I don’t have a lot to go on, but I think I finally have an inkling about what might be happening to Ally (Sarah Paulson) on American Horror Story: Cult. After three weeks of her being terrorised by clowns, neighbours, nannies, aspiring politicians, and blood-written smiley faces, it’s now pretty clear that someone is targeting her. Not all of it is the result of her mental health issues. The big question that remains is exactly who are the perpetrators and why are they doing this? But first let’s get caught up on what happened in episode 3.
In Dr. Vincent’s (Cheyenne Jackson) office, Rosie (Laura Allen) is getting his help to get over a fear that's triggered when she has sex with her husband. When he gets on top for their coital activities, she feels trapped in a dark, enclosed space. It turns out that she was frequently locked in a cupboard as a child by her father. Now, her father is dead and Rosie’s fear of closed spaces and caskets has lifted. She’s “done the work,” Dr. Vincent suggests. Rosie and her husband go home to celebrate with some wine. But the clowns are already there and this is the first time we get to see the masks up close. They’re terrifying. Anyway, both Rosie and her husband are locked in caskets, with the clowns leaving nothing behind but their signature smiley face on the wall. The irony.
Back at the Mayfair-Richards household, the police have already decided not to pursue charges against Ally. Pedro (Jorge-Luis Pallo), is even in death still being labeled as a threatening figure. Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) insists that Ally was just defending herself when she shot him during the blackout. Ally is reluctant, but she and her wife Ivy (Alison Pill) also don’t want to see her in jail. So they roll with it. It’s an icky situation. The good news is that their lights are back on.
The bad news is that there are a group of protesters outside the restaurant that they both own. Local reporter Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) reports on the angry mob who are angered by the murder of an unarmed man of colour. They’ve even pegged Ally as the lesbian George Zimmerman, which is kind of funny but kind of fucked up, too. Ivy needs to handle business at the restaurant and tells Ally to head home without her. Ally reluctantly agrees but before she can drive away, Kai (Eva Peters) appears at her car window. He applauds her for bravery and tells her that she should never feel guilty for protecting her family. Despite the fact that he previously threw a latte at her and showed up at her home unannounced with a lot of aggression, Ally seems relieved to have his support. He even promises to handle the mob gathered outside the restaurant before wishing her well and sending her on her way.
At home, the literal neighbours from hell (Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman) show up at Ally’s door with sombreros on. They’ve come to chastise her and call her a racist. They even throw Taco Bell coupons at her so that she can continue her “appropriation” of Latino culture. It’s ridiculous and hilarious. And like everything else in her life, this doesn’t make Ivy feel safe, which she tells Ivy when she arrives home from the restaurant later that night. That same night, Holt is giving a report about a couple found decomposing in a pair of coffins.
That’s when the couple hears a noisy vehicle outside. Outside the window, a black truck is making its way down their street, spraying an unknown gas. Dozens of dead birds are in their yard the next morning. Ally thinks the city is probably in on it, but I doubt it. Just then, Winter (Billie Lourd) walks in. Ally is still furious that Winter abandoned her, but Ivy called their nanny back and suggests that Ally forgive her. After Ally acquiesces, Winter informs them that she’s not alone. She let in a guy that was responding to an ad, which Winter thought was a posting to replace her. Going to investigate, Ally and Ivy find the man in their living room nude, masturbating, and then demanding the oral he is owed according the mystery ad. Did I mention Winter is the worst caretaker ever?
Anyway, someone has posted a sexual ad about lesbians needing a dick fix on Craigslist. It has their address and some racist undertones. It urges “Latin lovers” not to inquire. They think it's Harrison and Meadow, the neighbours. So Ally calls Dr. Vincent to vent about it. She’s grossly offended that she would ever be called racist (it’s almost as if being racist is worse than being a victim of racism). Her therapist tells her to gather evidence and stay positive. But her fears also led to a man’s death so he recommends an inpatient treatment. Ally declines, which is unfortunate because it may be the safest place for her. Instead, she wants to confront the protesters and explain herself.
If this sounds like a bad idea, it’s because it is. As soon as they recognise her, the protesters surround Ally’s car demanding justice for Pedro. Ally starts to freak out and I’m nervous that there is going to be collateral damage in another one of her anxiety attacks. But just then, Kai parts the crowd like Moses at the Red Sea and tells them that they’ve done enough. As if they heard the voice of god, they disperse. Clearly we’ve underestimated him. He clarifies to Ally that he kept his word and sends her on her way with a “have a nice day.”
