As Winter wipes blood from her face, her brother Kai asks if she has hurt someone. After an obvious nod of the head, he delves deeper.
“How did it feel?” he asks.
With a twisted smile she responds,
The fourth episode of American Horror Story: Cult 4 (AHS), “11/9,” delves into the sinister backstories of many of its characters including Kai Anderson (Evan Peters), Harrison Wilton (Billy Eichner), and Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) with an notion of seriousness. As Kai develops and expands his cult, the fanatical following grows more fervent, proving that his ambitions are not so far-fetched with when backed by the crazed masses.
AHS does not care about tonal continuity. Who needs it? No references to Beyonce or the absurd ramblings of social justice warrior are found in this episode, just a lot of blood and bile. As in previous seasons, AHS: Cult abuts tonally antithetical episodes without a care in the world. The shift is to be expected, especially from a show that has put aliens, serial killers, Nazis, and possessed nuns all in the same season. With all those elements, it is hard enough to maintain continuity in a single episode, let alone an entire season. That being said for Cult, the tonality shift is consistent throughout the episode. “11/9” is played much more stoically. The episode does tread, with a heavier step, into the waters of gorey horror, complete with sexual derangement, bodily dismemberment, and self-mutilation. As such, the serious tone does fit the gruesome content.
The horror depicted on the show is also so very tied to the real world, more so than in other seasons, or the broader strokes of horror related to the 2016 election. Several minor plot points are related to some lewd real world horrors. The ‘f—k her right in the p—y’ craze, which saw people shout the phrase on live broadcast is mimicked on the show replaced with President Donald Trump’s ‘grab’ comment. This string of interruptions drives Hope to a mental breakdown, seemingly suggesting that such classless behavior may drive people to ideological fringes.
On a more serious note, a scene in the episode depicts the recorded murder of a reporter and her cameraman. This seems to be referencing the 2015 killing of a reporter and photojournalist live on air in Moneta, Va. Though this reference may seem horrid for some, it does accurately attest to the idea of a true American horror story.
At one point, as Kai is trying to convince Harrison to believe in him as a leader, he says that he is nothing more than a mirror for others, a mirror in which to see themselves. When we laugh at the depraved spectacle that is AHS: Cult maybe we are not observing the absurdity of a fictitious world, but of a mirror image of our own wicked society.
Featured Image By FX