sister Eunice

American Horror Story Freakshow Season Finale Recap S4E13: Curtain Call

American Horror Story Freakshow, S4E13: Curtain Call

Original Airdate: January 21, 2015

Recap by Sarabeth Pollock


It’s the final night of the Freak Show, ladies and gentlemen!

Dandy Mott is going to sing Cole Porter tunes.  The Freaks are out hanging new show posters, and while they work Penny contemplates leaving the show.  Paul points out that their show is a dying breed.  At least Dandy has money, so for the time being, they need to stick with him.

Speaking of Dandy, he’s in the main tent chastising the light guy for confusing the red and blue light for his rendition of “Anything Goes.”  Magenta is for the spirited performance.  Duh!  He’s surrounded by “amateurs.”  The Freaks return from their task and Dandy wants to know how many tickets have been sold.  Paul says that they haven’t sold any tickets, which angers Dandy.  Surely they have done something wrong, even though they just put up the new signs 30 minutes prior.  Dandy thinks they are washed up and suggests that they need new talent.  When he suggests that Penny should have horns, Paul pushes him away from her.  Dandy says he owns them, which pushes Eve over the edge.  She punches Dandy in the nose and lays him out while the other Freaks pin him to the ground.  Paul tells Dandy that he has no talent, that he does an abominable Cole Porter, and that while he had been willing to “eat shit” to keep the show going; now he’d rather starve.  Paul announces that they all quit.  He takes Penny’s hand and they walk away, leaving Dandy on the ground with a bloody nose and an empty playbill.

Elsa arrives at the network to see the vice president.  The secretary reminds Elsa that he only sees people by appointment, and she doesn’t have an appointment, same as the day before and the day before that.  She says she has new headshots and that she will wait.  The hours tick by as the ashtray fills.  When the office closes, Elsa wants to know why the VP didn’t walk past her.  The secretary informs Elsa that he snuck out the back to avoid her.  The guard is close by, so when the secretary tells Elsa that “Marlene did it better,” and when Elsa slaps the girl, the guard is close by the restrain her.  She falls to the floor weeping when a man runs out and offers her his hand.  His name is Michael Beck (he changed his name because he was German—a communist…and is he also the one who cut her legs off??).  Elsa lights up when she hears this.

Dandy is finishing his makeup.  He looks quite dapper in his red and white suit.  “Showtime,” he declares. He walks out of his tent and down the dirt road, humming to himself.  Paul is waiting for him and he wants to know about their last week’s pay.  Dandy shoots him in the head.  Penny sees this and ducks into the laundry.  Dandy approaches and shoots her, then he goes into the mess tent and shoots Toulouse.  Suzi tries to dodge him but he follows behind her and shoots her in the head.  Desiree hears the shot from her trailer.  As the Freaks flee, Dandy keeps shooting.  Eve finds Paul’s body and grabs an ax.  Dandy shoots the Fat Lady, then heads to Desiree’s trailer.  She’s hiding and he screams when he can’t find her.  Eve bursts in and tackles him, and for a moment she manages to get the gun away from him but he gets it back and shoots her in the leg and then in the head.  He hurries back into the trailer but still can’t find Desiree, who managed to switch hiding places while he was outside.

Dandy to his own trailer, where he has the twins tied up.  They’re bound and gagged, and he leans down and takes the gag out of Dot’s mouth.  He tells them to come with him.

Jimmy, equipped with his new hands, makes his way to the camp to find food.  He’s starving.  That’s when he sees how quiet it is.  He calls for Elsa and goes to her tent only to find that she’s gone.  He calls out for anyone, but there’s no answer.  When he goes into the main tent he sees all of the dead Freaks lined up in a row going down the main aisle leading to the stage.  He falls to his knees and weeps, and when a hand grabs his shoulder he falls over in terror.  It’s Desiree.  She hugs him and sobs.

Dandy has taken the twins back to his mansion.  They’re in a wedding dress and he’s in a tux.  A harp player and a flutist play music as they walk down the aisle, with all of his stuffed animals serving as witnesses.  The minister pronounces them man and wife.  “Mrs. Mott,” Bette breathes.  He hopes that Dot doesn’t feel like the third wheel, and she assures him that she will just leave her body.  He hopes she’ll join in from time to time.  “A stallion needs his mares in line,” he says.  They have prepared a feast for him.  He hopes they can have little Freak babies.  He’s drinking more and more champagne, and that’s when he starts to feel funny.  Desiree sits down at the table.  He doesn’t recognize her at first, thinking her to be the maid, but she reveals her ample cleavage.  She says that wedding night has been cancelled.  Dot and Bette tell Dandy that they wouldn’t dream of being with him after he slayed their entire family.  He was ready to give them everything he has, that they were going to be together until death.  Death can’t come fast enough, Bette says.  She shoots him in the arm when he tries to get up.

