American Horror Story is back for its seventh season and just like Law and Order, Cult is ripped from the headlines. The new season dives headfirst into the election of President Donald Trump, exploiting the fear and anger people feel and adding in a healthy dose of terrifying clowns.
While Trump may be the starting point for AHS: Cult, the season is more about fear. Why are we afraid? Should we be afraid? Let’s find out.
Welcome to Trump’s America
After a montage of news footage chronicling the ugly and violent 2016 presidential election, AHS: Cult begins on Election Night and we are introduced to two very different reactions. Ally (Sarah Paulson) and Ivy (Alison Pill) are a married lesbian couple with a young son and as they watch Donald Trump win the election, Ally starts crying. But since they live in Michigan and Ally voted for Jill Stein, she has no one but herself to blame. Their friends, the Changs, yell at each other.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Kai (Evan Peters), who celebrates Trump’s victory by stating “The revolution has begun.” He then shouts “F*** you, world,” humps his TV, tosses some Cheetos into a blender and covers his face in the orange Cheeto dust as an homage to the first ever Orange-American president.
We also meet Winter (Billie Lourd), a staunch Hillary supporter who is upset with Kai. “I’m just so scared now” she says. “Everyone is,” he replies, stating the fundamental theme for this season, fear. Despite their political differences, Kai and Winter clearly have a deep connection based on pinky swears and she seems to be worshiping him a bit like a cult leader.
Remember Twisty the Clown from Freak Show, the demented serial killer? He’s back in a modern-day scene where two young lovers make out in a park before being attacked by the clown. He repeatedly stabs the guy and then runs after the girl to kill her too. However, we learn that none of this is real, it’s just a story from a comic book being read by Ally and Ivy’s son, Oz.
Ally finds her son, who immediately hides the comic book. She tells him that porn is nothing to be ashamed of, but when she sees the Twisty comic she has a nervous breakdown. It seems Ally has severe coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.
Ally meets with her therapist Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) and explains that Trump makes her anxious and has reignited all of her fears, including clowns, confined spaces, blood, coral and pretty much everything else. He prescribes her some pills and encourages her to stop obsessing over social media and focus on her marriage and her child instead.
That doesn’t work because Ally goes to the supermarket, which is completely empty, and starts to see scary clowns having sex and coming after her with knives. She freaks out, runs to her car and calls her wife in a panic about how they’re trying to kill her. Then Ally sees a clown in the backseat and hits the gas, crashing into a pole.
A few days later Ally and Ivy have a date night at their restaurant and, once again, Ally sees a scary clown masturbating in the corner, but Ivy sees nothing. Are the clowns real or just in Ally’s mind?
Let Chaos Reign
Kai attends a town council meeting and delivers a speech about how Americans love fear more than anything else. He wants society to embrace the fear and let chaos reign so that citizens will become so terrified that people like Kai, who aren’t afraid of anything, can take control of the world. Councilman Chang (Ally’s friend from Election Night) tells him that this whole Trump election is just a blip, it’s not the new normal.
Kai decides to take matters into his own hands. First he bumps into Ally and Ivy on the street, dumping his coffee on them and calling Ally a bitch. Later he finds some migrant workers and hurls ethnic slurs at them. He also pees into a condom and throws it at them. They immediately beat the crap out of him, but it’s being videotaped. You can probably guess where this is going.
The New Nanny
Ally and Ivy have to hire a new nanny for their son when Ally decides to go back to work at their restaurant. They hire Winter, who acts sweet and nice during the interview. But when she’s alone with Oz, Winter introduces him to the Dark Web and shows him videos of people being stabbed to death. She’s trying to indoctrinate him into being immune to violence. This chick is demented and definitely under Kai’s spell.
Oz then looks out the window and sees a bunch of clowns come out of an ice cream truck wielding crow bars and knives. He claims that he saw the clowns go into the house of the neighbors, the Changs, and the clowns viciously murdered them.
When Ally and Ivy return home they see the police and learn that their neighbors are dead. Winter claims that Oz’s story about killer clowns is all made up. The police detective (Colton Haynes with bleach blond hair) would seem to confirm that by claiming it looks like a murder suicide.
Ally is scared because she’s now worried that her fear of clowns is affecting her son. The episode ends with Ally in bed, rolling over to see another killer clown.
This season definitely seems to be exploring fear and reality itself. Are the killer clowns real? Did Ally actually see them in the supermarket and at the restaurant or was that a hallucination? And did the clowns really kill the neighbors? Was the detective lying to cover it up? His dyed hair might imply that he’s aligned with Kai and Winter, who also have dyed hair.
It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not, but that’s probably the point. At least we can all agree that masturbating clowns are creepy.
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.
(Image courtesy of FX)