Although I felt last week’s episode of Cult was a little too flashback heavy, I went into the eighth episode hopefully, as this season has truly been delivering some of my favorite episodes ever. After all, even some of the best seasons of American Horror Story stumble occasionally. This week’s episode is entitled “Winter of Our Discontent”, a nod to the lovable Winter Anderson as well as a reference to the John Steinbeck novel of the same title. Steinbeck’s novel, however, was actually based on lines by Shakespeare. These lines read, “Now is the winter of our discontent / made glorious summer by the sun of York.” I felt that the origin behind this title was interesting. Let’s see what it could mean for Winter as well as the other members of the cult!
Winter of Our Discontent
Writer: Joshua Green | Director: Barbara Brown
The episode begins with Dr. Vincent celebrating Kai’s big win in the election. Although Kai is grateful for Rudy’s support, he is simultaneously pissed off because his own brother didn’t visit him after he was assassinated. Dr. Vincent apologizes, explaining that he didn’t visit due to the fact that Meadow was colluding with his one of his patients. Kai, the seemingly forgiving person that he is, forgives Rudy and they make up. During their embrace, Kai says, “From now on, call me Councilman.”
We’re now at The Butchery on Main, where Kai’s douchebag recruits are eating. Ivy is serving them, which I instantly recognized as strange, because Ivy is never front of house, but rather cooks for the customers. Unsurprisingly, Kai’s alt-right buddies are being a bunch of pricks about the food and are being incredibly coarse towards Ivy. However, Winter steps in and stops Ivy from killing a couple of these buffoons.
Back in the kitchen, Beverly has also been sentenced to working in the restaurant. Ivy’s infuriated about all of this, complaining about Kai forcing her to cater to them in her own restaurant. Beverly discusses last night’s city council meeting, during which one of the councilmen disagreed with Kai’s plan for his recruits to be private security in Brookfield Heights. Being the master of seduction that he is, Kai utilizes fear and subtle threats of what could happen to this man’s young daughters as a means for his fellow councilman to agree with his proposal.
Beverly discusses the extreme loyalty Kai’s drafts possess when it comes to him and propose that if they were to go after Kai, which she compares to the head of a snake, the entire army would fall. Winter quickly shoots down this idea, saying that this would simply be a suicide mission. Winter pleads that they need Kai, but Beverly says that he’s not fit to lead. She further upsets Winter by saying that if it came down to it, Kai wouldn’t even think about sparing his sister, so long as it gave him more power. As we’re taken into another flashback, Winter mentions that Kai would never hurt her and that he saved her life once.
In October 2015, Winter and Kai are enjoying their own Halloween ritual, which involves drinking whilst trolling people with strong beliefs online. In the midst of shaming women for getting abortions, they receive an invitation from Pastor Charles to come to the Judgment House in Wixom near I-96.
Completely ignoring the fact that this is incredibly sketchy, Kai and Winter accept this invitation. When they arrive, Rick Springfield answers the door! They explore the Judgment House, which is essentially just a fucked up torture chamber where innocent people endure various flagellations. Some of the innocent people featured are a man who is trying to sober up being constantly injected with various drugs, a volunteer at an AIDS benefit being tortured for being a sodomite, etc. These victims are crying out for help, saying that this isn’t a show.
After touring the entire house and barely saving a man from a chair that impales its user with knives positioned in the shape of a cross, Winter and Kai heroically free everyone and decide to rebel against Pastor Charles, forcing him to meet his demise with his own invention.
According to Winter, after his run-in with Pastor Charles, everything about Kai changed. We watch as he dyes his hair blue, with Winter noting that Kai came to a bleak realization that he couldn’t save everyone, and felt that it was better to burn the world to the ground and start again.
Back in the present, Winter tells her fellow ladies that she understands they all despise him right now, but to allow her time to persuade him to move to the right path. Since she’s his sister, Winter’s positive that he’ll listen to her. Beverly agrees to give Winter’s way a shot, but if she’s still in the goddamn kitchen by the end of week, she’s coming for Kai and Winter better stay out of her way.
In the Anderson basement, Kai and Winter have a pinky power, which has been announced to be the official term for this recurring phenomenon that’s occurred this season. I was calling it a pinky meeting until we knew for sure, but I was surprisingly close. Pinky power just sounds way more elegant, though. Kai interrupts this pinky power by crying because he loves Winter so much, asking if she’ll always be loyal to him. Kai says that he adores the family they’re going to create. He says that from their seed, a savior will arise and that Kai wants Winter to be the mother of their messiah baby. Um, what the actual fuck?
Winter’s all like, “Kai, sweetie...that’s incest.” Kai proposes that Samuels shall be the biological father of Winter’s baby, but Kai will enter Samuels at the same time that Samuels is impregnating her so that he’ll be the true father? Uh...more on this later.
Ally and Dr. Vincent are now back at her house, in the middle of an intense argument. It’s divulged to us that Rudy checked Ally into a psychiatric facility for three whole weeks against her own will. Ally skips her trusty rosé and moves straight to hard liquor. Ally screams that Dr. Vincent never believed a word that she said. However, Dr. Vincent explains to her that he now realizes that the man who’s been terrorizing her is more dangerous than he knows. Dr. Vincent is onto Kai and recognizes that he is behind all of the murders.
