Neither cults nor their leaders are created in a vacuum. I know this because I like to listen to weird podcasts about such matters. Anyway, the same thing is true of the fictional cult at the center of the gore on American Horror Story: Cult. In the most recent episode, we finally get some backstory on Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) and it all makes sense now. Let’s do this.
I was wondering what Beverly Holt’s (Adina Porter) boss thought about her new take on the news, especially since she’s been reporting on crime at the request of Kai. Now I know. Bob (Dermot Mulroney) doesn’t like it, and he tells her so in his office. He demands that she stops terrifying viewers and “reporting fake news.” He also wants her to stop giving “the nut job running for city council” air time. Beverly is more concerned with why he hasn’t aired the footage of Serena’s (Emma Roberts) murder. Apparently her parents are suing the network for not protecting their daughter. When Beverly doesn’t back down Bob “fires her,” but she has leverage. It’s not going to look good that he was “sexually harassing” the late reporter. He kicks her out of his office and it’s pretty safe to say that her firing is canceled.
Later, all the known members of the cult are gathered at Kai’s, including Ivy (Alison Pill). His numbers in the city council polls are down — mainly because the residents don’t know or care about it. Gary (Chaz Bono) says aloud that the seat doesn’t matter and Kai slaps him, kind of like he did Meadow (Leslie Grossman) in an earlier episode. Anyway, Kai wants to up the intensity of the group’s killings so that they’re scarier. He suggests putting more of a Satanic spin on it like he saw in Paradise Lost. Beverly thinks they’ll have more of an impact if people actually see the murders. Since the footage of Serena’s murder won’t be aired, they come up with a new plan: Kill Bob and record it.
Meanwhile, poor Ally (Sarah Paulson) thinks she sees tiny holes on her neck and scratches the skin raw. She tells Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) about it in a session. Her stress levels are up because of her sudden separation from her wife Ivy. Ally also misses her son Ozzy (Cooper Dodson) and is scared to be in house alone since it was “marked” by the serial killers. Dr. Vincent inquires about previous stress in her marriage and she recalls a time the previous year when they were having financial problems at the Butchery on Main, the restaurant they own. Ivy was stressing about money and Ally gifted her a dildo. It wasn’t received well. So Ally had some idea that things were great. But now she only she only has supervised visits with Ozzy and wants Dr. Vincent to help her not lose him for good.
In the car on their way to kill Bob, Winter (Billie Lourd) and Ivy are pretty cozy as they talk about radical action. Ivy’s anger at Ally for voting for Jill Stein is deeper than we all thought. It’s motivated Ivy to terrorize Ally with the cult. What else is clear is that Kai uses his powers to radicalize the political right while Winter takes the left. At their meeting place, Kai tells the group to chant a Latin phrase because it’s frightening, and then they get to business. Bob is awake in the kitchen when the group enters in their clown costumes, and just when they’re about to kill him he mentions a gimp in the attic. The investigate the attic to discover a man suspended by hooks through his skin. His face is covered and although he can’t see or hear them, Kai kills him anyway. This is Ivy’s first murder and it makes her sick so she runs to the restroom. The group kills Bob and Beverly makes sure he sees her face when she delivers the final blow. As you can guess, she is also the first on the scene to report the murder for the news and air the footage that was sent to them.
Afterward at the Butchery on Main, Kai tells Beverly that she’s his favorite among the group. They both agree that there is a weak link that needs to be eliminated: RJ — who first suggested that they shouldn’t kill the gimp in the attic. In a flashback scene, he was also hesitant about leaving the couple in the coffins, too. Hesitating in the face of a murder is not how you win favor in the eyes of your cult leader.
Alone in her home, Ally spies on Harrison Wilton (Billy Eichner) across the street after she sees him taking a bag out of his car. When she sees him canoodling with Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes), she decides to go across the street to get a closer look. She’s clearly learned nothing from horror movies. She finds Meadow alive and begging for help in a grave in the Wilton’s backyard. Finally exercising some common sense, Ally runs back to her house to call the police. They’re experiencing a high volume of calls and put her on hold. She calls Ivy who thinks Ally is having another episode. When someone bangs on the door, Ally thinks Harrison has come to kill her. But it’s Meadow. She has moved to the window and Ally refuses to let her in. Suddenly she sees the need for caution. Meadow manages to share some important information with Ally before someone puts a pillowcase over her head and snatches her away. At last it’s revealed that a cult has been ruining Ally’s life and everyone is involved, including the police and her wife Ivy.
Speaking of Ivy, she with the rest of her cult members waiting for Kai to arrive when she gets off the phone with a panicked Ally. He arrives late with some good news that Winter already knows: he is up in the polls ever since the video of Bob’s murder aired. Kai kisses his followers’ hands individually as he gives them a motivational speech. They need to keep up the good work to get him elected. But he’s also nervous about dissention among his crew and he is ready to put them to the test.
The group follows him to another room where RJ is duct taped to a chair. Winter and Ivy try to advocate for his life but Kai will hear none of it. RJ is a liability and Ivy is already on thin ice after freaking out at Bob’s murder. They eventually acquiesce and the group takes turns shooting RJ in the head with a nail gun. Before delivering the final shot, Kai licks some of the blood from his victims face.
In one of the final scenes, it's Beverly’s turn to play pinky game. But she has no interest in revealing her deepest fears to Kai. She wants to know more about her fearless leader and his absent parents. Kai accommodates. He narrates the story of their death over a flashback scene. His father was a lawyer who became paralyzed and mean after a motorcycle accident. He was abusive to Kai’s mom and one day she snapped. She shot her husband and then herself in front of Kai. Instead of calling the police, Kai called his brother - Dr. Rudy Vincent! Winter had just started at Vassar and wasn't home. Rudy was sociopathically pragmatic about his parents’ death. The city would have taken 40% of their dad’s million dollar settlement (now we know why Kai doesn’t care about money) if they find out he’s dead and their mom’s pension checks would have stopped. The siblings would have had to sell the house that 27-year-old Kai still lives in. Winter wouldn’t have been able to finish college (which she never did). And Rudy’s new practice and reputation would have been at risk if his clients found out about his parent’s murder-suicide. The two siblings agreed — with a pinky promise, of course — to lock their parents’ bodies in their bedroom and let them decompose naturally. They covered the smell with lye and told Winter when she came home for break.
Apparently, Kai still “visits” their bodies and talks to his mother’s corpse. He cries as he tells the story to Beverly. This is a new side of him.
With so many new details out in the open, there are even more questions. Why does Rudy have a different last name? What will Ally do now that she has a clue about what’s going on? Is there going to be a shift in the cult’s power since Beverly now knows Kai’s weakness? And what the hell happened to Meadow?