Hello, everyone! I would first and foremost like to apologize for my recap of the Cult finale’s tardiness. After I finished the final chapter of this season, I decided to rewatch the season in an attempt to culminate a solidified opinion as well as to notice foreshadowing and possible connections to other seasons. The finale was action-packed, and by watching the season in its entirety, I was able to make sense of everything that went down. I went into this episode hopeful because of the exemplary content this season delivered, but cautious and wary as well. After all, most American Horror Story finales are hit or miss episodes. Will Cult deliver a gripping finale such as the ones we’ve seen in Freak Show or Asylum? Or will it fall flat like Roanoke or Coven? Without further ado, let’s see who takes the crown in this wild season filled with politics and bloodshed.
Writer: Tim Minear | Director: Jennifer Lynch
Our episode opens with a maximum security prison located in Jackson, Michigan set in 2018. Kai has been imprisoned, although how he was detained is unbeknownst to us. We hear him beginning to do a pinky power with one of the correctional officers named Whitmore, who’s no doubt succumbed to his cunning ways. Kai proceeds to follow two men on a walk, which leads to the three of them getting into a huge blowout fight. After they fight for a while, one of the two men who appeared to be against Kai kills his friend. Similar to his usual antics, these grandiose events that take place are premeditated by Kai. One of Kai’s undoubtedly ridiculously named goons refers to him as Divine Ruler...Kai made a prison cult!
After the first murder takes place, Kai goes to kill the other fellow to make the crime look authentic, after being instructed to do so by the ghost of Charles Manson (who coincidentally passed away a couple of days after the finale aired). Out in the prison courtyard, we see a recruit join Kai’s ranks. Although the rookie feels the need to introduce himself, Kai already knows everything about him, similar to how he knew everything about his cult members in the previous year. The prospective cult member asks Kai how he ended up in prison, and Kai goes on to explain that he was sold out by a “filthy fucking rat”...commence the flashback.
Eleven months earlier, we’re nearing the anticipated “Night of a Thousand Tates,” in which the cult planned to murder 1,000 pregnant women in admiration of the notorious Manson murders. However, we’re missing a crucial part of our cult: Speedwagon. Ally’s by Kai’s side, encouraging him to go on with it regardless, most likely because she has something to do with Speedwagon’s absence. Nobody can doubt Kai’s motivation, but due to their small town, the best Kai could do to honor his forefather was the “Night of One Hundred Tates.” While Kai explains how to properly stab the woman to ensure death to both her and her unborn baby, one of his recruits asks a question, and Kai responds by saying that if they raise their hand one more fucking time, he’s going to cut it off. Amongst this tutorial, Kai explains that this event will incite an innumerable amount of female rage and as a result, it will be taken out on all of the incumbents who failed to keep the public safe. Ultimately, this will lead Kai to the Senate and eventually the White House.
While the boys puncture some watermelons to practice for their big night, Beverly is prepping food in the kitchen when Ally arrives. Beverly’s genuinely lost it at this point, breaking down and explaining how she went from wanting to be the last one alive to merely wanting to die. Poor Bev even goes as far as to hand Ally a knife and attempts to coerce her into killing her. Ally urges Beverly to hang on for just a little longer because before she knows it, this will all be over. Yes, Ally! Take down the cult!
We now see Ally and Kai talking, as she pulls out a bug that had been planted in his house. Kai becomes infuriated, mainly because Ally left him in the dark about all of this for two whole days due to her fear. We’re now taken back to a flashback within our already occurring flashback regarding Speedwagon. After Ally meets him in his car, we discover that the only reason he’s a mole is due to the fact he was caught with copious amounts of drugs on him and decided to get information on Samuels in order to keep a clean record. After the police discovered what Samuels was involved in, they forced Speedwagon to continue providing them with the inside scoop for much longer than he had anticipated. Ally tells him to calm down while simultaneously stabbing him. My theory was correct! Ally had to be the one to destroy Kai, and she couldn’t let anyone get in her way!
Back in our regularly scheduled flashback, Ally explains to Kai that Winter was innocent and he becomes guilt-stricken for killing his baby sister. Cut to tomorrow, it’s finally “The Night of One Hundred Tates!” Kai quickly briefs his loyal douchebags on their “kill kits” and how everything should go down while Ally and Beverly look at one another conspicuously. Ally walks outside to get some snacks from the two FBI/SWAT vans parked on a side street, and we watch them infiltrate the cult. After a tear gas bomb is tossed down the steps, all hell breaks loose. The FBI starts shooting everyone and Beverly, being the bad bitch she is, fires a few final “fuck you” kill shots to the men who oppressed her. Kai, while being dragged to prison, manages to threaten Ally a couple times and toss around FX’s newly-approved F-bomb.
Back to 2018, Ally’s at The Butchery on Main talking to some customers. They want to get a selfie with her, but she respectfully declines. Apparently, Ally has become a female figure of sorts, after escaping Kai’s grasp. Beverly stops in for a quick bite to eat and to chat with Ally. According to Bev, Kai pled guilty to everything, but she still has an underlying sense of fear that he’ll rat her out for her involvement in the cult.
In typical American Horror Story fashion, some new information is divulged to us that completely changes our scope on things or answers some of our pressing questions. Ally joined the cult because while in the psych ward, she was approached by the FBI and eventually become a powerful tool in destroying Kai. Beverly commends Ally on her bravery, additionally expressing her condolences for the loss of Ivy. Ally’s trying to play it off as if Kai murdered Ivy in front of her eyes, but we all know that never happened, despite her convincing tears and feigned agony.
I can’t help but think of Lana Winters in this situation though. Remember when she embellished details of her imprisonment to Dr. Thredson in her book in order to get more attention or seem nobler, such as the concept that there was another woman he trapped in his basement? I caught that, Murphy! Beverly isn’t the only one who doesn’t buy Ally’s recollection of Ivy’s murder, though. Kai ratted Ally out for Ivy’s murder. Hmm...interesting. Beverly quickly drops the subject when Ally brings out some more tears and when Ally’s new side piece, Erika, arrives. Damn, she moves on fast! First, she gets over her fears in one episode; now Oz has a new mom in two episodes! She doesn’t waste ANY time.
At Oz’s birthday party, Rachel Maddow begs to have Ally on her show, which she turns down for the second time. We also discover that Ally has turned down other people such as the iconic Lana Winters! She gets one last phone call, this time from Kai, who’s incredibly pissed off because he’s just received the news that Ozzy isn’t his son. Kai threatens to fuck Ally up some more, but nothing can faze her at this point.
While Kai angrily bangs Whitmore, we see news coverage announcing Ally’s run for the state senator of Michigan! In her ad, Ally proposes that she will put an end to the division of political parties and that there’s a solution to the Republican/Democratic separation that’s plaguing our society. I knew Ally was a bad bitch who was hungry for power and revenge, but this is a whole new level and quite frankly an entirely new woman than the one who we were first introduced to.
Amidst all of this, Beverly is acting as a sort of campaign manager and gives Ally some initial feedback from a focus group. Everyone found Ally to be likable, but many didn’t view her as strong, and her lack of experience didn’t do her any favors either. Ally mentions that Kai is the only person people are going to think of when her name is spoken...much like Solanas saying that the only thing people associate her name with is Warhol.
Back in prison, Kai is planning an elaborate escape from jail. Rimshot wants to come with him, but Kai stabs him several times and literally dismembers his face for Rimshot’s mangled carcass to be mistaken as Kai’s. Rimshot even went as far as having the same tattoos as Kai, so this plan is foolproof. Whitmore helps Kai escape in a correctional officer outfit, and his revenge on Ally begins.
The word gets out that Kai is presumably dead, so Beverly asks if Ally still really wants to go through with this. From Beverly’s question, it’s safe to infer that Ally honestly went into this race as a means to get revenge on Kai and rub it in his face that she’d be taking his spot. However, Ally’s sure that she wants to go through with it. We watch a gun switch hands...uh oh! With his head down, Kai asks Ally a question, and the crowd becomes startled when he reveals himself. Kai screams at Ally that she symbolizes that the war between genders is winnable, but when Kai kills her, everyone will see that women are inferior. Kai pulls the trigger on Ally, but Whitmore smiles smugly from across the auditorium.
In another flashback, Ally convinces Whitmore to help her take down Kai after explaining that he’s nothing more than a chauvinist. Ally tells Kai that the only thing more dangerous than a humiliated man is a nasty woman, as Beverly shoots him in the back of the head. Oh, shoot! Ally Mayfair-Richards of Brookfield Heights, Michigan is officially a part of the United States Senate! Ally tucks Ozzy in and heads off to her “meeting” of powerful women, as she describes it. We see her applying makeup with her brush slowly and deliberately, mimicking that of the Madame Delphine LaLaurie...does this mean we might get our Coven/Murder House crossover? Ally puts the hood of her SCUM cloak on and heads out.
