American Horror Story (Cult): Election Night
Original air date: September 5th, 2017
AHS Cult so far is about fear. The statement, “Fear politics always wins,” may be true. The opening episode of this season may be the most controversial yet, because it hits on a very raw nerve—the election. This election prompted human decency to be thrown out the window. (Now I am talking about the extremes of the bell curve, not the majority.) The digital age has given the outlying extremists a platform to boast their interpretations of the truth– everyone can spew ‘alternative facts’, and anonymity has allowed trolls to bully freely. The fevered, vehement way America is divided is terrifying—just watching this episode makes me think this could be the most terrifying season of AHS to date.
Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) said, “Humans love fear.” Is that true? Or have we been force-fed fear so much we consume it without thinking? Kai is the type of extreme Trump fanatic that is terrifying. I do want to note the scene where he put ground-up Cheetos on his face to look like Trump was both hilarious and frightening– it makes me think the use of clowns in this season has a very specific reason. Fear allows control. As this season is named Cult, I think we are going to see Kai use fear to rise to power. He already baited the group of Latino men to beat him up. The beating was filmed, and looks like it will be released (edited to show just his beating, not what prompted it). He is going to use that to prey on some people’s fear and in turn use that fear to control them.
Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) is on the opposite side of the spectrum of Kai. She and her wife Ivy have one child Oz. Ally has multiple phobias that range from annoying to completely debilitating. So far, we know she has coulrophobia (fear of clowns), Trypophobia (fear of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes), a bit of agoraphobia (open spaces) and it seems general anxiety. As the episode progresses, her fears seem to become more pronounced. She is hallucinating clowns (maybe); she sees them but no one else does– except her son. When Oz looked out the window he saw the same clowns Ally did. So, either they are real, or they are hallucinating the same clowns… or maybe there is a psychic element at play.
What upset me is how Ivy handled the situation. If Ally is just hallucinating the clowns, if they are not real—it doesn’t mean they weren’t real to her. She experienced it, and to quote Dumbledore, “why on earth should that mean it is not real?” Ally is seeing a doctor for her mental health issues, Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) so this isn’t a new development; I would think Ivy would be a little experienced with dealing with Ally. I think acknowledging what Ally went through (real or not) as traumatic would go a long way in easing her anxiety.
One notable clown made a reappearance—Twisty (from Freak Show). Oz is a fan of the comic books created about the homicidal clown. Since Oz doesn’t appear to be too afraid of clowns, what prompted him seeing them? I guess it could be that Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) introduced him to the dark web, or it could be (as she is Kai’s sister) that she is messing with Oz. Either way, she may be the worst nanny ever. I wonder why the Mayfair-Richard family has been targeted? Kai seems to be taking a particular interest in them– how did he choose them?
Fear will always be with us. It isn’t something that just goes away. There is a spectrum, there are extremes. For some, fears can be debilitating, for others they thrive on that adrenaline rush. I think problems arise when the fear is being fought; by oppressing it, other feelings like anger may emerge and consume a person. Maybe the fear becomes so overwhelming that day to day life becomes impossible. I think leaning into the fear, acknowledging it, is the way to overcome it. This could be as simple as becoming more educated, or it could mean talking to a trained professional, taking medication, or finding other tools to deal with the stress. I will be very curious to see if any of the characters this season can overcome their fears, or will fear consume them all?