TV reviews

American Horror Story: Cult 7×10 – Charles (Manson) In Charge – Review

Well, it’s all over. American Horror Story: Cult wrapped up this week, but did it go out with a bang or a whimper?

Last week, I predicted where the series would end: Ally taking out Kai and taking over the cult for herself. That was essentially correct, if not exact. The episode was split between two timelines: one, following the event from last week, and the other, almost a year into the future with Kai in prison.

Kai is prison hasn’t changed much, or at all from Kai on the outside: he’s leading a cult, which he now calls an army, doing his pinky-promise power move and manipulating prisoners and guards into following him. He says that the women are going to cause a war in the outside world while he’ll stay safe inside the prison, before escaping and ruling over the chaos. He’s still seeing visions of Charles Manson, which fits — his “women will cause a war, I swear” is reminiscent of Manson’s race war that never happened.

Kai ended up in jail because of Ally, of course. She’s been working for the FBI the whole time she was with the cult and took them down easily. Her life for the next eleven months has been thriving: the restaurant is back and doing better than ever, she’s become a feminist icon turning down call after call for interviews, and she’s got a hot new chef girlfriend to replace Ivy. Beverly also got off scot-free, as Ally convinced the FBI she was a prisoner of the cult and not a participant. Next step? Run for office, just as Kai was going to do.

This all leads to a showdown between Ally and Kai. He’s broken out of prison, obtained a gun from his prison guard accomplice and is ready to spew misogynistic garbage at Ally during a televised debate before killing her. Except, of course, Ally was finally again ahead of him: the guard was on her side, the gun wasn’t loaded and Kai was killed by Beverly. Ally standing strong in front of her attacker pushed her over the edge and she won the election. The episode (and season) ends with Senator Ally putting on her black robes to go meet some like-minded women who want to rule America. She found a new cult.

This ending makes sense for what the show became, but it still feels like it took us a long time to get there. The second half of the season seemed to really focus on the idea that the misogyny of the world causes women to band together and take it all down. But it wasn’t until the Valerie Solanas episode that this became Cult’s thesis. Before that, Kai was a manipulator and not a misogynist neckbeard. Ally was a Jill Stein voter, not the strong “nasty woman” who shuts down men for interrupting her. And what did clowns have to do with any of it?

It really felt like as the show progressed, Ryan Murphy figured out more what he wanted to say. When they initially announced this season would be inspired by the U.S. presidential election, it felt like it was too soon. Now that I’ve seen the show, it still feels like it was too soon. Murphy was clearly working through his feelings about the election —shock, dismay, anger, pointing blame — but it didn’t mesh into a cohesive story.

This was also the first season to ever not include elements of the supernatural, leaving out all the ghosts and witches for the real world. I’m not entirely sure if it worked — horror doesn’t need supernatural elements to be scary, but this season really didn’t have much ‘horror’ going for it aside from the clown make and some gore. Everything felt more American than Horror, especially as an international viewer. The whole season really was just trying to process how Trump got elected: how divided the country is, how angry certain subsets of people are, how easily people fall for leaders who tell them what they want to hear. At least Kai got his brains blown out at the end — I guess the real horror is that Trump remains.

What did you think of American Horror Story: Cult? Let us know!

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