American Horror Story: Cult – The Winter of Our Discontent
By: Kelly Kearney
In perhaps the most gruesome and shocking of episodes to date, The Winter of Our Discontent dives headfirst into the murky waters of threesomes, incest, torture abortion and fratricide that’s bound to make any fan squeamish. Sex and gore aside, fans know what they’re signing up for when they tune into the Ryan Murphy hit. It wouldn’t be “American Horror Story” if it wasn’t horrifyingly disturbing and this week’s episode has that in spades, along with humor and a shocking twist nobody could see coming.
CALL ME COUNCILMAN
Now that Kai (Evan Peters) has won his seat on the city council his ego is out of control and growing exponentially. When his brother Rudy a/k/a Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) stops by to congratulate him, the house is surrounded by Kai’s Alt-Right bodyguard/fanboys. Rudy has no idea his blue-haired younger brother is the leader of a cult that sent his patient Ally (Sarah Paulson) to the mental hospital. He starts to gather clues when Kai mentions Rudy avoided him after the shooting. He thinks his brother sent him an edible arrangement in lieu of a visit in fear it would hurt his medical career. Rudy kind of agrees, but then deflects Kai’s manipulative angling and says he’s very proud of his brother’s success. Kai smiles at that and hugs Rudy, but then says, “Call me Councilman.”
Meanwhile, over at the Butchery, Kai’s new misogynistic fanboys are acting as the town’s private security (think Gestapo but replace the brown shirts with fitted denim) and driving Ivy (Alison Pill) and the rest of the cult women crazy. Ivy is forced to serve them healthy lunches and incur their sexist remarks until she’s ranting about her life becoming “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Beverly (Adina Porter) is even less pleased, it seems once Kai got wind of the feminine revolt he sent them all to work in the kitchen as a form of punishment. Beverly is ready to throw Kai off his pedestal saying, “If we cut off the head of the snake, the entire army falls.” But Winter (Billie Lourd) swears her brother just lost his way and begs to give him time. Beverly and Ivy aren’t sold on the idea so Winter tells them a story explaining why she’s so loyal to her brother.
JUDGEMENT HOUSE OR HOUSE OF HORRORS?
A few years ago, two normal haired siblings spent their days trolling social justice warriors on the deep web. Seemingly ahead of their time, they spent hours attacking pro-choicers until one night a man named Pastor Charles messaged them with an invite to what he called “Judgement House.” Winter and Kai decided to check it out and drove to the rural farmhouse where they were greeted by Charles (Rick Springfield) who’s doing his best impersonation of Riff Raff from Rocky Horror Picture Show. When the duo entered, it was immediately clear this was a religious horror house used to shock and scare sinners into repenting. At first, they thought it was some kind of hellish low-rent theme park, but the mood quickly changed when they entered into an abortion room. A pale woman (Sasha Boggs) was strapped to a table with her feet in stirrups, bleeding profusely from her vagina and begging for help. This was no performance; the woman was a prisoner and appeared to be dying a painful death. In a flash, the begging woman got zapped by some electrical current and died right in front of her would be rescuers. Winter fled from the room as Kai discovered more victims. He saw a former drug user (Derek Chariton) being pumped with every drug imaginable and a gay man (Mario Diaz) he was able to free before he became impaled on the chair he was strapped in. Over the intercom, Pastor Charles set the mood with his sermon about holy justice. At that moment, Kai decided to save as many victims as he could. That’s when, predictably, Charles caught Winter in the hallway. Luckily, big brother came to the rescue when he whacked the pastor in the head and threw him into the spiked chair. Kai said the demented reverend deserved the same ending he planned for his victims and released the chair’s spikes, impaling and killing the unholy degenerate. Cut to the present where Winter tells the two women this is where Kai the leader was born.
HOW DEEP DOES LOYALTY RUN?
Winter has always been loyal to her brother, but is there limits to her devotion? Things get dicey when she meets Kai at their house and the two “link pinks.” Her intense brother demands a loyalty pledge and then drops his hand and starts to cry. Kai says it’s time Winter learns her place in the cult and that’s when he lays a hundred shades of crazy on her. He says she’s destined to be the mother of their child, their greatest creation, the new messiah! Immediately, Winter is not keen on this idea because incest is gross unless your last name is Lannister and even then it’s questionable. Kai says he has a way around the genetic no-no by creating a human centipede of sex with Samuels (Colton Haynes). Samuels will enter Winter as Kai enters Samuels making it seem like Kai’s the father just with Samuel’s DNA. She half-heartedly agrees to the bizarre threesome until she’s faced to face with actual deed.
