With last week’s episode ending on the eerie cliffhanger that set up the newfound family dynamic between Oz, Kai, and Ally, we were all eager to discover precisely what Ally’s motives were. Hopefully, we’ll find out more in this week’s episode, whose title is a nod to the famous sitcom from the 1980s, “Charles in Charge.” Evan Peters, who has been killing his multiple roles this season, will be portraying the infamous Charles Manson in this week’s episode of Cult. With the finale of what’s been an amazing season coming up just next week, it’s only understandable that my hopes for the penultimate episode are sky-high.
Charles (Manson) in Charge
Writer(s): Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk | Director: Bradley Buecker
The episode begins with a flashback, which is something that we’re maybe a little too used to seeing this season. However, this flashback contains pertinent information, so I approached it with a welcoming attitude. It’s October 19th, 2016, the day of the final Presidential Debate. Winter and a few of her fellow die-hard Hillary supporters are watching on the couch, mocking Trump and discussing how excited they are to have a female president finally. Winter predicts Trump’s loss will be the largest in the history of the electoral history. Kai, who’s been busy typing away on online forums, chimes in on Winter’s comment, telling her that plenty of people dislike her and that she’s weak. One of Winter’s friends gets into an incredibly heated debate with Kai about alt-righters like him, resulting in him slapping her and all hell breaking loose, including Winter’s friend pressing charges against him.
Two weeks later, Kai is in his court-mandated anger management therapy, where we see a familiar face giving him advice. After a few episodes and still not seeing the backstory between Kai and Bebe Babbitt, we are introduced to her as his therapist, who played a much more prominent role in his plan than we could’ve guessed. In one of their sessions, Babbitt brings up Valerie Solanas and some of her beliefs, as well as asking Kai if he was ever interested in politics. Although Bebe considers herself to be a feminist, she tells Kai that Donald Trump is her favorite politician. Her reasoning behind this is that Trump is the first person to hammer away at the female rage that’s been accumulating over the course of history. Bebe encourages Kai to ensue feminine rage within the women around him and break the dam while kissing his forehead and hugging him. I found it very interesting to see that Bebe was the “queen bee” of the hive that assigned Kai this particular purpose, which he took to another level. I knew Kai was cunning and smart, but there had to have been a source of inspiration for his master plan, and I was delighted to discover that cause was Bebe.
Back in the present day, Kai is rallying in the park with his bodyguards, but we see it first through the perspective of an unhappy Facebook live user. She’s had it with Kai’s unfair Internet policies and all of his bullshit. Kai is growing increasingly anxious that there’s a mole within their group, and that he’s going to get busted for the plethora of crimes he’s committed. After Kai’s done with his drawn-out speech, the protesters attack, unplugging Kai’s speakers and going as far as to pepper spray Kai. Speedwagon is happy to help by washing Kai’s eyes out with milk...I mean, everyone has an extra gallon of milk lying around, right?
That night, Winter is cleaning the ice cream truck when the creepy music begins to play and Kai, in his overly paranoid state, runs outside and tries to stop it. Ally, who’s also just chilling near the truck, answers questions from Winter about Ivy. Winter wants to know if Ivy was in pain in her last moments because she’s not buying that she went to cooking school in Paris. Winter believes that Kai had something to do with it, and is racked with guilt because she felt that she could’ve stopped it. However, Ally inquires, “If something did happen to Ivy, what makes you think it was Kai?” Oh, shoot!
As Kai announced in the previous episode, he’s running for Senate and plants to dethrone Herbert Jackson. After Kai’s incident in the park, Jackson tells a local news channel that Kai is a joke. Kai, while disparaging Jackson, gets his crew amped up and of course Gary chimes in with a slightly reworded spiel than Kai’s. After their excitement and attention are present, Kai prepares to tell them a story about Charles Manson…
Kai transports us to Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills circa 1969. He explains that with the murders on Cielo, Manson was merely lighting the fuse for his ultimate plan. Tex Watson, who was portrayed by Billy Eichner, was in charge of the murders that night, as Charlie stayed back. In addition to Tex, three lovely ladies of AHS accompanied him: Susan Atkins (Sarah Paulson), Patricia Krenwinkel (Leslie Grossman), and Linda Kasabian (Billie Lourd). While Linda stayed back, Tex, Patricia, and Susan killed several people inside the house, including Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of Roman Polanski. Before going into this episode, I was under the impression that Sharon was going to be portrayed by the lovely Lily Rabe, as it was even cited by IMDB. In the words of Kai, it’s fake news. After the murders, Susan left a sign per Charles’ request, which was the word “pig” written across the door in blood.
