The second episode of American Horror Story: Cult, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” amps up the intrigue and digresses more, as expected, from its overtly political elements to get at more intellectually stimulating questions. Those more challenging ideas do not fall into the pedantic blue versus red dichotomy, which is an obvious red herring, no pun intended. Rather the conflict lies in the swatches of purple—in everyone.
This second episode is all about becoming a monster, rather than being chased by one. Kai (Evan Peters) is a harbinger of fear, while Ally’s (Sarah Paulson) fears horrifically twist her worldview. When the two share the scene, in the best moment of the episode, notes of similarity are shown to ring true, in spite of the characters stark differences.
When Kai appears at Ally’s door to pitch his bid for city council, it is soon apparent they have more in common than one would think. Both are content on building walls to separate themselves from things they deem “unsavory” or “unsafe.” Kai does this through an undying support for walls and deportation and Ally through her growing agoraphobia and manic behavior. Each point out the hypocrisy of the other without acknowledging their own faults. Kai remains willfully ignorant of truths, further radicalising himself, while Katy allows fear to paralyze her, furthering her hysteria. Each close themselves off from the whole picture all the while wallowing in or weaponizing fear.
Though many of the end results of the episode are foreseeable, the predictability does not dampen the impactfulness. In fact, the logical progression of the madness flies in the face of the characters who are too rabid and ravenous to see it coming. In the end, as Katy shoots Pedro Morales (Jorge-Luis Pallo) it becomes apparent that her fears have not remained dormant in her psyche, rather they have transformed her into the very thing she fears most: a monster.
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