'AHS' Elsa Mars & Sister Jude From 'Asylum' Aren't The Same Person (Probably) But They Could Be Sisters...
When it was announced two months ago that the character of Pepper, first introduced in Season 2's Asylum, would be returning to FX's American Horror Story in Season 4's Freak Show, there was a veritable potpourri of reactions. Some were excited: A small fan-favorite character would be popping up again! Some were confused: If Pepper exists in both Asylum and Freak Show, does that mean Kit Walker has a twin with lobster hands running around in Jupiter, Fla.? Some were angry: Showrunner Ryan Murphy promised that all seasons of his horror series would be unrelated, and now he's changing the rules: He's confirmed that all Seasons of AHS are in fact connected. So what does that mean for Elsa Mars and Sister Jude?
First, let's clear up the confusion. If you're trying to wrap your brain around all the doppelgängers running around both Briarcliff and Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities, I would encourage you not to think too hard about it. When Demi Lovato joined Glee as Dani after the show had already covered "Give Your Heart A Break," how come nobody commented on the fact that Dani looked exactly like Demi Lovato? When Kathy Bates guest starred on CBS's Two And A Half Men, did that mean the show takes place in an alternate universe where the movie Misery doesn't exist? (The horror!)
Of course not, because there are only so many actors in Hollywood, and they will continue to pop up in recurring roles on several different shows. That doesn't mean they're all connected. So when a show like AHS actually hires the same roster of actors every season, there are bound to be even more of these coincidences, and we just have to learn to ignore them or our minds will melt.
That being said, with the recent news that Lily Rabe will also be reprising her Asylum role of Sister Mary Eunice on Freak Show, Murphy has officially confirmed that the entire world of AHS is connected... and that brings up lots of interesting questions. Besides Pepper and Mary, could there be other ties between the two seasons that we aren't aware of yet? Could Jessica Lange, the show's biggest star and consistent headliner, in fact be the linchpin that binds Asylum and Freak Show together?
Remember that Lange's Season 2 character, Sister Jude, lived a life as a nightclub singer before a booze-filled night ended with her running over a young girl with her car and she decided to devote her life to being a nun. In Season 4, it has been Elsa Mars's lifelong dream to be a successful singer. Coincidence? Now, I'm not saying that Elsa and Jude are actually the same person — that wouldn't explain the different names and different accents. But we've already heard theories that Elsa has a secret twin, so that raises a different question: Could Elsa and Jude be sisters?
When confessing her sins to Edward Mordrake in the most recent episode, Elsa said that her life had been overshadowed by a woman who looks like her who ended up stealing her career away from her. Could this unnamed someone be Judy Martin, pre-hit-and-run? Perhaps, to make herself more palatable to American audiences, Judy adopted a more common last name (Martin = Mars) and lost her German accent — two things Elsa refused to do — to the detriment of her career. If it's revealed that Elsa does in fact have a twin she's always been jealous of, that would add several layers of meaning to her interactions with Bette and Dot Tattler, specifically her encouraging Bette to off her more talented sister.
If the idea of twin Jessica Langes sounds too farfetched to you, try this second theory on for size. If Elsa isn't the direct connection to Asylum, she could still be tangentially related: during her flashback last episode, we learned that she was saved by a German soldier after the sadistic filmmakers who sawed her legs off at the knees left her for dead. Is there a German soldier character in Asylum? You bet there is... Dr. Arthur Arden, the Nazi scientist who, in response to a woman he lusts after, saws her legs off at the knees. (Poor, poor nymphomaniac Shelley.)
Still not buying the idea that Asylum and Freak Show are so literally linked? Not to worry — there's a theory out there made just for you. Exactly two weeks before Ryan Murphy explicitly confirmed that all of AHS was linked, Jason Iannone over at Cracked.com expanded on this idea for how the entire show could turn out to be connected (first proposed by a Reddit user eight months ago):
These characters are in Hell, and each season is a Dante-esque circle of punishment for the characters' sins: lust for Season 1, abuse in Season 2, and racism for Season 3. It's the same actors every time because the sinners they portray have no interest in repenting, therefore they are doomed to suffer time and again.
Iannone points to Rubber Man, Bloody Face, the Minotaur, and Twisty as the "'guardians' that stand watch over each circle of punishment." (Fun fact: In Dante's Inferno, the Minotaur is actually one of the guards of hell; he watches over the Seventh Circle, aka Violence.)
If you're still on the fence about this whole AHS-is-connected thing, consider this: if every season really is supposed to be linked, how could Murphy possibly afford to lose his most valuable player? If the showrunner really has a master plan up his sleeve, I have to believe that Lange will be a large part of that eventual reveal. Murphy has stated that he's trying to convince Lange to stay, despite her insistence that Freak Show will be her last season. Perhaps the "AHS unifying theory" will be the thing that convinces her to stay. Fingers crossed!
Images: Michele K. Short/FX; Giphy.com (4)