Sunday, July 14, 2024

AHS: Cult — The Final Two

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The final two episodes of American Horror Story: Cult were bananas.

Episode 10 “Charles (Manson) In Charge” starts with a flashback to the night of the last presidential debate in 2016. While Winter (Billie Lourd) watches in support of Clinton with her fellow Vassar friends, Kai (Evan Peters) goes on a tirade about how Trump will win thanks to his passionate supporters. The confrontation ends with Kai slapping one of Winter’s friends and getting sent to anger management classes. His teacher? Bebe Babbitt (Frances Conroy). It is Bebe who convinces Kai to go in to politics for the purpose of unleashing feminine rage. It’s a reveal that comes out of nowhere and makes no sense from Kai’s point of view, but Bebe did get what she wanted. All the women on the show released quite a lot of rage.

Back in the present, Kai starts a public rally which brings forward his many detractors. Things go a bit haywire and Kai begins to show his crazy side. He sees evidence of the FBI everywhere, even in the ice cream truck with Ally (Sarah Paulson) and Winter. Winter then attempts to have a heart-to-heart with Ally, but Ally refuses to relent. She’s a hardened criminal now. Winter is convinced that Kai killed Ivy (Allison Pill), but Ally doesn’t let the crazy man take the credit for her kill.

When Kai watches a news broadcast aimed in favor of his opponent in the run for the senate seat, he decides to follow the lead of Charles Manson. He tells his gang of skinheads the story of the Manson Family and the murders they carried out. His new goal is to go even further than Manson did.

In an attempt to get the abortion waiting list, Gary (Chaz Bono) breaks in to Planned Parenthood. At the clinic, Kai and the clown crew sacrifice Gary for the greater good. A terrified Beverly Hope (Idina Porter) reports of Gary’s death and the gruesome display of his body demanding the end of the slaughter of unborn children. On air, Kai mourns the “unexpected” murder of his friend and supporter. He puts the blame on Senator Jackson for emboldening the left.

Winter attempts to ease Beverly’s fear and apologizes for blaming Detective Samuels’s (Colton Haynes) death on her. She then offers Beverly a train ticket to help her escape. Beverly sees the help as a test and rejects it.

Meanwhile, Kai is convinced his house is bugged. He searches for wires as Ally attempts to talk some sense in to him. The only place Kai feels he can think is in the room full of dead bodies. At least until the bodies start talking back to him and Charles Manson himself…played by Evan Peters. Manson convinces Kai that he cannot trust anyone.

Ally goes to Kai with a small electronic device and claims she found the bug in the house. On a mission, Kai invites Bebe in to the house. Bebe slaps Kai and expresses her disappointment in him. He did not fulfill her wishes. Instead of submitting to Bebe, however, Kai turns the table on her. He explains that he now knows that women are only able to be led. Bebe pulls a gun on him, but before she can kill him, Ally kills her.

With Winter’s aid, Kai sheds him blue locks, showing the skinhead he truly is. Winter asks Kai if she can leave, explaining that she still believes in him but is scared of him. Instead of letting her leave, however, he calls her out as the mole. Ally explains that she found a recording device in the truck Winter cleaned. Kai then kills Winter with him own hands.

She tried to tell him the pinky truth

After Winter’s death, a skinhead flees the house and withdraws from under his shirt a wire and destroys it. Kai was right about there being a mole after all.

The finale, “Great Again” starts off with a flash forward to 2018, a first for this season. Kai is in prison where he gets beat up. A very satisfying moment that gets interrupted by one of the prisoners helping Kai. Somehow, Kai still has followers on the inside who are willing to sacrifice their lives for him. And he’s still seeing alternate versions of himself. Nothing has changed and Kai’s large army still plays the pinky game.

Flashing back eleven months to the present, the skinhead with the wire (Speedwagon) has disappeared, likely thanks to Ally. Ally has been elevated to Kai’s right hand person and Kai plans to kill one hundred pregnant women and their unborn babies.

