This American Horror Story: Cult review contains spoilers.
American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 3
There goes the neighborhood. American Horror Story: Cult, season 7, episode 3, ensures there won’t be any block party thrown on Ally and Ivy’s street for a very long time. And if it is, they won’t be invited. Even if they were able to finally evict their “Neighbors from Hell.”
“The fear is always the same,” we hear in the opening. One of Dr. Rudy Vincent’s (Cheyenne Jackson) apparently long-term patients is in therapy with her supportive husband encouraging her nightmares to come alive. “I lie down on my bed, look in his eyes and he kisses me. Then I close my eyes and everything goes black,” she says. American Horror Story loves it when everything goes dark. That’s where the fun happens. That is where the deals are made and the bodies are buried. Or at least locked away. The woman’s childhood trauma led her to a bad case of ferretrophobia, which sounds like a made up name for someone afraid of M*A*S*H’s Frank Burns. It is an exit phobia that’s specifically the fear of getting locked in a cupboard, whether old mother Hubbard keeps it stocked it or not. The series has been ferreting out multiple phobias that sit on the fringe of accepted disorders. The good doctor reminds his patient that trauma lingers in the blood long after it’s passed. She herself is getting better since she freed herself by watching the closing of her father’s coffin lid.
The doctor prescribes systematic desensitization. He is proud of her progress, but this puts him subliminally with the insane clown posse terrorizing the town. On an early episode of The Simpsons, Bart advises his sister Lisa not to look away from the violence on the screen because “you’ll never get desensitized.” Bart is such a clown, a class clown to be more accurate, but he was also the evil twin, as we learned on one of the Treehouses of Horrors, and desensitization is the evil the cult in American Horror Story is peddling as a spiritual salve.
The wonderful, loving couple is buried in white coffins with red cloth by the home invading clowns. This is a shame. They are introduced into the series just to die. This is a shame. They were so close to being cured.
Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) has chalked up her second kill on the show, but nothing’s gong to happen to her. Under the stand your ground law, she was perfectly within her rights to kill the man bringing her a box of essentials for a blackout. Pedro Morales was already a person of interest in another related killing, so the local police have one less crime to solve. This is a little off as the other person Ally actually killed was the person Pedro is accused of killing. But that’s white privilege in small town America.
Not for everyone. The woman who considers herself the least prejudiced person on the planet has to cross “No justice/No peace” picket lines as she is hailed as the lesbian George Zimmerman. Ally becomes the very poster child of everything she used to disdain, an her wife, Ivy (Alison Pill) still has to go to work.
“Never apologize,” Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) advises Ally. But he’s only looking for votes. He’s already got her liberal neighbors wearing sombreros to show how she sees Latin Americans and to prove they are more liberal than she is. Both families are marked. The neighborhood serial killer is taunting victims by painting the symbol of a distorted smiley face we first saw almost painted over in last week’s episode when Ally was rushing out of her neighbors’ house.
American Horror Story pokes fun at instant cures and viral feel good slogans that get people through the day. The kinds of things Ally learns on Instagram posts. But while everyone else is anesthetizing themselves, Ally is getting to know her pain. She is being brought into intimate contact with it by Kai. His followers have a divide and conquer strategy and we have only minor clues so far as to who is in the divide. Kai’s sister Winter has already half-brainwashed Ally and Ivy’s son Oz (Cooper Dodson), who actually tells his mother he wishes he could say his goodbyes to her. He also learns the hard way not to put Mr. Guinea in the microwave. The family has been divided and is being conquered. We watch as Kai turns the liberal neighbor couple against each other in his pinky swears. Of course, the husband has turned against his wife. “I would, you’re so fucking irritating,” Kai assures the wife. But she can make it better as soon as she accept that everything is somebody else’s fault.
I predict that it will come out that Kai hired the protesters just so he could appear to be saving Ally.
The season took a subtle turn this episode. The convergent plots are beginning to make sense. The patterns that once seemed crazy, are now proven to be insane but no less credible. The world changed after the election of President Trump. It got a little more scared. The people who voted for him, as represented by the establishing episode, are vindicated for their fears. The ones who voted against him are afraid that vindication will only lead to more fear. Fear can be a friend or an enemy, a weapon or an anchor, which actually could be used as a pretty good weapon.
American Horror Story: Cult presents a wonderfully twisted version of every liberal’s paranoia, which mirror those of conservatives, like the chemtrails by bus that are killing all the birds. The conspiracy theories often meet, which is really scary because that implies consensus. The cult at the center of the season sees consensus as a double edged sword. Of course they want everyone to believe the same way. But even those who get converted, like the gay man and his beard wife across the street, are in danger of being sacrificed. It is reminiscent of the ending of George Orwelll’s 1984, when the main character, who went from sex rebel to broken ball, goes to bed at night dreaming about the bullet he will gladly accept into his brain. That is party loyalty. Big Brother is a clown. We are all being indoctrinated.
“Neighbors from Hell” was written by James Wong, and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton.