***Spoilers for American Horror Story: Cult through Episode 2 follow. Spoilers***
Two episodes into AHS‘s seventh season, one thing is abundantly clear; Murphy and Co. have gone back to basics. As any great horror meister knows, the best scary stories are based in reality. Having quickly established our unreliable narrator, we’re meant to doubt that reality which — from Ally’s (and now, Oz’s) point of view — is often distorted; nevertheless, it is her (our) reality. There are murders taking place, very clever machinations are occurring, and it’s up to us, as well as our heroine, to discern the truth. This ride we’re taking with Sarah Paulson’s emotionally distressed Ally is wonderfully creepy, and it’s easy to step right into her shoes. We don’t want to take our meds either, and we practically jump alongside her as Ally closes the fuse box door …
… and clowns appear. Is her coulrophobia seeping into little Oz’s brain, a mix of fantasy (his comics) and her fear, or are those clowns in the house real?
Speaking of Oz, it had never occurred to me his nickname was short for Ozymandias, but after I got over my initial Why-in-the-hell-would-anyone-name-a-kid-after-that-poem, I realized it’s just more of the writers’ delicious mockery. I do hope all the folks who thought conservatives and/or Trump supporters were under the gun, so to speak, because liberals are definitely getting equal treatment, and it’s pretty darned amusing.
Almost immediately after the Changs’ murder(“/suicide”), in their home across the street from Ally and Ivy, someone took advantage of the market, and by “someone” I mean new neighbors and Nicole Kidman fan club presidents, Harrison and Meadow Wilton (played by Billy Eichner and the delightful Leslie Grossman) …. and by “new neighbors”, I mean positively, absolutely CULT MEMBERS. Between the barrels (which I’m convinced is how the clowns slipped back in) Ally watched being loaded into the Wilton’s garage,
the beekeeping and Harrison’s eerie comments about how the hive works — “Every single member of the hive is one hundred percent committed to the task” — I’m beginning to suspect almost everyone we see is somehow involved with the titular group. As I mentioned last week, Colton Haynes’ Detective Samuels is sketchy; we know Winter has made a pact with her brother (Kai) to infiltrate Ally and Ivy’s home; Kai, of course, set up his own beating and is now running for the city council seat (so conveniently) left empty by Tom Chang, and something is very fishy about Roger’s (Zack Ward) death — which seemingly set up Pedro (Jorge-Luis Pallo), if only Ally hadn’t shot the poor guy by episode’s end. I don’t doubt that Ally found Zack hanging, even if there was no visibly body hanging as she walked into Butchery on Main’s freezer room, nor behind her until, there it was …
If Samuels is, as I believe, part of the cult, he could be in on setting up/breaking down Ally. Because, isn’t that what Cults do — prey on the weakened, lonely and break them down until they’re unquestionably loyal?
Though I nearly reached the state of her paranoia, wondering if even Ivy will eventually prove to be team Cult, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. What seems more likely is that Winter — who, in between completely messing up poor Oz’s brain for life, began her Ally seduction — will double play the wives, and reveal their encounter to Ivy at some point, breaking up the couple so Ally will be completely alone (Ivy will obviously get custody of Oz after what’s been happening, especially since she’s brought in Ally’s therapist). And after that, my friends, is when Kai goes in for the kill. He’ll be the most unlikely rescuer to ever rescue, and my prediction is, by the time this round of episodes ends, Ally will have been inducted into the Cult through Kai and Winter (and Winter is already indoctrinating Oz).
Channeling fear into power is what Winter is trying to teach Oz, and it’s what Kai already knows how to do; what he effectively demonstrated with Ally when he came to her home. “Why do you bring a knife to answer the door?” It’s a philosophy the most vile politicians employ, and the scariest thing of all is how easy fear is to exploit; it’s contagious and can quickly spiral out of anyone’s control. The added brilliance of this particular round of American Horror Story is that as we’re watching Ally spiral, her son picking up on her fears and becoming susceptible himself — the fear they’re sharing (“Where are you getting your information from?” “Facebook”) — that same paranoia is infecting our own experience (“It coulda been the Russians, coulda been the Somalis, could be those crazy freaks in North Korea.”) and right now, in the world around us, a similar scene is simultaneously playing out. Fears and phobias some people have about anyone different (color, gender, beliefs, customs, ethnicity) from themselves; those fears are being expertly manipulated and spread. All the world’s a stage, and handing us a mirror that reflects this exact moment in time might just be the scariest thing we’ve ever watched.
Ally’s gun was appropriately and Chekhov-ianly placed; I think we all knew poor Pedro wasn’t long for the world when Ivy handed him that box.
Unless that trick with Roger’s hanging body appearing out of nowhere (Ally should/would have seen it as she walked into the room) has a use that we’re not yet aware of, that was really sloppy.
Love how everyone is breaking all the horror rules — leaving out giant butcher knives, opening doors, taking night baths, hiding under beds and in bathtubs … but sending Ally to the restaurant (once again, let’s screamlaugh about its Butchery on Main moniker) alone, with all her phobias — and no security or police showing up as/after the alarm went off, is exceptionally silly.
“Lesbians, we’re under attack!”
“I don’t think I could handle something that big.”
“Have you seen Big Little Lies? She was transcendent.”
“The trick is, figuring out what they want to believe, and then giving it to them.”