Desiree calls for the next course, served up by Jimmy himself.  We see that the twins snuck him in while Dandy wasn’t looking.  The tray has a note that says Mr. Dandy Mott will be performing.  He’s going to be a real Freak, Jimmy says.  Dandy passes out.

Dandy wakes up in his underwear, locked in chains, and in the glass box used for the water escape trick.  Earlier, Desiree looks at the box and asks Jimmy if they can cut his balls off.  They agree that this is what the other Freaks would have wanted.  Returning to the present, Jimmy says that he has to escape in order to live, that he killed good people.  “I’m good people too!” Dandy insists.  He says he was just doing what God put him on this earth to do.  It’s his purpose.  He pleads with the twins to let him go, and he says he forgives them and that marriage is hard.  He wants to go home.  Bette says he’s going to hell, and that she hates him for taking her friends away from her.  Desiree says that many of their kind have been killed, starting with the ones Stanley killed and put in jars.  She says that Dandy may look like a dream, but he’s the biggest freak of all.  She starts filling the tank with water.  Dandy says that he’ll give them money, he has tons of money.  Jimmy says that they will always win because they defend each other.  “Freaks shall inherit the earth,” he says.

As the tank fills, Dandy screams and fights to break the chain holding him down.  Desiree eats popcorn and watches as Dandy struggles and screams that he hates them.  Dot laughs with Bette.  The water passes over his head, and suddenly Dandy goes still.  “Heck of a show,” Jimmy says.  “That boy is a star,” Desiree declares.

(Ooh, look, a preview of The Strain!)

1960, Hollywood, California

The newsreel shows the creation of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and this week they’re celebrating Elsa Mars, Friday night’s darling, who has three Emmys and music awards.  She’s married to Michael Beck (who happens to be the man who cut her legs off).  We see Elsa filming a coffee commercial, and eventually she stops filming because she thinks the writing is shite.  Beck brings her a publicist who wants to do a Halloween spread for Parade Magazine, but she says she will not perform on Halloween, as per her custom.  Beck tries to convince her, but she turns to the publicist and starts talking trash to him.  Later, we see that Elsa is in control of her husband in more ways than one (as in the kinky way).

Elsa goes home to find her old German friend there.  It’s Massimo.  He says he has been to Nevada, but he wanted to come to her.  She confesses that she’s in a horrible marriage and both she and her husband cheat on each other.  She has everything she wants, and yet she has nothing.  She tells him the story of Ethel baking her a cake and making a birthday wish to be happy.  She begs him to go away with her, so that she can be with someone who loves her.  Massimo says that he’s there to say goodbye, as he has lung cancer that has spread to his bones.  He has a month at most.  “There will be no one left,” she cries.

Beck returns home and Elsa is drinking.  Beck has Mr. Gable from the network with him.  She thinks he’s there to convince her to do the show on Halloween, but that’s not why he’s there.  He says that someone got their hands on the 8mm films from Germany and the tapes are at the Times.  She had told Beck she lost her legs in a rail accident, but she lied.  The media is going to publish the article the following week.  Beck says he’s going to leave her.  He also says that Ms. Hopper at the Times hired a private eye and found out about her time in Jupiter.  He says that all of the Freaks are dead, which troubles her because she didn’t know.  Gable says there is a morals clause in her contract and that she will be released, with pay, of course.  Elsa, sensing that the end is near, agrees to perform on Halloween after all.

Elsa gets set to film her scenes.  The Halloween Spooktacular.  There is a live audience in the house as the lights come up and the music starts.  She is back in a white suit and she’s signing “We Can Be Heroes.”

Elsewhere, Desiree walks down the street with her husband, the man we saw back at the show who came to visit.  She has kids, too.  She looks happy.  She sees Elsa performing on a shop television and smiles.  Jimmy is sitting down for a TV dinner, served up by the twins—who are very pregnant.  He praises Elsa’s pluck.  Bette turns off the TV, declaring that they have seen this before.

As she sings, the green fog rises around them.  The producers didn’t order fog yet!  Edward Mordrake is here, and Twisty (Yay, it’s Twisty, and he’s not deformed!!) is with him.  Edward senses that Elsa’s pain has led her to a suicide.  He raises his knife and Twisty tells her that it only hurts for a moment.  “Your place is not here with us,” Edward tells her as she falls to the ground.

Elsa is dressed in black and she’s moving toward the main tent.  Ma Petite is there to greet her.  Paul and Penny welcome her.  They got married.  Ethel is on stage.  Elsa asks where they are.  “Sins of the living don’t add up around here,” Ethel says.  Elsa thinks she needs to pay for what she’s done, but Ethel points out that actors don’t get arrested for playing their parts.  She says it’s great there, with full houses every night.  They miss their headliner, and she’s a terrible friend and she can’t cook, so what else is she going to do?  Elsa preps for the show with Ma Petite while Ethel warms up the audience.

