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American Horror Story: Cult Season Finale Review

November 15, 2017 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
American Horror Story Cult Finale
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American Horror Story: Cult Season Finale Review  

We had to figure that Kai Anderson would go down this week, especially after we heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from another that Speedwagon was the mole. So that wasn’t much of a surprise. Going in to this episode, we pretty much figured Speedwagon was toast as well—though it might have been a fun surprise if he’d lived. Aside from that, anything could have happened this—from everyone winding up dead—to the realization of my pet theory about Oz being the murder baby from Murder House. Don’t look at me like that—it could have happened! It just…didn’t. As always, this review will be crawling with spoilers for the season finale, Great Again.

At the open of Great Again, Kai is no doubt tired of all this winning as he enjoys his stay at Jackson State Prison. Contrary to what the ep tells us, Jackson is not a maximum security prison in real life. As we’d expect, Kai is using Pinky Power on a guard and extorting sexual favors from…well, a lot of people, we imagine. But specifically, one Gloria Whitmore seems enthralled with Kai. And then there’s Crotchy, one of the New Deplorables. No sooner do we meet him that he dies at Kai’s hand. RIP Crotchy, we hardly knew ye.

We return from commercial to see Kai running the place the way fictional smooth operators often do. I gotta hand it to Kai, his clever “yo, mama” joke made me LOL. “You don’t know your own mother’s name and address?” hahaha! Kai is still taking his cues from Manson, substituting gender for race. Once the women screw up the world, he and his flunkies will lead them. Yeah, that’s likely. We also meet Trevor, a sniveling coward in prison for a drunk driving death. We’re pretty sure he’ll also die badly—and he does.

Flashback eleven months to see how Divine Leader Kai came to such a pass. As we see how the downfall of the Deplorables unfolds, Ally is a master manipulator. It’s quite incongruous from her conduct in the earlier episodes, almost unbelievably so. I’ll leave it to you to decide how likely it is that someone as whiny and weak as Ep1 Ally could become Ep11 Ally. I like to think that’s possible—Carol Peltier and all—but dramatically it seems like a huge stretch. Divine Leader is still planning “Night of 1,000 Tates.” At least until he realizes that “Finding 1,000 pregnant women to murder? Super hard.” Well divined, divine leader. So they’re only gonna kill 100 pregnant women and probably their husbands—which is still pretty ambitious. Watch for Kai to explain in detail how to impale both mother and infant. Ugh. Here’s where we pause to discuss whether Kai’s plan is less hypocritical than any other anti-choice advocate who cuts every program that helps kids live and thrive.

The way Ally reveals the treachery of Speedwagon to Kai is beautiful. He’s still popping pills and turning increasingly paranoid. Kai is momentarily crushed that he killed Winter for no reason. Once the Deplorable army is packed and ready for their murder party. But first, Beverly Hope has lost her…hope. She’s begging for death. Without revealing anything, Ally tells her to hang on. Enter the FBI, and a gunfight ensues. Ally’s right—it is glorious. Deplorables are shot down. Some commit suicide, some killed by Feds, and one dude took a bullet to the dome thanks to Beverly. That whole scene I was screaming for Beverly to get out alive. At that moment, she was the only person I cared about (though I kinda wondered where Oz was during all this). As they take Kai away, he screams profanity at Ally. I thought that would have been a great moment to tell him Oz wasn’t his son. But she didn’t, not yet.

It’s around the halfway point of “Great Again,” that the episode started to feel familiar, almost formulaic. Ally is a lot like Lana from Asylum, and I worried that now that Ally was out of the cult, she’d become just as objectionable as Lana did after escaping Bloodyface. But no…that doesn’t happen. Ally is back to work, a little camera shy, has met a nice lady to date (probably the new head chef at The Butchery on Main). She seems to enjoy living a quiet life with her son. I wondered if Beverly might have been wearing a wire during her conversation at the restaurant with Ally. It seems not though.

We learn that Kai pled guilty to everything except Ivy’s murder, ostensibly to save himself from the death penalty. He’s pretty mad to learn that Oz isn’t his son, via some mail-order DNA testing. He’s “coming for her,” which is pretty scary since he’s already got over a dozen guys under his thumb. Oz’s birthday party is low-key, and Ally is still putting off reporters. Watch for Beverly to quip, “If she turned down Lana Winters, why the hell would she say yes to Rachel Maddow.” Ally is still pretending (maybe even to herself) that Kai killed Ivy and not her. Now, Ally and Bev are both multiple murderers, so neither is better than the other. We could argue that Ally was trying to save her son and Bev was motivated by more selfish interests—but I’m not prepared to split that hair.

Kai’s threats inspire Ally to run for senate—because one theme of this season is that men trying to keep women down makes them far more likely to stand up. Ally’s platform is to use her limited fame to encourage breaking down the two-party system. Not surprisingly, people are down with that. Bev comes to work for Ally (a step up since she’d been bartending before that), who mentions the madness that is people being more afraid of a strong woman than of murderous clowns. She’s not wrong. In the prison, Kai sports a tattoo of this season’s smiley face symbol, which I imagine will be a very popular tattoo for a while. Trevor (now RimShot) has one too. Next thing we know, Kai is escaping with Gloria.

Side note: Ally’s speech about how “over” Kai is was awesome—not unlike the one Sansa gives Ramsay Bolton just before [spoiler]. But then Kai was having sex with Gloria Whitmore, who could find herself more pregnant than Sansa did. Kai’s escape mirrors that of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (and to a lesser extent, Francis Dollarhyde from Red Dragon), where poor RimShot has his face cut off so he can pass for a mutilated Kai. Gloria helps Kai escape, and we know he’s coming after Ally and Beverly. Not sure why everyone assumed a coroner can’t tell a fresh tattoo from a healed one, but okay.

Ally’s campaign ad has a lot of buzzwords and uncomfortable symbolism. Ever wonder why no politician sounds sincere? Everything they do is based on polling, opinions, existing theories, and reacting to opponents. Bev is awesome at understanding demographics thanks to her journalism experience. She tells Ally that she’s too closely associated with Kai, and that voters think she’s weak and inexperienced. That’s when they plan some political theatre that uses what we already know about Mister Anderson to their advantage. I like how neatly all that ended—Kai getting screwed over by the zaftig prison guard who found Ally more believable than Divine Ruler. Beverly being the one to physically kill Kai was a nice touch. I guess he won’t get his goddamn manwich after all. Adina Porter has once again brought the good stuff this season—and I never thought she’d be able to top her performance in Roanoke. She did.

We should give props to Ally’s opponent in the debate. Like a good Alpha Male, he leapt between Ally and the gunman without hesitation. It didn’t do a damn bit of good, but he still did it. I loved Ally explaining to Oz that politicians work for the people, but that it’s her job to do her best to lead. Better worlds and all that. Too bad everyone doesn’t think that. Of course Ally won her senate seat easily, and it looks like all things said and done, she and Bev will get away with all the awful things they did, because they did them (mostly) to people who were far worse. But dammit, who killed Roger? Did I miss something? Are we just supposed to assume it was Kai or someone in the cult? We can assume that, but it seems an odd end to leave hanging. Just like what ever happened to their Hispanic nanny.

For a second, it almost feels like we’re going to end the season without some kind of horrific punch in the face. That simply would not do. As Ally readies herself for a special meeting of like-minded nasty women who are nothing, NOTHING like Kai, we can’t help but notice that there’s not enough time to introduce a bunch of new women. What is this? What is she getting at? Do we just have to assume that—wait a minute. What’s she wearing there? A hood? A hood!!! In possibly the most frightening season ender yet, American Horror Story assures us that SCUM is alive and well. I wonder how Ally feels about killing Bebe now?

This season was chock full of awesome reversals and an expanse of clever and poignant social commentary. They kept their word not to include anything supernatural—which I guess means Roger wasn’t killed by a ghost in the freezer. Lots to like here regardless of your side of the political spectrum, though I think conservatives were made to look a little more crazy, foolish, laughable, and ridiculous than the progressives. But the message could just as easily be that progressives are just as bad—they just make it all look more morally upright. I kept waiting for something super creepy to happen with Oz, but he turned out to be a regular kid. That’s almost a surprising twist on this show.

Thanks to everyone who kept up with these reviews this season. As for me, I’m taking a break from reviews and will return to 411Mania in 2018.

See you’s then!

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
We didn't expect new characters to be introduced in the season finale of American Horror Story: Cult. But we got some anyway. We also learned about the cowardly history of Speedwagon. We watched Beverly brave a crisis, and saw 'Night of 1,000 Tates' become considerably less ambitious. In the end, it was the best any of us could (Beverly) Hope for.