American Horror Story flashes back to election night for ’11/9.’ While the characters are all in a disarray following last week’s episode, all is forgotten as we take a trip back to simpler times when polls are open, and Chaz Bono is voting while bleeding out. After the votes are cast, Cult explores Harrison Wilton (Billy Eichner) and his family life and relationship with Kai (Evan Peters.)
I think it’s safe to say that American Horror Story is now the supernatural horror version of Difficult People in scenes with Eichner. Except that Difficult People is actually funny. Watching Eichner take on a dramatic, serious role is just plain uncomfortable. His awkward screaming at Meadow (Leslie Grossman) when he finds out their home is going into foreclosure shows his limited range.
The episode primarily explores characters other than Ally and Ivy, and it starts with the Wiltons, more specifically Harrison’s relationship with Kai. Watching the two interact, especially with the homo-erotic tones the show forces on the two characters, is a bit agonizing. Peters has to carry these scenes, with his character of Kai coming across as the modern day Charles Manson. Peters has always been a highlight of the anthology series, and watching him play a modern day villain is no exception. Peters brings an unexpected bravado to Kai, a stark contrast to his previous portrayal of Mr. March in Hotel who was more submissive to the Countess.
Kai and Harrison team up to get revenge on Harrison’s homophobic coworker. (If we’re believing that Eichner is a personal trainer, we can believe anything.) We learn that Kai is an app developer, and his hacking skills are used to cover up the murder the pair committed. “You’re part of something bigly,” Peters says with a straight face. Those are some acting chops.
Meadow unexpectedly comes home to find Kai and Harrison disposing of the trainer’s body. When she asks who Kai is, Harrison responds and makes it clear that Kai is the titular cult leader:
Someone to believe in.
This episode also introduces two new fan favorite actors: Emma Roberts as news reporter Serena Belinda and Adina Porter as Beverly Hope. The two reporters have a strained relationship — with pretty young Serena getting more on-air time than the aging Beverly after an incident that occurred during a broadcast.
Trust American Horror Story to parody the ‘Fuck Her Right in the Pussy‘ meme and turn it into the Trump version. On the show, Beverly Hope was forced into rehab after attacking a teenager who interrupted her broadcast to yell ‘Grab Her Right in the Pussy!’ The show even goes so far as to do a Songify The News parody of the attack. Quickly and methodically, Kai recruits Beverly to join his cult.
Porter plays Beverly Hope with precision and skill. You can tell her character has been hardened over the years, and her recent career struggles following her on-air attack have only further complicated things. Porter brings a wonderful depth to her character in the brief time she’s on screen.
One thing’s for sure: Beverly won’t have to worry about Serena for long. The young and hungry reporter is killed by a trio of clowns while filming a segment for an animal shelter. Beverly instantly suspects Kai, and he admits that he organized the attack, saying he did it for Beverly.
Kai certainly has proven his loyalty, but the implications of this attack draw suspicions as to why the clowns are terrorizing other characters in the present, like Ally and Ivy.
Realizing that Kai helped Beverly gain a stronger footing back at her job with less competition from Serena, she helps spin the media coverage regarding the death of the trainer that Kai and Harrison murdered. Kai watches the news and grins.
The episode then goes back to Ally and Ivy (Sarah Paulson and Ivy Pill respectively) before the election, arguing over how there wasn’t a chance in hell that Trump could ever win the election. (Isn’t that what we all thought, Ally?)
You’re pissed because an educated black man ran the country for eight years, and a woman’s about to run it for eight more.
American Horror Story gives both Republicans and Democrats their fair time in the spotlight with each of the major characters having differing views, but lines like this one from Ivy, spoken to a Trump supporter at a rally, make it pretty clear what side the show’s writers are on.
Ivy meets her future babysitter Winter (Billie Lourd) days before the election. These two have known each other for some time — and they even go out for drinks. Could this be why Ivy was so mad to find out Winter came onto Ally, sparking the couple’s fight in the last episode?
One thing’s for sure, Winter is just as manipulative and conniving as her brother Kai. She’s seen at the grocery store where the Trump supporter (Bono) works. Winter and Ivy attack him, starting their own cult. They lay into the Trump supporter, saying things like “Get Woke.” (Yes, really.)
They tie him up and leave him, assuring that he will be unable to vote. (The beginning of the episode reveals this to be a lie, with Kai walking Bono’s character into the polling place with a severed hand. Gross!)
They might see things differently, but Kai and Winter are certainly communicating. Kai is soon seen talking to the crazed Trump supporter, giving him a handsaw as a means to free himself from his chains and get out to vote. What comes next is some Saw levels of grotesqueness.
Kai motivated a man to cut off his own arm in order to vote. The episode cuts to black, giving that a week to sink in. After all this glorious backstory, we sure need it.
New episodes of American Horror Story air Tuesday nights on FX.