Kai explains that Cielo Drive was just a stepping stone in Charles’ “Helter Skelter” plan, which involved committing crimes and framing random black folks for them to start an apocalyptic race war. Kai wants to live by Manson’s playbook and execute “The Night of a Thousand Tates” in Brookfield Heights.
Presumably sometime later, Gary heads up to Planned Parenthood in an attempt to acquire names for women planning to have abortions. He breaks in, but the alt-right douchebags don’t go in with him. After wandering around for a little, Gary finds several masked cult members, the last of them being Kai. Gary asks why his Divine Ruler is doing this to him, and Kai responds by saying that Gary needs to be involved in something important and that he will remain in Kai’s heart forever. The cult proceeds to stab and kill him. I can’t be the only one who is thankful we won’t have to deal with him paraphrasing everything Kai says. Gary has always been the most annoying member of the cult in my eyes, so this was a satisfying moment.
Gary’s dismembered body is positioned in front of the Planned Parenthood, alongside a sign that urges people to “Stop the Slaughter.” Beverly, our go-to anchorwoman, discusses Gary’s death on the news, but something about her seems incredibly off. The tone in which she delivers the gruesome details of Gary’s death is morose and monotone, possibly due to her fear that she’ll be the next member of the cult to be killed off. While Kai comments on Gary’s murder on the news, he finds a way to blame this all on Senator Jackson. After they’re off the air, Kai smacks the microphone from Bev’s hand in utter disappointment, urging her to report as she typically does, in order to stop arousing suspicions.
Back in The Butchery on Main, Winter attempts to apologize to Beverly by giving her a way out of the cult. Winter presents Beverly a train ticket to Butte, Montana and an opportunity to start fresh. Beverly (reasonably) sees this as a trick or a test, and despite Winter’s assurance, Beverly tells her that she’d never leave Divine Ruler.
Back at the Anderson household, Kai is tearing everything apart in search of a recording device planted by this “mole” within the cult. He escapes the beeping by entering the DIY mausoleum, in which he hallucinates Vincent coming back to life and having a conversation with him. Kai decides that he probably shouldn’t have killed Vincent. However, their conversation is cut short by Charles Manson stabbing Vincent and exclaiming that if Kai should hallucinate anybody, it should be him.
Charles Manson directs Kai to identify the Judas in his cult, stating that his was Linda. Right as Ally discovers a bug planted in the house, Bebe enters the house and berates Kai for not inciting enough female rage within his cult members. Manson tells Kai to explain the truth to Bebe, resulting in him telling her off in a flurry of sexist remarks. Bebe slaps Kai, and just as she’s about to shoot him, Ally gets a headshot in and Bebe falls to the ground. Typical Ally...shooting first and asking questions later.
We now move to Winter giving Kai a buzz cut. I mean, I was never a fan of the blue hair, but it’s become a quintessential part of Kai’s character that I will miss. During this time, the two of them share some fond childhood memories of one another. However, these memories are quickly interrupted by Kai asking why Winter wants to hurt him. Winter says that she ultimately doesn’t want to, but she does need some time away from him. She fears that if she stays, the only way she’ll be able to remember him is through a negative lens. However, Winter reassures Kai that she’ll be here when everyone else has left. Kai encourages Winter to go away if she needs to, even offering her a train ticket to Butte, Montana! Oh, no! Winter’s dragged away by Kai’s douchey followers.
We move to Kai interrogating Winter, asking if the Feds offered her something in order for her to snitch. He truly believes that Winter is the mole. Ally found a secret microphone stitched into his couch cushion, as well as a recorder placed in the ice cream truck by what they assume to be Winter. However, although this was initially presented to us, it doesn’t mean it’s true. AHS has a way of presenting false recollection of events to us rather frequently, so I’m not going to accept this as true as of right now. Winter advises Ally that Kai is just going to chew her up and spit her out like he’s done to everyone else, and Ally replies by saying, “Too bad you won’t be around to see it.”
Kai urges Winter to confess for her infidelities towards the cult, but she just can’t, because she didn’t do them. Kai proceeds to strangle Winter to death...nooo! Speedwagon races to his car and takes off his wire, breaking it. Ally steps into the car and says, “Hello, Speedwagon.”
All in all, Charles (Manson) In Charge proved to be an enjoyable penultimate episode. It answered some of our long-awaited questions, tied up some storylines nicely, and left us yearning for more with that crazy cliffhanger. I’m dying to see where Ally and Speedwagon will go. One one hand, they could be in cahoots and attempting to take down Kai, but on the other, Ally could take down Speedwagon just to be the one to take down Kai. Either way, it’s going to be crazy. I must say, I’m very upset that Winter died. Billie Lourd was a breath of fresh air to the AHS cast, and I can only hope she’ll return next year. I’m very eager to see the finale and recap it for you all! It’s been a blast doing these recaps, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them almost as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
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.