The curtains part and Elsa is on her throne in her powder blue suit.  The music starts and Meep and the Freaks clap from offstage as she goes to the front of the stage and looks at the audience in wonder.

So ends Season Four of American Horror Story Freakshow.  As up and down as the season was, I felt oddly at peace with the final moments of the show.  Given Dandy’s horrific tantrum, I think he got off too easy, but hey, that’s life.  Finn Wittrock was the highlight of the season after Twisty left.  I really wanted more of Twisty…I hope we see him again.

What did you think of tonight’s bloody episode?  Was it a fitting finale?

American Horror Story Freakshow Recap S4E12: Show Stoppers

American Horror Story Freak Show, S4E12: Show Stoppers

Original Airdate: January 14, 2015

Recap by Sarabeth Pollock


We’re back this week with NPH on the loose at the Freakshow.  With one episode left, there’s no telling what might happen!

A car pulls up in the rain at the fairgrounds.  It’s Stanley.  He’s feeling cocky (excuse the pun).  There is a huge banquet going on in the main tent where Elsa introduces Chester as the new owner.  She hopes he cherishes the monsters as much as she does.  Chester and Marjorie get up and he thanks her for her faith and wishes her well in the “land of make believe.”  Marjorie is hoping that the “sour Kraut” leaves soon so they can take over.  Elsa asks Chester to give the original family of freaks a moment alone.  He leaves, and Elsa thanks Stanley for transforming their lives.  The women at the table exchange looks.  Maggie smiles coldly at him.  As the troupe says cheers, Elsa announces that they will all be on her television show.  And later that night they will all watch “Freaks.”  Stanley hasn’t seen it.  The freaks give Stanley a summary of the plot, making sure that he is adequately scared by the innuendo.  He stands up to leave, but Elsa insists that he stays.  Maggie tells him to shut up and sit down.  He deserves this, she says.  A big box is placed in front of him and the freaks gather close to him.  He opens the box to find the embalmed head of the curator inside.

After Maggie fainted at the museum, she and Desiree were taken to the curator’s office.  The security guards had been sent home already, and when the curator bends close to Maggie, Desiree strikes.

Stanley is horrified, and terrified, that his secret is out.  He tries to play off what he did, but Elsa won’t hear it.  Her Hollywood dream was just a dream.  As thunder claps above, Eve grabs him and he is strapped to the wheel.  Elsa grabs her knives and starts throwing.  Stanley says he really knows people in Hollywood, but Elsa isn’t listening.  They take him off the wheel and she throws a knife in his thigh.  As he screams, he tells the freaks that he helped Elsa kill Ethel.  Elsa’s composure slips slightly, but the freaks don’t notice.  They take out their knives and chase Stanley out into the rain.  He screams when they surround him.

Bye, Stanley.

Elsa pays Jimmy a visit in the shed where he’s being hidden.  Maggie is with her.  Elsa tells Jimmy that his father was an accomplice to the death of Ma Petite.  Jimmy doesn’t want to hear it, but Elsa insists that she heard him confess.  She says that she watched him grow up, and without his mother the duty of caring for him falls upon her.  She has a man coming to make him new hands, but first he must allow Maggie to put new bandages on for him.  She leaves, and Maggie tries to clean his wounds.  Jimmy screams in agony even though he thinks her only role was to hurt people.  Maggie says that she still loves him, that they can still go to New York.  She tells Jimmy she is going to make things right.  She has changed. Jimmy suggests she gets the hell out of dodge before he gets his new hands.

Elsa is on stage yelling at the stage hands about how to focus the spotlight.  A stranger enters the tent.  We’ve seen him before in Coven, only then he was known as the Axeman.  Now he’s someone from Elsa’s past, someone she cares very much about.

The twins are getting it on with Chester.  They see that Marjorie is watching them as they do the deed and they beg him to put her away.  He dumps the doll on the floor and they have a spectacular orgasm.  Later, Chester apologizes to Marjorie and tells her that the twins don’t like her watching.  She says the twins are using him, but he says they can cure him.  Marjorie says that he’s a murderer, but he says that Marjorie was the killer.  “That’s impossible,” she says, “I’m a doll.”  We see a vision of Chester on the bed killing his wife and her girlfriend.  Marjorie says that he doesn’t need the twins when he has her.  “Those twins have to go,” she says.  He knows.

