‘American Horror Story: Cult’ Guide, Week 9: Every Question We Have Before ‘Charles (Manson) In Charge’
Like a tweet sent at 4 a.m. by the president, American Horror Story usually leaves us with far more questions than answers. Each week, we’re going to take a deeper look into every question the anthology gore-a-palooza needs to A.
Ah, Halloween. All Saint’s Day. All Hallow’s Eve. Samhain. Totensonntag. Some other words I found on Wikipedia. Or, as American Horror Story prefers to call it, an excuse to put some prosthetics on Evan Peters to pad out the runtime of a show that ran out of story roughly three clown-murders ago. Admittedly, Peters’ self-narrated montage of history’s most infamous cult leaders—Marshall Applewhite (pretty good), David Koresh (passable, but no Mullet Kitsch), and Jim Jones (on-point af)—was great. But it was also the early peak of an episode—directed by AHS alum Angella Bassett—that offered very little thrills afterward, like the house that hands out entire handfuls of candy to trick-or-treaters, but when they get home it’s all, like, Mounds bars. “Drink The Kool-Aid” was the Mounds bars of episodes. How dare this show have the wonderful Angela Bassett hand me a fistful of Mounds bars and tell me it’s Twix.
With that said, we still have questions. Most importantly…
Is There Actually a wikiHow For Leaving a Cult?
Oh yeah, of course there is. There’s even 14 steps and everything. Interestingly, there is also a wikiHow for starting a cult. That one has 15 steps, and is an infinitely more interesting read than everything happening on American Horror Story. A small sample:
If you’re going to form the Cult of Star Trek, you need to know a lot more than what color Spock bleeds. You need to know which episode he first bleeds in, what the significance that color is in the greater context of the color-schema on the series, and how that affects your interpretation of Star Trek’s utopian worldview.
I cannot argue with that logic. I am literally willing to die for whoever wrote that wikiHow.
How Much Is Charles Manson Going to FactoriInto This Episode?
Next week’s episode is titled “Charles (Manson) In Charge,” a delightful turn of phrase that combines the 1980s comedic stylings of Scott Baio with the psychotic cult leader who orders his followers to murder seven people because the Beatles told him to. Presumably, Peters will be playing Charles Manson, unless someone received my requests to bring Denis O’Hare back to this series. Or, I don’t know, put a goatee on Kathy Bates. There’s options here.
The real question is whether or not we get a quick flashback to the Manson Family, or a full-episode tie-in à la Lena Dunham’s Valerie Solanas. Truthfully, the last time Cult approached anything resembling great was when it posited the idea that the obscure artist who tried to murder Andy Warhol was straight up also the Zodiac Killer, so I’m all for more episode-long wackiness. Like, Charles Manson was Kai’s great-grandfather but also somehow Jack the Ripper.
Again...What Is Ally’s Play Here?
Last week, I wondered what Ally’s master plan was after joining Kai’s clown cult. Step one of ??? was to get close enough to Ivy to serve her poisoned revenge pasta, which means there is officially no character left on this show that hasn’t been driven to murder. I mean, I get it, that’s the point, America is cuhraaaazy now, and Ally has as close to an understandable motivation as we’re going to get, but is there one person in AHS-world that lived through election night and wasn’t immediately like, “Great, I have to stab my neighbor now”? I love how that is Winter’s entire character motivation. “Once Hillary lost the election, putting a clown mask on and watching my brother kill people was my best and only option.”
Anyway: Step two of *shrugging emoji* is, apparently, for Ally to dupe Kai into believing he is Oz’s real father (he’s not) and convincing the blue-haired “divine ruler” that he’s finally found his Messiah Baby (he hasn’t). Which is fantastic, from Ally’s perspective; she gained Kai’s trust, she’s in, she nailed it. But if “Charles (Manson) In Charge” doesn’t open with Ally packing Oz into a car and driving the fuck out of Michigan, then we’re just entering into extra territory. I understand the pressures of an 11-episode order, but with two episodes of Cult to go the only things standing between Ally and freedom is a 160-pounds-on-a-good-day city councilman and his army of floppy-haired white dudes in jumpsuits. Just throw an Amy Schumer stand-up special at them and escape while they argue over the ways it generalizes men.
Wait, speaking of…
What Is Speed Wagon’s Deal?
I am begging this flashback-obsessed show to spend some time on whatever twisted path gave us the character Speed Wagon, the dude who is gleefully willing to self-castrate and/or kill himself for Kai Anderson. I just…what is your story, Speed Wagon? What twisted cocktail of cherry flavored Absolut and Four Loko birthed this bro? I am vastly more interested in Speed Wagon than I am in Ally, or Oz, or Kai, or Winter. So, to recap, with two episodes remaining, Cult’s three most intriguing characters are: 1) SPEED WAGON (emphasis mine), 2) an anonymous wikiHow author, 3) a hypothetical Charles Manson played by a bearded Kathy Bates. Awesome. This is going great.