Whether you like it or not, Ryan Murphy has made it perfectly clear that at least three of all seasons of American Horror Story are connected. Viewers got at least some confirmation of the suspected truth that each mini-series lived within the same universe when Pepper showed up in Freak Show, in the same role she played in Season 2, Asylum. But when you're used to a show where a photo tacked on a background wall could be an indicator of the plot of the entire next season, a little connection can mean a lot. And with the new information about Pepper being, well, peppered into the latest episode of AHS, Naomi Grossman's character seems to be the key to AHS' connections.
That Ryan Murphy, though... with him you never have to wait too long for a spoiler or seven. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Murphy officially confirmed that "Season 2 is connected to Season 4 which is connected to Season 1." In reference to Lily Rabe's Season 2 character coming to Freak Show, he said, "Lily coming back and dealing with Pepper is sort of the first unveiling of that connectedness."
And while that's exciting, it's not entirely true: we've got plenty of Pepper material to theorize with before the return of (hopefully pre-devil-possession) Sister Mary Eunice. With a bit of new information revealed about Salty and Pepper's past in the latest AHS episode, let's take another look at what our knowledge of Pepper means to the AHS universe — past, present, and future.
In last week's episode, Elsa reminded Salty and Pepper that she saved them from an orphanage where they had been "rotting away" because "even [their] sister didn't want [them]." As you'll recall, in Asylum, Mary Eunice tells Lana Winters that Pepper is at Briarcliffe because she killed her sister's baby and sliced her ears off, though Pepper later says it was her sister's husband who killed the baby.
If the death of the baby is what lands Pepper in Briarcliffe, then there seem to be two options of how the (probably) false accusation makes its way to Asylum: With the end of the Freak Show, Salty and Pepper are returned to their sister, Pepper is accused of killing the baby and is sent to Briarcliffe, while Salty remains with the sister...
Or, Elsa is turning on each of her performers one by one — thinking of you, Paul! — calls Sister Mary Eunice in to take Pepper away, and relays the tragic story that was once told to her at the orphanage where she found Salty and Pepper. That seems a bit of a stretch, but it seems almost certain that Mary Eunice will be taking Pepper with her when she arrives on the scene at the Freak Show. There's also the possibility that somehow, Mary Eunice is Pepper's sister, pre-vows, coming to retrieve her, or take her to Briarcliffe.
Either way, Mary Eunice and Pepper are beginning a relationship on Freak Show that carries on to the timeline of Asylum, 12 years later.
According to Murphy, it's not just Season 2 and 4 that are connected, but Season 1, as well, and potentially, Season 5. Murphy has been coy about clues for Season 5 hidden within Freak Show, but confirmed in the interview with EW that there might be something to the reoccurring top hat that many fans have noticed. Reddit users have linked that clue to Operation Top Hat — an unapproved testing of biological and chemical weapon testing in Alabama by the United States Army Chemical Corps — and other government conspiracies such as nuclear testing... and extraterrestrials. Hey, remember that time Pepper was abducted by aliens in Season 2?
Never underestimate Pepper.
Images: Michele K. Short/FX; giphy (3)