The freaks are gathered around looking at pictures Ethel during her heyday.  They wonder if Elsa will still leave now that Stanley is gone.  Suzi can’t stop thinking about Stanley said about Elsa’s involvement in Ethel’s death.  Paul never really believed the story in the first place, because Ethel would never kill herself and leave Jimmy and the rest of the freaks.  He knows what happens when you cross Elsa, but that’s all the more reason to take care of it to protect their own interests.

Bette and Dot are at the mirror primping.  They look happy.  Bette didn’t think it would ever feel like that.  She’s glad they asked him to put Marjorie away.  That’s when Dandy shows up.  He insists that he comes in peace and he wants to give them information about their situation.  Dot is immediately defensive, but Bette still smiles at him.  He says that things have changed since his mother suddenly died, and it has put things in perspective for him.  Bette is incredibly sympathetic.  He says that he needs to reach out to the people who he cares about.  Bette tells him that they’re with another man.  He knows this, and he insists that he comes in friendship.  He says he hired someone to check into Chester’s background and Chester is a sicko.  They knock the papers out of his hands, and Dandy backs off.  His job is done.

Jimmy is sleeping fitfully when Elsa arrives in the shed.  She offers him some water and a shot of penicillin.  Her companion, Massimo, is an old friend, a carpenter, who can make him new hands.  Massimo says that they’ll be mostly decorative, but that’s better than rusty hooks.  Elsa reveals that her legs are made of wood and that she would have died without his help.  We flash back to the night Elsa’s legs were cut off.  He cared for her for two years, and he went and hunted them down.  When he came upon Hans Gruper, Gruper shot him and tortured him.  Massimo was rescued by an SS officer until the war was over, and then he came to America in 1947 and tried to reconnect with Elsa.  Now, however, he feels he has no soul left to love with.

The next day Chester has a meeting with the freaks to talk about the new show lineup.  Bette and Dot debate internally about Chester’s innocence.  Dot says that she isn’t going to let Dandy’s file change her mind until there is proof.  They tell him they don’t want to be his assistant anymore.  He wants the twins to be part of his finale, only now he wants to saw them in half.  They don’t want to get in the box, but Maggie, eager to help, volunteers. Chester, who is brimming with anger, tells her to get in the box.  In his mind he’s rehearsing for the show.  Maggie’s face is replaced by that of his wife’s lover.  He announces a new component to the act: manacles around the feet to hold them in place.  Maggie starts to get uncomfortable now that he’s deviating from standard procedure.  But Chester isn’t aware of her anymore.  He’s talking to Marjorie, to the dead lover.  He grabs the saw and starts sawing.  Maggie screams, and when the freaks come out from backstage, the deed is done.  Blood pours from Maggie’s mouth and Chester pulls the boxes apart with flourish.  Maggie’s entrails fall all over the floor.

When it’s done, Chester is covered in blood and the freaks are all around him.  He seems to come to his senses and insists that he can put her back together.  Marjorie laughs in the background.  He tells everyone that Marjorie made him do it.  He runs off and the freaks gather around Maggie.  “She had it coming,” Desiree drawls.  She says they need to steal her jewelry and bury the bitch.

Chester is furious with Marjorie back in their tent.  She’s packing their bags, telling him that he screwed up and they have to leave.  He doesn’t want to leave, and before we know it he’s stabbing her to death.  Once she’s dead, he begs her not to leave him.

Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Dayton, Ohio. 1946.

Jimmy is throwing up while Ethel is at the mic introducing the next act.  The act is her own son, “Lobster Boy” Jimmy.  He’s supposed to juggle but he’s nervous.  She gives him a pep talk and tells him to go out and make her proud.

Eve is in Jimmy’s shed.  She tells him that Maggie is dead and asks if he wants the details.  He shakes his head.  She says that Elsa is next, that very night.  Eve sees the plans for his new hands and says that he has a shot at a normal life.  She’s happy for him.

Bette and Dot go into Elsa’s tent and catch her without her legs.  They tell Elsa that she’s next, that the monsters have been plotting her death all day because she killed Ethel, who was more a mother to them than she was.  Elsa wonders where she will go.  “Anywhere but here,” they say.

Desiree gathers the troops.  Eve reports that Jimmy would be there if he could.  She takes a shot in Ethel’s honor and go off in search of justice.  In Elsa’s tent, however, they find a record playing but no sign of Elsa.

Elsa is driving in the rain.  She looks very unhappy, having been cast out.  Dandy is with her.  “I never refuse a lady in distress,” he says.  He gives her a wad of money and leaves.

Chester goes into the police station and confesses to a murder.  He has a parcel in his arms and the police order him to drop it slowly.  Inside is Marjorie’s body.  “Send me to the chair!” Chester laments.

