Warning: This recap of the “Election Night” episode of American Horror Story: Cult contains spoilers.
Well, it’s right there in the title, everybody. After seven seasons, American Horror Story really went literal this time. Now, I am a barely educated street buffoon who can’t always tell the difference between a fanny pack and the sickly goose I tied to my belt, but even I can tell you that something bad is happening in Washington, D.C. these days. I’ll explain what I mean by that later. But in a general sense — and you’ll have to trust me on this — politically things are so bad that even the phrase “American horror story” means almost nothing anymore, seeing as every day that we are unfortunate enough to wake up to what feels like a new and appalling spin on the nightmare we call 2017. But enough of my political beliefs: The seventh installment of our favorite horror anthology has begun!
All previous seasons of Nightmare Tales Specific to the U.S.A. have embraced different shades of the word “horror.” The word has meant many things: existential dread, hauntings, demonic possession, witchcraft, slasher killers, slavery, reality TV, the German snuff industry… but the word “horror” has almost always meant “terrifying.” On AHS:Cult, however, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have decided to define horror as “stressful” and “unpleasant.” Yes, it’s all technically horrifying, but mostly in an unfun way. Which I guess is a fresh new take for the franchise? Let’s talk about “Election Night”!
As promised by the episode title, we began on “Election Night.” Yes, THAT election night. The real one we all experienced last November. The one with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and the banshee wails of despair echoing through our purple mountains majesty while hellfire incinerated our amber waves of grain! Anyway, there were two very different viewing parties going on:
Blue-haired Kai jumped around in ecstasy and humped his television like it was broadcasting a Christmas in July sale on QVC. (Sorry for the insight into my personal life here.) But he didn’t seem like the usual #MAGA hat-wearing, conservative Christian type. No, he seemed stoked about Trump’s victory due to the mayhem it would cause. Yeah, this guy was more of an agent of chaos and a real creep in my opinion.
Across town, a lesbian mother wearing an “I voted” sticker literally shrieked at her television and melted down faster than a pack of Now ‘N Laters in the glove compartment of a stolen Tercel. (Again, sorry for getting too personal.) In other words, she was NOT happy about the election results and REALLY made it about her.
At this point Kai did what I’m guessing a lot of Trump supporters did to celebrate his victory: He put a bag of Cheetos in a blender and smeared the disgusting, fatty orange dust all over his face and then visited his formerly Clinton-supporting friend at a local sorority and got her to pinkie-swear to join him on his quest to destroy America. She was easy to convince, probably because it was late at night and his face was giving her the munchies. (But yay Billie Lourd is on AHS now! She is truly wonderful and this made me so happy.)
The new opening credits are bad in my opinion. Especially because last year’s season didn’t have credits so I had been truly missing the artful, disturbing credits this franchise is known for. This just felt like a collection of dumb Halloween masks and bloody people making out. Even the theme song seemed cheesier than usual? Look, whatever. I’m not gonna read too much into it. These kinda didn’t feel that inspired to me. Just my two cents, folks! And pennies are gross!
Then Twisty the Clown showed up to do his thing. Now, obviously we haven’t seen him since he was murdered back in the 1950s during the Freak Show season, but due to the tattoos and piercings on these teens, he was still up to his old tricks in the present day? And Jamal’s boyfriend from Empire is straight now? (How does acting work?) Anyway, Twisty showed up and stabbed Jamal’s boyfriend from Empire and then chased his girlfriend into… well, Twisty’s trailer. Her survival instinct was not great if we’re being honest with ourselves.
It wasn’t overly explicit how Twisty murdered the poor gal, but it was very disturbing to see her pierced, severed tongue drop to the ground like this. I mean, look how dirty that ground was! It was simply not a sanitary surface for a tongue, severed or not!
It was pretty cute to see Twisty the Clown use a cell phone, though. I enjoyed that part. As it turned out, this wasn’t real life, and it wasn’t even a movie… It was a recreation of the comic book that Sarah Paulson’s son was reading! Apparently in 2017 the legend of Twisty the Clown had taken on scary villain anti-hero status, sort of like Freddy Krueger or Katherine Heigl. But just seeing Twisty’s face in her son’s comic caused Sarah Paulson to have ANOTHER meltdown. She was apparently deathly afraid of clowns, and even though she’d worked hard to repress this fear, the election had suddenly made her afraid of clowns all over again! (It is here when I began to get annoyed at this character. Coulrophobia is a thing we all joke about, but nobody actually HAS it! Get real!)
Then Kai went to a city council meeting where he pleaded with the council to, uh, I’m not sure. I think he just wanted to rant a lot. In his opinion there should be fewer cops and the Jewish Community Center should be blown up. Surprisingly the council didn’t really agree with these opinions, and the main guy (who also happened to be Sarah Paulson’s liberal friend at the election night party) calmly informed Kai that he is a dummy and trash and he should go back to the 4chan message board where he was spawned. That’s when Kai turned his blue top-knot around and made a sinister promise: Nobody is as dangerous as a humiliated man. Which, yeah. According to recent headlines that checks out. He was about to start doing some very bad things. Buying tiki torches, etc.