All three members of the copulation train are dressed in white as Kai anoints them with oil and rambles some prayer to the R&B classic song “I Swear.” It would be hilarious if it didn’t quickly turn into an awkward failure. Samuels can’t seal the deal, even with Kai’s help, not to mention the detective has his own issues with women where he would rather strangle them then make whacko messiah babies. Kai becomes irate at their failure and punishes his sister by forcing her to wear a dunce cap and a prison jumpsuit while throwing trash on the side of the road. Yeah, not picking it up but actively littering because climate change denying is also in Kai’s bag of tricks.
Detective Samuels drives up curbside with Winter’s lunch, yum…gruel again. When she asks him to share his apple he refuses because of Kia’s orders. Winter thinks he’s her brother’s bitch, but Samuels says no as it’s the other way around and tells her the story of how they met.
Flashback a few years and the detective caught Kai in an alley selling drugs and prescriptions. Before the cop could arrest him, Kai started manipulating Samuels the minute he felt his gay vibes. Eventually, Samuels let him go for a cash deal and a little friendship. After all, Kai seemed to really understand him. Later that night, the future cult leader went to Samuels’ home where he saw a distraught woman running out the door. She was carrying her clothes and screaming about Samuels choking her. It seemed the detective was impotent and could only get excited by strangling women, but Kai had an easier explanation – he hates women and probably wanted to have sex with men. The closeted man got angry and denied his kinks had to do with his sexuality, but Kai showed him the light with some male on male sexy times. He even convinced the man that sex with men was the most masculine thing he could do and didn’t mean he was actually gay. After that, the detective was hooked on Kai and would follow him, and his cult, to the ends of the earth.
Back to the present in Samuels’ car, Winter turns to the detective and says, “You’re totally gay.” This angers the man and he launches himself on top of her to prove how straight he is by trying to choke the frosty haired woman. Winter is able to fight him off and that’s when she snaps. After hearing the stories of Valerie Solanas fighting the patriarchy, Winter is inspired and grabs Samuels’ gun screaming, “SAY I’M A TURD!” He barely gets the chance before she pulls the trigger, shooting the detective dead!
BRING FORTH THE BETRAYERS!
Finally, the episode ends in a shocking twist when Kai’s invited to Ally’s house for a little quid pro quo and Manwich sandwiches. Ally’s been grieving the loss of her son and blames everyone from Kai to Ivy to her doctor for her life in shambles. After Dr. Vincent visited Ally and apologized for not knowing his brother was the cult leader, he promised he would make it right by having Kai committed. Right then, Ally knew she had her bargaining chip.
Once Kai agrees to talk to Ally alone, without his thugs listening in, the two-talk business. She tells Kai she has information he wants and she will give it to him if he can assure her she will get her son back. At first, Kai doesn’t seem interested, but Ally makes it seem like it would be in his best interest to know so he agrees. She tells him Dr. Vincent stopped by and he knows Kai is dangerous and plans on having him locked away to protect his career. She also thanks him for doing what no other person or medication has done, cured her of her phobias. Now, she’s fearless and she has Kai to thank for it.
Armed with this information, Kai sends his clowns to kidnap the betrayers. Both Rudy and Beverly are captured and that’s when things get crazy. Kai drags Rudy down memory lane, talking about creating the pinky link of truth. The younger brother extends his pinky and when Rudy links his, Kai whips out gardening sheers and cuts his brother’s finger off! Rudy starts screaming. Winter takes off her clown mask in a panic and Kai plunges the tool into his brother’s throat! Rudy lies dying on the floor and Beverly watches on knowing this could also be her fate. When her mouth gag is removed, she’s not scared. She’s volatile and rips into Kai about his false promises of an equal partnership. Beverly Hope is not one to go down without a fight and Kai knows this so he has her locked in his isolation chamber, something that’s no doubt a fate worse than death. As Beverly is dragged away, Kai tells the rest of the group to welcome their newest cult member. The mystery person removes their mask and low and behold its Ally Mayfair-Richards! WHAT A TWIST!