‘American Horror Story’ Freak Show: Orphans (Recap and Review)

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American Horror Story Freak Show: Orphans gives Elsa the chance to mourn about the loss of one pin head, the male version of the duo named, appropriately enough. Salt. At the start of the show an inconsolable Pepper refuses to leave the corpse of Salt and the other freaks are trying to persuade the mourning woman that the body must be moved. Elsa speaks of how much she is effected by the death of one of her monsters. Desiree is reading to Pepper and when she attempts to leave, the pin head throws a fit. Elsa and Des speak of it and Mars reveals the backstory of how she obtained Pepper, Ma Petite and Salt.

In this combination of whimsical tragedy and horror, viewers learn of what motivates Pepper and how Ma Petite took the place of “baby” to the pin head’s mother and how Elsa searched for a husband for her “angel.” In American Horror Story this week, the show’s creators give the audience a clever variation on the old Dr. Pepper commercials, the ones with the tagline “What’s the worst that can happen?” In this episode’s example, a rich British Indian slave can lose his “royal pet.”

When Ms. Mars offers to buy Ma Petite, she is refused. The Indian royal explains that Petite’s caste is that of “untouchable” and to put a monetary amount to her would give this unfortunate a significance not allowed in Indian culture. With a twinkle in her eye, Elsa goes to a cold box and removes a glass bottle filled with caramel coloured liquid. Opening the top of the receptacle she hands it to the Prince. He takes one sip and turns the bottle to look at what he has just tasted.

Dr. Pepper, with the three numbers 10, 2 and 4 on the front meet his, and the audience’s gaze. Elsa finishes her recollection of the tale by saying that she bought Ma Petite for three cases of the fizzy stuff. This was the most amusing portion of the show’s recollections as the plot made way for the usual dark and tragic part of American Horror Story Freak Show: Orphans. Maggie confesses to Desiree that she is not a psychic and that Stanley is not a Hollywood agent.

Elsa listens to Desiree and returns Pepper to her sister and the poor creature suffers in a house of misery until her brother-in-law frames her for the murder of her nephew. Viewers then see just how Pepper wound up in the asylum in season two of American Horror Story where she met Sister Mary Eunice McKee. This “cross over” backstory had been promised by Ryan Murphy earlier in the season of Freak Show and he delivered in the episode of Orphans on Wednesday night.

Maggie, aka Esmeralda, takes Desiree to the museum where her partner in crime, here another backstory sequence is introduced where the two meet “Paper Moon” style in a black and white memory, has been selling the dead freaks. In the flashback Maggie is dressed like a boy and picking pockets. She gets caught and Stanley steps in to keep her out of jail. Maggie explains that the two of them are a partners and “grifters.” She also relates that he has never laid a hand on her. At the museum. Desiree stares in horror at Ma Petite’s body floating in a large jar and the head of Salt in another.

As Desiree is getting a closer look, the owner of the museum unveils their most recent acquisition, Jimmy Darling’s “lobster boy” hands. Maggie passes out when she sees the hands and the audience know just what Stanley took from the young man accused of the tupperware party massacre. Although it is not clear if the museum incident really happened or if this was an imaginary event in Maggie’s head. Earlier, Bette and Dot give the psychic an envelope of money for the girl to hire a good attorney for Jimmy. Later in American Horror Story Freak Show: Orphans, the next episode preview shows that scene with Jimmy and Stanley again, with Darling protesting that he has nothing to pay a real lawyer. The next show may reveal if those hands in a jar were real or Maggie’s imaginative telling of the freak’s deaths and sale to Desiree.

By Michael Smith