American Horror Story: Cult, Episode 4 Recap: "11/9"

Photo: Courtesy of FX.
American Horror Story: Cult is finally showing more of it’s cards. We now know just how deep the cult runs and who is involved. Strap yourself in tight for a recap of episode 4.
We’re back at election night, which isn’t good news for anyone. Beverly Holt (Adina Porter) is outside of a polling place, reporting on the turnout for the night. But it’s what happens when the camera stops rolling that matters. Another reporter from her station, Serena (Emma Roberts) walks past to cast her own vote. Clearly the two of them have bad blood and after exchanging a few hostile words about who the better reporter is, Serena essentially calls Beverly a hater. Ouch.
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The same polling place has brought out all of our characters. Winter (Billie Lourd) and her crew are in line chanting “this pussy grabs back.” Further back, Harrison (Billy Eichner) and Meadow (Leslie Grossman) are disgusted by what they feel is too much voter empowerment. Ally (Sarah Paulson and Ivy (Alison Pill) are also there, already inside. In a hard to watch moment, Ivy tells Sarah “no protest voting,” and we already know Ally didn’t follow those rules. Everyone casts their vote. In case it’s important later, I’m going to document them. Winter: Clinton (and she took a selfie. Ally: Jill Stein. Harrison: Gary Johnson. Ivy: Clinton. Meadow: Oprah write in. Beverly: Clinton. Serena: Trump. Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson): Clinton.
After their ballots have been cast, Kai (Evan Peters) walks an injured man inside. It’s the same Trump supporting cashier, Gary K. Longstreet (Chaz Bono), that was manning the grocery store counter when Ally was first attacked by clowns in the first episode. He’s bleeding from an unseen injury but demands to cast his vote. Gary fills in the bubble for Trump as does Kai. When they emerge from their respective booth, Gary yells “Welcome to Trump’s America!” while putting both his arms, one of which is severed, in the air.
The next day, Kai shows up at a gym. He’s booked a personal trainer that turns out to be Harrison. Is this how he’s been supplementing his beekeeper salary? Kai’s fitness goal? Anyway, Harrison could clearly rival Broad City’s Abbi in terms of work attitude. He’s not really confident in his own ability to train and is being treated like crap by his more buff co-worker Vinny. But more on that later. As Harrison and Kai chat during their workout session, the extent of Kai’s prowess is put on full display. He tells gay Harrison that he doesn’t believe in labels because it creates a diversion away from the common good. And apparently he’s an app developer — so no, he’s not living the unemployed life in his basement — but not really into money. Their small talk feels like it might be building up some sexual tension when Vinny shows up with an announcement for clean up on aisle four. Apparently, this is codespeak for cleaning up jizz from the shower. Harrison is asked to do it instead of maintenance because he’s gay. Kai clearly doesn’t like that.
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Reluctantly, Harrison handles the task that is not at all in his job description when he hears someone else in the isolated locker room. Trying to source out the sign, he sees that ominous smiley face we’ve grown accustomed to drawn on a steamy shower door. Then he finds Kai, naked, masturbating in the shower. Kai makes eye contact — oh, hello again, sexual tension — and promises to clean it up himself.
Arriving home from work, a clearly upset Meadow informs Harrison that the bank is about to foreclose on their house (the one they lived in before moving across the street from Ally and Ivy) and they have to be out in three days. She was supposed to be in charge of the money but with Harrison not bringing in enough income, she wasn’t able to. Why doesn’t she have a job? She got melanoma and was living off of disability. She picked up a job at a craft store but had to quit because she was being sexually harassed. Trying to comfort Harrison, she insists that she doesn’t need a big house, just Harrison and a decent cable package. Then she tries to initiate sex. Harrison isn’t into it, because of that whole gay thing. Apparently they’ve only ever done it twice. [sips tea]
So despite the fact that it clearly sucks, Harrison is forced to trudge back to work. Vinny threatens to fire him if he doesn’t increase his membership numbers. When Harrison gets too aggressive in his pitch to Kai, the role is quickly reversed. Kai tells Harrison to take his life back. When Harrison suggests that he’d like to be more like Kai, Kai says “you are everything you see in me.” Harrison eventually believes him. In the middle of Kai’s “you’re great” pep talk, Vinny saunters by with another clean up in aisle 4. Kai joins him in the locker room and we finally see him actually draw the smiley face. In another act of mind motivation, Kai demands that Harrison stand up to his asshole coworker. Harrison returns to the gym floor with Kai in tow and crushes Vinny’s neck with weights as he bench presses. But he’s still breathing. “Finish” Kae instructs, and Harrison bashes Vinny’s head in.
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Because he’s a normal person who has never committed murder, Harrison is freaking out about how he’ll get away with his crime. But Kai has it all under control. Using Vinny’s phone, Kai sends a text to the deceased’s friends and co-workers telling them he’s out of town. He installs a virus that wipes clean the last three weeks of security footage. Kai also reveals that he has been watching Harrison for a while. I seriously underestimated him. Clearly, Harrison isn’t going to make the same mistake I did and goes all in to take care of the body.
