For me personally Cult started off with a bang with scary clowns running amok and a mentally fragile main character keeping you second guessing whether what you were seeing was real or not.
It ended on a cliffhanger and starts right where it left off…
Whilst all the promos and teasers for this series made me excited to see AHS exploring Cults in any shape or form right now, albeit only two episodes in, I’m just enjoying the genuinely decent take on the horror genre.
We’re given a bunch of characters and the idea of a Cult which keeps us guessing to who is in this Cult and what are their motivations but its the actions of the people that have made the first two episodes so good and that is without any actual Cult showing up so far.
Ally is the perfect damsal for the horror genre. Not only is she easily scared, on edge 24/7 and just downright paranoid at every turn but her fragile state of mind keeps the auidence guessing on what is real and what isn’t. I still find Paulson as annoying as I ever find her but at least with Ally its a understandable amount of annoying. However it did make me chuckle when she and Ivy meet their new neighbours and her paranoia, which to be fair seeing they are the couple that taped Kai being attacked by the immigrants are probably a couple to be weary of, brought up her excuse of leaving their house to bathe Oz… Walking through the house and calling him to come with them when they leave even though moments earlier you can clearly see him out in the garden right next to where they are sat with Winter.
There are so many weird and wonderful characters in this series, the majority of them are extremely over the top, but it keeps you guessing who will eventually turn out to be part of the Cult and who isn’t. Online the characters seem to be disliked for being portrayed as the absolute extremes of our society. The Trump supporters all being out and out racist bigots whilst the Clinton supporters being triggered snowflakes.
Just taking Kai and Ally into consideration though I think you’ll see that facade slipping.
Whilst Kai is obviously a young man who seems to believe to make America better they need to get rid of people he deems not part of his country just listening to him talk and seeing how he acts publically to get what he wants is fascinating. Its exploring a different kind of Cult, that of the Cult of Personality. He’s building himself up as a victim of abuse from these outsiders to get people on his sides and whilst he might still be the extreme part of society to just dump him as a extremist is dangerous. Regardless of what Cult means to this season it’ll be easy to see why people will flock to him.
As for Ally her own picture of perfection, minus the mental health problems, seems to be failing as we see her become more and more judgemental. She calls Pedro a immigrant even though later in the episode he announces he was born in San Diego, whether he is lying or not we don’t know right now but Ivy didn’t seem to think he was but the wording from Ally would say different. When she finds out the new neighbours got married in a pact and the man in question Harrison (played by Billy Eichner) is actually gay she, in my opinion, seemed to look down her nose on the two more so then she already was and her reaction to finding out that the Changs were rendting their home also came across as rather judgemental.
Whilst the characters seem one dimensional and like a dig at extremes the layers to them seem to be falling off whilst other layers are building. For someone who wanted trigger warnings that Trump had won the election, Winter seems to be thriving in her role as tormentor/mentor to Oz. Already so far from the extreme caricature that you might have thought she’d be.
It’ll be interesting to see why the clowns are tormenting Ally. With so little to go on it could be anything from them truly being in her head to just about anything else. They seem custom made to terrorize her and only her, they represent the majority of her obvious fears and target her life. Even though Oz has seen the clowns he’s not really been targeted by them and Winter has done her best to make sure after seeing what they did to the Changs his encounter with them in this episode seems like a night terror.
Right now the use of Twisty seems to indicate a dream or something that isn’t real. He’s been in two scenes so far, one was a recreation of something Oz read in a comic and this episode as part of his night terror, I wonder if we’ll see that used at some point to further muddy the waters between reality and dreams. Winter if anything will know that Oz see’s Twisty as something in his dreams, she’s told him to ask if he’s dreaming or awake when he see’s the clowns now which gave one of the house invaders the chance to say he was asleep and not have Oz kick up a fuss when the power was cut. I’ve always been a big fan of Twisty and I’m pretty happy with the way that he’s being used in this series, it doesn’t take away from his ending in Freakshow but it uses him in a way I think a lot of people wanted to see him used in.
So far the two episodes we’ve seen have been wonderfully suspenseful and keeps you guessing at every turn. I kind of hope it keeps that up until the latter part of the season but at the same time I really hope that it explains everything properly by the end. Its so interesting to keep guessing who is in on a Cult we at this point know nothing about, having to guess if there truly is a Cult or what it is they are really trying to do. Each episode has built on the tension over not knowing what is really going on.
Billie Lourd continues to be the highlight of the season for me though, her interactions with Oz are terrifying yet I still feel like in another setting they two of them would make a great double act in a babysitter comedy. If anything she’s taken a deeper control over Ally in the episode by basically sexually assualting her in the guise of helping her then leaving her when she’s at her most vulnerable. I love everything about her character and if anything its her real intentions and part in this story that really intrigues me, whilst Kai is a big mouth and from episode one we knew he’d be the way he is I just don’t get what Winter is doing, why she’s doing it and what her long game is going to be. My eyes are absolutely glued on Winter and Lourd is outshining everyone other then probably Cooper Dodson who is playing Oz perfectly.