Sarah Paulson then visited her psychiatrist and sort of just paced around and acted frantic about how her mental state was crumbling over this Trump thing. (Also, she’s afraid of… holes?) Again, as a real pinko who hangs out with other unsavory alt-left types, I don’t know anyone who has freaked out to this extent over Trump’s election. What is Ryan Murphy saying with this? I don’t know. Anyway, Dr. Cheyenne Jackson wrote a prescription and told her to take ALL THE PILLS forever, because her brain was a bummer. I had to agree.
Probably the best sequence in the entire episode was when Sarah Paulson decided to treat herself to a late night grocery shopping moment. The only other person in the store was Chaz Bono, whose visible support for Trump really made Sarah Paulson uncomfortable. But as many of us would, she shook it off and headed for the cheese aisle.
That’s when people in clown masks began terrorizing her all over the store! First these two clowns humped against the watermelon display!
And then this clown with multiple dick noses rode a scooter around and brandished a knife at her! The only thing Sarah Paulson could do to defend herself was to grab the nearest on-the-nose lifestyle symbol she could find and wave it around!
Eventually she made it out of the grocery store and sprinted for her eco-conscious hybrid!
Except there was a clown in there too! Because this is a horror thing, the scene immediately cut out after her scream so we didn’t see how that resolved. Did the clown politely exit the vehicle? The next thing we knew Sarah Paulson was sitting on a chair attempting to explain to her wife about the clowns, but the wife informed her that no clowns were seen on the grocery store security cameras. Whuh-oh.
Yup, Alison Pill was not happy with her wife’s head these days, and that is only partially a sexual innuendo and only barely intentional on my part. Their relationship was on the rocks, is what I’m trying to say, and Sarah Paulson’s sudden extreme phobias were not helping matters.
Sarah Paulson and Alison Pill needed a nanny, and guess who answered the ad? It was Kai’s girlfriend, Billie Lourd! What followed was an extremely clever sequence in which the moms would ask Billie Lourd questions about her life, and whenever she’d respond it would cut to a much darker, filthier conversation she’d had with Kai. Yes, sex-in-the-b*tt was mentioned. Long story short, Billie Lourd got the job! But something tells me she was not to be trusted.
Kai, meanwhile, was out throwing condoms full of urine at Mexican immigrants while singing “Cucaracha.” They, of course, beat him up very badly, but it was all apparently a ploy to film immigrants assaulting a white person. This pivot-to-vid going to get so many clicks on Breitbart!
While Billie Lourd looked after their son, Sarah Paulson and Alison Pill attempted to have a romantic evening at the restaurant they both own. But leave it to Sarah Paulson to skip her meds and then hallucinate that the meal she’d been served was nothing but fingers and holes! And to make matters worse, a couple of clowns started humping over in the corner! Sarah Paulson did not handle any of these things well.
Once again, she came across crazy and hysterical, and the fact that they were all clearly hallucinations made it very unscary for us to watch. Like, we KNOW she’s fine, so why even bother to put us through these scenes? I was getting as frustrated as Alison Pill if we’re being quite honest!
Meanwhile Billie Lourd was taking an interesting approach when it came to babysitting. By that I mean she showed this little boy snuff films on the dark web. Generally parents prefer that their babysitters do not show snuff films to their children, so this was an unconventional call. But he seemed kinda into it? Or at least he was, until his snuff film reverie was interrupted by the ice cream truck full of killer clowns that pulled across the street.
The boy dragged Billie Lourd across the street to investigate, and the two of them peeked into their neighbor’s window to see… The neighbors getting murdered by clowns!
And it’s probably not a coincidence that one of the neighbors had been the head of the city council from earlier. Comeuppance! What I’m trying to say is, it appeared that this gang was Kai-related, but I can’t be sure about that yet. For her part Billie Lourd told authorities (and the two terrified moms) that there had been ZERO clowns, and that their son had made it all up. Another questionable babysitter move on her part.
Oh, and now is when I should tell you that the main detective on the case is Colton Haynes but with a white Anderson Cooper hairdo. Because obviously. And despite the fact that there had been a gruesome double homicide across the street, he assured Sarah Paulson and Alison Pill that everything was fine and chill and they should just go to bed or whatever. So they did! And that’s when this happened:
A clown was in the bed! Presumably wearing shoes! Which is frankly rude!
As you can imagine, Sarah Paulson did not enjoy seeing a clown in her bed. Damn you, Donald Trump!
Okay here is the thing about AHS: Cult. I love this show, and I appreciate its audacity for delving into explicitly political waters. But I truly don’t quite understand the connection between the political themes and the clowns. Also I guess a “cult” will factor in at some point? A cult of clowns? Plus politics? Right now it seems like two different concepts mashed together somehow. Which is fine! This is only the first hour and it all could very well come together soon. But quite frankly this episode was more unpleasant than it was horrifying. Stressful, upsetting, sure. But question, when does the entertainment value kick in? Do I NEED a form of entertainment that’s political but also openly mocks the people I most identify with? Honestly asking. Anyway, I will never not watch this show so I’m hoping this season will become more fun than this episode suggested. Maybe a vampire donkey will attack a zombie elephant. That’d be relevant and thought provoking. Just my opinion, everybody.
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX
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