The next day Dandy pulls up to the freakshow.  Paul and Eve meet him.  Dandy declares that he’s the new owner and he wants to take inventory.  Elsa sold the show for ten thousand dollars.  Paul asks him if it has been Dandy’s dream to be in show business.  Dandy confirms that this is his dream.  He orders Paul to get him a lemonade with a paper straw.  Dandy takes center stage and bows before the imaginary crowd.  There’s a noise coming from offstage.  In a pen made of chicken wire, Dandy finds a “new” Meep: Stanley, with his arms and legs cut off.

Massimo brings the new hands to Jimmy, who tries them on.  When he holds them up we see that Massimo didn’t make normal hands—he made hands that look like Jimmy’s lobster claws.  “Thank you!” he says.

And that’s it for this episode of Freakshow.  Justice was served as Stanley loses his limbs and becomes a freak, while karma deals Maggie a blow.

With one episode left, anything can happen!

American Horror Story: A Peek at the Links Between Seasons 1-4

Spoliers for AHS Freakshow “Orphans” (S4E10)

In last night’s episode of American Horror Story Freakshow, fans got a glimpse into the beginnings of Elsa Mars’ show, starting with the acquisition of her first “monster,” Pepper.

When Pepper ends up at Briarcliff in 1962, Sister Eunice sees hopes for redemption (for a crime she didn’t commit).  When she puts Pepper to work in the messy library, Pepper finds an issue of Time Magazine from July 1958 that depicts Elsa Mars as the star of Friday night television.  So now we see into Elsa’s future while delving into Pepper’s past.

Read more here.

American Horror Story Freakshow Recap S4E10: Orphans

American Horror Story Freak Show, S4E10: Orphans

Original Airdate: December 17, 2014

Recap by Sarabeth Pollock


Well, the dreaded Episode 10 has arrived.  S4E10.  If you’re new to the AHS franchise, Episode 10 marks a turn toward the end of the show, when all of the rules change, things you have held as sacred are torn apart, and anyone—anyone—could die at any moment.  Now, we know from media reports that Lily Rabe is set to reprise her role in tonight’s episode, marking the second character crossover after Naomi Grossman’s Pepper.

And so it begins.

The beginning of the end.

Elsa starts out narrating what it’s like to lose one of the monsters.  We see Salty and Pepper sleeping together.  Only Salty isn’t sleeping.  He’s dead.  Paul gently explains that Salty is just a shell.  She still clings to him.

Elsa tells Eve that she understands Pepper better than anyone.  Most “pinheads,” she says, die before they’re 40.  Salty died in his sleep, probably due to a stroke.  But Pepper was with him until the end.  Elsa tells Stanley that she tried to teach Salty with flashcards, but he couldn’t learn.  Pepper could learn, though, and she did.  Stanley tells Elsa that she is a woman besieged with worry.  The telegram from the network executives has arrived that asks for her to rest so that she can be ready for the opening coming up in the schedule. While he says to rest, Elsa says that she must take care of Pepper.  Stanley proposes that Salty be cremated, so that Pepper can keep him close to her.  He wants to take care of the body.  When Elsa acquiesces, we flash to a scene of Stanley “taking care of things.”  He chops Salty’s head off, pausing to cast the ashes of his cigarette into an urn.  Then we see Salty’s head on display next to Ma Petite in the museum.

Pepper is in Desiree’s lap listening to her read a bedtime story.  Dell comes in and tells her that her rendition of the story will make her a great mom some day.  Dell pulls her outside and says that she saved his life, and that he doesn’t want to give up on their relationship yet.  Desiree tells him that she can’t make him happy, and that he needs to move on.  She returns to Pepper and tells her that she will finish the story after the show.  Pepper falls into a rage, throwing everything all over the tent.  Desiree watches her until she’s finished, then she orders Pepper to clean up the tent while she’s gone.

Elsa invites Desiree for a drink.  She explains that Pepper has only ever known abandonment her entire life, until Elsa found her.  They toast.  Desiree wants to know what happens when Elsa leaves for Hollywood.  First Ma Petite, then Salty.  Pepper will be beside herself when Elsa leaves.  Elsa launches into a tale of the time when she came to America.  It was Boston, 1936.  Work was scarce all around.  Elsa was in a gypsy camp, and then a carnival show.  She was in a chorus line, but she needed to be in charge.  Wartime was coming, and she had vision.  With the boys going off to war, they needed entertainment.  Come for the freaks, stay for the beautiful headliner.  So Elsa went about collecting freaks, starting with an orphanage, since that’s where people throw away unwanted kids.  There we see Pepper in a window, cradling a bundle in her arms.  Elsa goes inside and sits down with Pepper, playing with her blocks.  Pepper starts to play with her.  She never knew her father, and her mother died.  Her sister loved her but couldn’t care for her.  She was 18 and alone, and she had the mind of a child, which made the adoption process easier since she was an adult.  Pepper was Elsa’s first Monster.  With Pepper, she felt unconditional love for the first time.

