American Horror Story: Cult – 11/9
By: Kelly Kearney
The first three episodes of “American Horror Story: Cult” focused on the aftermath of the 2016 election and a cult of clown killers that have been terrorizing Michigan’s lesbians. This week we head back in time to the day before the election where the cult of fear and mayhem was born. It was a big night for Evan Peters fans as we learn Kai is the puppeteer that has the town dangling from his fingertips.
FLASHBACK TO THE NIGHT THAT STARTED IT ALL
We open with Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) reporting from the polls on election night. The town has come out in droves to vote and the clash between political and moral ideologies has never been more volatile. Ally (Sarah Paulson) and Ivy (Alison Pill) are there, as are The Wiltons, Kai (Evan Peters) and Winter (Billie Lourd) and the rest of the town’s civic-minded residents. Unlike the excitement in the crowd of voters, Beverly isn’t feeling it. She’s becoming sick of her job, but more importantly she’s sick of her boss passing her over for his part-time plaything and amateur reporter Serena (Emma Roberts). To say Beverly is on edged is an understatement. She’s on a warpath and Serena is directly in the angry woman’s crosshairs.
Back in line to vote, Meadow Wilton is discussing the very real fact that if voters were required to pass a civics test before they could vote she would fail with flying colors since she’s nowhere near informed enough to make this big life-changing decision. One by one the town’s people enter the booths to cast their choice. Ivy predictably fills her ballot in for Hillary, but her wife struggles with her choice and goes with Stein. Also at the polling station, and alongside Kai, is Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono) the local grocery store manager and proud MAGA hat wearer. Shaking and presumably hopped up on liberal payback, Garry casts his vote, raises his arm to reveal a bloody stump and screams “WELCOME TO TRUMP’S AMERICA, MOTHER F**KERS!”
WORLD DOMINATION WITH A SIDE OF BICEP CURLS
Later, at the local gym, Kai hires Harrison (Billy Eichner) to be his personal trainer, but he has more in mind than bicep curls. When Harrison asks the blue-haired man what his workout goals are Kai responds with “world domination.” As Harrison instructs Kai towards the ultimate free weight regimen, the two get to talking about their personal lives. Harrison picks up on some clues that maybe Kai is also gay, but when asked Kai says those are just labels liberal’s use to categorize us. Kai goes on to admit he’s a genius and currently works from home as a computer coder. Feeling like he has a connection with his client, Harrison admits he’s gay and it’s pretty clear his boss at the gym isn’t feeling his lifestyle when he orders him to do a “cleanup on aisle four.” Kai questions what that entails and Harrison admits because he’s gay and forced to clean up any “man juice” that lands on the steam room floor. Apparently, some men get extremely excited over steam and Kai is disgusted that Harrison is treated so poorly by his boss.
In the steam room, Harrison is mopping up as the camera pans to a smiley face drawn in steam on the adjacent shower door. Since this is a flashback and the smiley face murders have yet to happen, Harrison ignores the symbol and continues his mopping until he hears someone moaning in one of the shower stalls. He creeps around to see who it is and finds Kai masturbating, but assures Harrison he will clean up after himself when he’s done.
TAKE BACK YOUR POWER
After work Harrison heads home to find a depressed Meadow (Leslie Grossman) who has some bad news. The bank is foreclosing on their house and they have three days to get out. Harrison is livid since his wife knew this was happening and was too afraid to mention it. The two go back and forth over whose fault it is and Meadow accuses Harrison of blaming her cancer for all their financial problems. The argument dies down when Meadow tries to put the moves on her hubby only to be turned down because he’s gay. I guess Meadow never read the gay best friend handbook because everyone knows you can’t change gay.
The following day at work Harrison is on thin ice when his boss finds out he hasn’t signed Kai up for more classes. He tells him to seal the deal or he’s fired. Being that he’s in massive debt and about to lose his house, he can’t afford to be fired so he turns on the sales charm with Kai who’s immediately weirded out by the change. When asked why he’s acting so nice, Harrison tells Kai about all the troubles he’s having and starts to cry. His tears unnerve Kai who tells him to find meaning in his suffering. The conversation is intense and Kai is laying on the savior charm in hopes Harrison will become one of his followers. He lets the trainer know that if he joins him in his plan for world domination Kai will do what it takes to keep him and all his followers safe and happy. At that moment, Harrison’s boss interrupts with another mop up in the steam room and Kai follows along, drawing familiar happy symbols on the shower doors. With Harrison’s boss constantly humiliating him, Kai tells him he deserves better and to do something to take his power back. That something turns into a bloody disaster Harrison never saw coming. With Kai feeding him ideas, Harrison acts as a spotter for his boss who’s lifting weights, only he doesn’t spot so much as he uses his body weight to push the barbell down, crushing the man’s throat. Harrison panics, but his boss is still alive so he bashes his skull in with a free weight, killing the man instantly.
