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A deeper look into the sad story of Pepper makes "Orphans" one of the more heartfelt episodes of Freak Show.
Now Freak Show-which originally had more of that Coven-style celebration of "otherness"-has boomeranged back into the dour and joyless air of Briarcliff.
It's the best episode of the season so far. By a lot.
With "Orphans", as it sometimes has in the past, American Horror Story zeroes in on the rarely seen sincere side of its characters, and the results are oddly affecting.
The Pepper stuff didn't add anything to the main carny chaos. It just made the episode a bit better than it would have been.
"Orphans" presents the strongest profile of a character that I can remember on the show and the result is a touching, beautiful look at one of AHS's side characters-one who is so much more than we thought.
Yes this season has been a southern-fried soap at heart, but whenever AHS sprinkles these moments of sheer humanity into its cauldron of turmoil, it always lands like a sucker punch. Sorry for all the mixed metaphors but poor Pepper!!
On a surprisingly touching episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show ... we got a look at how the freak show came to be, the sad tale of Pepper...and a tantalizing glimpse at the future
Sadly, there wasn't as much death as there was a lot of talk in Freak Show's fall finale, but there was enough intriguing bits to make us impatient for new episodes in 2015.
In a show known for its spectacle and excess at the cost of emotional realism, Grossman's almost wordless performance strikes a ringing note of feeling.
Freak Show really ramped up the bloodshed in the previous episodes but things slowed down a bit in the winter finale, "Orphans," which upped the emotional stakes for the last bit of the season by revealing several characters' backstories.
Anyway, this season doesn't seem to be jelling into some greater whole, so I'll just enjoy these fun stories when we get them.
"Orphans" is an unexpectedly generous Christmas gift that proves what American Horror Story can still be, when it dares to sidestep inane smart-assery and go for the heart, in addition to the throat.