It took a while to kick off this season, but American Horror Story’s gruesome violence is at its most campy and gratuitous in ‘Holes’. The full potential of Cult is absolutely clear now, and it is exciting to see where it goes from here. Having spent time getting to know Ally and Kai separately, we are ready to see their stories collide. And now with Ally’s discovery that Ivy is part of the clown cult, we can expect things to blow up very soon.
But first, what we’ve been waiting for this whole season: the identity of each clown killer. Obviously we have Kai, Meadow, and Harrison, but now we have faces to match to the other clowns: Gary the shopkeeper, Detective Jack Samuels, Winter, Beverly, RJ the cameraman, and of course, the aforementioned Ivy.
Ivy’s true allegiance isn’t even the biggest surprise of the episode though. Delving into Kai’s backstory we can see how he turned into the unhinged megalomaniac he is today. Not too long ago he witnessed his fragile mother take her and her abusive husband’s lives in a tragic murder-suicide. So Kai called his older brother over to help sort out the situation, leading to two more major reveals.
Firstly, Kai and his siblings decided to keep their parents’ deaths secret so that they could continue to profit off their disability checks. Their corpses are kept hidden in their bedroom, and in true Norman Bates style, Kai visits them every so often to chat. For Kai, death is quite literally an everyday matter.
Secondly, the older brother in question turns out to be none other than Dr Rudy Vincent. While this explains a lot about his scenes from earlier in the season, it doesn’t seem like the doctor is directly involved in the cult – yet. The nature of his connection with it is not entirely clear right now.
So apparently literally every character except Ally is part of this cult, or at least aware of it. No one can be trusted, and the cult’s inescapability contributes only further to its terror. The fact that the police, medical professionals, media outlets, and even the members of Ally’s family are part of this movement feels incredibly isolating.
Ivy’s disenfranchisement and motivation for joining the cult is given a little screen time, but it still feels a stretch too far to justify how she is fine with killing innocent people. Instead, the real rising star of this season right now is the cool-yet-fierce Beverly, portrayed by AHS alumni Adina Porter. This week we see the true extent of her rage, as she leads the killer clowns to murder her misogynistic boss, Bob. By getting him out of the way, Beverly is able to assert more control over the media, and thus give more airtime to Kai’s disturbing messages.
Despite Bob’s bloody and terrifying death, the award for the most unsettling murder of the episode goes to RJ’s early demise at the hand of his fellow cult members. Death by nailgun is up there with one of the most drawn-out, horrific murders of AHS, and it doubles as a lesson to the other cult members of what they can expect if they ever betray their comrades. Unfortunately we never really got to know RJ personally, and so while his slow death was horrifying to watch, there was no real emotional connection with the scene.
Now that we are halfway through the season, Kai’s plan is ready to swing into full action, and Ally is set up to be drawn into the thick of it. After this episode’s many reveals we can expect to see the seeds of various plot threads fully bloom in all their magnificently terrible beauty. While still feeling a little inconsistent, this season is certainly making for utterly compelling television.
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