Warning: This recap of the “11/9” episode of American Horror Story: Cult contains spoilers.
As though we’d collectively willed it using witchcraft or the Secret, AHS: Cult finally gave us something new this week! As fun as it has been watching Sarah Paulson screech her way through Anthropologie showrooms for hours on end, we needed answers, and “11/9” provided them in the form of flashbacks to how exactly Kai recruited his band of weirdos. In that regard, Cult admirably sidestepped big reveal moments (the identities of the clowns had become very no-duh) and instead went straight for the explanations. Billy Eichner, Mary Cherry, Ivy, Winter, Chaz Bono, the news reporter: They’re all in league with Kai, and it was nice that “11/9” respected us enough to not pretend any of this was shocking. And while some of the motives and explanations here still felt nonsensical or ludicrous, at least it was something. This episode was borderline FUN, even. Let’s talk about it!
We began on election night! Yes, we were back to this season’s (and this generation’s) central nightmare scenario. Nothing good happened that night… except perhaps for the arrival of Emma Roberts.
As a wistful fan of the late Scream Queens (which never got a second season, please don’t argue), I sincerely believe that Emma Roberts is one of the most underappreciated comedy actresses of modern times, so this was great. Unfortunately, her role in Cult appears to amount to a single-episode (spoiler) and here she played a rival news reporter to Adina Porter. But even with three scenes, Emma Roberts still did way more (and was more hilarious) than whatever it was she was doing on Freak Show, so no complaints here.
Anyway, standing in line at the polls were a bunch of familiar faces! Ally and Ivy were pinkie-swearing to not vote for Jill Stein, and nearby was Winter, and behind her were Billy Eichner and Mary Cherry. What a coincidence that they were all standing so close to each other!
That’s when Kai arrived with Chaz Bono, and they both shouted at poll workers to ignore the blood streaming from Chaz Bono and let him vote already. And after he triumphantly scribbled a sharpie beside Donald Trump’s name (is that how voting works in Michigan?) we finally learned what was up with all that blood…
Chaz Bono’s hand had been sawed off! Just a normal day at the polls.
As it turned out, this episode intended to show us how Kai had recruited this diverse array of people into his killer clown cult, so our first real glimpse at this was the saga of Billy Eichner. Kai first hired Billy Eichner as his personal trainer at the gym where Billy Eichner worked, then slowly began convincing him that everyone around him was treating him badly or gay-bashing him somehow. And it didn’t help that Billy Eichner was feeling tons of stress about his house getting foreclosed upon and also being married to a woman who still tries to sex him up sometimes even though he is for sure a gayman (a man that is gay).
As the pièce de résistance, Kai even waggled his boner at Billy Eichner in the gym shower, and everyone knows that when it comes to extremely sexually frustrated personal trainers, that is the nuclear option. Kai and Billy Eichner were now best friends. And what do best friends do best together? Murder a meathead boss on a weight bench!
Billy Eichner had committed his first murder at Kai’s encouragement. They were murder bros now!
That’s when Mary Cherry arrived back to the motel where they were now living and discovered her gay husband sawing the head off of a hunk in the bathtub. I know that you were thinking I would make a “getting head” joke but come on, guys. I mean honestly.
But Mary Cherry was so stoned and also disgruntled about her own state of affairs that she was fine with it. In fact, she was ready to jump into Kai’s life coaching seminar ASAP herself.
We then saw Kai spot another mark: A visibly troubled-looking news reporter (Adina Porter) who’d once attacked pranksters harassing her on camera and was forced to do a stint in a mental institution. She clearly hated her boss and life, and Kai swooped in to do her a solid… Murder her rival, Emma Roberts!
It was at this point when Cult finally FINALLY confirmed the identities of at least some of the clowns: Green-Hair is Billy Eichner, Dick Nose is Kai, and Lady Ball-Gag is Mary Cherry (who personally designed the masks). Anyway, they murdered Emma Roberts while she was trying to film a hard-hitting story about puppy adoption, and after that Adina Porter had no choice but to be TEAM KAI all the way.
His band of psychos was now one member stronger AND he had a direct line to the media. Kai is a real schemer in my opinion.
This season’s puzzle continued coming together when we received confirmation that Ivy was indeed in league with the bad guys. Before election night she’d attended a rally where she’d gotten into a shouting match with Chaz Bono and he grabbed her in her downtown region. Winter had witnessed it and immediately had Ivy’s back, and the two of them decided to get revenge on the guy.
Next thing we knew, they’d taken him hostage! Except, Kai intercepted the captive from Winter and then riled him up into wanting to vote for Donald Trump ASAP, then handed him a saw?
And yeah, the man sawed off his own arm just so that he could go vote! Now, I know what you are thinking: “What?” That was my question as well. I truly don’t believe ANYONE would be that serious about casting a ballot, not even in Michigan. Still, Kai’s MO was clear… He wanted to take advantage of people’s fear and anger and get them to do things against their best interest so that he could earn their love and allegiance. It was Cult-Making 101, and he was already off to a great start!
Ultimately “11/9” still suffered the same frustrating illogic of the previous episodes but my GOD was it a refreshing step forward storywise. Now that we basically know that most of the characters we’d met so far are in the clown cult, the question is what exactly the story will be moving forward. Will Ally be recruited? Will the cult actually do something interesting or will they just murder people who go to therapy? Here’s hoping there are still twists (and guest stars) to come. We deserve it!
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.
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