American Horror Story is nearing the conclusion of it’s divisive season and much like the climate of our current nation -- things are going to come to a head. The episode “Charles (Manson) In Charge” begins with a little premise to Kai Anderson when we see Winter and a few of her girl friends discussing how progressive things could be with the first female president while watching a debate between Trump and Clinton. Kai (who sits afar bashing the girls in one of his chauvinistic chatrooms) challenges their view and states that Trump will cause a shift in the nation as well as the world. One of the girls throws back a few Alt-Right jabs and Kai slaps her across the face shocking everyone in the room and resulting in Kai’s placement into anger management shortly after. His therapist turns out to be none other than the companion of Valerie Solanas who prompts him to commit to the teachings of her former lover by declaring his life will eventually be given in place of unleashing the female driven rage that will spark a revolution.
Back in present day, Kai rallies his followers in public to give one of his loathsome speeches about “saving the country” while others riot at the uprising of neo-nazis and klan members, Kai loses his cool to say the least and one protester sprays pepper-spray into his eyes for all those who have been waiting for a glorious moment of miniscule payback for his crimes. Later, Kai, Ally and Winter work on clearing out the cult’s ice cream truck of any evidence with Kai appearing desperate now believing he’s under surveillance of the government and media at every turn. Winter and Ally find a moment alone and Winter tells Ally she’s been informed from Kai that Ivy left for “cooking school in Paris” but she doesn’t believe Ivy would leave without saying goodbye. Ally (who is seemingly agitated by her remark) tells her that she doesn’t know Ivy all that well clearly and if something did happen -- perhaps it wasn’t Kai who made a move. Winter needs to be watching her back if Ally’s revenge isn’t done and I’d say we have much more crazy-Ally in the near future.
If you’ve enjoyed Kai’s versions of storytime, then you’re in luck because a now amped up Anderson sibling gathers the men in his cult to tell the story of Charles Manson and his cult. The scene depicts the murders at the home of Sharon Tate (played by this season's cast) going through each scene of the brutality that they committed in an unsettling way given the seriousness and real life element of the “story.” They even go as far as showing Sharon begging for the life of her unborn child before her murder, making it one of the most tragic scenes to watch in the series that perhaps didn’t need such a graphic portrayal. The point behind this? Kai screams to his followers that they need to follow his leadership and step it up by giving the world “the night of 1,000 Tates.”
Part of Kai’s plan leads to them killing his ally Gary while convincing him it will make him one of his most dedicated followers all to pin the murder on one of his rivals. Beverly reports on the issue but lacks the fear catalyst that she used to use for Kai and he insists she change things -- but Beverly is more broken than we have seen her so far. Winter finds the reporter to offer her help, but she lacks trust given she was framed by Winter and forced to drink a kool-aid that as far as she knew could have contained poison. Winter gives her an Amtrak ticket to leave the state and start over, but her lack of trust for the Anderson siblings causes her to say that Winter can tell their divine ruler she has no intention of leaving his side.
Ally discovers Kai in his basement running frantically, claiming he hears a humming that must be a bug that someone planted -- which could be true but he’s also a crazy person, so there’s that. Kai locks himself in the room with the corpses of his parents, brother and Ivy, where Kai now is seeing his deceased brother having a conversation with him. The mental break is interrupted by a more extreme one, as the non ghost of Charles Manson appears to impart his wisdom on Kai and says that rusting too much could be his downfall as it was his own. Ally interrupts the insanity with a microphone she claimed to have found (still convinced she’s just working to make him crazier) at the same moment -- his therapist / Scum leader arrives to confront him for distancing himself from the views she shared with him. He begins to turn on her while seeing Manson behind her as some entity he seeks guidance from. Just as it seems like she’s going to kill off Kai and their alliance, Ally fires her gun on her from the stairway and yet again persuades him into thinking they just might be allies after all.
With Kai going through this unusual lapse in sanity, we see Winter shaving his head and removing all traces of the former Kai for a new multiple personality version of the Anderson brother. A more serious conversation commences, where he confronts her for his belief that she is betraying him. She says that she hasn’t done anything yet, but for her own safety and relationship with her brother, she feels like she needs to temporarily remove herself from the chaos. At first, Kai seems to be alright with the arrangement but knowing how controlling her is, it ends quickly as he pulls out the ticket that she gave to Beverley and repeats Winter’s line to the reporter before having men take his sister from his presence and we then only hear his younger sister screaming for his help.
Kai takes Winter to the basement to be questioned (where she’s also surrounded by his personal army) and she swears that she had no motive or other secretive reason behind wanting to leave. Ally steps up and says she found the bug and recorder that Winter says Ally planted, but Ally has become an uber-convincing character who is able to turn everyone against each other in brilliant ways. Kai sees himself with a swastika cut into his head behind Winter, telling him to do what needs to be done and he strangles his sister while completely reduced to tears and kills his last family connection.
In the last scene, we see the recurring soldier known as “speedwagon” entering his car and pulling off surveillance tech he wore under his uniform and smashes the dashboard in a panic, as Ally enters the car with a smile and something clearly up her sleeve yet again.
Overall Grade: 7/10
The scenes between Kai and Winter as well as Kai and Ally have become the most intense relationships of the season that causes me to think of various scenarios that could play out for the dangerous three. I felt like they could have utilized Winter better in the fight against Kai, so her death felt slightly underwhelming, though it was still a force of karma. At this point, the only acceptable conclusion is Ally killing every single person involved and ending the cult herself, so let’s hope for an all-out finale in the near future. Though this season has had promise, it feels too much like political commentary similarly to Kai’s methods that removed that traditional horror ambiance that the series contained in its first few seasons.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- Goodbye Winter. Even though you had it coming, I hoped to see a greater evolution.
- Billie Lourd ended up being in my top five AHS character/actor ranking for the season (the final ranking next week.)
- Ally is a boss, don’t tell me otherwise.