“Winter of Our Discontent” opens with brothers Kai (Evan Peters) and Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) meeting for the first time this season, not in a flashback. For the first time, the doctor expresses interest in joining Kai’s movement. The somewhat sweet moment, however, is soured when Kai insists that Vincent call him “councilman”.
At the Butchery on Main, Ivy (Allison Pill) serves a group of Kai’s new groupies, who subsequently treat her like a servant. Suddenly, Ivy, Winter (Billie Lourd) and Beverly (Idina Porter) are all working at the restaurant for no explicable reason. In the kitchen, the women have gossip hour regarding Kai’s plan. Winter still believes in her brother, but Beverly has finally seen that things have gone too far. She suggests they cut off the head, a feat that may prove difficult as Kai has convinced the town council to hire his groupies as the town’s private security force.
Two years ago, Winter wasn’t the liberal she seems to be now. The Halloween, she and Kai trolled the social justice warriors online before being invited to The Justice House by a deranged priest. At the house, the siblings are locked in a room with a bloody crib and a young woman bleeding to death after having an abortion. They then go through a series of rooms featuring real people suffering for their so-called “crimes” such as sodomy and drug use. It’s a riveting sequence that makes me wonder why this wasn’t the focus of the season.
While Kai attempts to free the prisoners, Winter searches for a way out, only to be accosted by the priest. Luckily, Kai is there to save her. With the priest captured, Kai explains that his prisoners were not as they seemed. For example, the woman had only gone to Planned Parenthood for treatment for a UTI. This turn felt sour, but Winter explains that it was the experience that changed Kai. He couldn’t save the world, so now he wants to destroy and rebuild it.
Back at the Anderson house, Kai and Winter play the game of pinkies. Kai questions Winter’s love and loyalty which she attests to. Their pinky game is interrupted as Kai falls to tears over his love for Winter. In a series of cryptic metaphors, Kai seems to suggest that he and Winter create a child together. But don’t worry, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Instead, he suggests a threesome with Detective Samuels so that there’s no actual incest.
At the Mayfair-Richards house, Dr. Vincent approaches Ally (Sarah Paulson) with an apology. He finally believes her. Ally doesn’t accept the apology, but rather blames Dr. Vincent for everything, claiming he told Kai everything about her. Dr. Vincent sees it differently, Kai must have broken into his office. Dr. Vincent promises to make it up to Ally.
The “time for anointing” comes for the Detective, Winter, and Kai. Kai makes a spectacle of the affair, but before it gets too far, Winter calls rape and claims that Kai has officially gone too far. Meanwhile, Ally spends an oddly quiet night at home. Until Kai comes over with two of his goons, invited to dinner.
Instead of killing Kai, however, Ally demands her son in exchange for information. She explains that Dr. Vincent is trying to get Kai committed. Ally is finally level-headed and fear free, something that surprises Kai.
As penance for going against Kai’s wishes, Winter is sentenced to picking up trash on the side of the road. When her lunch break comes, Detective Samuels brings her a bowl of gruel. When asked about why he acts as Kai’s bitch, we launch into a flashback that explains their history. Kai was first the Detective’s business partner in the drug trade before Kai turned the tables and explained the power of male-on-male sex to Samuels.
Back in the present, Detective Samuels still insists he isn’t gay and that Winter just doesn’t understand. To prove his point, he attempts to rape Winter. Before he gets anywhere though, Winter takes the cop’s gun and shoots him in the head.
Sometime later, in Kai’s basement, betrayers Dr. Vincent and Beverly are brought into the cult circle bound and gagged. Vincent insists that he loves Kai, but when they link pinkies, Kai pulls off Vincent’s pinky. It looks as ridiculous as it sounds. Kai isn’t done, however, as he then stabs his brother.
Kai then moves on to Beverly, who is understandably confused. The cult leader then explains that Winter told him of how Beverly killed Samuels. Beverly calls out the lie, but then goes on a tirade about how believing in Kai was her biggest mistake. Instead of killing Beverly, Kai sentences the reporter to the isolation cell.
The episode ends as the clowns each pull off their masks and Kai introduces the newest member. Ally.
The shining moment in this week’s episode was one that showed us what could have been if American Horror Story: Cult had taken a different path. The Justice House could have been an amazing premise that would have lent itself to being a cult itself. But no, instead the interesting horror house simply serves as a backstory to Kai’s own cult and crazy tendencies.
Trying to bring out the good parts of this episode, I have to also address the Dr. Vincent situation. We finally see him in context of the cult and learn that he really wasn’t in cahoots with his brother! It’s a shame to see him killed so quickly, but I really don’t think he’ll be missed.
The cult is now closing its ranks. With Samuels and Beverly out of the picture and Ally finally having joined the cult, it seems like there is no one left outside of the cult. So what next? Based on the trailer for next week, it seems like Oz is going to get involved with Kai, and Ally is going to try and play both sides of things. Something tells me, that isn’t going to go too well for her.