The aftermath of the murder is handled by Kai who gives Harrison some time to get rid of the body by erasing the gym’s surveillance tapes and texting the victim’s friends and family with an emergency out of town trip. After ditching any evidence, the two men head back to the motel where Harrison and Meadow are living now that they’ve lost their home. Meadow wanders in with a joint she bummed off some locals and is shocked to find her husband and Kai chopping up his boss in the bathtub. Seemingly unfazed and mostly annoyed at the inconvenience, she asks who Kai is. Harrison responds with “someone to believe in.”
Beverly Hope is on the scene at the local dump where a headless and handless body has been found and she is not happy about it. The reporter is still reeling from the fact her nemesis Serena is getting more airtime with her fluff pieces than Hope’s hard-hitting crime stories and she is just about over it. Kai, who’s anxiously waiting on news about the body he and Harrison dumped, is watching the report when he notices Beverly say she’s glad to be back at the news. Back, where was she? With a little research, he discovers that Beverly was a magnet for trolls who interrupted her news reports to the point she lost it and beat the living hell out of one of them. The beatdown was captured on film and sent Beverly into a depression deep enough that she checked herself into a local mental hospital. Serena, being the opportunist that she is, used her sex appeal with the station owner Bob (Dermot Mulroney) to slide into Beverly’s on-air spot and thus setting off a feud that has no end in sight.
Later Beverly tries to talk to her boss about her issues with the new anchor, but with Serena nuzzling her way into his good graces Hope’s words fall on deaf ears. Angry, Beverly storms out of the studio and slashes Serena’s tires but is eventually caught by Kai who offers to take the woman out for some food and a shoulder to lean on. The two get to chatting about how underappreciated Beverly is at work and how she can never live up to Serena’s sexual manipulations with their boss. Kai uses this as in an in to try and get Beverly to join his fear cult, but she quickly turns him down. She admits that she can’t believe in him when she can’t even believe in herself. Kai takes that as his cue to leave, but not before giving her his phone number and predicting he will hear from her in a few days.
A SHOCKING TWIST
Kai’s prediction was spot on when his cult of killer clowns kills Serena on live TV. Beverly heads to Kai’s home when she realizes he’s responsible for Serena’s death and feels a kind of loyalty she hadn’t felt before. The reporter knows the cult leader murdered for her competition and she’s thankful for it. So much so that she agrees to join his fear movement if they get to share the power equally. Equal Power with the media should set off Kai’s movement exponentially and add to his cult’s power and influence. All good things for a guy who’s dead set on world domination.
Kai keeps gathering members for his cult and Beverly isn’t the last. The day of the election finds Ally and Ivy arguing over their prospective candidates. Ivy doesn’t know why Ally is risking it with her protest vote and she starting to get frustrated at her wife’s complacency with the Trump polling numbers. To cool off, she heads to a Trump protest where she’s assaulted by an angry Gary who claims Ivy is sexually frustrated. Gary’s arm is still intact and he uses it to inappropriately grab Ivy to make his point. When Winter sees this, she chases Gary away while yelling about calling the police. That’s right, Ivy met Winter long before she came to be the Mayfair-Richard’s nanny. As thanks for sticking up for her, Ivy takes Winter out for lunch and the two discuss all kinds of things, from their distrust of men to the political distress that’s gripping the nation. Angry about where things are headed politically, the two devise a payback plan to teach Gary a lesson.
As Gary is closing his store for the night to head to the polls, Winter and Ivy taser him, drag him to the basement and duct tape him to some pipes. If he can’t make it to the polls, that’s one more Trump fan who can’t vote. It seems like a solid plan until Kai finds out about Winter’s captive. He heads to the basement with a saw and an agenda while Gary is like a caged animal, raging about his missing vote. Kai fills his head with ideas of payback and tells him the two women have humiliated him, mocked him and stolen his American dream. Fueled by rage, misogyny and desperation, Gary takes the saw Kai offers him and cuts his own hand off, freeing him from his temporary prison. This takes us back to election night when Gary was ushered into the voting booth by Kai and made a bloody scene that nobody in that town will soon forget.
With four episodes in, it’s obvious that Kai has turned this sleepy Michigan town into a fear cult of lunatics and murderers that are all willing to do his bidding at any cost. Ally may have some issues, ok a lot of issues, but one thing is for sure, the town is out to get her and even her wife can’t be trusted.