Sometime in the next year American Horror Story: Cult will make its way to Netflix, and we are telling you now that anyone waiting to watch it will be disappointed. Not to say watching it now majes it any better, the season fell flat on its own over dramatic camp and scattered storyline. A good 30-50% of the season is spent in flashbacks that flesh out characters and these scenes were often far more interesting than the actual story being told. With trying to do too many things from political commentary to a loose theme of phobias, analyzing cult behaviour to rewriting the history of the zodiac killer all while attempting to make a heavily interpersonal storyline, the season became as bogged down and convoluted as this sentence.
If youre curious about what actually goes down this season, we here at The Game of Nerds provided episode reviews and recaps with minimal mention of politics (a tall order when thee 2016 election was a large theme and was constantly being directly referenced). And here is a general synopsis of the season, but be warned of spoilers, considering the best part of the seasons was all the speculating and guessing where the story would go it lost its spark by episode 5 and we can’t leave much out if even a general overview.
The season starts by focusing on the twisted reality of Sarah Paulson’s character Ally struggling with ehr anxiety and phobias in a “post-election” world and dealing with the weird, insidious activities surrounding her, her wife, and their son Oz (Ozymandias). Their friends and neighbours are murdered, sttange trucks troll the neighborhood spreading a fog, and Ally swears she’s beiing harassed by menacing, evil clowns. The first three episodes are an interesting head game reying to tie all the pieces together through our unreliable narrator, Ally.
This interesting twist slowly falls apart when we learn she isn’t fully crazy on her own, but it was all intended to drive her insane and a lot of weird, interpersonal-but-never-fully-believable subplots start to unravel. Their babysitter is related to a local blue haired politician that harasses Ally, their new neighbours are tied to him, the local news media is involved, even thr local police. The microcult dynamic is fun at first but when another inner circle members drops almost every episode its hard to stay invested in anyone.
Eventually the cult grows too big and their actions become less and less believable (the feds not catching on, regardless of local corruption), then things make sense (the feds are onto them!), and then things flip and make even less sense (a high profile killer escaping prison?) and the season almost desensitizes you to its own twists as you watch it. The few jump scares peter out around mid season, but that’s when the flashbacks kick in and we get some truly disturbing and satisfying backstories– but none of it is enough to redeem the season.
A lot of manipulation and double crossing is highlighted this season, and it is probably the overarching theme that remains enjoyable throughout the season, even if unbelievable at times. Up until the very end we would have our expectations subverted or slightly pulled across the line we’d assume would be crossed and there were a few solid gasps in the finale, all the way through the final scene that made us glad we finsihed the season, but it will go down as one of the more bottom of the barrel seasons of America Horror Story.
We won’t particularly miss these characters, even though we feel the cast did an amazing job portraying them (extra points to Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson coming in strong with the scream crying), but the season earns honorable mention for somehow finishing on a satisfying ending with an unexpected twist–while that ending is somehow not entirely logical, explained, and doesn’t necessarily feel like a solid ending. The finale follows the same rule as most of this season of American Horror Story: if you squint at it and don’t ask too many questions you can walk away feeling like you watched decent television, but never as satisfied as watching a previous season of American Horror Story.