American Horror Story is back with it’s seventh season and the new installment takes place in a world that’s all too familiar to us, toting the title AHS Cult, documenting those affected by the horrifying election of last year. AHS has always offered different titles or tales, but this season is the first to really tackle something sparked by a semi-reality and turn it into something of its own - a fictional commentary on the current world we live in. It can be said that AHS wants to keep finding new challenges to face and it feels like as of now, it's going to achieve it if it keeps the current momentum. The series will focus on two characters in particular (which was labeled as the series greatest “love story” yet) with Kai and Ally having opposing views on the current state of the nation.
"Election NIght" opens up on election night, as Ally and her wife (Allison Pill) host an election night gathering that causes everyone to argue and lose it when the realization of a Trump-led country sets in. This particular scene shows us that their nine year old son is probably going to experience it in the worst ways as he watches people crumble around him without any real insight into what any of it truly means. Kai however celebrates the announcement as a “revolution” and humps the screen while erupting with excitement. Kai takes a bag of cheeto puffs and blends them into a face mask in honor of the so called president and taunts a girl named Winter (who is confirmed to be his sister) not necessarily excited about Trump, but the notion of society taking part in chaos.
We begin to see the distress that both Kai and Ally experience, with Ally being triggered by a old fear of clowns that causes legitimate panic attacks that paralyzed her with fear. It is shown when her son reads a comic book about Twisty - almost fooling me into thinking the killer had returned with an acted scene to depict the fictional story. Later, Ally admits her fear to her therapist (Cheyenne Jackson) who confirms her seemingly downward spiral, and prescribes medication to help cope with the anxieties including blood, small spaces and a series of holes in objects. The biggest takeaway from this particular scene is that Ally truly finds ways to make everything from the election to 9/11 about herself in an almost satirical way. That night, Ally makes her way to a local market despite her social anxiety and has an encounter with a Trump supporter followed by the sight of two people in clown masks having sex right before her eyes. She hears a loud noise over the intercom and another panic attack ensues, but she’s distracted as she realizes they are two of several clowns surrounding her. One pursues Ally down an aisle on a scooter, wearing a three faced masked and intimidating her with a knife (right now Kai seems to be the most obvious choice for this masked clown.) but she unsuccessfully tosses bottles of wine hoping to keep them away.
After fleeing and crashing her car because of a clown in the backseat (sure way to cause an accident) she explains her story to the police and wife but there is no evidence to back her up, even the cashier (Chaz Bono) wasn’t able to support her claims. Ally’s wife Ivy seems to be growing weary of the constant issues surrounding her wife and they begin to show cracks in the relationship that means Ally must be able to try and overcome for their family. They leave their restaurant with another argument centered in politics (after causing all the drama it turns out she voted for Jill Stein…) and Kai is shown to “accidentally” toss a latte on the pair, proceeding to insult them before leaving and showing more significance in Ally’s claim about being targeted. With Ally wanting to return to work, they begin to look for a new nanny for their son - which brings in Winter, and the only thing we know about her is that she made some kind of a pact with Kai that means she will share everything about herself, including more... vulnerable moments and do what he asks. We can also clearly see that she’s playing Kai’s game to some extent which causes her to strategically place herself in the lives of this family.
Winter is certainly one of the most diabolical figures in the AHS franchise already because in the premiere, Ally and Ivy take a night to themselves at the restaurant and Winter takes it upon herself to make their son “stronger” on her first night as a babysitter. The sibling of Kai begins to ask questions about who is real mother is, who his father is, then proceeds to ask if he’s ever seen a real dead person. Cut to Winter going to the dark web for videos of murder that she then forces him to watch and makes him think it’s almost like getting a vaccination “it hurts at first.” The concept of someone brainwashing and teaching a child such awful things is potentially going to be a recurring one throughout the series but I am curious to see exactly what Winter’s motives here could be, so for now I’m putting a murderous question mark over the former Clinton campaign volunteer. Just as the young boy gets settled into his videos of murder, he hears a noise and peeks out the window, noticing a posse of clowns (from the market) exiting an ice cream truck and attacking their neighbors. Winter takes him for a closer look and we see a married couple from the beginning election gathering being tortured until they are killed and the clowns gleefully create smiley faces in blood on the walls.
As hinted earlier, Kai seems to be a very strong anarchist role of the series, with prime examples including the young blue haired man promoting fear at a local city council meeting and making racial slurs at a group of construction workers until they attack him (also tossed a condom filled with urine at them.) Kai goes as far as recording the incident to use to his aid in the public most likely but we will find out in the coming episodes for sure. Kai’s origins are fairly unknown as of now, but based on the Q&A he has with his sister Winter and her only real fear in life being Kai, he is going to play a pivotal role in the direction of AHS Cult as the assumed cult leader looking to watch the state of our nation deteriorate.
With the premiere coming to an end, Ally and Ivy did their best to put everything aside for a romantic evening, but when briefly alone, Ally notices the food beginning to bleed (the phobias perhaps?) but more realistically, she sees a clown behind her performing suggestive motions over the meal - a major disrespect to the chef I might add. Ivy has had just about enough of what she perceives as antics and Ally sobs that she must be losing her mind, but it has to be cast aside as they pull up to their neighborhood and find that their friends/neighbors have been killed. The son wants them to know clowns were responsible, but Winter squashes it by lying and saying that he had the comic, but there weren’t any clowns in the area to begin with. Being ruled as a murder suicide by Detective Colton Haynes (I can’t get used to this role, just saying) Ally is later woken up in the middle of the night by the three faced clown beside her and screams before the screen cuts to black and leaves viewers waiting for more answers next week.
Overall Grade: 8.5/10
American Horror Story really captured a moment in history that will be looked back on with shock, finding success in making it a satire on both ends. The premise of the political coverage was a rare opportunity they decided to take, but it’s more focused on our society and this particular group of characters which signifies AHS is back to doing what they have done best in the past. The series feels like they show true instances of evil in just one episode, so AHS Cult may be difficult to stomach but the psychological horror route is one that AHS executes (no pun intended) to the fullest. AHS Cult is off to a strong start and it can be said that it is an improvement from last season almost instantly. Bravo AHS team!
Aedan’ Final Thoughts:
- Billie Lourd is one of my new favorite AHS additions but her character is also tragically evil.
- The Kai/Winter sibling relationship is making a name as a diabolical pair very early on.
- Ally is a bit of a privileged narcissist and is obviously going to have a rough season, but Sarah Paulson always plays each roll so damn well.
- The credits are back!