'American Horror Story: Cult' Review: A 'Nasty' Twist Brings Things Full-Circle in 'Great Again'

american horror story cult great again

(Every week, we’re going to get the discussion going about American Horror Story: Cult by answering one important question: who is the main villain of the episode?)

American Horror Story: Cult has reached its end. Honestly, the seventh installment of Ryan Murphy’s horror hit was indeed a challenge to get through at times. But Tuesday’s episode, titled “Great Again,” provided a worthwhile finale to the polarizing season.

If you stand it side-by-side with September’s premiere, the book-ended nature of the story being told offers a full-circle look at a conflict with no clear-cut solution. It was a story inspired by the political fallout from 2016’s Trump/Clinton election debacle and it got stuck in the muck for a while in the middle of the season. With the loose-ends getting tied up (mostly), Cult ended on a high note. A rather nasty high note, at that.

This Week’s Big Bad: Kai Anderson

Another day, another time jump. In its opening scene, the AHS: Cult finale found Kai (Evan Peters) in prison. The title card said it was 2018, almost a year into the future. He may have been incarcerated for his crimes, but it’s evident that Kai’s divine leadership skills have made huge headways during his time behind bars. He’s got a prison guard on his side and has quickly built an army. Oh and Charles Manson is still doing his Tyler Durden-y best, signifying that Kai Anderson has officially gone off the deep end.

After murdering one of his own – another sacrifice towards a greater plan – we’re given a look at Kai’s sizable prison gang through the eyes of a new “cowardly” inmate named Trevor. As Kai welcomes him to the group, it became pretty evident Trevor is going to be another cog in the Divine Leader’s machine. To put it bluntly: Kai uses Trevor as a decoy, stabbing him repeatedly and ripping his face clean off. While America’s prison system would probably check for DNA proof that the body was indeed Kai, this is TV, and Trevor ended up being Kai’s ticket out of captivity. But more on that later …

All of the tables, turn turn turn

How did Kai Anderson get put away? According to the Divine Leader, “I was sold out by a filthy. Fucking. Rat.” This takes the story back eleven months, giving the audience a better understanding of what happened after Ally’s (Sarah Paulson) confrontation with Kai’s goon, Speed Wagon (Cameron Cowpethewaite).

It turns out, the young man wasn’t a spy for the government, nor was he under the guidance of the Feds. Nope, he was simply a dude that was caught partying too hard. Instead of taking him in for drug charges, the State Police sent him into Kai’s den to keep tabs on the cult-y goings on. But after Speed Wagon watched Kai murder Winter (Billie Lourd), he headed straight to his car to make his escape. And Ally stopped him – and then killed him.

While it originally felt like she was stabbing him in the chest to reinforce Kai’s best interests, some rather huge ulterior motives get brought into the picture. And it was good timing, too, because Kai was about to send his mini-Project Mayhem out to stab 100 pregnant women right in their bellies.

This murder plan was rebranded as “A Night of 100 Tates,” because re-enacting Sharon Tate’s murder a thousand times is just beyond ridiculous. That said, there was something rather line-crossing about watching Kai walk his men through the proper knife technique of killing a woman and her unborn baby. It’s evident Ryan Murphy was building to something here; he has been throughout the entirety of the season, what with the ongoing motif of pent-up female rage. But this was a bit too much.

As the story cut to the following night, Kai walks his men through the final preparations for their night of pregnant woman-killing. It’s at the height of this insanity that Ally leaves the house. She does so with a calm urgency and doesn’t flinch when one of Kai’s goons asks where she’s going. “To get snacks,” she tells him. This is actually code for, “To get the FBI so they can shoot you all in the face.”

Hell hath no fury like a nasty woman scorned

The aftermath of the raid finds Kai’s goons dead – Beverly shoots one of the men, herself, before being taken away – and Kai escorted off in handcuffs. As much as Ally is guilty of murder, she remains untouched. How? Immunity, you guys. Immunity.

