‘AHS: Cult’ Guide, Week 8: Every Question We Have Before ‘Drink the Kool-Aid’
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.
This week’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult … wait, hold on, sorry [hits play on All-4-One’s “I Swear”] there we go. This week’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult marks the series’ annual stops-giving-a-fuck-athon, the chapter that comes during every season of AHS in which any sort of theme or logic or plot is thrown into a blender shaped like Ryan Murphy’s head and turned into insane Manwich meat. It’s genuinely comforting to know how consistent this show is; the only things guaranteed in life are death, taxes, and American Horror Story flying completely off the rails somewhere between 4-8 episodes into a season.
Even the attempts at shading in backstory, in explaining things, veered off into Bananasville. Weren’t we all cool with Kai’s supervillain origin story involving witnessing his parents’ death firsthand and then keeping their corpses in an upstairs bedroom? Nope, not nearly spooky enough. Kai’s issues actually started when he and Winter messed around on the Dark Web and got invited to a pastor’s haunted house in the middle of nowhere, but zoinks the faceless deep-web priest turned out to be a crazy person / possibly the antagonist from the Saw franchise, and every horror on display was real. Kai and Winter, being your average normal teens, decide to execute the pastor on his own torture device. “Everything changed after Pastor Charles,” Winter says. The time when Kai’s father blew his head off a few feet away, spraying him with blood and brains, that was … that actually wasn’t such a big deal, to be honest. The haunted house really messed him up, though.
As you could imagine, this has left us with questions:
What’s Ally’s Play Here?
After coming to some sort of agreement with Kai over a meal of Ominous Sloppy Joes, Ally ends the episode under a clown mask. But is she in-in the cult, or is this all part of a long con? Furthermore, is Kai’s food-tester really named Speed Wagon? Like, is that his birth name?
Let’s table the Speed Wagon debate (for now) and focus on Ally. She does appear, in the most roundabout way possible, to be grateful for the psychological ringer that Kai has put her through. “You cured me. I’m not afraid of anything anymore,” she tells him, echoing similar sentiments of those who signed up before her. And she does offer up a pretty substantial olive branch; Dr. Rudy Vincent confides in Ally that he’s going to get his younger brother committed, information that Ally immediately relays to Kai. (I love that Kai is basically like “on what grounds could I be committed” when he has two corpses chilling in a bed upstairs.)
But really, this is less about toppling the patriarchy and setting the world on fire than it is about Oz. Somehow, Ally selling our her psychiatrist and watching a cult sacrifice happen in front of her is all part of the plan to get her son back. With American Horror Story’s track-record, this “plan” is definitely, 100% going to be Ally doing horrific, vile things in service of the cult for two episodes only to, like, smash a flower pot over Kai’s head in the finale.
Honestly, I’m way less interested in the actual plan than I am in what the hell Oz is up to right now. Is anyone even watching him? While both his mothers are joining death-clown cults and stabbing gimps or whatever I’d like the show to just once cut away to Oz drawing more murder cartoons unsupervised in his kitchen. Twisty the Clown can be there too, just shrugging like, “I don’t know man, I shouldn’t have been in this season either.”
Is Kai Really Unaware Winter Is Unhappy?
I mean, Kai is unaware of the basic fundamentals of human conception so I wouldn’t be too shocked by anything at this point. “Winter of Our Discontent” went a long way in showing just how deluded Kai’s quest to become the world’s most powerful city councilman has made him, up to and including his plan to make a “messiah baby” to the tune of smooth early-90s R&B.
But man, I feel for Billie Lourd, because this show has turned into a constant pile-on for Winter; watching her blue-haired brother stab her older brother to death is just about the fourth worst thing that happened to her in this last episode. In fairness, I would pay upwards of $1,000 to have been on set when Lourd and Colton Haynes had to keep a straight face as Evan Peters dead-panned some gold like, “Maybe the pressure of creating the messiah baby is causing your impotence.” And credit where credit is due, I groaned when I thought that scene was going to be played straight, but was pleasantly surprised when it rounded back and suddenly AHS became sort of a parody of itself.
But character-wise, Winter is the ball flying around a pin-ball machine, to the point where it seems like her scenes were filmed out of order and swapped around at the last minute. She refuses to take part in the messiah-baby makin’, cool, but we haven’t been given nearly enough about her to understand why she turns around accepts she has to pick up garbage in a dunce cap now. She shoots Detective Samuels in the head, cool, the homie loved Nazi memorabilia and death metal he should have known that’s how he would die one day, but then Winter is back under her clown mask, taking part in cult duties like it’s nothing.
Where Is All of This Heading?
With only three installments left, Cult’s endgame is less clear than the character motivation of…everyone? Let’s say everyone. I’ve written before about this season’s lack of anything to say, but now it looks to have run out of any forward momentum at all. If this show jumped to a flashback with a character saying, “you think that’s bad…” any more it would just turn into Family Guy.
Unfortunately, Cult is in a bit of a lose-lose scenario. If Kai’s campaign of fear wins out in the end, that’s one hell of a pessimistic outlook on modern day America to take. But if it doesn’t, well, we just spent a ton of unpleasant time with cult-members for no reason, really.
So…apocalypse? I’m still sticking with apocalypse. You’re all going to feel real silly when this season ends with the apocalypse.