American Horror Story: Freak Show Winter Finale Recap: Nun of a Kind

At this rate, Elsa won’t have to share the spotlight for much longer.

In this week’s American Horror Story: Freak Show, not only did another performer take their final bow, but Pepper was delivered to Asylum’s Sister Mary Eunice at Briarcliff Manor.

Want all the gory details? Keep reading.

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST | By the time “Orphans” began, Salty had already died in his sleep (ironically, of natural causes). Elsa claimed to want a proper burial for Pepper’s soul mate, but Stanley insisted that, with the network eager to meet her, she needed to stress less and rest more. He’d take care of it, he assured her. (In other words, he hacked off Salty’s head and sold it to the American Morbidity Museum.)

As Pepper sank deeper and deeper into depression, Elsa regaled Desiree with the story of how, after she founded the freak show and took in the orphaned pinhead, she blossomed, marrying Salty and mothering Ma Petite. Now, of course, both of them were gone. (Sniffle.) Claiming she feared that Pepper would “perish from loneliness and a broken heart if she [didn’t] have someone who loves her,” Elsa brought her to, of all people, Rita (Mare Winningham), the hard-drinking sister who’d dumped her in the orphanage.

THAT WAY MADNESS LIES | Next thing you know, Rita was at Briarcliff, telling Sister Mary Eunice the tallest of tales in order to get her and her husband’s unwanted houseguest committed. First, Rita lied that Pepper had been obsessed with her better half. Then, she claimed that Pepper had murdered their son (when the truth was, since neither of them were happy to be saddled with what they called a “baby Frankenstein,” her spouse had dispatched their offspring).

Horrified by what she thought Pepper had done, Sister Mary Eunice wasn’t exactly a great comfort to her. “Self pity will get you nowhere,” the nun said when she discovered the new arrival banging her head against the wall. But, once she saw tears in the pinhead’s eyes – and mistook her sorrow for remorse – Sister Mary Eunice allowed her to start working in the library. There, Pepper found an issue of Life magazine… with none other than Elsa on the cover! Apparently, she became a big TV star after all?!?

TRUE LIES | Though Dell apologized to Desiree for being such a lousy husband and asked for another chance, she – in the nicest of all possible ways – declined. “We both deserve a shot at happiness, Dell,” she said, “and I could never make you happy… truly happy.” Besides, Desiree was already being made pretty happy by new beau Angus. That is, she was until they went to Maggie for a reading, and – bitter over her break-up with Jimmy – the phony psychic told them that their romance would eventually go to hell in a handbasket.

When Desiree later confronted Maggie, she didn’t just reveal that she was a big faker, she revealed that Stanley was, too. (At least, she stopped short of a full confession and lied that they were fleecing the freak show’s customers, not selling the freaks’ remains.) Beginning to connect the dots, Desiree noted that a whole lot of her fellow performers had perished since Maggie and Stanley showed up. If the three-breasted woman ever found out that the con artists had anything to do with that, “I will kill you dead,” she threatened. (And being killed dead is the worst kind of being killed there is!)

HANDS OFF | After Dot and Bette pleaded with Maggie to take the money that they’d saved up to pay for their separation surgery (which they no longer wanted, anyway) and get Jimmy a lawyer, the grifter decided to put aside her hurt feelings and do the right thing. Unfortunately, before she could, Stanley visited the lobster boy in prison and suggested that he could get Clarence Darrow’s son, no less, to represent him. But how could the accused afford such a high-profile attorney? We learned the (obvious) answer when Maggie dragged Desiree to the American Morbidity Museum – so that, if anything happened to her, someone would know the whole awful truth – and it turned out that its latest acquisition was… Jimmy’s flippers!

OK, your turn. What did you think of the episode? Did the winter finale give you chills or just leave you cold? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Scott says:

    you can’t help but feel bad for Pepper

  2. AnnieM says:

    This was a great episode. Naomi Grossman is so amazing as Pepper.

  3. Munch says:

    Tonight’s show actually made me sad for poor Pepper. The actress conveyed so much feeling without speaking words. Even Elsa was humanized in her sorrow for Pepper. Can’t wait for the show’s return in January.

  4. Carlos Alvarez says:

    The actress that plays Pepper was amazing tonight. Performer of the a Week??? Tv line.

