Review: American Horror Story Freak Show “Orphans”

Oh, man. Oh, guys. American Horror Story, for the first time in its 4 year run, made me feel a bit weepy last night. “Orphans” marked the fall finale for the show, which will take a two week hiatus before returning with new episodes (some of which feature Neil Patrick Harris and Jamie Brewer!!) beginning on January 7th. As an episode it’s a bit saggy, trying to do too much with too many characters, but parts of it were so, so good. Maggie cried, Jimmy stayed locked away in prison, and now we know all about Pepper, including how she got to the asylum. And it’s heart-breaking. (Warning–spoilers below!!)

Pepper

Naomi Grossman as Pepper

And oh, Pepper. At the start of the episode, Pepper’s partner, Salty, has died. Pepper is distraught. She won’t leave his body, and Elsa has a difficult time convincing her to eat. Theoretically, at least, Salty’s death was a natural one, a stroke. Pepper is distraught. She won’t leave his body, and Elsa has a difficult time convincing her to eat. When she finally convinces Pepper that Salty’s gone, to give up the body, she has no idea what to do with Salty. Stanley does, though. Cut to Stanley hacking away at Salty’s neck, smoke encircling them both, then seeing Salty’s head in a jar, and I’m finding the idea of a stroke a little….Suspect.

Anyway, Desiree steps in to comfort Pepper. She assumes a very motherly position, Pepper curled in her lap while she reads The Velveteen Rabbit. But when she has to leave, Pepper is enraged. So she goes to talk with Elsa, of course, and through Elsa we find out about Pepper’s background.

Just after the war, Elsa moved to the States and started the carnival circuit as a singer/dancer. She found it difficult to get noticed, though, difficult to be a star in

New Orleans sideshow and burlesque performer Ri Dickulous in "Orphans"

New Orleans sideshow and burlesque performer Ri Dickulous in “Orphans”

someone else’s world. And she didn’t like working for anyone. She decided to create her own show, her own collection of oddities that would be both family and underlings. Cue Elsa’s profound ambivalence toward the freaks in the show.

Pepper’s parents died, and her sister couldn’t care for her, so she was dropped off at an orphanage. This is where Elsa found her, at the age of 18, after befriending Pepper, the simply walked out of the door together. Elsa and Pepper went to Jupiter together, and the crowd loved Pepper. It wasn’t long before a rich Indian gentleman came to the carnival, and with him he brought Ma Petite. She was his “pet,” but Elsa convinced him to part with her for 3 cases of Dr. Pepper. Hmm. Anyway Ma Petite became a sort of surrogate child for Pepper.

But still Pepper wanted more. She wanted companionship. Elsa sent a series of letters, ultimately resulting in the arrival of Salty. And it was love at first sight. And there was a lovely, bizarre wedding for the two of them, and it was beautiful.

Cut to the present, where Desiree and her beau are making a night of it. They’re in Maggie Esmeralda’s tent, and she’s using her Powers of Observation to tell their future. Only she’s a little drunk and a lot psychotic, given Jimmy’s predicament and their overall relationship, so she yells about how everything will be awful and end and blah-blah-blah. Later, Maggie sits on the merry-go-round, drinking, in the same spot we once saw Twisty. Desiree confronts her, and for some reason, Maggie decides to entirely spill the beans about Stanley, about being on the grift…But not about what they’re actually doing there. At least, not at first.

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Dept. of Humorous Oversights

Aside

I discovered last night that I can build lists in my WordPress reader. I asked the two WordPressbloggers I talk to most often if they knew this, and they did not. Posted on Facebook and someone else told me they noticed it after one of the upgrades a few months ago.

MONTHS! I’m kicking myself.

Every list I have on Facebook and Twitter is to keep up with bloggers. Soon I shall have lists for that here, too.

Those of you who have wondered over the last few months why you see so little of me despite your faithful likes and comments are in luck.

The reason you’ve seen so little of me is that even though I follow a relatively small number of blogs, most of you get lost in my reader. I don’t have a lot of time to spend with the reader, and gave up on it awhile ago as useless for keeping up with anyone. Well, now I can keep up. I can carefully and deliberately build a set of small-ish lists along these lines.

  1. Friendly bloggers I interact with on three networks.
  2. My closest Tweeps.
  3. Photobloggers to share on Facebook.
  4. #SundayBlogShare pals.
  5. Regular commenters who I should be giving more attention to, because comments are the gold standard of engagement to me.
  6. People who like almost everything we post, but we just never talk.
  7. Bloggers I had friendly conversations with and linked to in the beginning, but who fell off the radar as I moved into other networks and had less time to scan the reader.
  8. People I know from specific Facebook groups.

Then I can use those lists to see who is not on my Twitter and Facebook lists but should be. You get the idea, eh?

Do you you use the lists in the reader? And can anyone tell me when they were implemented? At one point I bookmarked 75 blogs because that was the only way I saw to keep up with them.

And now you know what I am going to do . . . . .

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