Well… okay. This is a good start. We could have used this kind of thing about five or six episodes ago, but, as I learned many moons ago, AHS viewers can’t be choosers.
Pluses, or, FINALLY We Got Some Pepper
-Pepper. Pepper, Pepper, Pepper. This season shouldn’t be called Freak Show, it should be called Sad Fucking Backstories, or, like, Everyone’s Life Is Shitty. We knew, from Asylum, that Pepper was locked up for a suspected infanticide, but Asylum also took place during a time when we just kind of threw people into institutions when we needed to get rid of them. So, of course, it goes like this: Elsa rescues her from an orphanage at age 18 and takes her home to Freak Central, where Pepper finds a little family in Ma Petite and her soulmate, Salty. But, after Ma Petite ends up in the Mutter Museum and Salty succumbs to a stroke, Pepper gets returned to the older sister who dumped her at the orphanage in the first place (played, obviously, by Mare Winningham- we’ll come back to that momentarily). Said sister is an obvious alcoholic, has a fetal alcohol syndrome baby, and hates it, even though Pepper is the one playing mom, and it’s a tale as old as time – mother and father conspire to kill the baby and blame it on the pinhead. Anyway. Plus 10,000 points for Pepper Pathos.
-Oh, plus 1,000 points for bringing Mare Winningham back to play what has now become her signature AHS role: The Worst. (In case you forgot, she played Kyle’s Awful Sex Mom in Coven, and now, after playing a booze-filled baby murderer, I assume next season she’ll be playing a meth-head dog torturer or something.)
-And SPEAKING OF CALLBACKS! God, I do love me some Lily Rabe. I have missed her this season, because her characters are always a bundle of fun – Murphy writes particularly well for her. That being said, I was relieved that, instead of shoehorning her into the freak show in some stupid way like he’s undoubtedly doing right now with NPH and that beautiful husband of his (I do know his name is David Burtka but he is incidentally just gorgeous), he let her play what I think is probably her best AHS role to date – Sister Mary Eunice. She was so much fucking fun in this flash-forward, going from Pepper’s executioner to her savior in such a short time. Before Mary Eunice went through that whole unfortunate devil-possession thingy, she was actually pretty sweet, and it was nice to see her show mercy to someone she thought killed a baby. Great stuff. More of this, Murphy. This is working. Plus 20,000 points.
-I hated all the stuff leading up to it, but at least Maggie’s starting to admit some stuff, so plus 2,000 points for that legitimately sick reveal of Jimmy’s hands as the newest exhibition. RIP Lobsterblasting. SO sad. Maggie was pretty bummed about it, too.
Minuses, or, Lack of Focus Is An Understatement
-Where is LITERALLY ANYONE ELSE?! The twins were here for FIVE SECONDS. What’s going on with Paul? What’s going on with fucking DANDY?!! This show needs to get its ADHD fucking HANDLED. Minus 5,000 points.
-Emma Roberts still can’t fucking act, and I was just so horribly bored by her entire presentation this week – especially when she had to play drunk, which was honestly just kind of sad. I’m glad we’re all on the same page about Stanley, and the hands-in-a-jar payoff was really great, but why was everything leading up to it so dull? Minus two hands. In a jar, obviously.
-Also, minus 500 points for any character thinking Denis O’Hare was a “Hollywood talent agent” because he is so obviously a skeez. Like, come on.
I actually don’t have many more minuses – this mid-season finale kind of made me look forward to the next episode, for once! So, good job on that, show. I’m sure your New Years resolution is to go back to sucking, so I’ll be sure to buckle up. See you next year, kids!