We see Pepper’s first performance, and Elsa knew from the start she was a keeper.  As she collected monsters, she knew Pepper had needs as a woman.  She could never breed, but her maternal instincts were strong.  The answer arrived later, when the Maja Rajah came to the show with a young Ma Petite.  Elsa wanted her, though the Maja Rajah would never part with his favorite pet.  Elsa offers him a soda, and she ended up buying Ma Petite for three cases of Dr Pepper.  With Ma Petite, Pepper had a new friend.  Elsa had never seen her so happy, but she wanted more.  She needed a spiritual husband.  Eventually, an orphanage in Cincinnati wrote that they had another microcephalic.  Soon Elsa was officiating a wedding between Salty and Pepper.  It was a simple ceremony considering that they knew six words.  Ma Petite was their child, and Elsa was the fairy godmother.  Desiree feels horrible that Pepper is all alone in the world and has lost everyone.  She suggests that they try to find her sister, that perhaps the sister will be able to handle her now.  With a sad sigh, Elsa reasons that their little angel might need to leave.

Maggie is in her tent playing with a card that has Jimmy’s picture on it.  She has been drinking.  Desiree comes in with Angus.  They want a reading.  She tells Maggie that they met the night that she debuted her new tassles during the show.  Indeed, we see Desiree swirling the tassles in the tent.  Angus was sold.  His days as a bachelor were numbered at that point.  Maggie sees that he’s a salesman, which he confirms.  She sees that he a romantic, a dreamer, out West with a big house and a picket fence.  Maggie sees their love and she starts to fall apart.  Eventually, she says, they will hate each other and things will go to shit.  Maggie sinks back and says it all ends the same.

They leave her, and she ends up on the carousel alone.  Desiree finds her and tells her that she is seeing her own dismal life.  Maggie reveals that she’s not a fortune teller.  She says that she and Stanley are business partners, that he isn’t a Hollywood producer.  We see them back at their humble beginnings, when Maggie was a newsie and pickpocket.  Stanley spots her in a hotel right before she gets arrested for theft and offers her a job.  Desiree can’t believe her parents let her go off alone, but she had always been alone.  Desiree wants to know what they want with the freaks.  Maggie says that they were fleecing their customers.  Maggie calls Desiree “Triple Tits” and stalks off, but Desiree catches up to her and says that things have been happening since they arrived, and if she finds out that they had anything to do with the recent deaths, she would come after them.

Maggie barges into the twins’ tent and lies on their bed.  Bette offers her an envelope full of money, telling her that they had been saving up but now they want to use the money to hire a lawyer for Jimmy.  Maggie scoffs at the idea, and Dot wants to punch her, but Bette urges her sister to let her handle Maggie.  Maggie says that they are simple minded idiots, but Dot speaks up and says that Jimmy thinks she walks on water.  Dot doesn’t see it.  And the last thing they want is for Jimmy to end up like Meet.  She will do right by Jimmy.  They toss the money at her and leave.

Jimmy has a visitor.  It’s Stanley.  Jimmy isn’t thrilled to see him.  Stanley says he lost his mother when he was young.  He was an orphan and he got into trouble, but not Jimmy’s kind of trouble.  He asks Jimmy if he did the crimes.  Jimmy isn’t sure.  He can’t remember.  He’d had too much to drink and everything was black.  He just can’t believe he killed them.  Stanley doesn’t think he killed them, either.  Stanley has found him a top-notch lawyer who will want a retainer.  Jimmy doesn’t have any money.  Stanley leaves, but he returns with an idea on how to raise the funds.  He points at Jimmy’s hands.

Back at the camp, Desiree is preparing a feast.  Maggie shows up and can’t believe she’s seeing Desiree trying to be Betty Crocker.  Desiree hasn’t forgotten their conversation and she doesn’t know what she’s going to do with the information.  Maggie pulls her into the tent and says that she wants to help Jimmy, but if they don’t act then every freak in the show is going to be dead soon.  She needs Desiree’s help first before she can help Jimmy.

Elsa pays a visit to Pepper’s sister’s house.  Pepper is sitting on the couch with a box of her belongings.  They’re in Sudbury, Massachusetts.  Rita, the sister, knew that she wouldn’t have had a chance at a real life if she had to take care of her sister.  But she couldn’t have kids, so she’s alone now.  Elsa tells her about the things that she taught Pepper, from caring for others to preparing Singapore Slings.  But Rita doesn’t know what she’ll tell her husband.  She must take Pepper in, Elsa says, because she will probably die of a broken heart if she doesn’t have someone who loves her.  Rita goes off to prepare a room for her, muttering about how angry her husband will be.  Pepper cries and begs Elsa to stay.  Elsa tells her that she loves her and she will always be her family.  She kisses Pepper and tells her that her sister will make mistakes but Pepper must forgive her because she is trying her best.  Elsa leaves.

