American Horror Story: Cult recap: 'Winter of Our Discontent'
Winter reaches her breaking point as the death toll rises
We open with Vincent, approaching the home where Kai is now surrounded by denim-clad disciples — and if you’ve been wondering if Rudy knows that his brother is the leader of the city’s cult of murder clowns, the answer appears to be “no.” Kai manipulates him the way he does everyone else, suggesting Vince didn’t visit him in the hospital out of shame. After all, it was Rudy’s patient who colluded with Kai’s would-be murderer!
Vincent readily agrees. Yes, he was ashamed. (Although on this show, with its multiple crazy layers of manipulation and intrigue, taking this statement at face value would probably be unwise, so… sure, Vince. Suuuure you were. [Winks knowingly.]) It all ends with a hug, and a “Call me councilman.”
Meanwhile, last week’s all-female uprising against Kai seems to have derailed. His band of open-carrying blue-shirted misogynists have been appointed “private security” for the city and invaded the Butchery; the bastards even tell Ivy to smile. Beverly has had it. She says it’s time to go after their real target:
“If we cut off the head of the snake, the entire army falls.”
But Winter is the holdout.
“It’s all part of his larger plan!”
Why is Winter so loyal? Apart from the obvious blood ties, there’s also a history, here. Once upon a time, she and Kai were the hottest internet troll team on the dark web — which earned them an exciting, exclusive invite to a place called “Judgment House,” hosted by a creepy American Gothic Horror Preacher. (Side note: For a pair of kids from the internet generation, accepting an invitation to a stranger’s home like this makes no sense, at all.) The place turns out to be a haunted horror house of sin — or a blatant ripoff of Se7en, depending on your perspective — stocked with real, bleeding human beings who the preacher has decided should die for their sins. But Winter and Kai rescue the captive victims, and Kai exacts his own brand of justice on the preacher… and according to Winter, this is where it all started. So, you see, he’s just in a dark place right now! He doesn’t need to die!
Beverly gives her a week. (Recap continues on next page)
But does Winter have the power to pull her brother back toward the light — or the will to defy him? At first, it sure doesn’t look like it. The next time Winter and Kai meet one-on-one, he tearfully reveals his plan: “I love our family — the one we’re going to make.”
Whaaaaaat? If that sounds like a plan for Kai to impregnate his own sister, it’s… not. Not exactly. Thank god. But it’s still weird as hell — and it involves a brother-sister threesome with Detective Samuels, complete with ceremonial robes, anointing oils, and a soundtrack of “I Swear.” (“From this day forward, it shall be played whenever a Messiah is conceived.”)
Fortunately, AHS doesn’t see this scene through to its repulsive conclusion (although it does gift us the permanent squick of Kai saying, “You may lay down your receptacle now.” Brb, dousing my eardrums and my brain in a bleach solution.) Winter puts a stop to the incestual ceremony — and earns a creative punishment in return. The next time we see her, she’s picking up (or putting down?) trash on the side of the road in an orange jumpsuit and a dunce cap, and eating a steady diet of gruel brought to her by Samuels.
Samuels explains how he came to be involved in the cult: He blackmailed Kai for cash and sex when he caught him selling prescriptions. But it didn’t take long for Kai to flip the script, and teach the sexually-frustrated, closeted Samuels that having sex with men is the most masculine thing he could possibly do — and it doesn’t make him gay, or anything.
“You’re totally gay,” Winter says.
Samuels lunges, putting his hands around Winter’s neck; in the scuffle she grabs his gun. Rearing back, she screams, “Say it! Say ‘I’m a turd!'” But he won’t, and Winter has had enough. She has become Valerie Solanas, destroyer of men. She pulls the trigger. RIP, Detective Samuels.
Finally, we’re back once again in Kai’s basement, where he commands “the betrayers” be brought forth. Who’s on the chopping block this time? It’s Beverly and Vincent — who Ally sold out to Kai in a previous scene. The two are bound, gagged, and surrounded by clowns… who appear to be multiplying. There are definitely at least two new clowns in there.
Kai confronts Vincent first, screaming, “I’ve been chosen, Vince! People are counting on me to lead!”
“No matter what happens you are my brother and I love you,” Vincent replies.
And for a minute, it actually looks like that might work. Kai kneels, cutting Vincent’s bonds, and holds out his pinkie. Vincent responds in kind… and Kai slices it off. The part where he stabs him is practically an afterthought, but he does — and RIP, Vincent. As the body is dragged away, Kai turns to Beverly, whose “betrayer” status is something of a mystery until a last bit of information clicks into place: Winter told Kai that it was Bev who killed Samuels. But Beverly, who has been defined all season by her ice cold rage, isn’t about to cower and cry now. Instead, she calls Kai out in a spittle-flecked diatribe for being directionless, incompetent, manipulable, and phony… and incredibly, he doesn’t kill her. (Side note: Is this all for show, a la Meadow’s defection from the group? Discuss.) While Beverly is taken offscreen to “the isolation chamber,” Kai turns to his remaining disciples. The clowns remove their masks one by one, revealing all of the usual suspects — until only one remains. The cult’s newest member.
Everyone, say hi to Allison Mayfair-Richards, Murder Clown.