Some time later, Ally and Ivy arrive home to find their son Ozzy (Cooper Dodson) and Winter playing with a guinea pig named Mr. Guinea. Genius. They finally reprimand Winter: She should have asked them before she bought their son a pet. Apparently they have a strict no pet rule because of the dander. But for once, Winter isn’t fully responsible. The neighbours brought the pet over for Ozzy. Ally thinks this is a passive aggressive move from the couple that just verbally attacked her. She calls to give them a piece of her mind.
Harrison answers the phone from his couch. He’s hanging out with his wife, and Detective Samuels is there. Plot twist! To say the couple is unapologetic about their gesture towards Ozzy would be an understatement. Harrison says Ozzy needs some testosterone and colour in his life because his moms aren’t doing right by him. Meadow co-signs by calling her a racist and hangs up.
Ally can’t even process her anger because just then the black truck with the green lights and the smoky gas rolls down their street again. This time, Ally runs out to try to stop it. The truck nearly runs her over before she dives out of the way and gives herself a nosebleed from the fall. Ivy comes out and embraces her. Maybe she isn’t the shady character people think she is?
Cut to a scene of Meadow in the basement with Kai. She's playing the pinky promise game where she gives him her fear. At first she refuses to take the matter seriously, claiming that she fears one of the Real Housewives has a drinking problem. Kai slaps her out of the chair and yells that she’s wasting his time. What really frightens her is that she is 40, childless, and may “never be penetrated again” since she’s married to a gay man. Kai tells her to stop apologising and that if she wants to matter, she needs to make the rest of the world “wrong.” I have some issues with this rhetoric but I’ll save them for another time.
Anyway, the Mayfair-Richards family has clearly moved on from their intense phone conversation with Harrison and Meadow Wilton. Ozzy, Ally, and Ivy are all enjoying ice cream after hours at the restaurant. Ozzy offers the cutest apology for saying mean things to Ally when she tried to get rid of Mr. Guinea. His moms even agree to let him keep the pet. Ozzy can’t wait to get home to tell his new friend that he has a permanent home but when they arrive, the ominous smiley face is on the door. And that’s not all.
Ozzy prematurely rushes in first, prompting his parents to chase after him. The three of them find Mr. Guinea in the microwave and he explodes just as they enter. Ally is pissed and she knows exactly who was responsible. She storms across the street, through the Wilton’s home to their backyard, and punches Harrison in the face. Then she goes on a tirade about them leaving her family alone. The Wiltons proclaim their innocence but are livid about Ally’s behaviour. When she mentions the smiley face on the door, the Wiltons give pause. Harrison warns her that they’ve been marked by the killers. But Ally is convinced that they’re behind it all. I’m not sure why, in the face of a total of five murders that she didn’t commit, Ally feels so confident that the Wiltons aren’t a more serious threat.
But she may be right. As they leave the Wiltons Ivy insists that Ally has lost it. What if the Wiltons sue and they lose the restaurant? (I take back what I said about Ivy not being shady because I support Ally’s reaction.) Anyway, they discover that the smiley face has also been etched on the side of the Wiltons house. They debate whether or not to tell them but just then the annoying black truck makes another appearance. This time, two people in gas masks stop in front of the Mayfair Richard’s home and begin spraying their lawn. Ally runs over to confront them once again, but after ripping off one of their masks and discovering a clown face underneath, she loses consciousness.
Cut to Harrison also playing the pinky promise game with Kai. He is taking it very seriously and admits that he regrets marrying Meadow. Kai gets Harrison to reluctantly say that he wants Meadow dead.
Awake again, Ally is in her home with Detective Samuels who doesn't believe her theory about her crazed neighbours. Ozzy lets out a small scream upstairs and when his parents go up they discover that he has come upon a video — on the dark web site that Winter introduced him to — of Ally and Winter’s heated moment in the bathtub. Seeing her wife naked with the nanny sends Ivy into a rage. She slaps Ivy and blames her for all the problems they’ve been experiencing. Ivy packs a bag for herself and Ozzy and is ready to leave Ally alone to “think.” In her rage, Ivy says that Ally will have plenty of company if the killers come. Ouch. Before Ivy can make the same exit as so many scorned women did before her, police car lights flash into the house from outside.
Ivy and Ally leave Ozzy on the porch to go investigate. Harrison is in his pyjamas freaking out. Something has happened to Meadow and he’s the prime suspect. When he sees her, Harrison charges at Ally, accusing her of being involved before the police take him down. In the chaos, Ozzy has left his post on their porch and is, somehow, inside the Wilton home. Ivy and Ally go to retrieve him and discover what has him stuck in his tracks: a bloody mess and the smiley face etched on the wall.
This shit is getting deep.