American Horror Story: Cult: “Charles (Manson) in Charge” Season 7 Episode 10 Review

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Cult‘s penultimate episode kills off some major players…as well as a plotline that turned out to be nothing more than a distraction.

Kai has remained a bit of an enigma on Cult, and this is thanks in no small part to the numerous origin stories the show has given him. The first one painted him a man who had seen the worst of humanity, and who wanted to burn it to the ground and start anew. The second was pretty similar, but this one ended with him actually committing a murder and getting a group of people to fall in line with his beliefs.

This week we were given even more background on him, particularly surrounding how Bebe Babbitt came into his life. As a result of hitting one of Winter’s friends during her impassioned anti-Trump rant, he’s forced to go to anger management counseling. Bebe is his therapist, but instead of helping him learn to use his words, she convinces him his mission in life to continue supporting Trump so that he can unleash female rage. This will be how the world burns down.

This backstory is interesting enough, and extremely topical thanks to the real-life female rage that’s being unleashed right now as more and more women come forward to call out powerful men on sexual assault. It’s a bit confusing that Kai has had several moments in his life where “everything changed,” but this is a story I could work with. It made all of his recent misogynistic actions more interesting. Perhaps he really does have a big trick up his sleeve.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. This backstory was merely introduced to explain how Bebe knew him before killing her off. Her death is quick and registers little emotional effect since she had been such a minor part of the show up until now. Ally being the one to kill her was a nice way to get her in even closer with Kai, but I still don’t get why she didn’t just poison him when he came over for manwiches.

Bebe could’ve been the subversive key to unlocking Kai’s true endgame, but instead she was just a plot device used—most likely—so that the show could do an episode surrounding Valerie Solanas and connect it to the present-day narrative. It’s a letdown, for sure, leaving all hope for next week in Ally’s hands.

Much more effective is Winter’s death, even though it can be seen coming from a mile away. The choice to have Billie Lourd play the Manson girl who betrays Charles and the rest of his flock is intentional. We know that she soon will be seen as a betrayer in Kai’s eyes as well. While it’s a bit frustrating to watch a scene in which Winter shaes Kai with a straight razor and doesn’t attempt to end it all right there, Winter’s final moments still end up being impactful. Lourd and Evan Peters deliver captivating performances as two siblings who were never really going to make it out of this mess alive together. Watching him choke her to death is certainly disturbing, but the twisted sense of intimacy that comes with it is even more haunting.

Chaz Bono’s Gary also dies this week, and it’s super nonsensical. Part of the reason this episode gives us a brief Charles Manson history lesson is so that Kai can announce his next plan: the Night of 1,000 Tates. He believes that murdering 1,000 pregnant women and placing the blame on the current sitting senator of Michigan will help him overtake his seat.

In order to shift the blame toward him, though, he has to start with Gary. Though the reasoning is easy to follow, the execution is a bit of a mess. Why does everyone wear clown masks when closing in on him? He knows exactly who they are already? Also, why the violent stabbing? Gary is more than willing to sacrifice himself. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just kill him quickly and then mutilate the body afterward? So much of this scene feels like it’s done for theatrics, but coming off of Bebe’s pointless murder it just becomes eye roll-inducing instead of  genuinely shocking.

After Winter’s death, I pretty much had a “whatever will be, will be” attitude toward’s next week’s finale. Yet, “Charles (Manson) in Charge’s”  final scene piqued my interest once more. Speedwagon, one of Kai’s many Abercrombie soliders, has been wearing a wire this whole time. And now Ally knows it. There’s something exciting about one of Kai’s own—one of his men—betraying him. This week was all over the place, but next week should hopefully be a wild ride. Grade: C+

 

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