American Horror Story Drink the Kool-Aid 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?)

With two episodes remaining in Ryan Murphy’s attempt at post-election catharsis, American Horror Story: Cult put its cards on the proverbial table. “Drink the Kool-Aid” put Ally Mayfair-Richards’ (Sarah Paulson) plan in motion as she sets up Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) – and his cult of manly goons – for what’s sure to be one bloody payback plan.

Not only has Kai gained an impressive amount of power in a short period of time, it looks like Ally has escaped the clutches of her helpless insanity to take on the role of vengeful anti-heroine. But if you’re looking for a worthy hero to root for – amid all this crazy clown cult chaos – you’ve definitely got another thing coming.

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This Week’s Big Bad: Ally Mayfair-Richards

Throughout the season, fans have watched as Ally’s phobias grew exponentially. They caused her to lose her grip on reality, destroying her family unit in the process.

After the shooting at Kai’s highly-publicized rally, Ally was put in a psych ward – where she claims she was cured after three weeks. How is that possible? From clowns to blood to holes, Ally’s faced many terrifying challenges over this past season. Is it possible it only took three weeks to find a cure? No.

But she has found a temporary fix: revenge against her estranged wife, Ivy. We saw her join Kai’s cult last week. That was a tool Ally used to bring Ivy home. However, a romantic reunion was ultimately not in the cards. Instead, Ally explained to Ivy that the simple cure for her phobias was a fixation on getting vengeance against the one person that made this whole thing possible.

While that’s all well and good, this whole story device feels a bit contrived. It all just feels a bit too convenient (and insulting to people with actual mental illnesses).

Still, Ally has turned a corner from helpless victim to a champion of her own fear. Shedding her own weaknesses to become a murderer – killing her wife, Ivy (Alison Pill), with some predictably poisoned wine and pasta – it seems that Ally is now on equal footing with Kai.

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Drinking the Kool-Aid

Before American Horror Story: Cult began airing, Ryan Murphy explained that Evan Peters would be playing multiple cult leaders throughout the season. In “Drink the Kool-Aid,” Peters added Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh and Jim Jones to his repertoire – evidently leaving his highly-anticipated debut as Charles Manson for the season finale.

Tuesday’s episode began with a montage, praising the work of these men – each one promoting suicide as a method of leaving the physical world for an empowered, enlightened state. From David Koresh’s “holy ejaculate” to “the Kanye of leaders,” Jim Jones, Kai presented these men as iconic heroes to his denim-clad congregation, capping off an intimate story-time before his mini-Project Mayhem called it a night.

“These were great men. All of them,” Kai tells his congregation. “I want you to see it’s easy to get men to kill for you. The real power is having people loyal enough to you that if you ask them to, they will kill themselves.” It’s during this sequence that one of Kai’s goons poses the notion that their own group might be a cult.

“All politics is a personality cult,” Kai replies. This statement right there, in its simple six-word structure, presents the modus operandi of American Horror Story: Cult. It kind of makes you wonder if Ryan Murphy will be tackling religion next.

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The Cult of Personalities

Tripod, Speedwagon, Sandstorm, Gutterball. These are just four examples of the oddball names Kai has assigned the grunts that make-up his testosterone-heavy denim-clad army. I’ve made multiple comparisons to Tyler Durden and Project Mayhem throughout my coverage of AHS: Cult and this new detail feels like a huge nod to the Chuck Palahniuk story. This may just be the closest we get to a “His name was Robert Paulson” moment.

With the Valerie Solanas episode, it was insinuated a battle of the sexes was in Kai’s future. And yet episode 9 found the women of AHS: Cult scrambling to maintain any sort of power amid the masculine maelstrom of Kai’s growing army. Ally and Ivy’s attempt to escape – with the help of Winter’s (Billie Lourd) 14-step plan – gets foiled as Kai’s henchmen arrive, bringing them in for an impromptu meeting.

Kai’s men begun referring to him as “The Divine Leader,” which Anderson has embraced wholeheartedly. To weed out those disloyal to his cause, Kai brings his own kool-aid to the yard. Quoting Jim Jones, Kai tells Beverly, Ivy, Ally and Winter, “Death is not a fearful thing. It’s the living that’s cursed.” Why would he be having everyone drink cups of poisoned kool-aid, though? To shed their physical selves in order to come back more powerful to take the Senate by storm.

This all turned out to be one big joke. There was no poison in these cups. It was just a test to weed out the bad apples in this bonkers bunch. One unfortunate member of the gang refused to drink. And Gary (Chaz Bono) shot him dead.

2017 has obviously been a great year for Kai. He pieced together a hugely dysfunctional family unit to do his bidding. He found his way onto the city council, where his motion to control the media – titled the Kai Anderson Internet Freedom and Integrity Act – was quickly put into motion. And now, it looks like he’s setting his sights on the United States Senate.

Move over Frank Underwood. There’s a new murderer coming to town.

Ozymandias, the King of Kings

With Ally and Ivy reuniting, it was only a matter of time before Oz returned to the mix. Not only does Ally admit to Ivy she entered the cult to get her son back, the events that transpired throughout the episode put the young boy back in the center of all the conflict.

Bringing the battle to Kai’s home turf was a smart move on the cult leader’s part, but little did he know just how precocious young Ozymandias would be. Inviting the boy over for a sleepover, it’s not long before the boy begins questioning every “ultimate truth” the leader spoon feeds his cult.

Ally won’t be winning any Mother of the Year awards, that’s for sure – she took pleasure in watching Ivy spit up blood all over their kitchen floor, you guys – but her devotion to her son is one that should be admired. And as I predicted episodes ago, “Drink the Kool-Aid” posed the notion that Kai Anderson was Oz’s real father.

While this plot point turned out to be another one of Kai’s alternative facts, Ally was able to use this to her advantage by going straight to the source: the Braddon Fertility Clinic. It turns out Kai is not the boy’s father. After flexing her manipulative skills, Ally gets the clinic employee to doctor the sperm donor results and sets up a dinner with the Divine Leader.

There’s something rather symbolic about these manwich meals Ally keeps making for Kai. Deep down, Kai Anderson is just a lost boy in search of a deeper familial connection. His parents are dead. He killed his brother. Maybe all he needs is a mother figure in his life to make it all better. It looks like that’s Kai’s weak spot and Ally’s found it.

After she admits to killing Ivy and stuffing her in a trunk, she gives Kai the doctored sperm donor paperwork. It really doesn’t take much work on Ally’s part to convince Anderson that he’s the father of Oz, the messiah baby he’s always wanted.

“A son needs his father,” Ally tells him. Soon, she’s reunited with young Ozymandias, giving everyone a new bizarre family portrait to mull over. “Now we can be a real family,” Kai says with a tear.

It’s the cosmic, written-in-the-stars, divine intervention the leader has been waiting for. But like the killer clowns and chem trucks from episodes’ past, it’s all one big ruse. It looks like what Kai Anderson doesn’t know definitely will hurt him.

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