Well, that was incredible. An episode with a strong emotional core, a call back to the show's best season, the backstory for one of the most endearing characters and the beginning of a much welcomed downfall for one of the worst characters.
Written by James Wong
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Pepper: One of my favourite characters in all four seasons of this show so far has been Pepper and I was delighted when it was revealed that she was going to be added to this season. So far, she hadn't a great deal to do but following Salty's death, this episode changed things in a big way. Not only did we get to see both Desiree and Elsa take care of her (as well as the latter finally displaying some genuine compassion for a change) but we also learned more on her backstory. Elsa taking her out of the orphanage to look after Pepper, the relationships she's had with both Ma Petite and Salty and of course, having to life with her boozy sister and horrible brother in law. I swear to God, if you didn't shed a tear for the character, then you're made of stone. This was Naomi Grossman's episode and she absolutely shone from start to finish.
A Shot Of Redemption: Another favourite character of mine was also Sister Mary Eunice and keeping with the links to Asylum, this episode fast forwarded to 1962 where Pepper's awful sister and brother in law had her committed to Briarcliff for murdering their baby. Except it was them and not Pepper but having the blatant link to the show's most popular season led to an incredible final ten minutes of the episode. Despite her disgust over a murdered baby, I did like that Mary Eunice actually believed that there was redemption for Pepper and she was probably the first person in nearly a decade to show her kindness outside of Elsa. Also seeing Lily Rabe on this show has made me realise how sorely missed she is this season as well.
Owning Friday Night: Keeping with the glimpses into the future, it seems that Elsa might actually achieve her dreams after all, if that July 6 1958 of Life magazine is anything to go by. While I'm glad that she tried to do the right thing by Pepper throughout the flashbacks and the current day, I'm still not entirely sure if she deserves the fame that she's been clamouring for all season. On the plus side, at least it's starting to look like she's wising up to Stanley, which can only be a good thing, right?
Changing Sides: Another unexpected aspect of this episode was Maggie and Desiree teaming up to take down Stanley. I actually wasn't expecting Maggie to literally tell and show Desiree everything that herself and Stanley had been up to but at the same time, it was another brilliant part of the episode and given that Roberts and Bassett barely interacted with each other in Coven, it's nice that they've been teamed up here. I'm hoping now that Desiree is aware of that grisly museum that she (along with the rest of the troupe) give Stanley a taste of his own medicine in the final three episodes. I also liked that this episode gave a minute to show us how Stanley and Maggie came to form their malignant partnership too. Also, not sure about Desiree's new beau either but I like that she made it clear to Dell that she's moved on from him.
Hands Free: Despite this episode surprisingly (and thankfully too I might add) being a Dandy free zone, Jimmy was still dealing the fallout of being set up by him. Something which Stanley was more than happy to take advantage, given the latest acquisition at the museum (somehow, I still think Jimmy's alive though). Keeping Jimmy relegated to one scene was a welcomed relief, given that he's been a pain in the arse over the last few episodes but I do like that Bette and Dot managed to spur Maggie into switching sides though.
The show returns in January for both US and UK viewers.