Maggie drags Desiree to the museum and shows her what Stanley has done.  Desiree first sees Ma Petite, then she sees Salty’s head.  All the while, the docent leads a tour and is about to reveal their newest acquisition: Lobster hands.  Maggie realizes that they’re Jimmy’s hands, and she faints dead away.

Rita explains that she and her husband tried everything to take care of Pepper.  We see that she’s talking to Sister Eunice.  It’s 1962.  Eunice asks for a reason for Pepper’s confinement.  Rita says that she never thought she could have children but one night she went to the hospital and found out she was pregnant.  She had a baby, but he was severely deformed.  Pepper helped out while Rita was confined to bed.  She mixed drinks and cared for the baby while Rita stayed in bed and drank.  Larry came home and wanted Pepper to go downstairs with the baby.  Soon, Rita says, Pepper was walking around naked.  Eunice says that shock therapy, along with caning, helps with that.  Rita says that Pepper had a killer instinct, though neither she nor her husband saw what happened.  Rita was ready to go out to a party.  She needs to get out because she has been stuck at home with Pepper and the baby that she never bonded with.  They’re on the same page…they need to go.  Larry has a plan.  Rita asks Pepper to give the baby a bath, and she does so, lovingly.  Larry shuts Pepper out of the room and while she tries to get back inside, the baby is dead.  Rita says that Pepper snipped his ears off and drowned him.  We see Pepper put into a straightjacket and taken away to Briarcliff.  Rita made a good show of making it look like Pepper was guilty.

Pepper is taken to Briarcliff where Sister Eunice tells her that self-pity will do nothing.  She says that what Pepper did was the most awful thing ever.  But when she sees the tears in Pepper’s eyes, she thinks that it’s remorse.  Pepper becomes her special project, and she takes her to the library and has her work to clean it up.  Eunice is excited to think that Pepper might one day work in the bakery with her.  Pepper finds a magazine with Elsa on it.  She puts her hand on her cheek and kisses the magazine.

The caption from the 1958 issue reads TV’s Elsa Mars: She Still Owns Friday Nights.

Ah, Pepper.  You will be missed.

American Horror Story Freakshow returns on January 7 with Neil Patrick Harris, and the return of Jamie Brewer.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

My Interview with Naomi Grossman: AHS’s Pepper

I recently had a chance to interview American Horror Story’s Pepper, played by Naomi Grossman.  Grossman’s talent knows no bounds.  As a theater alum at Northwestern, as well as an alum of Improv Olympic, Grossman has been involved in a variety of projects, ranging from the famous Groundlings Sunday Company to theater productions.  We already know that she’s a talented actress, but she has also written, produced and starred in a number of films and comedy shorts that have been screened everywhere from the LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival to the Fringe Theater Festival in Scotland.  Her solo-shows Carnival Knowledge: Love, Lust and Other Human Oddities and Girl in Argentine Landscape were both critically acclaimed across the globe.

Fans of the series were ecstatic to find out over the summer that Grossman’s Pepper would be the first character to appear in multiple seasons of the show; in her case, Pepper is featured in a crossover from Asylum to Freakshow, and her role in Freakshow would give us the background to how she ended up at Briarcliff years later.  Freakshow takes place in Jupiter, Florida, in 1952, and yet we find Pepper locked away in the New England mental hospital in 1964.  Fans have to wait until Freakshow’s Episode 10 for answers.    Now it’s time to meet the amazingly talented actress behind the meatloaf-loving microcephalic.

From where do you draw inspiration for Pepper’s character?  Are you given any latitude in developing her character (this season, or during Asylum)?

The Pepper character was modeled after Schlitzie, a real-life microcephalic and star of Tod Browning’s 1930’s film, “Freaks.”  As far as latitude goes, “do Schlitzie” was about all the info the producers gave me.  Which was the perfect amount—I knew precisely what they wanted, yet never felt micromanaged.  I created a whole back-story for Pepper, which actually pales in comparison to the one the writers have created for her.  I can’t reveal any more, except that Pepper fans are in for a treat!

Who is Pepper for you?

Pepper to me is pure love.  I think that’s what makes her so refreshing and dear.

What has been your favorite scene to shoot this season?  Who is the most fun to do scenes with?

Again, my favorites have yet to air!  Other than that, the musical numbers and party scenes really allow me to flex my improv/comedy muscles and let Pepper play, like only she can!  I couldn’t say who’s the most “fun”—Sarah Paulson is VERY fun, but with her two heads, he scenes take four times as long.  Which is not fun.  That said, other than “The Name Game” and select party-scenes, “fun” isn’t the first adjective I’d use to describe AHS.  Not that it’s not “fun” per se—it’s intense…emotionally exhausting, grueling, fulfilling, and inspiring.  Going out in New Orleans after a 100 hour work week is more “fun”!

