At the end of last week’s episode, Ally was in total loss of control over her emotions and fired on the chef who came to help her - so by the time the episode “Neighbors From Hell” begins, you know she’s going to have to deal with some major damage control.
As the episode picks up, we find a couple visiting Dr. Vincent where she discusses her fear of coffins after being locked in a cabinet as a child. It has affected her life with her husband (romantically and emotionally) but after the death of her father and more importantly, closing his casket - she finds closure on the subject and prepares to celebrate a passionate night with her husband. When he steps away to prepare something, she overhears a scuffle and both are attacked by the clown cult in their own home and force the couple into coffins that they drill shut as the husband is heard screaming and begging for them to leave his wife alone. Eventually the camera pans out to the rattling coffins with both screaming from the inside and we see a happy face painted in red to mark their victims like we’ve seen before.
At Ally’s home, she now realizes the magnitude of what she has done by killing Pedro and the cops are more willing to let it go and pin the murder at her restaurant on the now deceased chef. Ally tries to tell them the clowns were present but it becomes clearer that with no proof - she’s becoming viewed as the girl who cried ‘clowns.’ The next day, Ally and Ivy try to make their way to the restaurant and find several protesters so Ivy decides to handle the brunt of the situation, sending Ally home who instead sits alone to weep at the current state of her life. Kai decides to interrupt her grief and tells Ally that she should never apologize for having the courage to protect her family - trying to empower the crumbling Ally and even offering to take care of the crowd for her. If this doesn’t point to Ally getting closer to become a clown herself, I don’t know what does.
When Ally gets home, she does the only thing that makes sense and pours a glass of wine until the new neighbors arrive at the doorstep in sombreros to taunt her for killing “a beautiful brown face who you thought was a home invader.” They say that Ally’s white privilege is showing full force and begin to intimidate her until she slams the door on their faces. After Ally tells Ivy about the strange interaction, they turn to the news where the couple in the beginning has been reported as dead and within moments a large truck creeps through the neighborhood with a green neon light and a fog that definitely should raise a few red flags to police or anyone with eyes. By the time they wake up in the morning, their yard is covered in dead birds and even Ivy admits things seem strange - so she calls the city who states no chemical trucks were sanctioned the night before.
Winter walks into the home of the couple which instantly causes Ally to become angry after feeling abandoned by her in the outage. They (unfortunately) allow her to take her job back just in time for Winter to tell them she let a man in who was waiting in the front yard. The two nervously make their way to the living room and find a middle aged man completely naked who claims to be there from their “ad” about lesbans seeking male latin lovers - you could say the retaliation for her accidental murder is in play already. Ally calls her therapist to tell him about the posting and confirms that even when she has it taken down, it’s posted again with slightly different text. He promises to work on taking the advertisement down but states that Ally needs to find solid proof that she’s being targeted to press charges.
She suggests that perhaps speaking to protesters will help, but when she nears any in her vehicle, she is swarmed by people who won't allow her to budge. She screams out but nobody stops until Kai walks up and whispers to one that they can stop and the entire crowd disbands like nothing had ever happened. All Kai tells Ally is that he told her he would take care of them (ok at this point she should know not to trust anyone, am I right?) By the time Ally and Ivy get home Winter shares the fact that the neighbors brought over a guinea pig to make up for earlier and Ally refuses the peace offering which makes her son tell her he wishes he could get rid of her instead of the small cuddly pet - ouch. Ally calls them to stand her ground and we see the pair sitting at home with the detective as well (so this confirms he’s a part of the cult), listening to Aly and Ivy arguing. When they answer the phone, they say things to trigger her about needing a man in the son’s life and that they are racists before hanging up to make Ally even crazier. As if it’s all according to plan, the truck with chemicals returns to spray down their street and Ally knocks her head into the pavement when trying to put a stop to the vehicle - at this moment in time she needs to consider calling it a day.
The following scene seems to be a flashback with Meadow in a room making a promise to Kai similarly to Winter in the premiere episode. When he asks for her fear (and she hilariously responds with Sonja’s alcoholism from RHONY) he slaps her to make her take this experience more seriously. He prys out that her fear is of losing her importance to the man in her life and he tells her that from there on out, she will not apologize for anything again and show weakness. Later, Harrison is shown to be meeting with Kai in the same setup and shares his “first homosexual experience” with Kai and admits that something he hides is his desire for his friend/wife to meet her demise - making Kai have this interpersonal relationships with each person and ultimately infiltrates even their closest relationships as only a cult leader could do.
We return to Ally and Ivy at the restaurant having a family night with ice cream (Oz too of course) and the mood seems to have lightened up so Ally tells Oz he can keep the guinea pig after all, but the moods goes a little sour when they get home and discover the red smiley face across their security door (that is swinging open) and Oz runs in just as his new adorable little pet explodes in their microwave. Ally is beyond furious and storms over to the neighbor house with Ivy and Oz trailing behind, walking through their door and punching Harrison in the face. She screams at them about knowing they are involved and she says that she will kill them if she has to in order to protect her family - an especially well acted scene from Sarah Paulson. When Ally mentions the smiley face, they say they must have been marked by the killer and promise they didn’t do that - but as the couple and their son leave, they find another painted face on the side of the new neighbors home. When Ivy asks if they should let them know, Ally says “Fuck them” and proceeds to leave. Ivy and Oz head back inside but Ally sees the truck return with chemicals emitting from it, but this time they begin to specifically spray Ally’s front yard. She approaches the masked people and pulls the gas mask off to find the bloody smiley face being worn by the workers and she passes out while they finish spraying the yard down with her unconscious in the grass.
We next see Ally trying to explain her theory about everything being connected to the detective but he simply asks Ivy if Ally has shown signs of psychosis, triggering Ally’s rising anger even more than I thought possible. They notice Oz make a noise from his room and head upstairs to find him, where he’s hiding something on his laptop. He tells them that he saw Ivy enter the parental control as “clownz” (yeah, she’s 100% in the cult) and when they open the laptop it’s hidden camera footage of Winter and Ally from the bathtub. Ivy’s reaction - she slaps her wife for the infidelity and prepares to take Oz until they see police across the street talking to a frantic Harrison who accuses Aly of murdering his wife and the accusations mixed with mind games continue to make life increasingly crazier for Ally.
Overall Grade: 8/10
This season feels a lot more like American Paranoia Story, creating consistent intensity that deviates from other seasons. Every episode allows us to look a little deeper into the followers even though we haven’t seen the full picture - but it makes for a fascinating contained story. Sarah Paulson’s character may do a lot of screaming and crying in AHS Cult, but she additionally delivers with excellence in each emotionally charged episode.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- Dr. Vincent and Ivy have to be a part of this because they are key elements to pulling off such elaborate scares.
- I am very curious to see if they decide to crossover with previous AHS seasons.
- I didn’t expect myself to lean more towards the #TeamAlly side of things, but with everyone else being a potential cult member I suppose that’s natural.