American Horror Story: Freak Show 4.10: “Orphans”

 Jimmy (Evan Peters) has been jailed for murdering several housewives in the winter finale of American Horror Story: Freak Show Season 4 Episode 10
Jimmy (Evan Peters) has been jailed for murdering several housewives.

Dear American Horror Story,

I know I praised you several weeks ago for not rushing into hanging plot lines, throwing in everything including the kitchen sink (and aliens), and really devoting yourselves to character development. All of that was super great.

But if we could please get to the plot line, that would be awesome.

For three weeks, I’ve been waiting for something to happen, and I have to say, this last episode did nothing for me. I appreciate Pepper (Naomi Grossman), the first character to exist in two incarnations of American Horror Story, finally getting some attention and backstory, but it feels too much, too late. I love how her story connects between seasons, but I don’t think an entire episode needed to be devoted to it. It felt like everything else related to the central plot has been put off on the back burner or given two minutes of screen time before moving on to lengthy examinations on singular characters.

How are they going to explain why Elsa looks so much like Sister Jude? I can suspend my belief only so long, and I doubt it’s any good fooling Pepper. Maybe they’ll glaze over it by exclusion, calling only Sister Mary Eunice into Freak Show.

Did Salty (Christopher Neiman) really die of a stroke? I’m skeptical any time Stanley (Dennis O’Hare) appears in a scene. He’s so sleazy. I don’t see any indication that he murdered Salty, though. Elsa (Jessica Lange) is losing her beloved freaks left and right, but she doesn’t seem too broken up about it. For a woman who claims to be a mother to her freaks, I’d think she’d have a little more emotion to show for it.

Really, Stanley? An axe? Well, I guess this means we’re finally done with the fake-out deaths if we’ve moved on to on-screen dismemberment.

I wish we’d gotten the story of how Elsa started her freak show sooner. Or maybe later, as a death bed explication on her dark and seedy scheme. Putting it in Episode 10 made it feel like filler. Granted, not every episode can be a box office hit, but I’m starting to regret my earlier words of praise. The best part of this episode was Elsa trading three cases of Dr. Pepper for Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge). I’d have held out for four. The point of this foray was Elsa remaking on Pepper’s unconditional love.

Naomi Grossman as Pepper.
Pepper wanted to fulfill her maternal notions; Elsa got her Ma Petite. She wanted a husband; Elsa found Salty. With Ma Petite and Salty both gone, Pepper’s heartbroken. For some reason, Elsa believes the solution to her heartbreak is sending her back to live with her sister, Rita (Mare Winningham), who dumped her at the orphanage in the first place. Whatever, Elsa.

And then here’s Maggie (Emma Roberts), pining away for her Lobster Boy, Jimmy (Evan Peters), who’s been jailed for murdering several housewives. Enter Desiree (Angela Bassett) and Angus (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), all wrapped up in each other, and the Mystic Esmerelda lands them a bitter prediction of hatred and failed love. Much like our beloved Ethel (Kathy Bates), Desiree don’t take shit from no one, least of all Maggie. Like Desiree says, Maggie is just “full of whiskey and self pity.” Hate to agree with Maggie on anything, but Angus doesn’t seem like he’s a trustworthy fellow. Sorry, Des.

Too bad Maggie’s confession of being Stanley’s cohort falls short of being anything resembling honesty. She continually falls flat to me. I wanted her to be a bad guy, and she’s just…stagnant. If you really wanted to turn over a new leaf, maybe make me believe you feel remorse. I’m totally with Dot (Sarah Paulson). Punch her in the face, girl. Sadly, Bette (also Sarah Paulson) doesn’t let her. The twins, who kinda show up out of nowhere, urge Maggie to use their surgery money to get Jimmy a lawyer.

Too bad Stanley’s already got his hooks in Jimmy. Why does anyone even listen to him? He’s full of lies! Just like Maggie. I wish we’d gotten more between Maggie and Desiree, especially how Maggie convinces her to go to the American Morbidity Museum. Maggie showed her cards and the museums newest additions. And we all get a shock when the latest exhibit is revealed: Jimmy’s (inferred) lobster hands. Damn, lawyers really do cost an arm and a leg. Jimmy got off easy.

Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice.

As excited as I am to have Lily Rabe back, and as horrific as Pepper’s story is (I knew she was framed!), it still comes in a odd section of the story. I’m not entirely sure what the plot is anymore. We nixed the killer clown scenario five episodes in, replacing that with Psycho Dandy (Finn Wittrock), the twins resolved their differences, Elsa is…well, doing whatever she wants, and now Maggie has turned on Stanley.

Where are we going again? I feel a bit unraveled.

At least Neil Patrick Harris will be joining our caravan of carnies as an evil magician. With a creepy ventriloquist dummy. Please, please, please let this spell redemption for this show. At least they stopped with the weird musical numbers.

What do you guys think? Are you loving Freak Show or do you feel like you just stepped off the Tilt-a-Whirl?

Meghan Harker grew up in a small, awkwardly-named town in Georgia. She attended Brenau University, where she earned her BA in English and a minor in Graphic Design; she also attended the University of Cambridge, England, where she didn't quite master the perfect Oxbridge accent. She's an avid reader, writer, and fire spinner. She's currently working her first novel, a paranormal thriller. Visit her blog at

Read all posts by Meghan Harker for Criminal Element.


  1. Melissa Keith

    Meghan, I do feel like I just got off the Tilt-A Whirl. LOL! I’ve been watching FS and I look forward to reading your posts. You make me laugh. The show sometimes makes me feel dirty. You? The ORPHANS episode was extremely depressing. And, I often find my mouth hanging open during certain scenes. Keep bloggin’, Girl. I need the laffs after watching frickin’ FS. Happy Holidays! PS. I ordered Ma Petite for Xmas. They took 4 cases of Classic Coke. Seems they like the Santa picture on the cans.

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