The ninth episode of American Horror Story: Cult, “Drink The Kool-Aid,” opens, appropriately enough, with Kai regaling his dude militia with stories of notorious cults and cult leaders: Heaven’s Gate, David Koresh, and Jim Jones — a semi-harbinger of things to come. I say semi, because a few scenes into the episode when he actually does command his following to literally drink Kool-Aid, it ends up being merely a test of loyalty, as one cult member who refuses to drink learns the bullet-y way. In the grand scheme of things, the whole Kool-Aid plot device doesn’t make immediate sense to the overall arc of this season, other than in a ham-fisted “here’s a cult thing” way, and of course to have Evan Peters play Koresh and Jones in flashbacks.
Making the mass suicide fakeout even more baffling, is that right before it takes place we’re given some more insight into Kai’s overall master plan. Short term, he bullies his fellow city councilmen (one seen with a black eye and arm in a sling) into passing the “Kai Anderson Freedom and Integrity Act,” which would effectively control what websites the town’s citizens are permitted to access. Long term, Kai reveals to the council his aspirations to run for a Senate seat, despite the fact that the position is currently held by a popular incumbent serving a third term. Kai naturally doesn’t see this as an obstacle because it sounds like a certain Michigan senator is about to have an accident!
Elsewhere, Ivy is now forced to reconcile with her no longer estranged wife Ally about why she joined a cult and drove her crazy and killed a bunch of people. You know, regular old marital stuff! None of Ivy’s explanations seems to wholly justify any of those actions, but that’s beside the point because Winter shows up with Oz to remind them that they should, oh, run — since Kai stabbing their brother in the neck was enough to put even her over the edge. (Because a creepy incest threesome apparently wasn’t enough to do it.)
The three women briefly plan their escape, however they don’t get far before the militia members show up and force them, along with Oz, back to the cult’s headquarters. There they’re briefly rejoined with Beverly (who is not exactly happy to see Winter for framing her for the detective’s murder) for the aforementioned Kool-Aid scene, where Kai forces the four of them to drink.
After dodging both literal and metaphorical bullets, Ally and Ivy are allowed to return home with Oz and the next day they once again devise a plan to flee, only this time without Winter. Their plan to pick up Oz from school and hit the road is thwarted when they arrive and learn that Winter (ostensibly with clearance as their nanny) and Kai have gotten there first, taking the boy back to their house. By the time they get there, Kai and Oz have already bonded, and Kai claims that he was a frequent donor to the sperm bank that impregnated Ally, and as a result, he is Oz’s father.
This time they leave but Kai insists Oz stay with him, as Ivy reasons to a panicked Ally that she’ll only succeed in getting them killed if they fight it. By the time they return home, again, Ally has strangely regained composure, reasoning that if Kai really does think he’s Oz’s father it seems unlikely he’d hurt the boy. She tells Ivy that she has a plan, as she sits her down at the table for some pasta and wine from their honeymoon, which she picked special for this occasion. Given the title of the episode it seems obvious what’s about to happen, to everyone but Ivy, apparently, who proceeds to dig in while Ally sits back and watches. Even as Ally gradually reveals that she had been planning revenge from inside the psych ward where she was held, Ivy continues drinking obliviously, until — of course — she reveals that she poisoned both the food and wine with arsenic, and Ivy almost immediately begins vomiting blood and dies horribly on the couple’s kitchen floor.
With her wife out of the way, Ally heads to the sperm clinic where she bribes an employee to show her Oz’s file, and learns that Kai is in fact not the father. But before she leaves, she has the file doctored to make it seem as if he is, which she presents to Kai over a dinner she arranges. With Kai now honestly believing that both he is Oz’s father and that he “spoke [it] into existence,” he thinks he’s now got his “Messiah baby.” As he finally allows her to reunited with her son (after ickily disposing of Ivy’s body in the tomb occupied by his parents) Kai tells Ally that now they can be a “real family.”
Ally has got the upper hand in this situation and is clearly devising a way to take down Kai, but for the moment she’s found herself in quite the uncomfortable position. Either way, I’ll take it, because as Ivy notes shortly before her death; strong, empowered Ally is highly preferable to the screechy, panicked version. With just two episodes left, the only question really at this point is how Ally is going to do it. And oh, maybe whether or not we’ll see more of Frances Conroy’s character? The penultimate episode is apparently another Charles Manson-themed diversion, so we’ll likely have to wait until the finale, “Great Again” to see this season fully resolve itself.