‘American Horror Story: Cult’ Season 7 Episode 10- All in the (Manson) Family

On the latest episode of “American Horror Story: Cult,” Kai (Evan Peters) finally began to unravel as he suspected a mole was hiding within his ranks, Ally (Sarah Paulson) stepped up her game, and key members of the cult started to panic as their heretofore fearless leader got paranoid and certain people ended up dead, in “Charles (Manson) in Charge.”

This episode saw Peters once again add another character to his arsenal of fine performances this season in the guise of the notorious cult leader Charles Manson, who appeared to Kai as a sort of spirit animal to advise him on how to proceed, in light of his sneaking suspicion that someone in the cult had turned on him- and that the authorities were now listening.

The show finally took a stab- pun definitely intended- at recreating some of the most notorious murders of all time, showing that maybe Ryan Murphy and company should have tackled the Manson case for “American Crime Story” after all. Can’t say I blame ’em for forgoing it, in light of all the competition over the last few years- see “Aquarius,” “Manson’s Lost Girls,” “Manson Family Vacation” and “House of Manson,” as well as a host of new TV docs.

Be that as it may, the show’s version of the infamous Tate murder was pretty brutal, with many of the main cast this season pulling double duty as well, including Paulson as “Sexy” Sadie Atkins, Leslie Grossman as Patricia Krenwinkel, Billie Lourd as Linda Kasabian and Billy Eichner as Charles “Tex” Watson. Though brief, the scene was compelling and pretty dead-on, in terms of realism and accuracy, from what I know about the murders. (The show only showed these murders, and not the subsequent LaBianca ones later on.)

Kai’s objective was to recreate the Tate murder specifically, in an event he dubbed “Night of a Thousand Tates,” in which the cult would break into a local Planned Parenthood, steal the records of all the currently pregnant women and then split up and kill all of them in one horrific night, blaming the actions on a rival right-wing cult and laying the fault on Kai’s competition for the Senate, incumbent Senator Herbert Jackson (Dennis Cockrum), hopefully clearing the way for his own election.

However, upon breaking into the facility, he opts to instead kill one of his most loyal followers, Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono), which is a dubious move, given how paranoid he is that someone is out to get him. After the compelling argument he gives for his other plan, his followers are understandably confused, but Kai does leave Gary’s body at the door, along with a sign implying that it was the “other” cult that did it, and having Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) report on it.

Beverly remains shaken by the events of the previous episode, in which she quite literally drank the Kool-Aid, thinking it would be the end to her suffering after Winter pinned the murder of Detective Jack Samuels (Colton Haynes) on her and she was subsequently tormented by Kai for turning on him. Winter, legitimately feeling bad for her actions, offers her an “out” in the form of a bus ticket to Butte, Montana, so that the broken Beverly can escape.

However, much to her shock, Beverly turns her down, thinking it to be a “test” on her loyalty to Kai, who is frantically searching his house for a “bug” planted by a “mole” he fears has infiltrated the group. Though Ally thinks he’s losing it, sure enough, she finds- or claims to- a listening device embedded in Kai’s couch and brings it to his attention, pinning the blame on Winter, likely as revenge for her affair with her wife, Ivy (Alison Pill).

In addition, it looks as if Beverly went to Kai and told him she didn’t fall for his “trick,” as, after a tense shaving scene that brought to mind a similar scenario in the classic “The Color Purple,” Kai confronts Winter with the bus ticket to Montana, suggesting she use it herself. Winter knows the jig is up, but it’s all too late, after Ally piles on as well, leading Kai to strangle his own sister to death, thus leaving him as the last Anderson standing.

This serves as the breaking point for the REAL informant/mole, cult member Speed Wagon (Cameron Cowperthwaite), who rushes out of there while he still can, stripping off and destroying the wire he was wearing, lest the paranoid Kai find it on him. Unfortunately for him, his premature leaving did not go unnoticed by Ally, who knew good and well Winter wasn’t the real mole.

She confronts him at the end of the episode, clearly intending to enact some sort of endgame towards Kai, no doubt with a little help from whoever Speed Wagon is working for. Lucky for her, Speed Wagon wasn’t around earlier on, when she took out the cult’s real mastermind, Bebe Babbitt (Frances Conroy), who, as we saw in flashbacks, was assigned to Kai as an anger therapist!

“Who is this?” Ally asks, after shooting Bebe, who had herself pulled a gun on Kai. “My anger management counselor,” he replies. “Not very good at her job,” surmises Ally, in the understatement of the year. Lol. For those keeping score at home, that’s three major characters down for the count in this episode alone.

This has undeniably been one of the more bloodthirsty seasons in “AHS” history, particularly when it comes to main characters and/or famous guest stars, and unlike previous seasons, Murphy and company didn’t wait until the end to take them out. No, he’s been taking them out at an alarming rate all throughout the season. Truly, no one is safe, and with only one more episode to go, you can be sure the killing won’t end here.

As we discovered in flashbacks, Kai was a longtime Trump supporter, taunting his sister and her friends when they gathered together to watch one of the debates, going off on how incompetent Hillary Clinton was, and mentioning the whole “Parkinson’s” conspiracy theory that made the rounds amongst right-wingers when footage of Clinton seemingly passing out at a rally was examined with all the focus of the Zapruder film.

This in turn led to a nasty confrontation between Kai and one of Winter’s friends, Riley (Sarah Yarkin), who infers that Trump’s supporters are all straight white single males who seriously need to get laid, including Kai himself. This leads to Kai slapping the poor girl, who presses charges, resulting in Kai being forced to take anger management sessions as part of his probation for assault.

When he arrives, who should be his therapist in question but Bebe, who wastes little time in spouting out the lessons she learned from her old girlfriend Valerie Solanas- guess that part of her story was true- down to making Kai take the “I’m a turd” pledge. Astonishingly, Bebe turns out to be a fellow Trump supporter, because she sees him as a vehicle to inspire an outpouring of feminine rage the likes no one has ever seen before. She’s not wrong, if that march after Trump’s election was any indication.

Bebe puts forth a proposition to Kai- what if his calling is to follow in the footsteps of Trump and himself get into politics? By also spewing forth the same sort of horrific, misogynistic, xenophobic, sexist crap that Trump has been, Bebe hopes to jump-start the sort of feminist revolution that Valerie was never quite able to get off the ground back in her day.

Of course, this all backfires when Kai surrounds himself with a host of straight white male supremacist types- not unlike the sort that Riley accused him of being one of, in being a hardcore Trump fan. As we’ve seen, after giving women a prominent position early on in his plot to take down the system, he’s slowly-but-surely eliminated or reduced the women in his cult to inferior positions, making them do menial tasks like cooking dinner for the cult and cleaning up the mess after an attack.

This has not gone over well with Bebe, who was on board with it at first, seeing it as a way to get the women riled up even more, but now realizing that Kai is out of her control, having lost the thread of her intentions. She confronts him with a gun, intending to browbeat him back into following orders or kill him if he resists, but Ally intervenes, shooting Bebe without a second thought.

Remember, Ally wasn’t around when the rest of the women in the group met Bebe, so she has no idea who she is. Had she known, she might have realized that Bebe was completely in her corner, but alas, Ally never had the chance, and with Bebe dead- and robbed of her “real” significance by being reduced to a mere therapist- she never will. Ironically, it’s a fellow woman that robs Bebe of her voice, even though, in this case, Ally never knew who Bebe was in the first place.

Things are really heating up now, and it will be interesting to see who ends up on top, if anyone. I can easily see a scenario in which Ally reigns supreme- and by extension, Paulson, once again (see also “Coven”)- defeating Kai with the help of Speed Wagon and the authorities, and getting her son back in the process. But I can also see one in which Kai manages to get away with it, in spite of the evidence against him at this point, at least some of which the powers that be must be aware of by now.

Let’s also not rule out Beverly, who may be broken at the moment, but could very well boot and rally for a last-minute comeback, “reclaiming her time,” as it were. I’d like that very much, especially given how sad it was to see her humiliated and defeated by Kai, after once being one of the only ones brave enough to stand up to him, and in one case, even turn the tables on him, as we saw in her “pinky promise” scene.

At this point, it practically has to be one of them who ends up coming out on top, unless no one does, and Murphy goes the “everyone dies” route, which I wouldn’t put past him. I can definitely see there being a raid on Kai’s cult headquarters, a la Waco, in which a stand-off leads to mass murder of the entire cult. I do think Ally will be instrumental in it, though, as she would want to get her son back before going after Kai in earnest, which Speed Wagon’s superiors can no doubt help with.

Whatever the case, this season has been one wild ride, that’s for sure. I’d have to say it’s my favorite since “Coven” on the whole, and arguably the most cohesive, “Roanoke” notwithstanding, which was well-thought-out, but flailed in the delivery for the most part and felt way too padded. This season has its issues, to be sure, but I like the overall plot, and the emphasis on keeping things non-supernatural was a smart move, as was grounding it in today’s politics, which are truly the real horror show nowadays.

What did you think of the latest episode of “American Horror Story: Cult”? Were you shocked that Kai killed Gary? Or his own sister? Were you surprised to find out that Bebe was the real mastermind? What do you think Ally will do next? Will she come out on top and get her son back, or will Kai win out in the end? Who will survive and what will be left of them? Make your predictions down below in the comments section, and be sure and join me after the big finale!