I thought Ryan Murphy ws done with extreme feminist tropes, having taken things pretty far with main character Ally (Sarah Paulson). I was wrong. He stepped it up a notch in episode seven. Let’s get into it.
The week’s episode starts with a throwback to 1968 New York. Lena Dunham — yes, you read that right — is having sex in the back seat of a man’s car. Her name is Valerie. She’s a sex worker who is rightly pissed when the guy shorts her on the the ten bucks he owes for her services. And apparently that’s not the only grudge she’s holding. We next see her trying to purchase bullets and when the merchant asks what it’s for, she replies: Andy Warhol. The legendary artist is portrayed by Evan Peters, and he has refused to produce a movie based on the script that Valerie (Dunham) wrote. When she confronts him, he’s condescending about it in a way that only a patriarchal dude can be when addressing women. So Valerie makes good on what she said at the gun shop. She stakes out at is studio and shoots him right after yelling, “Down with the patriarchy! Suck my dick Warhol!” It’s only weird because it’s Lena Dunham.
Back in the present, news from Brookfield Heights, Michigan is making national headlines following the mass shooting at Kai Anderson’s (also Evan Peters) rally. They have identified the correct shooter, now deceased Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman), but for some reason Ally is still in custody as a person of interest. She is refusing to speak to authorities. Meadow’s widower, Harrison (Billy Eichner) gives a press conference claiming that Meadow’s rampage and suicide was indeed politically motivated, and that Kai was the target. He’s not wrong per se. But he obviously didn’t get the information from her diary like he claimed given that he’s also in the cult that motivated the shooting. Anyway, Kai’s plan works. While recovering at home on the couch — where he is also giving news interview — he finds out that he has won the city council election.
Beverly Holt (Adina Porter) is leaving the news station when she finds a woman in a green hood (it’s the AHS return of Frances Conroy. Yay!) waiting for her. The crass older woman calls Beverly a puppet, insisting that she, and all women, have lost their way. She clearly recognizes the cult activity in the staged assassination of Kai and is disappointed that the women are following the leadership of a man. She gives Beverly a meeting place and feels confident that the anchor will show up. I sense a cult war coming.
The mystery woman may be onto something because the next time Beverly sees Kai, he has grown and organized his cult. His home is full of dudes in blue shirts slapping each other, and toting guns. They are apprehensive about even letting Beverly into the home. She brushes the bravado of the new bodyguards aside and gives Kai her opinion on next steps. But Kai says it’s time for her to sit back and let him take the lead. I called it that Kai and Beverly’s leadership styles would clash. She meets the woman in green at the hotel later that night.
Ivy (Alison Pill) and Winter (Billie Lourd) are at the Butcher on Main discussing the new “sausage feast” Kai is fostering and debating whether or not Ally will snitch while in police custody. A few moments later, Beverly shows up with Bibi, the woman in green. The four of them are women scorned by male dominance and Bibi has a tale that is going to ignite them to action. Bibi narrates the story of Valerie over more flashback scenes from the late 60s and 70s.
Valerie was a radical feminist who created the S.C.U.M. (Society of Cutting Up Men) Manifesto. Suddenly, I don’t think there’s a role that Dunham would love to play more. Anyway, the manifesto is the mission of her own female cult, which includes a Black bisexual pimp, a female murderer, an orphan (Jamie Brewer, another AHS alum), and Bibi who was her lover. There are also two male allies among their ranks, who must say, “I am a turd” before they address the group. It’s nice… Until they decide that exterminating as many men as possible is the only way to right the world. Apparently Valerie killing Andy was the signal for the rest of the lady cult to start “couple busting” — killing men and the women willing to sleep with them. They were the actual perpetrators of the infamous Zodiac Killer murders.
However, when the Zodiac killer is named in the newspapers because of anonymous letters, Valerie is pissed that someone, presumably a man, is taking credit for their work. She is locked away in an asylum but still running SCUM from the inside. Upon her release, she identifies that one of the male allies among her group is the leak. She can’t have another man taking credit for her work. The women kill and dismember him, leaving his dick in his mouth. This prompts Valerie to confess her crimes to the police, but they don’t believe her because she’s a woman. Not being taken seriously causes Valerie to unravel. Her followers began to abandon her and she is ultimately left alone.
While working on another manifesto, Valerie hallucinates that Warhol is still patronizing her from beyond the grave. She argues with him about men dominating women. When she tries to lunge at the figure, she hits her head on a table and dies alone.
Finishing her story, Bibi tells Ally, Winter and Beverly that it’s time for them to reclaim their power.
On another day, Winter finds Kai talking to their parents’ skeletal corpses. He’s under a lot of pressure and wonders if they would be proud of his accomplishment. He’s doubting himself and Winter insists that she still has his back. He appears to accept her reassurances, but he found the SCUM manifesto in her room. She makes up a lie about it being a college reading. He believes her, and wants to use it as the baseline to create his own tile, F.I.T. (Fear Is Truth). By taking the ideas from a feminist manifesto, Kai is doing exactly why Bibi said he would. He said that Harrison came up with another more offensive title about men leading and women bleeding. Winter doesn’t like it.
It looks like Ivy and Harrison are throwing Kai a victory party at the restaurant. But it’s a set up. Bibi is there with Winter and Beverly knocks him out with a pan. Harrison wakes up tied to a table and the women wanting answers about what really drove Meadow to suicide. He insists that Ally was supposed to save her and that he never suggested the dweeby title for Kai’s movement. But they don’t believe him and saw his body into pieces.
Soon after, Beverly gives a sassy news report about Harrison’s body being found, knowing Kai will see it. He does. “They’re better when they’re angry,” he comments from the couch. Bibi, who is sitting next to him, (plot twist!) agrees. The end.
What the hell is Bibi’s end game and why is she still wearing the green cloak if she’s working with the man?