American Horror Story
First we got Lena Dunham playing would-be Andy Warhol assassin Valerie Solanas, now we get Evan Peters pretending to be David Koresh, Jim Jones, and whoever the hell that guy is who made all those people kill themselves when the Hale-Bopp Comet came around. With Valerie’s appearance, AHS: Cult was leading to a great point about women banding together against men and how only a cult of women could end the cult of the patriarchy forever. It was my least favorite episode of the entire season so far, but at least I understood where it came from politically and thematically.
Having Peters dress up in bad wigs and a fat suit just seems like filler. It’s as if the writers didn’t think the audience would believe that a room full of dudes in matching underwear would actually want to off themselves for Kai, so they had to trick us into believing that they would. Also, everyone at home knew it was an empty gambit when he served up that big pot of Kool-Aid to kill all of his followers. He just announced that he was going to run for Senate, so why the hell would he kill himself and all of his followers?
After fooling everyone into pledging their eternal loyalty for him and his cause, that is exactly the rationale Kai delivers to his troops and the four stunned women who thought they were about to pay the ultimate price for foolishly following him into battle. Beverly takes it the hardest, cowering on her knees in that paneled basement rec room like she actually wanted to die rather than continue being tortured by Kai and his Hitler Youth followers.
Speaking of his followers, what is going on with Speedwag, Tripod, Gutterball, Sandstorm, and the rest of them? They’re all huddled in their matching underoos straight out of a late ’90s-International Male catalogue and eating Crunch ’n Munch while daddy Kai tells them stories about how the only thing that he really wants is their loyalty. This is the most homoerotic slumber party I have ever seen, and I’ve spent nights camping in the woods during Bear Weekend in Russian River. Kai might not allow any of these hunks to jerk off, but you know as soon as those lights go out they’re hopping in each other’s sleeping bags and playing “Sausage, Sausage, Who Has the Sausage?”
Most of the episode’s focus is about Ivy, Ally, and their quest to leave the cult and make sure their son, Oz, is safe. When we first see the couple, they’re both pissed at each other for joining the same cult, which seems like a really foolish argument. If you’re both are in quicksand, fighting about how the hell you ended up there is a moot point. The only key is to get out. Sadly, the only help they have is Winter, whose sole contribution is to print out a post from WikiHow, the internet’s foremost repository of scary illustrations and useless information. No wonder both Beverly and Ally want to beat the hell out of Winter. She’s really pretty useless.
When Kai takes Oz from school, the mothers learn that Kai was a frequent donor to the sperm bank they used and believes that he may be the father of their child. Whether or not he believes it is up for some debate, of course — he might just be using that to gain sway with their son. He forces Oz to spend the night with his little band of Abercrombie models.
Ally takes the opportunity to poison Ivy, which we all saw coming because anyone who has ever seen a scene of a dinner where only one person is eating or drinking knew how this was going to end. At least we get to listen to a really good speech about how the only thing that Ally wanted was to get revenge on Ivy. Well, she finally got it. Not only has she overcome her fears of clowns, holes, blood, and Japanese toilet seats (I threw that last one in there just for kicks), she’s almost as evil as Kai now.
We really see this with the deviousness of the next stage of her plan. She goes to the fertility clinic and bribes a woman with a very thin envelope to get the file of her donor. The picture proves that Oz’s father really isn’t Kai. She then invites the cult leader over for Manwiches. Because he’s the only one eating, we think that her arsenic has struck again, but Ally is too much of a baller for that.
She shows Kai the file, but now it proves that he is in fact the father of Ally and Ivy’s baby. She convinces him that they have a messiah baby who is full of untapped potential. This does two things that Ally really wants: to keep Oz safe from Kai and to have a more powerful position in the cult. (As Little Red Riding Hood’s “grandmother” would say, “The better to eat you with, my dear.”) Kai buys everything that she’s selling, including the idea that he spoke this fact into existence. He’s so drunk with power he’s starting to believe his own rhetoric, starting to think that his lies are actually truths.
Ally then admits that she killed Ivy, and the two of them dispose of her body along with Kai’s parents, who are still rotting in their bed like the Tupperware that’s been sitting in the back of your office refrigerator since 2015. What is Ally going to do with all of this power now? Hopefully, she’s going to destroy these men one by one.
Lest we forget that this season is also a political satire, Kai’s behavior has gotten extremely Trumpian. He’s trying to censor the internet and make all of the citizens follow his fascist tendencies. When the city council doesn’t want to vote on his silly proposal, his colleagues are bullied and beaten into submission. Kai also packs the city council meeting full of his followers who will applaud his every word, something that Trump has definitely done in the past.
And let us not forget Kai’s calls of everything from Wikipedia to science being “fake news” and his demands for loyalty above all else. This continues to be an outsized look at the madman who is behind one of the scariest turns in American politics. No matter what Ally pulls off in the last two episodes of AHS: Cult, it will be nothing compared to the horrors in the real world.