Thursday, May 30, 2024

Drink the Kool-Aid

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This week’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult opens with historic b-roll as Kai (Evan Peters) narrates the history of the 1997 Heaven’s Gate suicides along with reenactments of the Ranch Davidians. Evan Peters plays the role of David Koresh. Kai then goes on to give more examples of cults that went awry.

We then flash to Kai actually telling his skinheads the story. He wants them to see him as like the other cult leaders. He also wants to know that his followers would give up their lives for him.

At a council meeting, Kai proposes that they connect all the towns’ computers to one server in order regulate what websites the town can access. Somehow Kai convinces them to pass the law and he announces his run for the Senate. The meeting is the picture of how politics works. Except not at all.

At the Baker-Mayfield house, Ally (Sarah Paulson) demands answers from Ivy (Allison Pill). She wants to know why Ivy joined Kai’s cult and her answer just doesn’t make sense. She just wants someone in charge that wasn’t her, and she thought she hated Ally. Yes, because that means you start murdering people and join a cult. Logic. To Ivy’s credit, at least she’s upset about it and admits that she was stupid. She begs to learn why Ally joined, but at least Ally’s reason was to get Ivy out and get access to her son again. Their conversation is interrupted as Winter (Billie Lourd) returns with Oz (Cooper Dodson). Poor kid is just so confused, but Ally got him a Twisty comic so there’s some character development on Ally’s part.

When Oz leaves the room, Winter apologizes to Ally and blames her lapse of sanity on the election. Now that Vince (Cheyenne Jackson) is dead, she wants out and they need to run away. They make the decision to immediately run away, but their plans are foiled when Kai’s skinheads show up and force the women and Oz to come with them to an emergency meeting at Kai’s.

At Kai’s, Beverly attacks Winter. Turns out Kai finally let her out of “the hole”. Kai then presents a pot of liquid and announces it’s time to do something radical ala Jim Jones. At first it seems as if only the women will be drinking the kool-aid, but Kai insists that they must all kill their physical selves. He’s acting as a cross between Jim Jones and David Koresh. It’s totally unoriginal. Kai then goes around telling his skinheads individually to drink. He shoots the one who first refuses before demanding the women drink. One by one, the women drink, followed by the rest of the men. And Kai. Turns out, he was faking it, because dead people couldn’t vote for him for senate. Wow, didn’t see that one coming. Insert eye roll emoji here.

Back at their house, Ivy and Ally pack the essentials to run away. Ivy has the gall to ask about Winter, and Ally doesn’t take it well. When they get to the school to pick up Oz on their way out of town, they learn that Winter and Kai had already picked him up. At Kai’s house, Oz plays games with Kai. Kai tries to insist that Oz has to have a dad even though he insists that he just has two moms. Oz continues to reiterate that all families are different and special as Kai tries to put down the women in the kid’s life. Getting nowhere, Kai then starts the pinky game with Oz. 

When Ally and Ivy arrive, Oz is already calling Kai “Daddy”. Kai explains that he is the sperm donor and therefor Oz’s biological father. The women try and take Oz back, but Kai insists that he stay the night. It’s only when a gun is drawn that they agree to let him stay. There’s actual tension in this scene for the first time in a long time.

After leaving Oz behind, Ally and Ivy return home and go through their sperm donors profile. They agree Kai fits the profile, but any other white man could too.  Ally is finally calm, convinced that Kai would never hurt Oz if he thinks he’s his son. Ally then asserts that she has a plan and that plan is to kill Kai. The two settle down for a nice dinner that Ally claims is their moment of starting over.

Throughout the scene, Ally talks about her time in the psych ward. It’s increasingly obvious as Ivy eats and drinks, that Ally is doing neither.  The entire scene is filled with the tension of wondering if Ally poisoned the food or wine, and how long it will take for it to effect Ivy. Finally, after Ally’s talk of revenge, she admits to putting arsenic in the wine and pasta. Just then, the poison finally hits Ivy,

There are two things Ally wants in life now, Oz to herself and to watch Ivy die. The second comes true as Ivy dies sputtering blood on their kitchen floor. The first must be just around the corner.

Flashing back to the opening scenes of Jim Jones’ mass-suicide, Kai explains that the story didn’t end with his death. Instead, Jones was brought back to life and brought his followers back to life in return. Oz calls out Kai’s lies, asserting that Wikipedia says that Jones did die. Kai claims Wikipedia is fake news, but Oz doesn’t fall for Kai’s act—he’s a skeptic. Kai has one of his skinheads put Oz in time-out.

When Ally arrives the next morning, she is denied access to her son. The skinhead claims that he doesn’t know where Oz is. Ally leaves, asking the skinhead to pass along an invitation to dinner to Kai, before heading to the sperm donor clinic. It’s there she learns that Oz’s biological father is not Kai after all.

When Kai arrives to Ally’s house for dinner, Ally plays into Kai’s hand. She claims that Oz is lucky to have Kai as a role model. Ally admits to poisoning Ivy, which surprises Kai. She then shows Kai his sperm donor file, claiming that it proves Oz is his son. Kai the truly believes that Oz is his son and helps dispose of Ivy’s body in the room with his parents’ and Vincent’s body.

It is only after fully gaining Kai’s trust, that Ally is brought to Oz. The episode ends with a “family” hug between Ally, Oz and Kai.

Closing Thoughts

There was actual tension in this episode. I was actually concerned for Oz’s well-being, even if I didn’t believe for a minute that Kai had poisoned the Kool-Aid. 

Overall, I have one question.  Why didn’t Ally kill Kai?!  She’d tested her arsenic recipe on Ivy, and it clearly worked. She had Kai in her clutches, she’d finally convinced him he was on her side. He ate her food without forcing her to try it first. So why didn’t she poison him? Oh, I know why.  So that Ryan Murphy can get two more episodes out of this season.

Images courtesy of FX

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