Major spoilers below for the season finale for American Horror Story: Cult.
Every season, American Horror Story whittles its large ensemble cast down to a handful of characters forced to tie up the far-flung storylines in a way that usually leaves viewers somewhere short of satisfied, given the craziness that came before each finale. (There are exceptions.) American Horror Story: Cult did not break from tradition too much with its finale, possibly non-ironically titled ""Great Again," which closed the blood-splattered curtain its anger-filled plotline by further turning and upending the tables on Ally and Kai, complete with a big flash-forward, also common for AHS finales. If nothing else, it was logical for this universe.
Super-paranoid Kai got even more superer-paranoider that the authorities were onto him when Speedwagon went missing, since he assumed Speedwagon was connected to Winter's mole situation. Which wasn't exactly wrong, even if Winter wasn't ever a mole. Ally discovered that Speedwagon was actually supposed to be a state police rat keeping up with Colton Haynes' dirty detective Jack Samuels, but then got in over his head with all the cult stuff. (Being undercover in a cult is hard, guys.) Once it was determined that no one from the FBI was involved, Ally totally murdered the nerve-wracked Speedwagon, and then got some deep joy out of telling Kai that he'd killed Winter for nothing.
Ally also had another more lawful trick up her sleeve, as she'd apparently tipped off the FBI about Kai's watermelon-gutting group. His big Manson-inspired murder spree was snipped short when the big group meeting -- "Fortify yourself with some Vitamin A!" -- was overrun by federal agents, smoke bombs and gunfire. Beverly finally got to break free from her constant misery, and so soon after reaching her supposed breaking point. Later, Ally revealed to Beverly that she'd actually teamed up with the FBI after her stay in the psych ward, so this had been going on a while. She also lied about that whole murdering Ivy thing, so it's hard to trust anything she said, I guess.
We figured Kai would be in jail for this episode, and yes, he was indeed incarcerated when things started off in the "present day," eleven months after he first got arrested. Kai's reign of leadership continue behind bars, where he'd built up an army full of misogynist prisoners, and also assumed he'd recruited a female guard for his cause. (That one inmate sacrificing himself for Divine Ruler's plan just seemed weird, given the penal system context.) Kai also had a plan, so he thought, when he plead guilty to all charges in order to avoid the death penalty -- well, not to Ivy's death, but nobody believed him beyond back-to-normal-esque Beverly. But by the end, American Horror Story: Cult's finale stripped away all of Kai's confidence and strengths, completely flipped around almost everything he was trying to achieve.
There wasn't a scene where Ally literally rose from his ashes after tearing him down, but that's basically what happened. She made him know she was the reason he got caught. Ally told Kai he wasn't really Oz's father, and not in a "friendly and non-emaciating email to your mom's boss" kind of way. She had teamed up with both Beverly and the prison guard Kai thought he was leading -- which set up a whole host of weird consent issues as far as sex and murder were concerned -- and they set up his escape and eventual takedown. Which, obvious to all, included a dude who vaguely looked like Kai getting his face cut off to pass for Kai's dead body.
Kai's downfall had turned Ally into something of a feminist icon, and she didn't initially seem to be interested in the attention. But much as it went with Kai, as soon as she took one step down that road, she was already sucked in. Ally decided to go straight into the political side of things by running for the Senate. Not so coincidentally, one would assume, it was debate night when Kai was let loose, and he showed up to deliver his final big spittle-flicking speech, with Ally at gunpoint. He actually said women's role was partly to make him a goddamned sandwich, which earned him a "Fuck you," but then the episode also showed women in the kitchen a lot, and I can't even tell if that was mixed signals. In any case, Kai's gun wasn't loaded, and Cult's second staged assassination attempt ended with Beverly putting a bullet through Kai's twisted brains.
Visually, the final image for American Horror Story: Cult is one of the season's most powerful, even if its power is more than the sum of the season's parts. Ally tucked Oz into bed safe and sound as it's revealed she's got her own cult brewing, though one on the opposite end of the civil-rights spectrum from Kai's. She slowly touched up her face in the mirror and we see she's wearing this hooded green robe, which leaves us wondering just where this group of women will take things. Especially if this season ends up tying into a future season in some way. (Was anybody else suspicious of Ally's new girlfriend Erika, simply for existing?)
Take American Horror Story: Cult's premiere episode and then this finale, and you've got two very interestingly disparate bookends to an intense power struggle. And without the entirety of the middle nine episodes in the middle, I actually think the finale is quite enjoyable and kinetic, but it's not the ending the season set up. If someone edited the rest of it down into one or two episodes, I think I'd dig it all more on a rewatch. But as it sometimes goes with this show, the finale hardly felt like the same series that Cult started off as, for better or worse.
I think I might enjoy a lot of this season's circular ties between Ally and Kai's stories the more I think about them, likely while drinking up some Kool-Aid that may or may not be tainted by poison. I play it dangerous with my flavored drinks.
Was anyone else suspicious of Ally's new girlfriend Erika, simply because she was Ally's new girlfriend Erika? Also because they had been dating for roughly two months, and Erika was reminding Ally about Oz's birthday party, which definitely equals "obsessive killer" in American Horror Story's world.
I would like a cardboard cutout of Ally's still pose seen in her Senate video. I would also like a cardboard cutout of Twisty the Clown. Beggars can be choosers here.
I want to see the season when all of Ally's skeletons come out, and she's forced to go on the run as a disgraced leader. Or maybe I just want to read a very short story about it.
The most believable thing about this season was when Kai's prison lookalike said that he wouldn't make it in prison without Kai. It was true both because he did not have the mental fortitude for prison life, and also because he literally did not make it in prison without Kai, since he was stabbed a zillion times.
That was a fun little shoutout to Sarah Paulson's Lana Winter whenever Ally got a call from Rachel Maddow's reps. At some point, we're going to need an Orphan Black scene where all of Sarah Paulson's characters are on the screen at once.
Without American Horror Story: Cult around to give us sporadic eye twitches on Tuesday nights, we'll have to spend our time cleaning out those clown masks we've been wearing. I knew I probably shouldn't have eaten every single time I wore mine. In any case, we'll catch up with AHS again next year, and you can head to our fall TV schedule to see what other shows are yet to premiere in 2017.