American Horror Story
They must be putting something in the water in Brookfield Heights, Michigan, because it’s putting everyone somewhere on the Kinsey scale. It may only be a town of about 60,000 people, but it’s gayer than Liza Minnelli singing “Anyone Can Whistle.” Yes, we’ve already seen the Ivy, Ally, and Winter love triangle, and there is Harrison (RIP) and Detective Samuels’s tryst, but what we learned in this episode also puts Kai somewhere between the L and the Q of LGBTQ. Previously, he told Harrison that he digs chicks, but alluded to going gay if he needed to, and now he’s actually giving it to Samuels and discussing how sex without women is the best kind of sex there is.
We learn that Kai and Samuels first met when Samuels busted him for selling fake prescriptions with a pad he lifted from his brother Dr. Vincent’s psychiatric practice. When Kai shows up at Samuels’s house and learns the good detective can’t get it up with a woman unless he chokes her, Kai tells him why it’s bad to lay down with the fairer sex — at least in his eyes. “Every time you have sex with them, they drain your power,” Kai says of women. “There’s no such thing as gay or straight. You have to lean into your masculinity … With a man, there is no energy drain. You’re building on yourself exponentially.” He then proceeds to ride Samuels like he’s a midnight train to Georgia.
You might think that is some crazy rationalization for some man-on-man action, but it’s not all that unique. Kai’s speech sounds exactly like Jack Donovan, a real-life homosexual alt-right figure who has a male partner of 20 years but doesn’t identify as gay. Though he has sex only with men, he sees himself as much more masculine and outside of gay culture at large. He calls himself an “androphile” and promotes a lifestyle of outsized masculinity and aggression that is as much gender performance as anything you’ll ever seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race, but much more dangerous.
This all leads us to one of the season’s oddest scenes, in which Kai tests Winter’s loyalty by forcing her to carry his love child, who will eventually become the messiah. When she tells him it’s incest, he says that Samuels will be the one impregnating her, but he will penetrate Samuels at the same time, so it’s like some extreme form of The Handmaid’s Tale’s fertility ritual. In the gay community, we would call that position “Lucky Pierre,” which is a three-way where one person is both the top and the bottom at the same time. Yes, Pierre is a very lucky man indeed.
Kai tries to consecrate the occasion by playing All-4-One’s “I Swear” and lighting enough candles for an a capella troupe’s induction ceremony. However, they can’t go through with it because — well, first of all, it’s rape, but also because Samuels can’t get it up for girls anymore. Yeah, he’s really addicted to all of that “masculine power” that Kai (and Harrison, and probably half of the hair shirt Army upstairs) is injecting into him.
This all culminates in Winter dumping trash on the side of the road while wearing a dunce cap as her punishment, then shooting Samuels in the head when he tries to rape her to prove he’s not gay.
The best part of that scene, however, is when we find out why, exactly, Winter is tossing the litter back on the side of the highway: Kai tells her to put the garbage back where it belongs because he doesn’t believe in global warming. That, ladies and gentlemen, is as about as comprehensive an environmental policy as our current administration has.
There is a lot of great, cutting Trump satire in this episode. While late-night hosts and facile sitcoms like Will & Grace go for the easy Cheeto-faced joke, AHS cuts a lot deeper. (Well, that and it got its Cheetos joke out of the way in the first episode.) Beverly, relegated to kitchen duty with Ivy and Winter, is the harshest Trump critic this week, starting off by saying, “He’s not fit to lead.” Just like so many establishment Republicans, Beverly thought that once she got her man in charge, she would have equal say in what goes down, but he’s so much worse than she ever could have imagined. Now that he’s in charge and using his power for his insane whims, she has buyer’s remorse. This year, Beverly is dressing as Mitch McConnell for Halloween.
By the end of the episode, Winter blames Beverly for Samuels’s murder and Kai decides to punish her by torturing her. “Your promises mean shit,” she tells Kai. “You’re fake. You don’t stand up for a goddamn thing […] Nothing is bigger than your goddamn ego. You don’t know what you’re doing from one minute to the next […] The biggest mistake I ever made was believing in you.” Yeah, that sounds very familiar.
The inner circle of the cult is just like Trump’s White House staff: There is a ton of infighting and people trying to earn the leader’s trust and power, all while sacrificing each other. Beverly and company killed Harrison; Winter killed Samuels, and now she’s turned on Beverly, too. Just like Trump, all Kai wants is loyalty, and it seems like no one is willing to give it to him. And so, while his crew picks each other off, they’re replaced with interchangeable white dudes in Kai’s thrall.
It seems like Kai got sucked into this whole thing because he really did want to speak up for people who didn’t have a voice or protection on their own. We learn this via flashback, when he and Winter visit a man named Pastor Charles. Pastor Charles has a real-life haunted house, which is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen on television: He’s torturing women who visit Planned Parenthood, junkies, and gay men for their sins. Kai decides to rebel and kill the pastor and set everyone free, but now his yearning for power has corrupted otherwise upstanding ideals. Also, Pastor Charles directly created the most disgusting, horrible, and scary thing of this entire season: Kai’s horrific dye job.
In the episode’s final scene, Kai also begins torturing his brother Dr. Vincent, who actually knew nothing about his brother and sister’s crimes as members of the Insane Clown Posse. He wasn’t feeding Kai information about his patients; Kai was stealing it, which is how he found out all about Ally. When Vincent finds out what Kai was doing, he approaches Ally and apologizes for not taking her seriously all this time.
But Ally doesn’t want an ally. (Ally/ally. Get it?!) Instead, she invites Kai over for man-wiches and sells out his brother so that she can get her son back. Kai cuts off his brother’s pinky in the basement, then stabs him in the neck. Then we find out that Ally is the newest member of the cult. While we knew she made a tentative deal with Kai, this is kind of a big step. Maybe we’ll learn how she fits into this rainbow flag of community next week.