26th Dec2014

‘American Horror Story: Freakshow – Episode 10′ Review

by Nicky Johnson

Stars: Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Michael Chiklis, Denis O’Hare, Even Peters, Emma Roberts, Minn Wittrock, John Carroll Lunch, Patti Labelle | Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk

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This episode is slightly different to the others in that it’s almost entirely centred on a character barely featured in the show so far: Pepper. It begins with her waking up to Salt dead-no foul play, just a stroke by Elsa’s estimation. After Desiree reads to her, she finds her way to Elsa’s tent, where we learn more about Elsa and that Pepper was the first freak she added to her collection from an orphanage. When Elsa mentions that Pepper was dropped off by her sister at the orphanage, Desiree suggests that maybe what Pepper needs more than anything right now is family, something Elsa agrees with.

Maggie is growing more despondent and drunk after Jimmy was framed for the murders of the housewives Dandy saw to and gives a reading the Desiree and her new lover that ends in tragedy and sadness (as all love stories do). Seeking an explanation, Desiree confronts Maggie, who confesses to being a con artist with Stanley but only admitting to stealing from customers, something Desiree doesn’t buy. Stanley, meanwhile, is visiting Jimmy in prison and offers him a top notch lawyer. When Jimmy tells him he doesn’t have any cash, Stanley offers him a different way to pay.

I’m in two minds about this one. It was undoubtedly fantastic TV. It made Pepper into a character I genuinely cared for and was emotionally attached to her plight, which demonstrates how great the writers are considering Pepper spent most of the season being a non-character. I shouted at her sister, and nearly cried towards the end (I’m tearing up now), and it’s all with basically no lines of dialogue for the character, just acting.

On the other hand, if it wasn’t for the Maggie/Desiree thing, it would felt very out of place, which again is testament to the writers for grounding it so well. It sort of felt like a companion book for the series-the only character really developed in the Pepper side was Pepper, and even then it wasn’t really anything new, it just put her into the spotlight. It felt like it didn’t serve the narrative, like it was just there to tie up loose ends from the background and introduce a few hints as to how it all ends.

Whether part of the main narrative or as a standalone however, this episode was one of the best of the season and given the ending, there’s going to be some explosiveness next time.

***** 5/5

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