We get a better understanding of this as another time jump moves the story ahead. Ally is now running the Butchery on Main and, after refusing a selfie with an adoring fan (she’s a famous cult escapee now), Beverly Hope shows up for an unexpected reunion. Pressing her for answers over glasses of wine, Ally finally explains how this bloody sausage was made. During her time in the Psych Ward, the FBI came to visit Ally. They ended up taking her on as an informant, which was the impetus to her joining Kai’s cult. That, and saving her son. As for Ivy (Alison Pill), though, she remained steadfast in claiming her innocence for her wife’s murder.

Beverly also voiced confusion regarding her own freedom. She was just as complicit in Kai’s crimes as everyone else. “A black woman in a cult of angry white nationalists,” Ally laughed. The former TV reporter never fit the cult member profile and was let go without a second thought.

If you compare the theme of the season premiere to that of AHS: Cult‘s finale, you can chock the whole thing up to Kai Anderson’s eye-opening statement, “There’s nothing more dangerous in the world than a humiliated man.” He was almost right. But behind every great man, there is always a greater woman – or a nasty woman, in this case.

Pantsuit warrior

On Oz’s birthday, Kai calls Ally’s house collect. One final bombshell is dealt his way and he learns he never was the boy’s birth father. It’s the final straw and one that completely locks his vengeful mission into place. You know things are bad when Prison Guard Beverly is also addressing the dude as “Divine Leader.”

As Kai sulks in the aftermath of a political campaign run straight into the ground, Ally Mayfair-Richards announces she’s running for Senate, placing a huge imaginary middle finger right in Kai Anderson’s face. She uses her fame as the woman who escaped Kai’s cult to her benefit. A commercial delivers her promise of breaking down all cults: Democrat, Republican, and everything else about the government’s “two-party antiquated system of oppression.”

With Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) now acting as her senior advisor, Ally preps for her debate against the incumbent Senator Jackson. The episode flips back to the prison where Rimshot (the prisoner formerly known as Trevor) is violently murdered and mutilated by Kai. And then he simply walks out of the prison with Prison Guard Beverly in tow.

Culting is as culting does

During the debate, it seems that Ally has the upper hand. Not only does she exude the confidence, that bright red pantsuit practically shouts, “Female empowerment!” After a few political jabs against her mansplaining opponent, Kai Anderson makes his presence known and goes in for the attack. “Did you think you were ever more than just kindling?” He asks her. “You’re not the flame. You’re the spark to start the fire that I built.”

His rant continues, throwing every antiquated sexist slur he could at her before pulling the trigger. But nothing happens. It turns out Ally talked some sense into Prison Guard Beverly – she never loaded Kai’s gun. But Beverly Hope had her own loaded and one bullet to the head puts the flailing cult leader out of his misery, all on live TV.

Ally ends up winning the Senate seat, handily. And we end on her tucking Oz into bed, promising him a better world than the one they’re living in now. It’s phrasing we heard regularly when Kai Anderson spoke. But Ally just represents the flipside of that coin.

The final shot of the episode finds Ally Mayfair-Richards preparing for a meeting with “a group of powerful, empowered women who want to change the system. And by the looks of the green cloak she’s wearing, it seems that Senator Mayfair-Richards is out to keep Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. dream alive. From cult survivor to cult leader, AHS: Cult finally comes full circle.

American Horror Story: Cult didn’t necessarily solve the bigger cultural and political problems our country currently faces, but it did succeed in holding a mirror up to both sides of the argument, peeling back layer after layer until it broke things down to their basest id. It was a season with no true hero. It was one with many different shades of villainy. As we end on Sarah Paulson staring into her mirror, the audience is left reflecting on our own current state of being. An open-ended finale holding a mirror up to society’s next move – whatever it may be.

The post ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ Review: A ‘Nasty’ Twist Brings Things Full-Circle in ‘Great Again’ appeared first on /Film.

Source: SlashFilm.com





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