American horror story: cult

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If you"re looking for grand theatrics, plot twists, and dark humor, you can always count on an American Horror Story finale lớn deliver a spectacle unlike any other. But in its seventh season, the series also took on the weight of the topical terrors of post-Trump America, making for an unconventional season và an equally unusual finale that swapped buckets of blood for a political punch. Indeed, Cult cast off many of the traditional AHS trappings in favor of something stranger this season, leaving behind supernatural scares in favor of horrors rooted in the real world -- phobias, clown, killers, killer clowns, & yes, cults. Cults of all shapes and sizes, that dominate the discourse in times of rampant fear, when people are just looking for an ideology to cling khổng lồ.




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In American Horror Story: Cult, we glimpsed plenty of toxic ideologies; from Helter Skelter, lớn Jonestown, to lớn the goofy grandiosity of Andy Warhol, & (when Cult is at its best) the two-tiệc nhỏ panic that dominates today"s cultural climate. In the season"s early episodes, Cult rattled a raw nerve, picking at the festering anxiety, unease, và plain old fear that has settled across America in this deeply divisive time. With killer clowns & mysterious green fog, Cult conjured the all-too-real feeling of living in a world turned upside down, where no one"s on your side, not even the people you love sầu most. It was also funny, especially anything involving Billy Eichner & Leslie Grossman, who emerged as an early series highlight duo before meeting their untimely ends mid-season. (Side chú ý -- Honestly, why would anybody toàn thân join Kai"s cult? He literally kills everyone. It"s the worst cult.)


american-horror-story-b Image via FX
Unfortunately, Cult follows AHS tradition in one key way; it completely unravels in the middle, abandoning threads or abruptly chopping them off, and abandoning the powerful fear of now for the cults born of panics past. Sure it"s deliciously irreverent and self-indulgent và so classically AHS to devote an episode to Lemãng cầu Dunham as Valerie Solanas, but ultimately it"s a diversion. And as the episodes reveled more and more in the Evan Peters As Every Famous Cult Leader stunt, the season quickly deflated & got trapped in its own narrative bog. It also did some real weird incesty stuff, but you bởi you American Horror Story. You vị you. So did Cult manage to lớn pull it together in the end và recapture the energy of its best moments? Well, no. Let"s dive into the finale.


In an unnecessary bit of convoluted structure, The finale begins with Kai in prison, where he has launched a new incarnation of his cult ahy vọng the inmates, before doubling baông xã to explain how he ended up there in the first place. Finally we get an answer to why the ever-loving hechồng Ally would ever sign up to lớn be a thành viên of Kai"s cult; the FBI, of course. When Ally was institutionalized after Kai"s assassination attempt, the FBI recruited her about to lớn infiltrate the cult, serve sầu as their mole, và bring the blue-haired madman down. Ally accepted under the condition that she would get immunity, which is why she gets away with killing Ivy and Speedwagon scot-miễn phí. As we learned in the last episode, Speedwagon was spying on Kai for the cops after getting roped inkhổng lồ a scheme to bring down the crooked Detective sầu Samuels, and Ally murdered hyên in cold blood, presumably so the local cops wouldn"t mess up the FBI"s take down.


In a delicious moment of revenge, Ally savors telling Kai about Speedwagon"s duplithành phố, revealing that his sister Winter never betrayed him after all. He killed her for nothing. Peters does some spectacular acting in that moment, as he"s done all season, drawing up palpable, manic grief and contorting his face in anguish. It"s a quiet moment of paybaông xã, & Ally plays it cool, cradling Kai"s head và acting lượt thích his pillar of strength. But Sarah Paulson is one of the best for a reason, & she lights up the scene with a subtle but decadent pleasure. Ally relishes in tormenting Kai right in his face. Paulson & Peters consistently elevate the material on American Horror StoryCult has demanded their finest work yet. Watching them play off each other at full speed in these last few episodes has been a delight, even as the series started spinning off the rails.


american-horror-story-cult Image via FX
Kai channels his rage & heartbreak into lớn the Night of 100 Tates (turns out 1000 Tates was a little too ambitious), which would see Kai"s alt-right army murder a hundred pregnant women in a horrific callbaông chồng lớn the Manson murders in order khổng lồ skết thúc womankind into lớn a fit of unshakeable fear. You may rethành viên Kai was recruited by his anger management counselor, Valerie Solanis protegee & SCUM militant Bebe Babbitt, to lớn incite the anger of women và lead them lớn revolution. At a certain point, Kai transforms his agenda khổng lồ your standard patriarchal male dominance schtick, và the Night of 100 Tates was meant to lớn be his finishing move to put women bachồng in the kitchen forever. Fortunately, the FBI come bursting in before Kai can unleash his legion of deadly dickheads on the world, though we vị get a rather grisly demonstration via some watermelons, which are handed off lớn the women to make a nice feta salad, in one of the season"s most on-br& moments of cheekiness. After an embarrassing defeat at the hands of a woman (gasp), the would-be "Divine Leader" is tossed inkhổng lồ the clinks, where he sprouts his misogynist cult once again. A few dead followers and a converted prison guard later, Kai is loose on the streets once more, setting the stage for a final confrontation with Ally.


