It finally happened. In the 10 minutes of actual episode that didn’t occurr in flashbacks, I finally lost all bets on my therapist theories. More about that at the end of this post, it’s worth noting that for this season’s short comings in noticeably slow story movement, it’s overuse of flashbacks has done a fantastic job of showing satisfying character arcs and answering questions while keeping us entertained and this has remained an enjoyable season and we especially loved the Winter origins of this episode.
Why does Winter hold so much faith in Kai and follow him when it goes against a lot of her beliefs? Her Saw-inspired flashback tells the story with eerily disturbing details. Once when trolling people on the iingernet by posing as religious extremists Winter and Kai received an invitation to a special show, and out of curiosity decide to ignore all common sense and go to this stranger’s haunted house.
It turned out to be a torturous “Judgement House” where a real nut job [Pastor Charles, played by Rick Springfield!] abducted people and was torturing them to death with their chosen “sins”, each room having it’s own theme and display. By room three Kai saves a man before he is impaled by a cross of knives in a chair out of a horror movie. They then run through and save the other people they had seen [a woman who visited a planned parenthood, a recovering addict, and an aids clinic volunteer], but as Winter goes for the door the puppetmaster catches up to her and declares she will he the next addition to the show. The man was obviously not that bright, as Kai saves his sister with relative ease and hooks the man up to the death chair and pressea the trigger, killing him on his own device.
The scene was a creepy ride, with their disbelief helping to sell the camp. We wouldn’t have minfed more of this dynamic flashback, but it was a satisfying story, only made creepier by the fact that Judgement Houses are a real thing (though usually done with actors and not unwillingly participants). Less satisfying is the flashback we get of Kai and Officer Samuels origins.
Samuels originally busted Kai for seelijng fake prescriptions (swiped from his brother), but the two inexplicably bonded with Kai giving him a lesson on alt-right sex ed. We call it this because the description of homosexual acts as a form of masculine buildup and women making men weak is an ideology popularized by actual alt-right activist Jack Donovan who exclusively has sex with men while denying a homosexual identity. All very interesting but not exactly putting the Horror in American Horror Story.
The reason behind this particular flashback? The ménage à trois between Kai, Winter, and Samuels. Kai devised some weird ritual where Samuels will impregnate Winter while Kai penetrates him in an odd incestuous 3-way to create a messiah (goodbye theories about Oz). It’s all weird and thankfully doesn’t work when Samuels just isn’t “up” for the occassions (no amount of candles and 90s R&B could get him there, though he didn’t try his old chocking technique on her until later).
Winter’s puunishment for not being a good sport about it and being the reason they didn’t keep trying is to wear a dunce cap and spread trash on the side of the road, to “put it back where it belongs,” since Kai doesn’t believe in global warming. What a horror. When Samuels brings her a punishment lunch and presents his flashback (which isn’t scary but gives some shots of Evan Peter’s extremely pasty body). He ends up trying to rape her (not to downplay the horror of thst scene and it being in line of assault being statistically likely to be perpetrated by someone you know) but she is a bad *ss and shoots him in the head, leading to the loss of another core member of the cult. No offense to Colton but his charavter was written so unlikably we won’t be missing for the final two episodes.
We will however miss the psychiatrist. Kai ends up having him abducted and then killing him in a cult meeting after a shocking meeting with Ally where she has overcome her fears and inserts herself into all the mind games. She throws her therapist under the bus and outs his plans to have Kai committed, and asks for entry into the cult (access granted) and the ability to get her son back. We don’t believe she is a follower of Kai so much as a game player, and is the only active player that can oppose him and she’s set herself up closer to him to do that.
Beverley is also outed and then lied about by Winter as a scape goat for the murder if Samuels. Beverley had been vocal about her feelings of inequality of being put on kitchen duty and forced outnof the inner circle and general power positions, so she was an easy patsy. However, we don’t see her actually get murdered in the episode and we have hopes that Adina Porter will continue to be a survivor in the AHS universe and make a comeback, possibly with Ally’s help? [Yes, her charavter died at the end of Roanoke, but it was on her terms and she lasted to the very end, and we love her so let us have this theory].
Unfortunately we saw little to no mention of Bebe Babbit or last weeks last minute reveal, and have no further clues as to Kai’s master plan. The season has now developed into infighting in the Cult and a power struggle, both for leadership and Oz–who Kai pulls into the pinky ritual in next weeks promo. Could he be planning to Solomon’s baby the boy, or make the mom’s battle it out? We are curious where the story will go, but not actively excited for a particular plot point, which seems to be our continuous criticism throughout the season–not enough actual story happening getting us towards a discernable goal, but it’s definitely been an enjoyable ride nevertheless.