Thursday, November 16, 2017

American Horror Story Season 7 (Cult), Episode 11: Great Again

Dear gods of mercy, it’s nearly over, it’s nearly over. The end is in sight… this season of American Horror Story is ending!

I made it! I made it people! By heroic effort and stoic endurance I actually made it

Shouldn’t I be getting a medal or something? A parade? A plaque? I think I deserve a plaque

So let’s begin with my least favourite narrative trope in the world ever - a broken time line! Because telling stories in chronological order is just passe. Which means we start with Kai in prison building his own cult again

Yes, Kai is imprison. And yes, the guy who is a notorious is a cult leader so wouldn’t they have precautions about this? In a prison system where you can be put in solitary for just about any reason it seems bizarre that Kai is allowed to roam around and recruit his own army of followers.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves - why is Kai in prison?

Because Ally. After murdering “speedwagon” the poor schlub blackmailed by the local police into becoming an informant and then playing Kai like a fiddle, revealing Winter was innocent, being his peddler of anxiety meds, being his shoulder to cry on and generally wrapping him round her finger. She’s masterful at it, definitely out manipulating the ever more degrading Kai.

At the same time Beverley has just collapsed and in the end just begs Ally to kill her - but Ally just implores her to hold on a little longer

When Kai has his master plan of murdering 100 pregnant women, Ally unleashes the FBI. many of his minions die in the shoot out, Kai is arrested and Beverley released

How is she released? Well she catches up with Ally later who is living a wonderful new life, with a new restaurant, a new girlfriend and even celebrity status as the woman who survived Kai, she’s a feminist icon.

Beverley catches up with her and they have a recap. Kai pled guilty and Bev is wondering what he’s planning but Ally is confident he just did that to avoid the death penalty. Bev points out he didn’t confess to killing Ivy and we have a whole subtext conversation where Bev is clear she knows Ally killed Ivy but it’s partially a threat and partially an “I see you, I know you” acknowledgement, I think.

Fast forward to inviting Bev to Oz’s party, the media still hounding Ally for her story, a call back to Asylum and Ally decides to run for office. Yes she’s going for the senate seat Kai wanted

She’s working with Beverley and she has a great message but trails in the polls because a) she’s inexperienced and b) she’s seen as weak. Basically, as Bev puts it, everyone who sees her sees Kai, her story is of someone who survived Kai, the story of a victim. This is something they need to address at the next debate with the senator

But back to Kai, with his loyal minions and a prison guard who he has enthralled he manages to plot his escape. The prison guard is a Black woman who he “negs” about her weight, sleeps with and is clearly using all his abusive tactics on to control her. She comes up with the idea of faking his own death to escape - which he duly does, convincing a cult member with similar body type to duplicate his tattoos, his hair and the be murdered and have his face mutilated

Kai escapes, helped by the guard and between them they go to the senate debate where Ally is already laying down some decent, but heavy handed speeches (it’s kind of like someone understands concepts like women being interrupted constantly and mansplaining and is determined to shoe-horn them in) and Kai pulls a gun handed to him by the prison guard. He points it at Ally and screams his misogynist bile and pulls the trigger…

...and nothing. Because it’s empty. Because Ally is 10 steps ahead - she’s already spoken to the prison guard and was probably behind the escape in the first place so she can have this grand show down. She talked to the guard about Kai’s tactics and rightly predicted his preying on her weight; his way of attacking vulnerabilities

Now the cameras catch Ally being openly defiant to Kai on stage - and Beverley shooting him in the head. No longer seen as weak or a victim, Ally wins by a landslide.

And basically tells Oz she’s meeting a group of women to help change the world which all, along with the special clothes she’s wearing, sounds kind of cultish

And it’s done

And it was a kind of satisfying I’ll give it that. I like the idea of Bev and Ally working together even as I hate how Beverley was sidelined.

But oh gods this season. This season may be the worst, most caricature laden, most cringeworthy season of AHS yet and my gods that is saying something. It looks like they had an interesting idea when we just focused on the cult element and it was well done for about 2 episodes there - but then a truck load of American politics was added without any real planning or thinking and it just fell apart. There wasn’t any real nuance or thinking, caricatures were stretched into role and it was all a hot mess with ready dollops of homophobia, misogyny and racism dropped in as well: I mean, it was trying to call these out and had its moments but my gods it failed badly so often and so constantly. Shallow, empty, hollow and dragging in concepts which just don't fit that