I have to admit that after the first episode of Cult, I wasn’t entirely sold on the concept. The season premiere simply didn’t measure up to its predecessors, as it didn’t have the constant polarizing effect AHS tends to have on me. I am happy to say that, this season has completely proved my initial doubts and reservations wrong. Cult has brought laughs, genuine scares, and rich plot development that thickens and strengthens through each episode. I went into this episode with excitement and high standards that “Holes” will continue to deliver the great quality this season has presented thus far.
Writer: Crystal Liu | Director: Maggie Kiley
Our episode begins with news coverage from the delightfully dark Beverly Hope, discussing the major events that have occurred in Brookfield Heights throughout the season. Beverly speculates that there is a serial killer in their midst, as she discusses the recent and ever so tragic disappearance of Meadow Wilton. We are now in Bob’s office where he and Bev are going over this footage. Bob brings up an inquiry about how she is always the first one to the scene. Oh, Bob. You unsuspecting scumbag. If you only knew. In accordance with his typical douchebaggery, Bob criticizes Beverly for reporting “fake news”. Beverly counters this inaccurate insult by bringing up a point that she has a need to inform the public about current events/issues. She begs him to air the tape of Serena being brutally murdered by the clowns, but Serena’s parents are already threatening to sue the news channel...so that’s not happening anytime soon. Bob fires Beverly, but she threatens to expose his sexual harassment of Serena. He tells her to GTFO of his office, and she walks away whilst hatching a plan in her brain.
We move to a large “group” of people conducting a meeting, including Kai, Winter, Gary, Detective Samuels, Beverly, and RJ. Winter is discussing how low voter awareness is and how they intend to raise it in order to elect Kai as a city councilman. RJ questions the importance of all of this, and Kai bitchslaps him to the ground whilst lecturing about how he wants to ensue fear amongst citizens in order for them to flock to him. To accomplish this, the cult agrees that the murders have to be scarier. While discussing how they need to kill Bob in the most Satanic way possible, another cult member shows up late...it’s Ivy.
Ally is now describing a dream sequence of hers to Dr. Vincent, in which she discovers holes in her neck with various bugs crawling out of them. While this dream was occurring, Ally scratched herself raw. Her dream, as Dr. Vincent explains, is representative of the metaphorical holes in her life, prominently the fresh hole created when Ivy and Ozzy left her. While discussing her trypophobia (fear of holes), she brings up her longing for Oz and Ivy to be in her life again. Ally is incredibly angry at herself because of the whole situation with Winter. We’ve all seen the paranoia that Ally deals with day in and day out, and dealing with that all by herself cannot be easy. Although she was promised police protection, she claims that she barely gets any. Ivy has frozen all their credit cards, and Ally mentions that the whole situation feels premeditated…
Dr. Vincent brings up a very relevant question to Ally regarding whether or not she felt if their relationship was flimsy. We see a flashback to September of last year wherein Ally is trying to be intimate with Ivy, but Ivy is so caught up in their finances and restaurant that she doesn’t even recognize her efforts. Cutting back to present day, Ally is only allowed supervised visits with Oz in which Ally tries really hard to make a connection only to fail miserably because he isn’t willing to meet her halfway.
Ivy is driving in the car while talking to Oz when it’s revealed that her and Winter are driving together. According to Ivy, Oz has been asking if Winter is going to be his third mom. Winter apologizes that Oz had to be the one to find the video, frankly stating that it had to work out that way. I mean, I knew it was planned ahead of time, but I didn’t know Ivy was in on the whole thing, too. I must say that she did a very good job of acting genuinely hurt and surprised when she found the video. Winter warns Ivy that radical action is going to occur in the near future, and Ivy say she’s prepared for it.
Once gathered, the cult goes over the game plan for killing Bob, which is essentially to simply chant “Ave Satanas” when they’re about to kill him. RJ, Beverly’s cameraman, is going to record this in order to provide some news footage to shock the public with.
Everyone sneaks into Bob’s houses sporting their respective costumes and masks and beats up Bob. Before Bob dies, he tells them that there’s a gimp in his attic that he has to take care of. Upon further inspection, this gimp is hung up by hooks in his skin and has a mask over his face that prohibits his vision and hearing. Harrison votes on killing the gimp, but RJ doesn’t understand why they can’t just let him free. Typical RJ, always questioning the cult’s ideas. Kai bluntly states, “We don’t take votes.” and kills the gimp by stabbing him. While all of this crazy shit is going down, Ivy is having a hard time handling it. Winter consoles her in the bathroom while the cult members take turns mercilessly stabbing Bob. Beverly tells RJ to take the camera off of her as she removes her mask to give Bob one last look at the bad bitch who killed him. She says, “Ave Satanas, motherfucker!” before plunging an axe right into his dead. Damn, Bev!
Beverly reports the ordeal, accompanying her “upsetting news” about Bob with the horrifying video RJ shot. Later on, Kai and Beverly are enjoying a cup of coffee at The Butchery on Main and discussing how Bob’s murder played out. While Beverly complains about Ivy’s weakness displayed during the situation, Kai gives her some leeway because it was her first time experiencing an event such as this. Kai also divulges to her that she was the only one who truly impressed him during Bob’s homicide.