While Ally acts stoic, Beverly breaks down. At this point, she is ready to die and asks Ally to kill her. Ally refuses and encourages Beverly to hold on just a bit longer. When Kai freaks out and nearly calls the killing spree off, Ally attempts to calm him down. She reveals to him another recording device she found to Kai. She explains that Winter was never the mole and that it was Speedwagon all along. This really puts Kai over the edge, but Ally convinces Kai to use his anger to his advantage.

As Kai’s army prepares for their night of murder, Ally flees the house and meets up with the FBI. The FBI then invades Kai’s house where gunfire erupts on both sides. Beverly joins in on killing the skinheads, then gets arrested herself along with Kai.

Some time after the arrest, Ally is back at the Butchery on Main and a local celebrity. Beverly arrives asking why Ally didn’t turn Beverly in as well. In turn, Ally explains that she became an FBI informant back when Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) placed her in the asylum. Ally spins a tale of Ivy’s murder, pinning it on Kai. Beverly says she believes Ally, but wouldn’t blame her if she did kill Ivy. Ally now also has a new girlfriend.

At Oz’s (Cooper Dodson) birthday party, Ally continues to turn away interview requests from Rachel Maddow and Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson’s character from American Horror Story: Asylum). She then gets a call from Kai in prison. Kai has finally learned that Oz is not his biological son. He threatens Ally’s life, a very real threat since even the guards are calling him Divine Ruler.

Having changed her mind about publicity, Ally announces that she is running for the senate. She runs on the basis of escaping cults, and in the case of politics — the bi-partisan system.

Back in prison, Kai trades places with one of his new skinheads. He murders him and pulls off his face so that it is assumed the body is his, then leaves with the help of a guard.

On the day of the debate, Ally gets the news that Kai is “dead”, but is prepared for him anyway. Shocking no one, Kai arrives mid-debate. Kai calls out Ally as nothing more than a symbol that he created. Women cannot lead or win. Kai pulls a gun on Ally, but when he pulls the trigger there are no bullets.

In a flashback, we learn that Ally had already converted Kai’s prison guard contact to her side and that she planted the bullet-less gun. The night ends with Beverly shooting Kai in the head. Thanks to the stunt, Ally wins the senate election and is implied to be the new leader of SCUM.

SCUM’s new leader

Once again, Sarah Paulson survives the season of American Horror Story.

Closing Thoughts

This was a rough season for American Horror Story. It suffered from trying to combine the political and real in our world today with a cult angle and clowns. The three just did not mesh well and poor pacing and underwhelming characters were the result.

Never let it be said that AHS does not have a stellar cast. In the finale there was a lingering shot on Sarah Paulson’s face and she somehow kept me enthralled with just her minor facial movement during the long shot. Evan Peters’ Kai was totally bonkers and not at all a character I could relate to.

That said, Peters sold me on his believability 80% of the time. He really shined when Kai started becoming neurotic about being spied upon. Surprising me most, however, was Adina Porter. She took what I assumed would be a minor role and really made it her own. I may not have agreed with the character half the time, but man did I think she earned pulling the trigger on Kai.

This season of AHS ended with Sarah Paulson’s character surviving (again). Which is great, don’t get me wrong, but getting everything she ever wanted? That seems a bit unrealistic. I know that realism isn’t exactly Ryan Murphy’s forte, but I really didn’t need to hear Ally call herself a nasty woman again. We get it, you wanted the season to end the way the 2016 presidential election didn’t — with a strong female leader. The only problem is, Ally’s turn in to that strong leader wasn’t satisfying. The bulk of her transformation was done off-screen while she was in an asylum.

Overall, this season of AHS wasn’t great. It had a few good moments, but I really mean a few. That being said, am I secretly looking forward to learning the theme of next season? Definitely. Will I watch it? Begrudgingly. Will it be great? Unlikely not, but here’s to hoping!

Images courtesy of FX

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