Meadow is making her way back to a motel room. She passes two men smoking a joint and asks for hit. When they tell her to go away, she offers to sleep with them for it. As it were gas money, she offers them sex. They decide to just give her the joint. Clearly she needs it more than they do. And she certainly will. She walks into her room to discover Harrison severing the head off of his boss’s corpse in the bathroom. She hits her joint and inquires about Kai, who is also there and introduces him as “someone to believe in.” Meadow doesn’t object.
Time jump to December. Vinny’s headless body has been found in a landfill. And Beverly is the unlucky newscaster who has to report from the smelly scene. Serena, on the other hand, is broadcasting from a spa where she is covering the latest relaxation trend. Beverly is pissed, but she does her job. Before she signs off of the newscast, lead anchor Bob (Dermot Mulroney) welcomes her back to the team from the newsdesk. This piques Kai’s interest. He wants to know where she was. And a quick internet search got him his answer. Beverly spent a couple of months in a psychiatric facility for attacking a skateboarder on air with her microphone. Several of her newscasts had been interrupted by pranksters yelling “grab her by the pussy” and when the skateboarder decided to join in on the fun, Beverly snapped. Of course, Serena covered Beverly’s admittance to the facility on air.
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Speaking of Serena, she’s sleeping with Bob. Or at least she was, but let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. Beverly walks in on them canoodling in the office and it’s clear she’s well aware of the affair. It’s the typical conundrum, Beverly doesn’t respect Serena and prides herself on wanting to do real news. Serena wants to be on the Today Show and doesn’t care how many dicks she has to suck to get there (her words, not mine). When Beverly calls out their affair, Bob tells her that she can be easily replaced, even if she is the only Black woman at the network. Beverly is taking her anger out on someone’s tires in the parking lot when Kai shows up to help in a way that only he can.
Kai takes Beverly out for drinks and gives his sales pitch. He wants to recruit her to his cause because he plans on running the world. Every great movement has its messengers and he wants her to be his. But he also admires the rage that Beverly (viewers, meet Ryan Murphy’s angry Black woman archetype) harbors. It’s the same rage that prevents her from believing any of Kai’s bullshit. She doesn’t believe he can win a city council seat because there are none available — a circumstance that viewers already know has changed. And she doesn’t think he can rule the world from that seat either. He promises to see it through, leaving the address to his campaign headquarters. And as we’ve seen so far, Kai keeps his promises.
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Some time later, Serena is pre-taping a segment at the site of a carnival event to promote pet adoption. She’s not being very nice about it, either. She doesn’t want to pose with the puppy and she doesn’t need the cameraman’s direction. It’s too bad she spent her last moments complaining. The clowns casually walk over and stab both her and the cameraman to death. The puppy was left unharmed.
Meanwhile, Kai, Harrison and Meadow are smoking a joint in Kai’s basement. Meadow is showing off her art and Kai tells her she’s a real artist. Beverly barges in — apparently the basement is the campaign headquarters — and asks Kai if was behind Serena’s murder. He was. And he explains that it’s because he would do anything for Beverly. She doesn’t deserve to be treated differently because she’s a Black woman. Suddenly Beverly believes in him. They agree on “equal power” and she’s all in. The next time we see her reporting, it’s when Vinny’s head is found. Beverly comments on the government turning a blind eye to the rising crime and Kai is pleased.
Going back in time to the day before the election, Ivy is trying to get Ally to join her at an anti-Trump rally. Ally doesn’t think Trump has a chance at winning and thinks it’s a waste of time. She also feels like Clinton is entitled and untrustworthy. At least we know she made her qualms about the election known from the beginning. Ivy goes alone and ends up in a standoff with a particularly nasty Trump supporter, Gary. She criticizes Trump for glorifying sexual assault with his pussy grabbing comment and Gary responds by grabbing Ivy’s vagina, suggesting that it’s probably what she needs. Even I was temporarily shocked by his gall. But luckily another Clinton supporter sees what happens, accuses Gary of sexual assault, and runs after him when he tries to get away. It’s Winter, the woman Ivy pretended not to know when she came to interview for the nanny position at Ivy and Ally’s home. Plot. Twist. Cheers to all the theorists who called it that Ivy was shady.
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Ivy and Winter go to the former’s restaurant where they talk about Ivy’s struggling marriage men’s entitlement. Clearly they do a lot of bonding because later that night, while Gary is closing up the grocery store, Ivy and Winter are waiting inside for him. They tie him up, kidnap him, and take him to an undisclosed location. They reveal their plan: to leave him there for 24 hours until the election is over. “You’ve been silenced, bitch!” are Winter’s last words to him before they leave.
But as we know, Gary does get to vote, albeit with part of his arm missing. It’s because when she get’s back home, Kai sees Winter wiping blood from her face and demands to know what she did (and how it felt when she did it, because he’s really into people’s emotions). Kai goes to retrieve Gary the next day, who is frantic to vote, but Kai doesn’t let him go easy. The blue-haired cult leader reminds Gary how much it sucks to be a white male and mocked by the likes of Rachel Maddow and Samantha Bee. With only an hour left before the polls close, Gary must decide how badly he wants to make it to the voting booth. Gary, too, is all in. God help them all.
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