If I thought that the death of Ethel is difficult, than this week’s episode is unbearable.  Throughout this season we get watch what our carnies have gone through to survive, but the story of Pepper takes top prize.  The death of Pepper’s soul mate and husband, Salty, triggers Elsa into telling Desiree Pepper’s hard and difficult past, and has to make a very hard decision for Pepper’s future.

The Good

  • Pepper’s story finally gets told through Elsa.  Even though Elsa has done bad things recently, I believe she truly loves her freaks.  Pepper’s story is heartbreaking and sad.
  • Watching Pepper begin to enjoy life at the carnival, develop lasting friendships, and find love with Salty is a great way to see that everybody can find happiness in the most unusual places.
  • The performance of Naomi Grossman, playing Pepper is fantastic and emotional.  I was very moved watching her go through everything from her time at the orphanage where she would be isolated from the other children, to her ending up being a patient at the dreaded Briarcliff Manor Asylum in Massachusetts ten years later.
  • When Elsa made the decision to find Pepper’s birth mother and tell her that Pepper needs a real family, you know that this is not going to end well for Pepper.  She told Pepper’s mother that she can say that Pepper is her sister if anybody asks.  Pepper’s mother reluctantly agrees and takes her in.  For ten years, Pepper is treated like a housemaid and a shameful reminder for Pepper’s mom and stepfather, who also treat Pepper like crap.
  • Pepper’s mother goes to the Briarcliff Manor Asylum and comes up with one hell of a lie to have Pepper committed.  She blames Pepper for the murder of her newborn child, but it was the stepfather who killed the child and framed Pepper for the murder.  Watching her being strapped into a straightjacket and hauled to the asylum and thrown into a cell is hard to watch.
  • Lily Rabe reprises her role as Sister Mary Eunice from Season Two: AHS Asylum.  I always enjoy watching her on screen.
  • Maggie is having trouble dealing with all that is going on at the carnival.  She confesses to Desiree that what Stanley and she are doing here is pulling a grift.  Desiree already had the suspicion of Stanley and her activities are not truthful.  Maggie decides to take her to the Morbdity Museum and show her what Stanley is really up to.  To her astonishment, Desiree sees Ma Petite and Salty’s head in huge jars filled with formaldehyde on display.  Maggie wanted a witness to Stanley’s true intention, so if she goes down, Desiree can stop Stanley.
  • Maggie gets the ultimate surprise of her life when the museum displays their latest acquisition, Jimmy’s lobster hands in a jar.  Apparently, Jimmy made a deal with Stanley that would sacrifice his only means of being unique to pay for a lawyer to get him out of jail.

The Bad

  • Even though Elsa portrays herself as the caring loving mother of these freaks, I still believe that everything she does is for her own benefit.
  • That last scene where Pepper sees Elsa on the cover of LIFE magazine achieving her dreams is the realization that she made it, but she made it by sacrificing her troupe family.

We finally get to see what the circumstances were that put Pepper in Briarcliff Manor Asylum.  This week is a touching and sad epitaph of the Pinheads (Pepper and Salty) I will miss you.  Maggie finally has to come to the realization that Stanley must be stopped and needs a strong ally, Desiree.  But can Desiree get past that fact her fellow carnies are being sold to a museum, to help Maggie.  The show comes back on January 7th, with Neil Patrick Harris joining the cast.  This should be interesting.

Here’s a preview of the next episode, ‘Magical Thinking’