Helter Skelter: American Horror Story: Cult, ‘Charles (Manson) in Charge’

***Spoilers for American Horror Story:  Cult through Episode 10 follow. Spoilers***

In another flashback to Kai’s strange becoming and his journey to cult leader, we’re privy to Anderson’s beginnings with Bebe — aka his anger management counselor — to her dedication in carrying on Valerie Solanas’ legacy, and molding this particular turd into influencer gone terribly wrong. As layers and happenings continue to shape the cult leader into the murderous madman we’ve come to know, watched the Judases and weaklings among his group taken out, it’s increasingly clear that Kai has nowhere to go but down. And though she could clearly have carved her route much faster — one by one the bodies have begun falling by the wayside — Ally continues her careful climb to the top; we can almost hear her gleeful cackling before she disposes of her twisted tormenter.

While Winter breaks down, wondering what her brother might have done to Ivy, and encouraging an incredulous Beverly to get away, Ally sows the traitorous seeds leading to her next victim’s demise. Kai takes time to inspire the troops anew, regaling his boys with tales of “the master” (“I thought you were the master”) Charles Manson. Recounting the August 8, 1969 murders of Roman Polanski’s then pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, along with Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Wojciech Frykowski, the AHS cast takes on numerous dual roles to recreate the horrific killings. Kai wants to multiply Manson’s Helter Skelter plans — setting the cult’s sights on “a night of a thousand Tates”.

Poor Gary plays pawn again and this time, it’s more than a hand that Kai demands sacrificed — “What I need you for is more important” — a “Stop the Slaughter” anti-abortion message is delivered via Longstreet’s mutilated body. Delving deeper into hallucinatory confusion, Kai retreats to the family bedroo … mausoleum, where he consults with Manson’s “ghost” (the real life convicted killer remains in California’s Corcoran State Prison) and his zombified brother, Rudy (“I probably shouldn’t have killed you.”). Ally seizes the moment to feed Kai’s fear — hands over a bug to set up Winter — but before Kai can take action against his perceived Judas, Bebe shows up to deal with a turd’s betrayal. Ally saves his life.

In an emotional final scene, Winter realizes she’s been perfectly played, but it’s too late to convince Kai. Through tears and anger, he strangles his sister to death, unaware there are still true traitors still among his group. A terrified Speedwagon flees to his car, smashing the wire he was wearing … Ally sidles in with a sly “Hello”, her plans to destroy the cult about to come to satisfying fruition.

Deep Thoughts:

In dual roles, Sarah Paulson played Manson follower, Susan Atkins, Billie Lourd was Linda Kasabian, Leslie Grossman and Billy Eichner returned as Patricia Krenwinkel and Tex Watson. Contrary to rumors (and imdb), Lily Rabe did not return as Sharon Tate; that was Rachel Roberts (Mad Men, The Host).

Eicher was righteously terrifying as Tex and in fact, the whole — long — recreation of the Tate murders was a little to realistically done for my taste. I mean, kudos to everyone, but having read Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter, the depiction took me fairly well out of the show.

Winter’s current status as Kai’s Judas was mirrored with Manson’s — “My Judas was Linda”.

All hail Frances Conroy, whose every line as Bebe was uttered to perfection.

Over the past couple of episodes, Winter really got lost. The sister we knew would have immediately gleaned onto Ally’s comment about who might have done something to Ivy, and anticipated what Ally was up to. Alas, it seems like by the time she was in the throes of being strangled by her brother, she’d already given up. Kudos to Billie Lourd for her layered performance, and breakdown from that cold-hearted killer transformed.

Why didn’t Ally just let Bebe kill Kai? She’s already gotten to the point of needing to do it herself, and to truly blindside him, in order to placate her own need for revenge … and that’s why I believe she’ll basically take over and be the next version of Kai.

I’m consistently blown away by how timely Ryan Murphy’s writing is, especially last night, with Bebe’s comments about Trump feeding women’s rage, as we headed to the polls and helped flip so many seats, as well as elected the first transgender people to a state legislature and city council.

Great Lines:

Winter’s friend:  “You ever notice how all the alt righters are young men, and none of them have girlfriends?”

Kai responding to Bebe’s question about whether it’s okay to put his hands on a woman:  “It was a political act. A blow struck for women’s liberation.”

Bebe to Kai:  “Repeat after me:  I am a turd. A lowly abject turd. From this moment on, you have but one purpose, to release the feminine rage … You’ll be famous for it. A legend. Someday there’ll be a tiny statue of you in someone’s office. Help them give birth to their rage.

Ally to Winter:  “If something did happen to Ivy, what makes you think it was Kai?”

Tex:  “I’m the devil, and I’ve come to do the devil’s business.”

Kai:  “The Summer of Love was over.”

Manson hallucination to Kai:  “Don’t listen to him man, If you’re gonna listen to a ghost, listen to me.”

Ally to Kai after she shoots Bebe:  “Who is this?”

Kai:  “My anger management counselor.”

Ally:  “Not very good at her job.”

Manson hallucination to Kai (about Ally):  “That one definitely ain’t no mole.”

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over seven years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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