Spoilers below for the third episode of American Horror Story: Cult, so be sure to watch before reading on.
American Horror Story: Cult has given audiences a lot of instances involving Sarah Paulson freaking the fuck out for one reason or forty others, and tonight's "Neighbors from Hell" was no exception. The phobia-driven Ally dealt with a slew of stressful things, not limited to (possibly staged) protests over her killing that restaurant worker last week, at least 30 dead birds, and her son Ozzy watching a video of her getting seduced by Winter. But the two biggest moments involved the perceived death of new neighbor Meadow, and the possible implication of Ally's psychologist being involved with the clown cult.
Let's break both of these moments down a little more to see if we can get to the bottom of things, shall we? And we'll get through it without jerking off in anyone's living rooms or threatening to kill anyone, since that would be so cliché.
As suspicious as Meadow and Harrison were whenever they were first introduced as the new homeowners across the street from the Mayfair-Richards residence, their complicated relationship offered them some possible apologist leeway. (Assuming they were telling wholly the truth, of course.) But any suspected innocence was lost tonight, as viewers got to watch both sides of the married couple going through with Kai's whole pinky-swear initiation thing. And the captivating Kai clearly didn't like Meadow very much, getting physical with her and calling her out for being irritating. He seemed much more down with Harrison, and while this may have just been Kai preferring a man over a woman, it looked like something more. Largely because he got Harrison to say that he wanted Meadow dead.
It was hard to tell what the couple's overall game was tonight, since they first showed up donning sombreros to antagonize Ally, and then they gifted Ozzy a new pet. So it was perfectly understandable when Ally blamed Harrison and Meadow for putting said new pet in her microwave, but could they have really timed things so perfectly that the animal would explode right as Ozzy and his moms discovered it? Probably not, considering they were already across the street and busy when Ally stormed over and decked Harrison right in his beekeeper mask. But she still thought they were guilty for both that tiny death and the killers' smiley face marking on her door, even when it was seen the neighbors had the same marking on their house.
Things got even wackier in the episode's later moments, when police showed up at the neighbors' and found Harrison covered in blood and screaming about being innocent. But unlike the clown cult's other murders, there wasn't a body left behind here, which makes it easy to think that Meadow isn't actually dead. But is Harrison being set up for a murder he didn't actually commit, just because he agreed with the thought of her death? Or is this part of some long con to further make Ally think she's crazy and clearly incapable of placing blame in the right places? (That would suck for Harrison, I'll admit.)
Does this have something to do with Harrison befriending Colton Hayne's shock-topped cop? They look they shared earlier in the episode felt Lynchian, and there was something extremely off about Detective Samuels whenever he was questioning Ally and Ivy after the microwave incident. Especially the way he looked at the bagged evidence, reaching into his pocket just as the camera cut away. What was that about? And what do those fog-oozing trucks have to do with it all?
The Possibly Villainous Dr. Vincent
After watching "Neighbors from Hell," I came away thinking that Ally's therapist Dr. Vincent is almost definitely involved with the clown cult. But then I thought about why I suspect him: the show laid out some very obvious clues that winked and stuck a thumb in his direction. Which then made me think that he definitely won't be part of it, simply because it looks obvious. But still...
The episode started off with Dr. Vincent talking with a patient we hadn't met before, a woman who suffered from a fear of coffins. She reported that she had actually conquered that fear after confronting the death of her abusive father, which opened up the phobia-strengthening old wounds. And that night, instead of celebrating, she and her husband were visited by the masked clowns, who made those previously voiced fears all too real by putting the married couple inside coffins and sealing them in.
But why would the clowns have killed those two without them already having visibly pissed Kai off at some point? Well, maybe Dr. Vincent was angry that he was losing a patient, and he wanted to kill her in the very way he knew she would hate the most. If that would be the case, then Dr. Vincent would be working on an entirely different villainous wavelength than the chaotic Kai.
The second clue that tipped viewers off to the therapist's potential motivations came when he was talking to Ally on the phone as she drove to Ivy's restaurant, intending to confront the protesters. While Dr. Vincent did indeed give good advice to not do that, there was a moment when he was at his desk (just after looking at the online ad that led horny men to the lesbian couple's home) and he was fiddling with a handful of small objects that were all different versions of smiley faces. And we all know what smileys mean! But does he just keep odd talismans like that, or is it a sign of his involvement?
We're never guaranteed easy or quick answers where American Horror Story is concerned, and it's unclear if either of these issues will get resolved by next week's episode. But be sure to watch and see, as American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesday nights on FX at 10:00 p.m. ET. To see what other weird and spooky shows are on the way to the small screen soon, check out our fall premiere schedule.