Reviews from the streets (translation: my Facebook feed) have named this season of American Horror Story a dud. It’s become monotonous with its over-the-top-ness and hasn’t advanced it’s plot much. But I think episode 9, “Drink the Kool-Aid” delivered the thrills and plot twists that fans were craving. Here’s what happened.
The episode opens with Kai (Evan Peters) narrating the history of other cults like Heaven’s Gate, David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas, and the story of the mass murder-suicide orchestrated by Jim Jones when he infamously convinced nearly a thousand of his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. This is a moment that my true crime-loving self has been waiting for. The moment was made even sweeter by Evan Peters expertly playing each of the cult leaders, complete with facial prosthetics. Peters deserves an Emmy and I’m ready to argue about it.
Anyway, it’s clear that Kai Anderson admires these leaders. He is orating their histories to his own following of white men who are dressed in matching white jammies, slumber party style. Kai is prepping his own cult members for the possibility that they, too, might have to kill themselves on his behalf. But gaining their undying loyalty is just one part of Kai’s meta plan. His bid for city councilman really was just the beginning.
The newly elected official’s latest idea to reform Brookfield Heights is an “internet integrity” act that allows authorities to monitor and regulate how its citizens use the internet. The services that Kai has identified as degrading society include porn sites and popular mobile games like Candy Crush. He may have a point about the harmful effects of the latter on one's productivity, but this is still America and censorship is not ok. One of Kai’s fellow council members voices this concern but is outvoted by his peers who have clearly become victims of Kai’s violence. He also uses the meeting as an opportunity to announce his intention to run for the Senate. And it looks like he might be able to pull it off.
Finally reunited and in their home, Ally (Sarah Paulson) wants to know why in the hell her wife Ivy (Alison Pill) joined Kai’s cult. Ivy claims that she felt that she lost all control of her life after the election and when Ally’s phobias took over. Ivy wanted someone else to pull the strings and offer some relief to her suffering. “A daddy,” is what Ally infers Ivy wanted and the latter admits to it. Clearly Ally wasn’t the only one who had an extreme reaction to the election and all of those feminist sensibilities that Ivy had are out of the window. But now that Ivy has seen Kai’s true colors, she’s had a change of heart and worries about Ally’s involvement. Luckily, Ally’s motives are more strategic. She wants her son Ozzy back and, for his sake, didn’t want to leave Ivy behind. Suddenly I find her way less annoying.
Just then, Ozzy walks in with Winter (Billie Lourd) who is still Ozzy’s caretaker and now Ivy’s lover. The young boy quickly warms up to his other mother who he hadn’t seen in weeks and Ally sends him upstairs so that she can confront Winter. I hate to pit women against each other but I was looking forward to this showdown. Winter is apologetic and also blames her murderous behavior over the past few months on the it on the election results. She, too, has seen Kai’s true colors now that he’s killed their older brother Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Graham). In fact, she has a plan for them to run away. But if you’ve been paying attention, you know that Winter can’t be trusted. Whether or not Ally knows this is yet to be determined, but she agrees that they have to escape. Unfortunately, Kai’s henchmen in blue show up at that exact moment announcing an emergency meeting at “headquarters.”
The upside of this meeting is that Beverly (Adina Porter) is still alive. She attacks Winter on sight for contributing to her imprisonment in the isolation chamber. The downside is that Kai wants to prove everyone’s loyalty and presents the group with his own liquid concoction similar to Jim Jones’. The first person he instructs to drink, one of his boys in blue, refuses and Gary (Chaz Bono) shoots him dead. Beverly doesn’t want to take any chances and reluctantly drinks her serving. A distressed Ally and Ivy follow suit, and then Winter after reminding Kai that he promised to always take care of her. Kai prompts the rest of the room to do the same and they enthusiastically follow through with hoots and hollers. But just like I thought, the drink isn’t actually poisoned. This is a test that the women all passed, albeit begrudgingly.
After this scary stunt, Ally and Ivy kick their escape plan into high gear. The next day they are preparing to pick Ozzy up from school, leave town, and never look back. I don’t blame them one bit. All they have to do is wait until pick up time. To their horror, however, Winter has already picked Kai up and now they need a plan B. Ally has one, and it doesn’t fair well for Ivy. At their home later that night, Ally reveals how she overcame the suicidal thoughts and her her fears while locked up in the mental health facility. She replaced her anxieties with an even stronger desire to get revenge against Ivy and the cult. Ally shares this information over dinner with Ivy, who has the gall to be offended. While drinking wine and eating pasta, Ivy doubts her wife’s newfound confidence and ability to act on her urges. But Ally already has, Kai may have been bluffing about his poisoning but Ally is not, and she’s been watching Ivy ingest the cyanide she put into the food. As Ivy convulses and spits up blood, Ally confirms with a smile that she has accomplished half of what she set out to do.
The other half of Ally’s intentions are to have sole custody of Oz, but that proves to be just a little bit tricker. When she and Ivy discovered that he had already been picked up from school, they found him at Kai’s and Ivy reluctantly agreed to let him stay for a sleepover with the cult leader. Kai also revealed in that time that he is Ozzy’s biological father, an idea that excited the little boy but horrified his mother’s. For what it’s worth, Ozzy is smart enough not to believe everything Kai says. When he gives an alternate history of Jim Jones — one that says he also drank his own poison and was resurrected by Jesus, then given the power to resurrect his fallen followers — Oz is one step ahead on Wikipedia to call his bluff.
But Ally is three steps ahead. She invites Kai over for dinner and in the meantime visits the sperm bank where she selected a donor to conceive Ozzy. In the words of a man well-versed in issues of paternity, “Kai, you are not the father.” But Ally is willing to sit on this information for the time being. Over dinner she tells Kai that he is the father, and because he is now lost in his own delusion that he’s some sort of god, he believes her. Ally watches him eat his manwich and tells Kai all the things he wants to hear about Oz needing more male guidance. She even opens up to him about killing her wife. It’s truly amazing to watch her flip the script. And it works.
Thinking that he has found a true partner to raise his messiah baby, he and Ally hide Ivy’s body in the same room where the corpses of Kai’s parents and now his brother lie. Then he reunites her with Ozzy who is still being babysat by Winter. I’m pretty sure that if she tries to stop Ally from getting her son out of the grips of this cult, Winter’s body is going to be the next one added to the family crypt.
Finally, with only two episodes left, the finish line is in sight on AHS: Cult.