Ally is shocked that Winter is a part of the Anderson family, but immediately becomes infuriated by the realization that Dr. Vincent was helping Kai further wreck Ally’s mental state. Dr. Vincent claims to have no idea about the cult, explaining that Kai must’ve broken into his office and obtained his records. Rudy claims to have Kai committed or even prosecuted.
Back in the Anderson crib, Jack and Winter are chilling on the couch in their ceremonial garbs preparing for this “holy event”. Kai turns on “I Swear” by All-4-One, claiming it’s the holy song to be used for the conceptions of all messiahs. I understand that this season was supposed to be serious for all parties involved, but this is just too hilarious. Kai anoints Winter and the ritual commences, but Jack can’t get it up for Winter. Winter is over Kai’s bullshit and stops this busted ass threesome once and for all, claiming it’s even too messed up for Kai.
We’re now at Ally’s house, where she’s cooking sloppy joes for Kai and his alt-right bodyguards. This behavior in strangely hospitable for Ally, causing Kai to be suspicious. However, Ally reassures him that she doesn’t want to kill him, but simply to offer up information. This isn’t without an ulterior motive, though. Ally needs to know that Ozzy can return to her after she tells Kai this juicy gossip.
Ally lets Kai know that his brother is attempting to get him committed. Kai responds to this by saying that he notices something very different about her. After months of facing her phobias and being terrorized by various people in the cult, Ally tells him that she’s not afraid of anything anymore. I see you, Ally! Get it, girl!
Winter, in her punishment for not carrying the messiah baby, is dumping out trash onto the side of the road while wearing an oversized dunce cap. Jack Samuels pulls up with some gruel that is supposedly Winter’s “food”, denying Winter his apple. Annoyed about how strictly he follows Kai’s orders, Winter inquires about why Jack is Kai’s bitch. Leading into an incredibly unnecessary flashback, Jack tells us that Kai was once his bitch.
A while back, Kai was using Vincent’s stolen prescription pad to earn some extra money. Detective Samuels catches him, but instead of arresting him, he forces Kai to give him 70% of his earnings. Kai goes to his house, which is cluttered with Nazi memorabilia. Dr. Arden, is that you? Apparently, Jack can’t get it up unless he’s choking somebody...Kai tells him that he needs a man. Jack says that he’s not gay, and Kai tells him there’s no gay or straight and they begin a physical relationship.
After this random/pointless tangent, Dr. Samuels tries to impregnate Winter, saying he can get it up if he chokes her. Which I guess is why this flashback was relevant? Then again, he could’ve just mentioned it in passing. Winter takes Jack’s gun and she discusses how she should’ve fought back. After Hillary lost the election, Winter lost as well. Winter, using some of her findings from The SCUM Manifesto, shoots him right in the head!
We’re now in another cult meeting, where Kai asks to see his betrayers. Kai’s glorified servants place Beverly and Dr. Vincent in front of him. Everyone in the cult is masked, but since Beverly is a betrayer, who’s wearing her iconic mask? Kai, thanks to Ally’s helpful tip, knows what he’s up to. Rudy claims that he just wants to see Kai succeed, and reminisces about when they created pinky powers. Kai cuts Dr. Vincent’s pinky off, after luring him into a fake pinky power, then proceeds to cut his throat without blinking an eye. After discovering that Vincent was conspiring against him, Kai no longer saw him as a brother, but rather an obstacle in the way of his world domination.
I must say, I was a little bit shocked that Vincent didn’t have anything to do with the cult, especially after noticing all of those subtleties about him. American Horror Story is the master of plot twists and leading its viewers down the wrong paths when it comes to predictions, however. We move on down the line to Beverly, who’s all like, “What the hell did I do?” It’s now revealed to us that Winter has framed Beverly for Jack’s murder, as we see Beverly shoot Jack in the head and tell Winter that Kai is next. Although there’s no real reason stated about why Winter did this, we all know that Kai wasn’t going to change his mind, so Winter had to turn Kai against Beverly before she had a chance to kill him once and for all.
Kai questions Beverly about why she betrayed him, and she claims that he was the one who betrayed her. One day, Beverly is his equal, coming up with new and fresh ideas on how to help Kai gain power, the next day she’s in the kitchen baking cookies. Beverly tells Kai that nothing is bigger than his ego and that she should kill her now because the biggest mistake she ever made was believing in him. Kai tells Beverly that death is too good for her, and sends her to an isolation chamber. No, Bev! I love you! Come back!
Kai takes a moment to welcome their newest member, as Ally slowly takes off her mask. OH MY GOD.
It looks like after that one episode stint, Cult is officially back on track when it comes to delivering premier episodes. This week’s episode was full of twists, turns, and hilariously awkward sex scenes. I was pretty surprised to see Ally in the cult, but I can’t say that the possibility never crossed my mind. However, I don’t think Ally is in the cult because Kai has magically cured her of her fears, but rather to get close enough to destroy Kai. Although I didn’t necessarily care for Jack, I am going to miss Dr. Vincent quite a bit. I thought he was going to have a bigger part in the cult, but it turns out he could’ve been paramount when it came to taking Kai down and giving justice to the oppressed women of the cult. If there was one thing I had to nitpick about this episode, it would have to be Jack’s flashback, as it was really irrelevant. It’s nice that Kai and Jack had history and all, but why would they hone in on it when Winter was going to shoot him moments later, deeming all of the information we just learned as trivial. Despite this one flaw, it was a pretty great episode and I’m excited to see how the rest of our story plays out in the three remaining episodes.
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.