September 13, 2017
‘American Horror Story: Cult’ Review: ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ Brings Terror to the Suburbs
(Every week, we’re going to get the discussion going about American Horror Story: Cult by answering one important question: who is the main villain of the episode?)
In its second episode, American Horror Story: Cult expands upon its paranoid landscape while diving deeper into the unraveling psyche of Ally Mayfair Richards (Sarah Paulson). Not only does “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” push Ally over the psychological precipice, separating herself even further from reality and her loved ones, it brings her closer to the inevitable face-off against Evan Peters’ Kai Anderson.
Distancing itself from the premiere’s election-inspired craziness, episode two of American Horror Story: Cult gives a better understanding of Winter’s (Billie Lourd) plan while introducing Ally and Ivy (Alison Pill) to the creepy new neighbors that moved in right across the street.
This Week’s Big Bad: Harrison and Meadow Wilton
Just days following the gruesome murder of the Changs, new occupants Harrison (Billy Eichner) and Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman) move in right across the street from Ally and Ivy. It’s not long before Ally becomes suspicious of the new tenants – what with the big mysterious barrels in their garage and Harrison’s weird hazmat-y suit.
Leave it to Winter, who once again exercises her impeccable babysitting skills by taking Ozzy over to meet the weird new neighbors (and play with their bees). Revealing Harrison’s beekeeping hobby sure explains the all-white suit he was wearing earlier – or does it? – adding this to the many quirks that immediately put The Wiltons on Ally’s radar. First off, the duo are die-hard Nicole Kidman fanatics. It’s a weird detail that makes us wonder just how Stepford Wives-y this season of American Horror Story will get. Second, it’s in his glowing review of Kidman’s “transcendent” performance in Big Little Lies that Harrison reveals himself to be gay. Apparently, he and Meadow were besties who ended up marrying each other because neither one could find anyone to settle down with.
These aren’t solid red flags, per se, but Harrison’s surprising arsenal absolutely is. Not only does he reveal his cache of guns to Ally in her time of need – we’ll get to that in a second – but it’s this reveal that finds the Butchery on Main’s co-owner ditching some left-leaning liberal cliches to arm herself against any and all threats. Calling back to the small detail that the Wiltons were the ones who caught Kai’s immigrant attack on video, this gun exchange comes with some wish-fulfillment: Ally’s going to kill someone.
Add that concept with Harrison’s fascination with the cult-like nature of the bee colonies he cultivates and what you have is some proverbial icing on the foreshadowing cake. “Every single member of the hive is completely committed 100% to a singular task,” He tells Ally and Ivy. “There’s no arguments, there’s no complaints, there’s no me. I admire them.”
Bloodshed at the Butchery
We got a few good glimpses at Ally and Ivy’s farm-to-table restaurant, The Butchery on Main, in “Election Night.” Episode two gets more up close and personal at The Butchery as racial tensions between the kitchen staff escalates, causing some real concerns.
Sure the episode opens with a quick interlude with one of the clown mask-wearing murderers from episode one – pushing her sanity closer to the edge – but sometimes the best way to convince yourself that you’re not going completely nuts is to take a chance and walk into the belly of the beast, with eyes wide open. And that’s exactly what Ally does when an after hours security alert from the restaurant pops up on Ivy’s phone.
Of course, she doesn’t know she’s heading to danger, but we do. And once she’s inside the restaurant, Ally has a run-in with another major phobia: blood. Oh yes, she has a huge fear of blood – making us wonder why she’d agree to work at a meat-serving restaurant, to begin with – and her discovery of Zach Ward’s racist chef hanging from a meat hook only exacerbates things further. He’s covered in blood, there’s a growing puddle of it on the floor and, well, as you can imagine, she fails at not coming into contact with the stuff.
With Hispanic staff-member Pedro heading straight to the top of Detective Samuels’ (Colton Haynes) suspect list – calling back to the earlier scuffle in the kitchen – Ally decides to take matters into her own hands and literally turns her house into a prison. With bars on the windows and a new security door out front, she admits to Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) that she’s become empowered, that her phobias have proven themselves to be true. So, of course, now Ally owns a gun.
The Kai’s the Limit
After Kai threw a urine-filled condom into a group of undocumented workers in the season premiere, the video Harrison and Meadow took of the attack went viral, putting the recently-injured Anderson in the perfect position to run for political office. After all, Tom Chang’s (Tim Kang) City Council seat was just vacated (because, you know, murder).
With his newfound fame fanning his sails, Kai’s door-to-door campaign eventually puts him right on Ally’s front step. We knew this moment was coming and it’s the first real back-and-forth the two have since the coffee throwing incident in the season opener. Her newly reinforced door may be the only real thing separating them now, but it’s becoming more-and-more evident that the physical and psychological wall between them will be falling down sooner rather than later.
We’re just two episodes into the seventh installment of American Horror Story and it’s hard to not already be questioning the integrity of our heroes. First off, the parenting skills of Ally and Ivy are in need of some work. But with one busy at the restaurant and the other regressing further into the recesses of an anxiety-riddled mind, the only constant parental figure Ozzy seems to find himself with is Winter Anderson – and that’s frightening.
For one thing, Winter is the only one who knows Ozzy witnessed the murder of the Changs. If she didn’t present doubt in the minds of Ally and Ivy last week – using the Twisty the Clown comic to further indict the boy’s overactive imagination – Ally would have solid proof that she’s not actually losing her marbles. But alas, that did not happen. Instead, Winter goes pinky-to-pinky with the boy – taking on the role of mini cult-leader in the process, mirroring the kooky actions of her blue-haired brother.
If we look at things through Ozzy’s perspective, we’d see Winter as an edgy new role model. She’s not only taking the boy’s fear away, but giving him tools to deal with the clown invaders, as well. It’s obvious Winter, in some way, is connected to these mask-wearing marauders, and they’re probably operating off of strict orders not to harm the young boy. With Ozzy under her thumb, it becomes a n0-brainer that she’d pray on Ally’s weak sensibilities next – and soon Ivy’s wife is naked and tipsy in a bath while Winter’s hand does questionable things beneath the bubbly surface.
Win the boy’s trust? Check. Set-up some incriminating infidelity with Ally? Check. Boy…What a perfect time for a power outage!
With Ally disoriented and Ozzy sound asleep, the lights go out on the entire block prompting Winter to spontaneously leave the house. Is this a terrorist attack? Could it be the Russians? How about Isis? These thoughts are suggested by Harrison, as he runs to the house to check-in on the lesbians, before disappearing into the darkness.
Feeling vindicated by her phobias is one thing, but allowing them to take over is something completely different. As she calls up Ivy at the restaurant for help, it’s not long before she loses all hope and realizes it’s just her and Oz against the bleak, unforgiving world. Thankfully, she has that gun Harrison gave her. And as she puts an escape plan into motion, Pedro unexpectedly arrives on her doorstep to assist during the blackout. Unfortunately, fear gets the best of Ally and she pulls the trigger before recognizing the face of her employee.
Ally’s now a murderer. Something tells us Michigan’s stand your ground law may come into play in episode 3. But whatever happens, it’s clear that one more integral piece in Kai’s elaborate puzzle has just locked firmly into place.
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