So this episode of American Horror Story: Cult was a little strange, as it dealt entirely with flashbacks to, you guessed it, 11/9 and surrounding events.
We liked the episode, as it answered a lot of background questions, and also fleshed out a lot to backstory for some characters, without having the nagging concern that everything is fake and in Ally’s head. We are going yo forgo the actual voting night poll line antics, so let’s dig in by character!
Kai seems more the ring leader than ever, and seeing his recruitment style was slightly spooky. Evan Peters finally got to explore the character in more than short glimpses and it was chilling and we couldn’t be happier.
His recruitment style is masterful and telling. He joins the gym Harrison works at and enlists him as a person so trainer. After observing Harrison be tormented by his boss and hearing about his money troubles, Kai is able to be supportive and motivational to him. Harrison is easily won over by Kai’s charisma and after a few weeks is susceptible to his influence to the point he murders his boss and listens to Kai’s instructions on how to dismember the body. Meadow, being the person she is and sharing Harrison’s situation while also slightly high, seemed unphased when walking in on the bloody scene, and Harrison introduced her to Kai by saying he is “someone they can believe in.”
The body is eventually found and winds up in the news, and the reporter presenting the story? Beverly Hope, played by AHS: Roanoke veteran Adina Porter!
Beverly soon gets drawn into Kai’s orbit when she’s susceptible and in need of change when her colleague Serena Belinda (Emma Roberts!) is given preferential treatment at the newsstation, especially after Beverly’s return from 90 days in psych after a violent breakdown where she beat the umpteenth person to crash her newscast saying “grab her by the p**sy.” Emma Roberts gets a little more than what’s coming to her when a puff newscast at a fair ends wtih her and her cameraman murdered by clowns.
Beverly puts two and two together and realizes it was Kai’s doing and she becomes part of Kai’s circle.
Also in Kai’s circle? The handless cashier from the grocery store in episode one, played by Chaz Bono, is a far right protestor who groped/assaulted Ivy at a rally the day before election day. Luckily for Ivy, Winter was there and first enough to run him off. Less luckily, Winter is a horrible influence and this was before moving to Kai’s side after election day, and they team up to restrain Gary’s [That’s his name] right to vote, chaining him up in the basement at Winter’s house. As we saw in the intro, Kai finds him in time to have him saw his own arm off and make it to the polls.
So we are seeing the influence Kai has and how he operates, taking the downtrodden and inspiring them, and the backstories we are getting are enjoyable. But what we were really taken by (besides seeing Adina Porter again!) was the preexisting relationship between Winter and Ivy. We saw how Winter lost her “bet” with Kai about the election and started working for him, but we don’t think Ivy was in on that deal, and we fully believe that it is a large part of the reason the Mayfair-Richards family is being targeted and Kai sent Winter there.
We are firm on disbelief that Ivy is part of the cult, because so many things have damaged her business and reputation, but she’d have to admit to breaking a bunch of laws and the risk is too great. Obviously things could swing in any direction in the next episode, but our theories remain intact!