See, while Kai was locked up, Ally was getting busy on transforming her life from one of fear to one of empowerment. Viewed as a celebrity survivor, Ally is living a life beyond the confines of her once-phobic dreams. Business is booming at the Butchery, Ally"s got a gorgeous new girlfriover that"s great with Oz (who Kai was furious to learn isn"t his messiah baby, by the way), và she"s using her newfound celebrity as a launching pad to lớn secure the Senate seat Kai wanted so desperately. The people love her, but there"s one problem. In a blunt Clinton parallel, they don"t think she"s strong enough. "Isn’t it sad when a svào woman scares people more than clowns?" Ally muses as she preps for a big debate. If she lands this debate, she lands the election. Beverly however, isn"t thriving yet. She was on the brink of suicide before the FBI raid but Ally put her off her death wish just long enough to lớn get out, & now that"s she"s không lấy phí, she can"t stop waiting for the other shoe khổng lồ drop.




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Ally heads into the debate in a big bold red pantsuit và gives as good as she gets at the podium until Kai bursts in, armed & unhinged, to lớn dismantle her in front of the nation and bring women"s hopes topping down with her. “You symbolize the hope that women will one day win an argument with their husbands,” he rages. “That they won’t be catcalled when they walk down the streets, that their bosses won’t talk about their tits anymore, that they’ll make just as much money as men make, that the fight is winnable. When I kill you, they’ll see that there is no hope.”


american-horror-story-sarah-paulson Image via FX
He pulls the trigger, but nothing happens. Ally smiles. Turns out that security guard was never in his pocket, she was in Ally"s the whole time và the whole damn escape was a set-up to lớn move sầu Kai like a pawn, and strike hlặng down at just the right moment to lớn make Ally look unquestionably tough. “You were wrong," Ally tells hlặng, "there is something more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man: a nasty woman.” And then Beverly blows his brains out. It"s a hell of a punchline & perhaps the most on-the-nose gag in a series known for being on-the-nose. Ally wins the election in a landslide, earning a historic percentage of the female vote. As she tucks Oz in, she warns hyên to lớn be a good man, better than those that came before hlặng. He promises he will, but there"s worry và maybe something a bit more sinister in the way she looks at hyên ổn. She tells her son she"s off khổng lồ meet with some strong women who are going to lớn change the world, and before she heads out, Ally tosses a green hood up over her head. SCUM strikes again. Cults win. The End.


Paulson explained to EW, "It’s the SCUM cloak. Listen, this is a conversation that Ryan và Tyên Minear và I really had. At the over of the day, she’s the mother of a son. She has a boy she’s raising. There’s a kind of poignant moment where he says, "Am I going to be a good person? Am I going to be a good man?" And I say, "I hope so." And their intent with writing it và my intent with playing it was, "I hope you will because my mission in life now is to create a world where men have lớn be responsible for themselves & their behavior. I’m going lớn be in Washington & have sầu some power, and the goal being notoàn thân is going to lớn get away with anything anymore. More than a good person, you have sầu lớn be a feminist. You have khổng lồ be on the right side of history." It should have had a feeling of something odd in my communication khổng lồ hlặng."


Credit to lớn the creative sầu team on foresight, because Cult"s finale comes a moment where female anger, hurt, và empowerment are coming into focus on an unprecedented màn chơi. With the steady drumbeat of Hollywood assault investigations, the hideous allegations about a senatorial candidate and underaged girls, & the shared strength of the Me Too movement, Women are speaking out en masse in ways we never have sầu before, và the effects, like a dam unleashed, have sầu been staggering. Powerful men aren"t being slapped on the wrists và shielded by HR, they"re losing their jobs. They"re facing actual real-world consequences for their misdeeds, & in some cases, the possibility of legal action. And the voices keep coming, louder and louder, as each new story emboldens another woman to lớn tell her tale. So yes, Cult"s finale has certainly tapped inlớn a livewire of public consciousness. Perhaps the natural expectation; an expansion on the women"s marches that burst out on the streets after the election, but Cult"s timing is certainly beyond reproach, & that blurring of the lines between our off-balance reality & Cult"s outright insane world gives the season that sense of nauseous, percolating dread again, if just for a moment.


american-horror-story-cult-image-2 Image via FX
But the ending also raises some tough questions to lớn untangle. Who was the anh hùng of this piece? Ally, ostensibly, though she"s a remarkably off-putting protagonist, transitioning on a dime from intolerably emotional to lớn impenetrably callous. She"s a murderer, and as her scheme with the prison guard revealed, a calculating manipulator even above Kai"s level. Are we meant to lớn believe sầu, then, that they are two sides of the same coin? A cycle of cult-think where a new form of indoctrinated beliefs take the mantle every time a villain is defeated? Is the intent that women respond khổng lồ cycles of oppression with their own forms of gendered violence? Perhaps the ending wasn"t meant lớn be overthought, but rather enjoyed as a pulpy piece of entertainment, but when a show pokes at the br& new wounds of America"s lademo brvà of chaos, there"s added weight behind the typically escapist theatrics.


Or maybe this is just a super nasty, nihilistic piece of pop culture. And that"s fitting really. For a time when the president throws kindergarten insults at world leaders on social media and flagrantly lies with staggering regularity, when everything is up for debate, truth is suspect, & there are "some very fine people both sides," maybe nasty is the operative word, & Cult"s br& of surreal misanthropy will endure as a snapshot of a crass, cruel time in American discord.




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