  5. Aadil says:

    Crazy theory but what if Rita is the mother of Evan Peters character from Coven (played by same actress, Rita could have had another kid who was normal and began abusing him when husband found out she killed him and changed their names)

    what if Elsa is Sister Jude (she became actress then fell on hard times and became nightclub singer or what if Life magazine was referring to her being great nightclub singer) Elsa is suppose to be actress she could fake american accent or she is faking German accent all along. She became Nun after she thought she killed that girl and became to Barcliffe after finding out that Pepper is there and she is the only one left alive and all of the freaks are dead.

    Sounds crazy but this is American Horror Story after all.

  6. abz says:

    One of the best episodes this season. Right up there with Twisty’s back story. Naomi Grossman is amazing. She does so much with such few words. Nice to see Lily Rabe again and loving more Desiree.
    The thing that sucks though is that with only three episodes left everything is gonna feel so rushed. Why must RM do this all the time? Start off shows so great at first and then just fall in a rut mid way, pick it back up toward the end and then a rush to the finish line. I just wish they’d plan things out better.
    There’s still so much to get through: Getting Jimmy out of jail, Stanley’s comeuppance. What’s gonna happen with Dandy? Elsa’s Hollywood thing. The freakshow disbanding and what will happen to the freaks. Del’s drama. Bette and Dot? How is NPH and his husband going to be brought in and how their roles will play out? Plus, I thought I read somewhere that they will be bringing back Twisty and Edward Mordrake somehow
    Too much stuff to get through in three episodes and after what happened at the end of Coven I doubt they’ll be able to get through it without it feeling rushed or having unanswered questions,

    • The Beach says:

      I so agree with this post. I was loving Freak Show at first. Twisty was a great character and so many others added so much. Then the mid-season funk began: no real plot advance, seemingly random killing off of way too many great characters and I was really fast losing interest in the show. Then Murphy heads toward the finish line and sucks me back in with a great episode. I loved the tie in with Asylum and the Pepper backstory. At times though, it seems like all of Murphy’s Hollywood buddies must call him up and he says “Sure, come on by. I’ll throw you into an episode or two”.

  7. Lacy says:

    Bóg wiedział, że Izrael widzi na co idą jego

  8. LovemesomeTV says:

    Performance of the week, hands down, goes to Naomi Grossman.

    I haven’t been so touched by an episode of AHS for years.
    The farewell scene between Pepper and Elsa was so heartbreaking.

  9. DonnaMaMa says:

    did anyone notice the date on that Life magazine, the year was 1958 – this started out in 1952, so we had a time jump here as well? 6 years??? So do we take that Pepper has been locked away now for 6 years and it took Else all these years to make it “big”. Not making sense is Jimmy still in jail? Did he get out?

    • Troy says:

      When we see Rita meeting with Sister Eunice to commit Pepper the year is 1962. So yes, there is a significant time jump. Pepper was with her sister and her sister’s husband for about 10 years, and then they sent her to Briarcliff. So the scenes we are seeing of Pepper in Briarcliff are happening well after all the events in Freakshow, and closer to the events in Asylum.

    • Mike3674 says:

      Jimmy is dead and his hands were in a museum!

  10. nah says:

    It would be impossible for Rita to be Kyle’s mother, freak show takes place in the 50s, coven in present day. Kyle would be born in the late 80s to early 90s to be in college in coven’s timeline, meaning Rita would have been 50 – 60 years old when she had Kyle, and about 80 at the start of coven. Its highly doubtful that Elsa and Sister Jude are the same person, Sister Jude never made any mention of being so well know that she appeared on Time Magazine, and also that would put a hitch in all of the other seasons characters portrayed by Jessica Lange

  11. Heather says:

    Oh gosh… Pepper’s backstory and how she ended up at the Asylum was so heartbreaking. I was seriously choked up at the end of the show. I also liked how they introduced Ma Petite to the show. The ending really had me glued to my screen… WOW!

  12. S. says:

    Wow! Probably best episode of AHS ever… Pepper’s backstory really was touching and I agree TV Line should acknowledge Naomi Grossman in the Performer of the Week section. Add to this amazing story, the unexpected twist with Jimmy’s hands and you get a hell of a good episode.

  13. Joey says:

    While I still utterly hate the idea of the seasons being interconnected, it was extremely smart of them to call back to the best season the show has ever had.

  14. katedfw says:

    Naomi as Pepper better be performer of the week! She was phenomenal!

  15. Mike3674 says:

    I love the show but this season seemed to drag along and then all of a sudden end abruptly. I like how they tied the shows together with Pepper but she is playing the same Character. As followers of the show know, most of the actors have been playing multiple roles. This may have worked if the same actors were not involved in all of the stories playing numerous different characters but I do not see how they will pull this off…. It seems to be turning into a train wreck!