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The Dose: ‘Cult’ makes American Horror Story ‘Great Again’

The Dose: ‘Cult’ makes American Horror Story ‘Great Again’

The Dose: ‘Cult’ makes American Horror Story ‘Great Again’
November 16
10:56 2017

“American Horror Story: Cult” has come to an end.

The 11-episode and seventh installment of the FX horror anthology series came to a slightly gruesome, fairly satisfying and somewhat mysterious end Tuesday night with the episode “Great Again.”

Warning: spoilers ahead.

As usual, many of the characters we met in the initial episodes are either gone by now or met their end in the finale.

The episode confusingly opened with Evan Peters’ cult leader Kai Anderson in prison 11 months after the end of last week’s penultimate hour, in which we began to see him hallucinating and having conversations with real-life cult leader Charles Manson, who Peters also portrayed. Kai seemingly hasn’t lost his touch in the prison, as he has other prisoners — and even guards — referring to him as “divine ruler.”

Of course, we are eventually taken back in time and shown how the original cult finally came to its end.

Hint: Sarah Paulson saved the day (again).

Paulson’s character Ally has had a whirlwind of a transformation over the course of the season, going from a paranoid and constantly fearful “snowflake” to a badass, murder-ready cult member to an even more badass heroine. We find out that Ally has been acting as an informant for the FBI the last few months, hence why she joined the cult in the first place and sold them all out.

The FBI dramatically raids the cult house and kills everyone except Ally, Kai and Beverly — portrayed by the ever-underrated Adina Porter. Kai is arrested, pleads guilty and is imprisoned.

Ally then adjusts to going back to normal life, running the restaurant and beginning to date (Ally killed her wife Ivy in episode nine, as she could not forgive her for bringing the cult into their lives). Ally becomes a celebrity after escaping the cult, with many famous journalists trying to get an interview with her, including Lana Winters (a slight nod to the second season). However, she chooses not to do any of the interviews.

I would have loved to see Paulson play Lana Winters and Ally in the same scene, and I am disappointed they did not give that to us.

Eventually, Ally decides to run for a seat as a U.S. Senator — a position Kai wanted to run for. Her run goes well with Beverly acting as her campaign manager, but she cannot manage to get ahead of her opponent.

In the meantime, Kai uses his controlling abilities over the people of the prison to escape, finding his way to Ally’s debate against her opponent. He pulls a gun and goes on to tell Ally how women can try as hard as they want, but they will never be able to stop the man from getting what he wants.

Kai points the gun at Ally’s face and pulls the trigger, but it does not fire.

Ally, not looking scared enough, then reveals to Kai that she got to one of the prison guards before he escaped prison and that the guard is not actually falling for all these cult shenanigans. Ally tells him that the only thing scarier than a humiliated man is a nasty woman. Then Beverly Hope, ready as ever to murder, comes up from behind and shoots Kai in the back of the head.

Moments later, we see that Ally’s courage during Kai’s final attack at the debate has her way ahead in the polls, and she is elected to the Senate.

The cult leader is dead and Ally is on the Senate, everything is great again — until that mysterious final scene in which Ally tells her son she is meeting with a group of powerful, empowered women who want to change the system. Next, we see Ally putting makeup on, the camera slowly pulling away to reveal her wearing a dark hooded cloak. Almost as if she is leading her own cult.

But we can’t know for sure, and I think Ryan Murphy and Co. did an excellent job of giving us a sense of closure while also leaving the possibility of Ally returning in a future installment of “AHS.”

Seven seasons in, I think “AHS” is still a very relevant show. It is easy to lose the capability to come up with new material after so many years on the air, and while not every season of “AHS” has been the most original or the most well done, they are each a pretty crazy ride.

I must say, while Lana Winters did not appear in the episode, I must wonder if the character development of Ally was a nod to Lana or just lack of creativity? Both characters integrated themselves into a terrible situation (asylums and cults) in order to eventually bring it down, and once they did, they had crazy men come back and try to kill them.

For me, “AHS: Cult” goes near the top of my list of “AHS” seasons.

The season gave us some fantastic performances from leads Paulson and Peters, both of whom deserve Emmy nominations, as well as newbies Billie Lourd, Allison Pill and Billy Eichner, the latter of which added quite a bit of much needed humor. I must also mention that Frances Conroy, even though she appeared in just two episodes, gave a tremendous and wildly memorable performance as Bebe Babbit and was killed much to soon.

“Cult” also centered on some very relevant and timely issues. It began with the 2016 election but later on moved deeper into gender conflicts. However, the show was smart enough not to make that the center of the story. They kept it full of horror and twists — the things that we watch the show for in order to distract us from real life — and integrated these other important themes into that.

With “AHS” having been renewed for seasons eight and nine in January, I cannot wait to see what the future installments have in store.

Image Courtesy of FX Networks.

About Author

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel was the news editor at the North Texas Daily from August 2018 to May 2019, and previously served as a staff writer from June 2017 to August 2018.

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