***Spoilers for American Horror Story: Cult through Episode 4 follow. Spoilers***
Harrison was not kidding with that “Every single member of the hive is one hundred percent committed to the task” business, and neither are any of Kai Anderson’s followers.
For all who’ve been slowly putting together the pieces and joining in on Ally’s apparent paranoia — well-founded paranoia, I might add — this week’s “9/11” blast from the past proved all our fears true. If AHS‘ “Election Night” flashback wasn’t traumatic enough, last night Murphy and Co. (John J. Gray) took us back to the polls again … to when Ally stayed couchside rather than attend rallies with Ivy and voted for Jill Stein, and hot mess, Meadow wrote in “Oprah”. Just in case you’d forgotten just how crazy things were leading up to our real world election, Chaz Bono stopped by to remind grab Ivy by the … well, you know, kittens, though thanks to her new friend, Winter — and by extension, Kai — Gary K. Longstreet (unlike 45) paid dearly for his comment.
Through the seasons, Evan Peters’ performances have run the gamut, but here, as über-focused, charismatic recruiter and leader, Kai Anderson (“Tested genius level at 10, invited to Mensa at 14 …”), Peters hits his superlative stride. Carefully studying and reeling in his targets, one by one Kai’s clowns are revealed as helpless as their own victims, dominoing down before a fearless, powerful new friend easily, willingly. If you’d never before understood the mechanics of men like Manson and Koresh, Peters’ powers provide perfect indoctrination.
Via this flashbacked hour, we’re privy to several targets who, with careful consideration of their individual circumstances, are all successfully brought into the floppy-collared fold. Harrison and Meadow are down on their luck with dead-end jobs and their home foreclosed; enter Kai to entice Harrison, body — the shower masturbation scene was wickedly delicious, “I’ll clean that up myself” — and (dismembering) soul. Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) is angry over Serena Belinda’s corporate dick- ladder-climbing (Dermott Mulroney returns, liver-spotted dick and all) and just off a breakdown, so Kai’s clowns take out the competition and turn Beverly into a true believer. Most disturbing of all (and I’d suspected this as early as the second episode) is the revelation that Ivy and Winter have known each other for quite some time … (Winter must have been the one who nuked Mr. Guinea, *sob* and Ivy likely knew that was coming). Kai’s plan for “world domination” seems well in hand.
Clowns: Ivy, Winter, Kai, Beverly, Harrison, Meadow, Dr. Rudy, Detective Samuels, Kai, Twisty (previous member).
Currently in training: Oz
It’s all over but the clowning: Ally
That was a just-right-for-her cameo by Emma Roberts but in hindsight, it seems odd that Ally wouldn’t have seen more news about a clown crew murdering people in broad daylight, before they showed up across the street.
Kudos again to Evan Peters, who’s blowing us away with his command of Kai. He gives great insight into the power someone can have over another person, just by being there — seemingly listening to his quarry; the right person at the right time. Kai knows how to harness emotion, to use it against his victims, and then parlay that into the loyalty that will help him attain his own goals. Peters clearly studied, because he’s channeling every cult leader in such a way that it’s almost understandable that people get caught up. (Almost, because I still can’t imagine being induced to murder — then again, who can?)
‘Twas great to see how Harrison has changed since Kai got hold of him. Billy Eichner’s doing great work here, as well, showing Harrison’s vulnerability, and how ripe — malleable — he was for the Kai-picking. Same goes for Adina Porter’s Beverly who, even though she was less susceptible, ended up taken in by Kai’s machinations. It pays to have an insane clown posse at the ready for murderous adventures.
The tension in the scenes at the gym with Harrison were excellent; when he was in the sauna cleaning up, and we knew Kai was stalking, the suspense waiting for … something to happen was palpable. My imagination ran away with the scene several times before the violence actually occurred.
Ditto, the final scene with Bono’s Longstreet taped up and handcuffed; we knew from the open he was going to lose an arm, but didn’t know exactly how. From the moment Winter and Ally kidnapped and bound him, to when Kai showed up with that knife (GAH), I covered my eyes, I peeked, I tried to crawl into my couch. The set up and direction by Gwyneth Horder-Payton (The Shield, The Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica) was brilliant.
Great Lines (so many!):
Kai to Harrison: “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering” (Friedrich Nietzsche)
So, what flavor of gay are you?
Listen, I like pussy, but if someone is in my life, man or woman, I will fight for them, I will kill for them. And if they wake up with a hard on that won’t quit, I will find a way to make sure they know I really love them.
Tell him you won’t be treated like a human cum mop. Better yet, show him.
You did it. You changed your life. I’m proud to call you my friend.
Shouldn’t have been looking at porn at work.
Meadow upon seeing Harrison in the tub: “Just when I think my life can’t get any worse. Who’s that?”
Harrison: “My boss.”
Meadow (about Kai): “Who’s that?”
Harrison: “Someone to believe in.”
Harrison to Meadow when she jumps on him, kisses and and starts grinding on him: “I mean, how many times has that worked for you? 5, maybe 6 times, max?”
Meadow to Kai: “I wanted to be a painter, but I was too drawn to the normalcy of a middle class lifestyle.”
Meadow to Harrison: “I can see me voting for the Emmys or the Globes, but I’m not nearly informed enough to pick our president.”
“What’s the latest travesty in Trump-land?”