american horror story neighbors from hell

(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?)

Episode 3 of American Horror Story: Cult, titled “Neighbors From Hell,” began to connect every bloody event that has plagued Ally’s life since the election. But if AHS’s history tells us anything, it’s that we’re about to hit the point in the story where the season gets a bit muddied, clunky and weird. Is it possible AHS: Cult will follow that pattern? Maybe.

Honestly, though, we’re thankful season 7 has pivoted mostly away from its post-election hysteria angle. But the one thing that has quickly begun to test our patience is the overuse of Sarah Paulson’s cry-face. We know she has more to bring to Ally than just helpless tears. It’s about time she stops playing the victim.

This Week’s Big Bad: Ally Mayfair-Richards

Picking Ally as the villain is probably considered a hot take, but after three episodes of viewing the world through her panic-stricken, fearful perspective, it’s become so glaring just how self-absorbed her character truly is. She’s a victim of many unfortunate circumstances – murderous clowns, seductive babysitter, manipulative psychiatrist – and her move to get a gun in last week’s episode led us to believe she’d finally take matters into her own hands. And boy did she. And boy did things backfire.

Gunning Pedro Morales down on her front step set up a chain of events that eventually put her on the outs with her community – the news even called her a “lesbian George Zimmerman.” Her son doesn’t feel safe with her anymore. Her patient and loving wife has finally hit her breaking point. Leave it up to Winter’s (Billie Lourd) brief bathroom seduction to send Ivy (Alison Pill) packing.

White privilege is as white privilege does and through all the examples of bad parenting – seriously, how many times are Ally and Ivy going to leave Oz (Cooper Dodson) alone in the middle of a crime scene? – combined with these seemingly random attacks eventually leaves Ally at the end of her rope.

If she can’t turn to her wife, her coworkers, her neighbors or her doctor for guidance, it looks like there’s only one clear shoulder for her to cry on. As baffling as this sounds, it feels like Kai is about to become Ally’s only hope.

An Unexpected Blue-Haired Hero

This whole time, we’ve been patiently waiting for Kai (Evan Peters) to make his move. It’s been a slow trajectory, with Anderson lurking in the background. But as Ally begins to pay the price for the accidental murder of her restaurant employee, the blue-haired maniac appears as her proverbial knight in shining armor.

“Just keep living your truth,” Kai tells Ally as she first discovers the protestors picketing outside The Butchery on Main. Praising her bravery, Kai promises to take care of the crowd. Lo and behold, he does – not once, but twice.

As he makes his slow and steady rise to power within this Michigan community, Kai goes pinky-to-pinky with a couple of new additions to his cause: Harrison (Billy Eichner) and Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman). What we learn from these interactions is Meadow is afraid of being 40 and childless and Harrison wants his wife dead.

“Everything is somebody else’s fault from now on,” Kai tells Meadow. “Make the world wrong.” It’s this comment that exposes his ultimate strategy. Playing the blame game is a polarizing exercise, for sure. But as the clown-faced serial killer’s smiley-faced symbol begins appearing in Ally & Ivy’s neighborhood, placing blame becomes a simplistic and destructive defense mechanism.

Everything Is Connected

All it really takes for Ally to come to the conclusion that all these random acts of terror may not be random at all was the video reveal of her indiscretion with Winter in the bathtub. Yes, Ozzy found the video of his mother and babysitter on his computer – which points to a bigger conspiracy involving the Mayfair-Richards house being bugged – but for Ivy, all she sees is red. After all of Ally’s rants, visions, panic attacks and unhinged behavior, it comes down to this act of infidelity that sends Ivy packing.

While it may be a bit infuriating to watch Ivy lose it (because, hey there’s been secret surveillance in their house all this time!), watching Ally put two-and-two together makes us hopeful she’s not going to be this one-note character for that much longer. And her deduction is most-definitely right.

From the odd bird-killing chemical truck making the rounds in her neighborhood to the cult of Kai Anderson – The Wiltons and Colton Haynes’ platinum blonde Detective Samuels getting all cozy was an interesting reveal – to the restaurant murder to the power outage to the killer clowns, it seems all these details are adding up to one main goal of bringing Ally down. Is Kai the mastermind behind it all? Or is someone else pulling the strings?

A Killer Conundrum

“Neighbors From Hell” introduced a new fear into the mix: cleithrophobia, or the fear of being trapped in a box. That theme of being trapped – both physically and mentally – is an ongoing one in American Horror Story: Cult. As we watched another patient of Dr. Vincent’s (Cheyenne Jackson) celebrate being cured of her mental illness, only to go home and be stuffed into a surprise coffin by those same clown killers, it dawned on us that Ally’s psychiatrist has to be in on this whole murderous mystery.

There’s something very Nightbreed about this whole scenario. Could Dr. Rudy Vincent be the leader of the clown mask-wearing marauders that have been tormenting Ally and her neighbors? Was that visual of the good doctor shuffling smiley face pins around on his desk a hint at something more sinister at play? He may not be wearing a creepy zipper mask like David Cronenberg did in the aforementioned Clive Barker-adaptation, but it would add another intriguing layer to the mix.

But something tells us if Dr. Rudy Vincent is indeed the leader of the killer clowns, he’s not directly involved with Kai Anderson’s group. It just wouldn’t make sense – then again, not much does make sense here. Not yet, anyway.

As Ivy and Oz gear up to leave Ally, the climax of episode 3 reveals itself in the form of another pesky murder. This time, it’s poor Meadow Wilton. The Changs’ former house, which was just bathed in blood two episodes ago, became a crime scene yet again. Now with Meadow out of the picture, and with Harrison face down and handcuffed in the middle of the street – he did tell Kai he wanted her dead, after all – it seems the next house on the killer’s list is Ally and Ivy’s.

If ever there was a time for Kai to come and take away Ally’s fear, now would most definitely be it.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: