Charles Manson is a cult leader that is arguably the most entrenched in pop culture than the others. This is why American Horror Story: Cult probably saved him as the most influential on Kai (Evan Peters). The problem with this of course is that when Manson’s crimes are so well-known, American Horror Story struggles to elevate the wannabe cult leader that is Kai, to the level of Manson.
With Kai’s behaviour becoming more erratic he begins to believe there is a traitor in his ranks. This gives Ally (Sarah Paulson) the opportunity to work her way deeper into his trust, and seal the fate of another trusted cult member.
One problem that I’ve highlighted with American Horror Story: Cult is the fact it is almost turning into a parody of itself, and this problem returns this week. What helps stop that being a problem though is that we are being told the story of Charles Manson and his family through the storytelling of Kai.
His adoration for Manson and that he is losing touch with reality actually works with the comedy that has wormed its way into the show, and keeps the episode entertaining. The problem it creates though is it lessens the impact of the violence we see on the screen, and the danger that Kai and his group of Fight Club wannabes still are; Or as I like to call them the Fight Club bros.
The audience isn’t the only one who appears to see the lessening of impact as we see the return of Bebe (Frances Conroy). With her return to the show we see where she first met Kai, and how his obsessions began. She arguably is the true force behind Kai’s little cult, and he is her follower. As much as he fashions himself on Manson in this episode, he will never be Manson, even if his followers will do whatever he asks.
Everything about Kai and his cult is unravelling at this point, and if anything, he is a joke. Even his version of Helter Skelter is arguably a bad attempt to be topical. If anything, it feels like American Horror Story: Cult has failed to live up to what it could have potentially been, all to mock the effect of Trump becoming President.
Another annoying thing this week was the fate of Winter. Billie Lourd has played the part well, and it is a shame that the character didn’t live up to the performance she gave. If anything, her character is similar to Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) who just became background dressing until she was literally pulled in front of a camera to tell the world Kai’s version of the news.
With the finale of the season arriving next week, it will be interesting to see if something grand happens that saves American Horror Story: Cult from its own mistakes. While still entertaining, this episode is another one that just doesn’t hit the mark. One thing we can be sure about though, while Kai may be a little boy living out a fantasy, Even Peters still played a very good Charles Manson.
American Horror Story: Cult airs in American at 10pm on FX and in the UK on Fridays 10pm on Fox.