Beverly suggests removing the weak link of the group in order to make all of them stronger as a whole, not so subtly referencing to RJ as their weakest link. As if his constant bitching and refusal wasn’t enough to key viewers in, a flashback illustrates just how inessential RJ is to the cult. When orchestrating Rosie’s murder with the coffins, RJ complains about the weight of the coffins and dismisses Beverly’s concern about the spacing of the two coffins. In this flashback, Winter also says that Kai is just leaving Vincent’s office? I knew he had some connection with the cult! After Rosie and her husband are left in the coffins, Meadow and RJ are concerned and want to let them out as well. Back to reality, Beverly explains that RJ’s weaknesses are cancer and that he needs to be cut out of the group. Due to all the crimes the cult has committed, however, I cannot imagine his descent from the group can pleasant.
Back to Ally’s usual anxious antics, we see that she’s taken up spying on Harrison from across the street with Oz’s telescope as a hobby?! Honestly, this further showcases how grandiose and extra she is. Honey, I’m sure Oz has a pair of binoculars somewhere. Harrison is carrying a shovel around the house, which piques Ally’s interest. She takes her snooping to the next level by walking across the street with a bat in her hand. Once in the Wilton’s backyard, she sees Meadow in a ditch and Meadow mutters, “Help me.”
Instead of being a helpful neighbor and an admirable person, Ally runs into her house and goes on complete lockdown mode. She dials 911, but apparently, the volume of calls is too high for her to be instantly connected to an operator. Instead of waiting, Ally calls Ivy and explains the current situation about Meadow being in a ditch. Ivy can’t deal with her shit and just tells her to call the police when suddenly there’s a harsh knocking on her door. Ally is afraid it’s Harrison or Detective Samuels, but she discovers it’s Meadow, who has somehow crawled her way out of the ditch and is pleading for help. Meadow tells Ally, “It’s a cult! Everyone is in it. The police, my husband, your babysitter, your WIFE!” This information hits Ally really hard, especially because Ivy is still on the line. However, Ally refuses to be a rational human being and just let Meadow in. C’mon, Ally! Meadow is dragged away by someone who is not shown, but is most likely Harrison.
Back in the cult meeting, Winter has done a poll about the race for city councilman and Kai is up ten points! While this leap is impressive, Kai mentions that he still feels resistance from certain members of the group. The cult takes a field trip to Kai’s basement where RJ is tied up in a chair with a ball gag in his mouth. Kai explains that RJ needs to be eliminated from the cult and that they are going to do this by taking turns shooting him in the head with a nail gun. Despite some initial resistance from the cult, they realize he would snitch on them come to a mutual agreement to kill him.
Kai forces Ivy to go first in order to prove her fidelity to the cult. She struggles a lot with it, but we see a huge weight lifted off of her shoulders after she shoots him. After everyone takes their turn in this sick game, Kai finishes RJ off in one of the most disturbing AHS scenes we’ve seen so far.
In the last scene of this incredible episode, Beverly and Kai share a “pinky meeting”. Kai starts off the conversation by asking Beverly what she’s most afraid of, but Beverly uses her alluring ways in order to have Kai open up about his parents.
Kai says that his parents died three years ago and that his dad was paralyzed in a motorcycling accident. Through a dialogue with him and his father, it is revealed to us that Kai obtained a degree in religious studies, and it probably wasn’t at Yale as he’d previously claimed to Bev. Kai and his father share a rocky relationship, and unsurprisingly his dad’s also a dick to Kai’s mom. One day, Kai is in the basement surfing Reddit when he hears a gunshot. He runs upstairs to see his father bleeding from the abdomen and just in time to watch his mom swallow a bullet.
Kai isn’t sure what to do amongst this murder-suicide shit show, so he consults his brother for help. We see Dr. Vincent come into the crime scene! I knew him and Kai were connected, I just knew it! Due to the fact that they would lose a lot of money due to the death tax and cannot afford to because one of their siblings just started college at Vassar (ring any bells?), Dr. Vincent suggests a rather morbid idea. Dr. Vincent and Kai put their parents’ corpses in their bed and cover them in lye to prevent them from smelling, letting them naturally decompose over time. Kai and his brother share an agreement to this plan through locking their pinkies, a common practice displayed throughout this season. A couple months later, we see their sister, Winter come home from college and become angered and mortified due to what happened to her parents.
Kai explains that to this day he still visits his mother to pay his respects and show his love. Conversely, he visits his father to tell him that he hates him and that he derives pleasure in watching him literally decay into nothingness. Returning to present day, Kai is crying at his table, and Beverly stands up and puts a hand on his shoulder to comfort him. The episode ends.
I cannot believe how well done this episode was. Wow! Just when I think Cult has reached its peak, it tops new heights each week. This episode was so dark and so intriguing. I loved seeing Kai’s backstory, but am very concerned that Beverly will use Kai’s vulnerability in order to overthrow him. I love that everyone’s identities have been revealed; their masks are quite frightening and knowing who is behind the mask makes it all the more interesting. Next week’s episode is called “Midwestern Assassin”, and has apparently been edited due to one of the scenes hitting a little too close to home with the tragedy that befell the concert-goers of Las Vegas. According to Murphy, the unedited episode will be released and available on streaming platforms and on demand. I am not sure what episode I will cover for next week, but I am leaning towards the unedited one. Murphy mentioned that this scene was specifically designed to serve as an anti-gun violence statement, which would fit right into with the satirical nature of this season.
Thanks for reading,
Though much too modest to admit it himself, Jonah is perhaps the world's preeminent AHS expert. He loves talking film & television, building his fledgling vinyl and Blu-Ray collection, & having far too many coffee drinks. Jonah can often be found binge watching shows with his handsome one-eyed ocicat, Irving.