The eighth installment of American Horror Story: Cult focused a lot on Kai’s relationship with his siblings — particularly Winter, which is no surprise given the title, “Winter of Our Discontent.” It also gave us some much-needed insight into his relationship with his older brother, Dr. Rudy Vincent, who we finally learn is actually not affiliated with the cult in any way, and had actually distanced himself from his brother in the wake of one of his patients essentially colluding with the woman who attempted to assassinate him. Apparently Kai and the other cult members have actually been getting intel on his patients all along by breaking into his office and going through his files, so Vincent is actually innocent in all of this. Oh, except for the dead parents thing! Can’t forget about that.
This week also saw tensions continue to rise among the women of the cult who have been relegated to kitchen duty at Ivy’s restaurant to feed the militia that Kai managed to squeak through city council, now that he’s officially been voted in. In an attempt to prevent the other female members of the cult from turning on Kai, Winter reveals some seriously messed up backstory in an episode that’s more or less comprised of seriously messed up moments. Eight episodes into this season and despite last week’s interesting diversion, I’m finding myself more and more exhausted as the weeks go on.
A flashback to two years earlier reveals the incident that apparently caused Kai to go full Looney Toons, when he and Winter were playing around on the dark web and stumbled upon an invitation from someone named Pastor Charles (Rick Springfield, in a guest appearance) to something called “Judgement House.” Once they arrive they realize that the pastor is an actual lunatic who has been kidnapping people he deems guilty (a woman leaving Planned Parenthood, an AIDS clinic volunteer, etc.) and torturing and killing them. Kai and Winter rescue the victims from the house and put the pastor into his own torture device — a chair with knives that shoot through the back, and — upon Winter’s approval — Kai pulls the trigger. It was subsequent forays into the dark web, and the realization that he couldn’t save everyone, that Kai decided he needed to “burn it all down.”
Winter’s attempts to get the other women from turning on Kai don’t go so great though, when she approaches him about it and instead, he suggests that they make a “messiah baby” together. But not through basic incest, of course, because that would be wrong. Instead, Kai recruits the (now-deceased Harrison’s lover) Detective Jack Samuels to participate in a ceremony in which he is to penetrate Winter and inseminate her while Kai penetrates him from behind. Which, not to quote Rick and Morty here, but that still sounds like incest “with extra steps.”
For some reason, Winter decides to go through with this insane and disgusting plan, although we’re right there with her when she quips, “I can’t believe I was at the Women’s March two months ago” as they prepare for the ceremony. (Side note, I hope you all took a shot in your Ryan Murphy drinking game for a sibling threesome set to the ’90s hit “I Swear” by the R&B group All-4-One.)
Of course — and I mean, thank God — the ceremony doesn’t go off without a hitch, mostly because Samuels is gay and he can’t get an erection, and also because Winter finally realizes how insane her brother is. After she refuses to go through with the ceremony, he puts her under Samuels’ watch and punishes her by making her pick up trash on the side of the road wearing a dunce cap. When the detective comes to bring her lunch (gruel, naturally), the two get into a confrontation and she shoots him in the head, killing him.
Meanwhile Ally has a confrontation with Dr. Vincent, over the whole having her locked up in a psych ward thing, when he now knows for a fact that her fears weren’t simply a manifestation of her phobias. He confesses to her that the man terrorizing her is in fact his little brother, and in procuring a family photo, that her former nanny (and the woman “screwing her wife”) is his little sister. Ally unsurprisingly does not take this news great, at the realization of how Kai and the cult have been getting information on her.
Despite Vincent’s promises to fix everything, Ally decides to meet with Kai and do things her way. She makes a deal with him to provide information — such as, that his brother is trying to have him committed — in exchange for getting her son back. Ally also reveals to Kai that in tormenting her, he has managed to cure her and she’s not afraid of anything anymore.
In the episode’s twist ending, the cult members assemble in full clown garb around Beverly and Dr. Vincent, who have both been bound and gagged, labeled “betrayers.” Kai unties Vincent’s hands and briefly does the pinky thing with him, before suddenly chopping his brother’s pinky finger off with a pair of shears and stabbing him in the throat as Winter looks on, horrified.
Beverly, on the other hand, is being punished because Winter lied and blamed the death of Detective Samuels on her. When interrogated, the reporter goes off on Kai about her bottling frustrations over his poor leadership and false promises. Her fate is left hanging in the balance at the end of the episode when he tells her that “death is too good for her,” and she’s dragged off to isolation. As the cult members one by one remove their masks, Kai invites the group to welcome their newest member, who is of course Ally — looking completely unaffected by the horror she has just witnessed, while staring down her estranged wife. Whoops!
With just three episodes left it’s still difficult to say where they’re going with all this, but it seems a lesbian showdown is imminent. Are they priming for Ally to eventually take the reigns of the cult, or at least become Kai’s right-hand woman? Does anybody still care at this point?