Do you do anything special to get into Pepper’s head space?

It depends on the scene.  For the lighter, more playful Pepper, no.   I know her so well, I can just turn her on and off.  As for the more emotional stuff, I don’t get a chance to do that every day, so yes, I have to go to a dark place.  Which I’ve found incredibly gratifying, and has taught me so much, not just as an actress, but as a human being.

Talk about the differences in the role when Pepper became “enlightened” in Asylum.  Which version of Pepper was more challenging to play?

For me, the enlightened version.  I’m very comfortable doing big characters.  I come from a Groundlings comedy theater background, where I would contort my face in a cartoonish way on stage weekly.  Having to be subtle and still and communicate with just my eye (since my other eye is blinded), has forced me out of my comfort zone.  I think I’ve underestimated myself though—I haven’t done drama at this level since college.  I’m glad to know I still got it!

The orgy scene in Freakshow’s  “Monsters Among Us”—WTF?  What was filming like that day?

If I didn’t know AHS was a real, bonafide show, I’d have thought I wound up in a porno!  I’ll never forget Eve lying on her back with her leg up, and Toulouse swinging around it like a stripper pole…All the while, Ryan [Murphy] shouting from the sidelines, “Hump the leg! Hump the leg!”  I don’t know if you caught me in all that grainy footage fist-pumping as I orally pleasured Evan Peters.  HIS idea, by the way!  I remember thinking, “This is every teenage girl’s dream.”  I actually felt funny about it afterwards… At the time, all I could do was fist-pump and make it my own.

How does it feel to play the first/only character to cross over between two seasons of American Horror Story?   Would you like to return in the fifth season as a different character?

Well, Lily Rabe reprised her role as well—but I like to think it all began with Pepper!  It’s tremendously flattering.  They broke all their own rules.  Changed the entire game with the recent reveal that the seasons are all connected.  Of course I’d like to return as a new character!  I’m an actor!

I know that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk keep a tight lid on plans for upcoming installments of the show.  Do cast members ever provide suggestions?  If you had your way, what would your dream AHS season be about?

I wouldn’t know where to being.  I don’t know that the other actors have opinions either.  Again, my backstory for Pepper wasn’t nearly as good as the one they wrote for me, so I really couldn’t begin on future seasons.  I watched a great round-table entertainment show hosted by Jim Rash called “The Writer’s Room” in which Ryan and Brad [Falchuk] joked about a last season entitled “AHS: Mime.”  I know they were joking, but I love the idea!

As a member of the Groundlings Sunday Show and an alum of the Inprov Olympic, does your comedy background help you with a character like Pepper?  Intentional or not, the meatloaf scene in “Massacres and Mayhem” was hilarious in its own way.  I don’t think any fan of the show will ever be able to think of meatloaf and not think of you!

Awww, that’s sweet.  Yes, it absolutely helps!  I think there’s a fine line between comedy and drama… Both are best when the stakes are high, though in the case of comedy, the characters’ intentions are often absurd, like getting one’s meatloaf.  Who gets that riled up over mixed ground meat?  Pepper, that who!  And why not—she’s hungry and she knows that she wants.  She should have it!  Either it, or a tantrum.

I loved seeing your Tweets as you shopped for wigs for the AHS Freakshow season premiere party.  Ultimately you went au naturel—i.e. bald.  How liberating has it been to play a fan favorite like Pepper and have the ability to define yourself based on your performance and not your looks?  Are you surprised by the number of people who can’t believe what you look like in real life?

That was a joke, and a social media stint.  I love a good wig, though I knew that was best kept to Twitter, and NOT the red carpet.  Although I knew there’d be a lot of competition out there, what with 2 foot tall women, and 7 foot tall women, and major stars like Jessica Lange!  To answer your question though, it’s been very liberating.  But then, I was never going to garner fame based on my looks.  Not that I’m ugly, but Hollywood beauties are just a whole other thing.  I’m very realistic about who I am, and what I have to offer.  You cast me because you want something unconventional and quirky and interesting, hot in an Almodovar-girl kind of way, or perhaps ugly in a Pepper way!  The good news is that I offer range, which traditional beauties don’t necessarily.  It’s true—people’s reaction to me has been funny—they can’t believe how beautiful I am!  Which is hilarious to me unto itself.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be “over it,” though it’s astounding how surprised people are, 10,000 blog posts later.

What is one thing that AHS fans would be surprised to know about you?

I’m an open-book.  Between my solo shows and You Tube vids, I’m pretty sure I’ve told all my secrets.