All in all, Cult was an incredible season in my eyes. The political satire served to exemplify that no matter what side we’re on, man or woman, pro-choice or pro-life, republican or democratic, politics can make a monster out of each of us. The finale was enthralling with its numerous twists and turns, and I enjoyed how SCUM served a larger purpose in the season that it previously had, as it made the Valerie Solanas episode seem a bit more relevant.
I can’t be the only one that is just a little tired of seeing Sarah Paulson win though, right? We’ve watched her reign over the coven as the Supreme, be one of the final survivors on Freak Show, overcome Dr. Thredson and their “love” child in Asylum, and now we watch her breathe life into a new era of SCUM. I love her and all, but I would’ve liked to see Kai take his revenge a little bit further before he was taken down. Needless to say, Evan killed it this season! I adored watching him play several cult leaders and give a truly Emmy-worthy performance. Kai was his favorite role of mine so far, although Tate and James March were worthy contenders.
Now, I love Twisty. He’s remained one of my favorite characters in the American Horror Story realm since his first appearance back in 2014. But why was he even in this season? I get that there were clowns in this season, but I naturally assumed his presence in the show would have a deeper meaning. I think his involvement in Cult certainly was a missed opportunity.
Although I did feel somewhat mixed about the first couple episodes of this season, in my rewatch they stood much taller as cohesive chapters of the season rather than being distributed on a weekly basis. It was pretty exciting to watch the season while knowing the outcome of everything, as it gave me a chance to scrutinize the metamorphoses of Ally and Kai. This season was jam-packed with premier episodes, but perhaps my favorite was “11/9”, as it was separated into three mini-episodes that contributed to a more substantial purpose and divulged crazy amounts of information to us about the cult. There were lots of deaths this season, but by far the most heart-wrenching was the tragic and untimely loss of our dear friend, Mr. Guinea. On another note, I was so happy AHS welcomed plenty of new faces this season, and I hope that they continue to appear in the future seasons, especially Billy Eichner, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, and Alison Pill.
Now for my favorite part of the season coming to an end...ranking it amongst its predecessors. A lot of these rankings are close because each season shines in its own way, but for one reason or another, I was able to devise a definitive ranking for all seven seasons. Coming in at the top spot for me is Asylum, like many other AHS fanatics. No other season has brought me such strong feelings of shock and amazement as season two did, and what could possibly top the legendary “Name Game” scene? Slightly below it in number two is Freak Show. While some people were put off by the singing in it, as it reached a Glee territory, I was entranced by every aspect of season four. I loved Twisty, Dandy, the freaks, and I loved that Lange had such creative freedom in it. In spot three...Cult! As I mentioned before, season seven was a surprising one, and it truly left us with some of the best episodes the series has seen thus far. In spot four, Murder House...the one that started it all. Experiencing AHS for the first time is one that will be unparalleled, and Murder House was an amazing season from start to finish. Coming in spot five, Coven! This season was incredibly enchanting and campy, but the finale is what put a damper on the whole season for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved Coven, but because of the finale, I can’t place it above the others. In sixth place, we have Hotel. Now, I did really like season five, but it just wasn’t up to par with all the others in my eyes. Gaga gives a worthy performance, and the characters in this season were pretty loveable as well, alongside the design and cinematography. There were some strong moments in Hotel, but some episodes fell flat and didn’t resonate with me as much as others, and what I crave in a season of AHS is consistency. Unsurprisingly, the lowest ranking season for me was Roanoke. The marketing campaign for season six made it seem so promising, with all of the different teasers alluding to what it might be and Murphy amping us up for “something special,” but I think it’s safe to say many of us were straight-up disappointed with it. The actors in Roanoke were great, and I liked to see Adina Porter in a lead role, but the story crumbled by the end, and it felt like we were surfing through shitty 3 AM television by the very end of it.
Well, everyone, this has been my final recap for Cult! What did you think of the season? How did it compare to previous seasons in your opinion? Recapping these episodes has been an absolute blast, and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to talk about my fascination with AHS amongst fellow horror fans! I can’t wait for Season 8 and what it may entail...we’ll just have to wait and see! Until next time...
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.