As someone who is generally not a fan of the horror genre, I still enjoy American Horror Story. Any genuine horror tends to be eclipsed by the campiness of it all, and the gore is mostly (but not always) cartoonish. Having said that, I had a really difficult time getting through this week’s episode of Cult, “Holes,” which featured some of the most over-the-top violence of the series to date, arguably heading into legit torture porn territory. There were a couple of times I had to get up and walk away from my laptop as it became too much to even handle. But on the plus side, the episode did feature some pretty big reveals, answering most, if not all of the big questions of the season.
Such as … the therapist is in on it! It was pretty obvious that Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) was somehow involved by the way victims phobias were used against them. But what wasn’t clear was exactly how he was involved. (The fact that he’s top billed main cast was also a clue.) Now we know that Rudy is actually Kai and Winter’s older brother, and is in fact likely the real mastermind pulling the strings of the cult.
Another big reveal took place in the cold open, as the various cult members — Harrison (Billy Eichner), Beverly (Adina Porter), Beverly’s cameraman R.J. (James Morosini), Detective Jack Samuels (Colton Haynes), and Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono) — assembled at Kai and Winter’s house to discuss media exposure for their killings, ultimately deciding to murder Beverly’s sexist boss Bob and film it. And then who should show up, but Ivy Mayfair-Richards, who popped in at the last moment, apologizing for her lateness. If it wasn’t already obvious before, we now know that, yes, Ally’s wife has been in on the cult the whole time, and has been actively working to gaslight her and drive her crazy to push her out of her life.
Not surprisingly, Ally has not been taking the separation well, as Ivy has since cut her off financially and convinced a judge to only allow supervised visitation with the couple’s son, Oz. This leads to even more nightmares, as she explains to Dr. Vincent that she clawed at her own neck in her sleep, injuring herself, after dreaming about holes appearing in her skin. (Hey, that’s the name of this episode!) When asked by the doctor whether or not Ally had any idea that her relationship with Ivy might be tenuous, a flashback cuts to September of 2016.
As Ivy goes over the profits after a slow night at their restaurant, noting that they were digging themselves into a “hole” financially, Ally surprises her wife with a gift: an expensive-looking sex toy. Ivy’s furious reaction suggests that there had been trouble in paradise in the couple’s marriage, even before the election.
Back in the present, Ivy discusses the situation with Winter while driving in the car, revealing that Oz keeps asking whether or not she’s going to be his “third mom.” When Winter asks her whether or not she’s ready for the radical action they have planned ahead, Ivy replies, “Radicals are the only thing who have ever gotten anything done. I’m ready. I hate this country, what it’s become.” Revealing her motivation for tormenting Ally, she adds, “I hate my [bleeping] wife for letting it happen.”
The pair meet up with the rest of the cult, who are preparing to murder Bob while chanting “Heil Satan” in Latin, because just a bunch of terrifying clowns horrifically murdering a dude on film apparently wouldn’t be enough to sufficiently scare people. They arrive to learn that Bob isn’t alone, but in a very Ryan Murphy-esque twist, has a black-hooded “gimp” in his attic, suspended from the ceiling by metal hooks piercing his skin, which leads to the first gag-inducing murder scene in the episode. After killing the gimp, Ivy runs to the toilet to vomit up DNA evidence everywhere (I mean really, this isn’t “murder 101,” here) while the rest head back downstairs to finish off Bob. Before planting an axe in his skull, Beverly takes off her clown mask so he can see her face — which seems like it might be important later.
Later, Beverly and Kai discuss the murder, the latter noting that it could have gone more smoothly, which leads Beverly to suggest eliminating the weakest link to terrify the others into submission. In a flashback to the coffin murders, cameraman R.J. freaks out over the decision to leave the couple trapped, and back in the present Beverly notes that “his weakness is a cancer.” “Then we need to cut it out,” answers Kai.