American Horror Story: 11/9
Original air date: September 26th, 2017
This week’s episode takes us back in time, from a couple days before the election, to about a month after. The episode lacked the traditional scares of the previous episodes, but could be the best episode yet. Evan Peters really carries this episode– and he has always been a favorite of mine, but in this season he’s incredible. The intensity in his performance makes Kai both extremely scary and likeable; he switches between the two as well as any high-functioning sociopath (Which I mean in the best possible way). The episode gives us insight into how Kai Anderson is building his following. The graceful ease of his machinations is truly terrifying.
I can see some of Kai’s appeal. To have someone seemingly so invested in your wellbeing, to say things that make sense about society, or reflect your own beliefs–these could be enough to sway a person into liking what he’s selling. However, if he confessed to killing a person (RIP Emma Roberts) to me—I think I would be headed to the police, not into his embrace. That’s how probably most people would react, but I can’t deny there have been some messed-up cults in the past, so how eager Beverly and Harrison were to follow Kai isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
Kai (as I think we all assumed) voted for Trump, but now I question his motives behind it. I don’t think it was that he saw Trump as a great leader, but saw him as inspiration. I think he knew the chaos that would descend and polarize America. He saw it as a way to gain power for himself. Power through fear—it got Trump elected. Kai basically said as much when he was recruiting Beverly Hope.
His MO appears to be finding people at their lowest point and saying exactly what they want to hear. He builds them up and manipulates them along the way. Your rage is valid, people humiliate you because of your sexual preference, you are talented. He feeds into people’s fears and their egos (basically he’s Darth Sidious). Sorry, I put off a Star Wars reference for long as I could, but the season thus far is a PSA about the dangers of the Dark side.
We knew that Harrison and Meadow Wilton were part of Kai’s following, but now we see how that all transpired. It also shows that Meadow fulfilled a need Kai had– after that she was expendable—she wasn’t really one of his prey. Beverly Hope, on the other hand, is a very useful pawn to possess. Fear mongering is nothing new—from the earliest cathedrals to our 24-hour news cycle, things to be afraid of our neatly listed for us. Kai is going to that to his advantage. His belief is that fear spreads like wildfire. First, he will control the town, then the world.
Kai is at least an equal-opportunity recruiter—from Beverly to Gary K. Longstreet, he has collected a very diverse group. We now know how Longstreet lost his hand, and for sure he was in on the clown attack at his store (though that isn’t a real surprise). What is surprising is that Ivy and Winter met before Winter was hired as a nanny. I went back to rewatch the first episode when she was being interviewed: there is nothing that gives away that they knew each other. So Ivy must be a good actress. It makes me wonder what else she is concealing? Is she under Kai’s influence? Or was it just one night of kidnapping that she and Winter shared?
Kai has been doing so well with his recruitment, I wonder if he is upping the challenge for himself. He wants to destroy a person, then recreate them in his image—that is what he is doing with Ally. Or maybe she and Ivy are just in the way of what he really wants, someone he can raise in his beliefs, someone Winter is already shaping… someone like Oz.