American Horror Story 11/9 Review

(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? Let’s dive into our American Horror Story 11/9 review…)

Four episodes into American Horror Story: Cult and we finally got a break from the running, screaming, tearful force that is Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson). Yet, while we’ve been praising the FX series for moving past 2016’s polarizing presidential election, Tuesday’s episode, “11/9,” did some backsliding right back into that traumatic territory.

Thankfully, though, instead of getting more Sarah Paulson cry face, audiences were given an inside look at just how easily Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) brought this band of clownish misfits together.

American Horror Story 11/9 Review

This Week’s Big Bad: Harrison Wilton

Leave it to an innocent meeting at the gym for Kai and Harrison Wilton (Billy Eichner) to become friends. We previously found out that Harrison worked as a personal trainer and we finally get to see the man in his natural habitat. Let’s just say, this workplace is anything but functional.

Watching a scrawny blue-haired dude pumping iron isn’t all that strange – punks care about fitness, too, you guys – but it’s clear Kai’s really there to recruit Harrison. Ever the humble trainer, Wilton even attempted to pawn Kai off to someone more fit. But Kai simply looked him over and replied, “You could move a dead body if you had to.” Foreshadowing, much?

Back in Episode 1, Kai warned of the dangers of a humiliated man and Harrison Wilton fits that notion to a T – being regularly forced to clean semen off the shower floors by his abusive boss eventually pushes him to his breaking point. All he needed was Kai Anderson to give him a nudge and over the edge, he went.

“Pain is a motivator,” Kai tells Harrison. And with “pain in one hand and anger in the other,” Wilton murdered his meathead boss – beginning the attack with a choking benchpress and finishing the dude off with a dumb bell to the head.

Sometimes, it’s tough to lock down a clear-cut villain on AHS: Cult. But Harrison Wilton took a man’s life … and then cut off the head, the hands and ditched the body in a trash dump. Kai may have asserted these killer thoughts, but the blood is firmly on Harrison’s hands.

American Horror Story 11/9 Review

Fake News

Throughout the first few episodes of the season, we’ve seen Adina Porter’s Beverly Hope on the local news, reporting on the grisly murders plaguing Ally and Ivy’s (Alison Pill) neighborhood. “11/9” finally gave viewers a look into Beverly’s life – and surprise, it ain’t all sunshine and roses!

In her first American Horror Story appearance since Freak Show, Emma Roberts returns to the Ryan Murphy-verse with a one-episode cameo, playing rival reporter, Serina Belinda. And it’s pretty clear from the get-go that Ms. Belinda here is out to do whatever it takes to get to the top of the newscaster game … even if it means blowing her pervy boss in the process.

Gender politics and race issues in the workplace send Beverly in a rage-fueled fit – culminating in an on-air meltdown, turned-viral video, brought on by a barrage of inappropriate hecklers, shouting, “grab her by the p–ssy!”

Beverly’s anger issues may have been the cause for her 30-day stint in “psychiatric rehabilitation,” but a personality defect for one person is a golden opportunity for another. Enter, Kai Anderson.

Let’s remember, we’re living mostly in flashbacks in Episode 4. These frustrating jumps back in time may feel a bit jarring in the overall narrative but they do help piece together everyone in Kai’s little cult.

Harrison is Kai’s muscle, that’s pretty clear. Wilton already expressed his envy of the mindless drone-like nature of the bee colonies he cultivates. Kai says jump and without hesitation, Harrison probably asks, “how high?” Adding Beverly to the crew makes perfect sense. Simply put: she is the mouthpiece Kai needs to spread his word.

If Kai’s mission is to move from City Council to State Senate to Congress, he’ll need powerful friends in the media. It seems that his partnership with Beverly – cemented by the on-screen clown murder of Serina Belinda – has placed Ms. Hope devotedly on Team Kai.

American Horror Story 11/9 Review

An Unexpected Cult Connection

From the very beginning of the AHS: Cult story, the audience has been led to believe that Ally and Ivy were innocent bystanders to the utter chaos happening around them. Ivy never once acknowledged the real possibility that the clown mask-wearing killers Ally was seeing were real. In turn, she’s been left questioning her wife’s sanity over and over.

In Episode 3, Ivy learned of Winter’s (Billie Lourd) bathroom flirtation with Ally and threatened to take Oz and leave. It’s an understandable reaction. But then, we learned that Ivy and Winter are actually well acquainted, themselves.

Through yet another election night flashback, Ivy attempted to bring Ally to an anti-Trump protest. Fully convinced the Donald wouldn’t win, Ivy headed off to the protest alone. It’s not long before she’s “grabbed” by Trump supporter Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono) – the grocery store employee Ally met during that nightmare trip to the market back in Episode 1.

This grabby moment – seriously, this episode is full of grabbiness – is interrupted by none other than Winter Anderson who succeeds at chasing Gary away. And instead of continuing the protest, she invites Ivy to lunch. Tapping into her own manipulative powers, which apparently runs in the family, Winter and Ivy talk of gender equality and men’s entitlements, eventually leading Ivy down a vengeful path.

Poor Gary and his grabby hands never saw them coming.

All this time, Winter has been presented as a sinister babysitter/invader into Ally and Ivy’s lives. But now we know there’s more to that story. Not to mention, the duo assaulted a man and left him handcuffed in the basement of a supermarket. Sure, he deserved some sort of punishment but this got extreme real quick.

Sure, there’s a lot to unpack in this episode but the collusion of Ivy and Winter led us down a muddy road full of confused questions: What is Ivy’s role in Ally’s ongoing torment, exactly? Has she been in on the clown chaos the entire time? Is she being blackmailed due to her team-up with Winter? And, here’s a brain boggler for you … Is Oz really Kai and Ivy’s son? That last one has been on our minds for some time.

That last one has been on our minds for some time. There is an uncanny resemblance between the three that’s hard to ignore. Remember back in “Election Night” where Winter brought up Oz’s birth father? It was a brief exchange between her and Oz but it’s one that has us wondering if there is a familial foundation supporting Kai’s plans.

If it weren’t for Ivy and Winter’s assault on Gary Longstreet, Kai would’ve never intervened. Yes, voting for Trump was way more important than keeping his hand, that much is true for Gary. But, when you look at the ancillary characters that make up Kai Anderson’s group – from Harrison’s strong-arm loyalty to Meadow’s artistic influence on the clown masks to Beverly’s strong voice – we’re completely baffled at Ivy’s involvement in the whole darn thing.

Out of all these details, one thing’s for certain: Kai Anderson created the serial killer’s smiley face symbol. There’s still the ever-growing suspicion of Dr. Vincent’s (Cheyenne Jackson) leadership of the stabby clown crew. It seems everyone in Kai’s group has gotten some sort of blood on their hands. How long can he keep pulling these strings, before Kai Anderson gets pulled into the muck, as well?

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