Ma Petite's death and disappearance meant Pepper had lost the two people she loved most in the world. Elsa's tale of Pepper's past, including how she came to be a part of the freak show, was mesmerizing and it's in those moments when this season shines.

There's so much history to be mined with these characters and stories to be told and those are often more interesting than the events in the present day. 

Pepper's sister left her in an orphanage when Pepper was 18. Elsa found her soon after once she decided that she wanted to be the boss and star of her own show instead of working for others and being a chorus girl behind someone less talented. She immediately saw a spark of life and love in Pepper and eventually took her in as the first freak of Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities. This made Elsa's decision to return Pepper to her sister the ultimate betrayal.

There was no way that Pepper would have a happy reunion with the family which put her away in the first place, and Elsa, on some level, had to know that. She left Pepper anyway, despite the girl's pleas to stay. The only good which came from the situation was that we now know one of the links between AHS seasons. 

Pepper ended up at Briarcliff after her sister gave birth to a deformed child, failed to bond with it, and she and her husband wanted to be free of their burdens. Pepper's brother-in-law killed his own son and the two blamed the infant's death on Pepper, who loved the boy like her own.

If there is a TV Hell, Rita and Larry are in it. Pepper is and was, as Elsa repeatedly said, a "pure soul," as was Ma Petite.

While Elsa has an affection of some sorts for all of her monsters, it's those with the pure souls she seems to love most. Psychologically, this is likely because she herself is so impure but she seeks that purity, craves it. The only quasi-redeeming factor there is that she doesn't claim to possess a pure soul herself.

As a mid-season finale, Pepper's story wasn't the only one to be told.

Maggie decided to come clean about her dealings with Stanley revealing to Desiree that he once saved her from being arrested for pickpocketing in a posh hotel. He paid her, fed her, provided her with shelter, and never took physical advantage of her, so their partnership was one she used for survival. Now, however, she's done being Stanley's partner. His con has overstepped the bounds of her personal comfort levels and she needs help putting him away.

While Maggie and Desiree were at the camp, Stanley convinced Jimmy to sell his hands for money to hire an attorney. Once Maggie recovers, Stanley's time is running short. 

If she wasn't done before taking Desiree to see the freak museum, she's absolutely done now, and probably ready to make Stanley himself a fixture in the museum which is probably too good an end for him.

When the series returns on January 9, we'll have Neil Patrick Harris as the show's new owner! He has an obsession with Bette and Dot Tattler that rivals Dandy Mott's (who did not appear in the mid-season finale).

Until it's return, we can watch American Horror Story online while preparing for our long winter's naps.

What did you think of the American Horror Story Season 4 mid-season finale? Are you sad to see Pepper leave the freak show? What do you think about the tie-in between this season and American Horror Story Season 2?

Orphans Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
  • 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (32 Votes)

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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American Horror Story Season 4 Episode 10 Quotes

We all fear that we will end up alone, that love will be pulled from us.


Desiree: I wasn't born on a farm, but I know bullsh*t when I smell it, and that's a whole lot of bullsh*t.
Maggie: Go to Hell, triple tits.