What We Learned Last Night About American Horror Story’s Expanded Universe


Finally, the American Horror Story episode we've been waiting for. Last night we learned the full history of the season's crossover star Pepper, who’s tale begins in Freak Show and ends in Asylum — connecting two of the seasons in this anthology series.

We now know that Elsa rescued Pepper from an orphanage in Massachusetts between the late 1930s and early 1940s. Fed up with life in the chorus line, Elsa takes Pepper on as her first freak-show "monster," beginning her troupe. Elsa finds Pepper companions in Ma Petite and Salty, but once they both die, our pinhead is left without a family, and Elsa knows it’s time to return Pepper to her sister Rita (played with such perfect dead-eyed cruelty by the amazing Mare Winningham, last seen abusing our beloved Franken-Kyle in Coven). Flash-forward to 1962, and Rita is framing Pepper for the murder of an unwanted newborn son, which lands Pepper in the hands of Asylum’s Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) of Briarcliff. It’s not long before Sister Mary Eunice warms up to Pepper and gives her a cozy job in the asylum’s library, where we learn in that final chilling scene that Elsa does make it to Hollywood to live out her dream (but surely it won’t be that simple, right? Three more Freak Shows left!).

So what does this mean for our unified theory of American Horror Story? It seems now only one character arc will cross over from season to season. Knowing everything we do about the freaks of season four, it seems impossible that they could also be their Asylum counterparts. How can Jimmy become Kit now that he has no hands? How could Sister Jude and Lana speak so intimately to each other at Briarcliff and not mention Jupiter if they had known one another before? Sure, we could venture a guess based on what Murphy is doing: Jimmy, Elsa, and Dot go to Massachusetts to break out Pepper and start a new life but decide never to speak about their pasts again? Clearly ridiculous. No, it seems our unified theory will feature threads of overlap, not a complete continuation of each character’s timeline.

Though we think there might be one more crossover that could still happen this season: Frances Conroy’s Gloria Mott is the Angel of Death. They both share a penchant for pinup curls and festive fascinators, but could there be another connection? We think the answer lies in Gloria’s mysterious faceless therapist who appeared right before her death. Could it be someone from Asylum? Perhaps the vile Dr. Thredson? If Thredson moves his “practice” to Briarcliff, that would explain why Gloria, as the Angel of Death, is inhabiting the grounds — to haunt Thredson after failing to help her save her son, Dandy.