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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

American Horror Story goes back to the beginning (again)

Illustration for article titled American Horror Story goes back to the beginning (again)
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Three episodes left in the season and every character of importance has joined the cult (or has died, or, in some cases, both). The non-reveal at the end of this week’s episode, that Ally now has her very own clown mask, seems to leave viewers with just one glaring question. Where can we possibly go from here?


Though it seemed like Kai’s origin story was revealed a few weeks back, portraying him as a psychopath born from seeing his mother and father’s murder-suicide play out right in front of him, or maybe from getting wrapped up in his brother’s pension fraud scheme that involved embalming his parents in kitty litter. But this week there was a do-over of sorts, a beginning that again involves the shadier side of the internet (last time a red-pill thread, this time “trolling social justice warriors”). The concept of a “Christian Haunted House” turned real horror show has already been done on Law and Order: SVU (it guest stars Katy Baker, check it out the next Sunday you turn on USA), though not quite this horrific. It was an interesting choice to make all the victims of the mastermind of the house “not guilty.” The girl plucked from Planned Parenthood had a UTI. The drug addict was pursuing sobriety. The “gay” man was just volunteering at an AIDs clinic. Would Kai not have felt so righteous if he had saved a woman who had had an abortion from a bloody death? The moment plays out like it might just have been a way to really turn the screws to the religious creeper, but he at the very least knew he was grabbing the addict from rehab, so it seems like he might not be a details guy. When Kai gets splattered with his blood after making the decision to murder him rather than call the cops using very basic “eye for an eye” logic, the future cult leader’s eyes go blank, and in Winter’s version of the story, he goes from good-hearted internet troll to blood-thirsty psychopath. But is that what really happened?

As the season winds down, AHS: Cult has left itself with few live main characters, and seemingly even less to do with them. After witnessing Kai murder his brother (RIP Dr. Vincent), it seems unlikely the remaining followers will be bold enough to rebel. Ally is now a member of the cult (possibly). Beyond a reveal of how and why Kai was able to sit in confidence with a former radical feminist hell-bent on murdering men, opportunities for twists are slim. Unless Kai isn’t really the unhinged egoist he appears to be. What if he’s just, for lack of a better phrase (or at least one that fits more comfortably with Kai’s body count) messing with people?

The most absurd moment of the hour, and possibly the entire season was “the ritual.” With almost no fight Winter agrees to conceive “a messiah” by having sex with Samuels while Kai has sex with him. The whole moment is overblown and ludicrous, from the pilgrim pajamas to Kai’s choice of get-it-on song (All-4-One’s “I Swear,” seriously looking forward to the DVD commentary that explains that choice). And throughout it kind of seems like Kai...knows. He has the air of an improv performer. Someone who’s committed to his performance, but could also break at any moment. At this point that might be the most interesting idea to layer on-Kai will still be crazy, because sane people don’t recruit their friends and family to murder their neighbors for an elaborate joke (or more likely “social experiment”). But his speeches about his new world order have become so heavy handed and his world views still so unfocused and contradictory it makes sense his goal might not be world domination or even pure chaos, but to see how far he can get people to go with very little to offer them in return. It would be a let down if, in the end, Kai really does believe in Kai.

Stray observations

  • Of course, there’s no telling how the average person would feel, in the minutes after their release, about the man who was about to not just murder them, but murder them in a morality play. But no one in the haunted house even tries to suggest to Kai that killing Mr. Haunted House would be, at the very least, an act that could potentially lead to jail? And what did they do with the body?
  • Ivy was obviously not told before the big mask-off her estranged wife would be joining the club. Maybe they’ll find their love again through senseless murder? It wouldn’t be the strangest thing to happen in an episode of AHS.
  • Kai is a global warming truther who wants his army eating organic. Truly a troll to end all trolls.
  • Is it becoming inevitable that any show that portrays violence will also have a scene featuring a sexual assault?
  • It’ll be hard to look at a Manwich the same way again. What’s the opposite of product placement?
  • If Ally or Ivy really cared about their son, they would send him to out of state boarding school immediately. Preferably out of the country. And one that has a good therapist on staff (he did see his pet die by microwave).
  • AHS: Cult might be the best ad possible for immersion therapy. Just a few short weeks facing the murderous embodiments of her greatest fears, and Ally is cured! People with shark phobias getting in dive cages don’t seem so crazy now.