'American Horror Story: Cult' episode 8 recap: Family Splatters

Price Peterson
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
All photos: FX

Warning: This recap of the “Winter of Our Discontent” episode of American Horror Story: Cult contains spoilers.

This season of American Horror Story: Cult has been very unexpected, especially for those of us expecting it to be good. But then! Just when I had ranted about last week’s episode like an unhinged street person standing on an overturned shopping cart, this week’s episode was suddenly good? Like, very good? As in actually terrifying, compelling, clever, noticeably hilarious, and with a shocking ending? Not to mention two of the all-time AHS dreamboats kissed on the mouth and shirtless hugged in an instant classic moment, but that was merely a bonus because the rest of the episode was also tops. Yes, this is me relieved: “Winter of Our Discontent” was the first truly great episode of Cult. And between you and me, it really needed it. I would do a cartwheel, but my bones are weak and spongy from too many candy dinners. Let’s talk about this episode!

We began at Kai’s suburban compound, where his brother Dr. Cheyenne Jackson had arrived to say hi and maybe high-five their mummified parents, who knows.

But in the first of several shocking surprises, we found out that Dr. Cheyenne Jackson had NO knowledge of or participation in Kai’s cult! In fact he looked downright chagrined and disappointed to see what Kai had become. The second shocking surprise was that Dr. Cheyenne Jackson had sent Kai an Edible Arrangement after he’d been shot, so that should tell you right there that this brotherly relationship was very much on the rocks now.

Following last week’s scuttled feminist coup, Kai had sentenced the rest of the ladies to kitchen duty, and Ivy was not super thrilled about having to serve her gourmet artisanal slop to a bunch of ungrateful himbos. If it were up to Ivy and Beverly, they’d grab Kai and force his head through a meat grinder, but Winter pleaded with them to give him a chance. He might be a jerk now, but he had a plan!

We also learned what Kai’s first successful attempt at legislation wrought: He bullied the rest of the city council into approving a measure that would allow Kai’s goons to patrol the streets of Michigan alongside the regular police.

This was obviously a bad idea for many reasons, but everyone seemed surprisingly cool with it. Kai just had to make everyone feel scared for their children’s safety and suddenly they were fine with Nazi youth roaming all over town with submachine guns. Fair.

Winter then told the story of how Kai had come to start this movement in the first place. It all began one night when the two of them were trolling social-justice-warrior message boards on the dark net (because OK) by pretending to be conservative Christian zealots. The whole thing looked tiresome as h*ck, but they were certainly having a blast. That’ll teach those snowflakes! Anyway, at that point, a mysterious person reached out and invited them to a real place called “Judgment House,” which was like one of those Christian Halloween Hell Houses but with real people and real violence.

Kai and Winter were shocked to discover that the creepy pastor who’d answered the door and was now barking at them through an intercom had abducted “sinners” and forced them into various deadly dioramas. This one was an abortion scene, and next door contained a room full of junkies being force-fed drugs, followed by a room with — gasp — a homosexual. Not the most fun Halloween maze, but to each their own.

Fortunately Kai’s moral compass was intact enough to want to free as many of the people as he could. He then captured the evil pastor and strapped him to the “crucifix knife death machine” or whatever that device was. Despite Winter’s suggestions that they call the cops, Kai decided this guy needed to die pronto, and the next thing we knew he was being stabbed through the chest with like 12 swords. Then Kai realized that the world was being overrun by villains like this man, so he dyed his hair blue and started a cult. A classic story, really.

Meanwhile, a very concerned and ashamed Dr. Cheyenne Jackson admitted to Sarah Paulson that his family had systematically ruined hers. She did not take the news well!

But he did promise to do whatever he could to take Kai down, and she made a mental note of this. Stay tuned to see how that plays out!

For some reason Kai decided that Winter needed to have a baby so that his cult could eventually turn into sort of a Dynasty situation, and instead of coercing her into some kind of incest-palooza, he came up with a sensible alternative: He’d do sex to Detective Colton Haynes while Detective Colton Haynes did sex to Winter!

What could go wrong, other than the fact that Detective Colton Haynes was a homosexual and did not currently have a Viagra prescription? It was nice of Kai to sprinkle, uh, scented oils all over everyone and also make out with Detective Colton Haynes a little to get him in the mood — all of which was very good television — but alas, it wasn’t enough.

Despite the excellent and sensual soundtrack — All 4 One’s “I Swear,” in one of the most LOL-worthy moments in this show’s history — Detective Colton Haynes and Winter both realized they didn’t really want to do sex. This made Kai very frustrated!

Kai’s mood improved somewhat when he accepted a surprise dinner invitation from Sarah Paulson and she served sloppy joes. For dessert she served him the tidbit that Dr. Cheyenne Jackson was looking to take Kai down, and in exchange for this tidbit she wanted him to help her get her son back. Basically she said that ever since all her fears had been confirmed as actual things that were happening, she was no longer afraid of anything or anyone, and Sarah Paulson had now become the biggest badass on the show. A crazy twist, I realize, but also it made sense! Also sloppy joes are very delicious, so I understood why Kai would want to work with her.

Winter’s punishment for not doing sex with Detective Colton Haynes was she had to wear a dunce cap while littering tons of garbage onto the side of the road. Honestly, this was one of the most hilarious visuals in AHS history, and that was before she slammed her dunce cap in a car door.

We then learned how Kai had recruited Detective Colton Haynes … Kai had been busted for selling fake prescriptions, and because Detective Colton Haynes was a shady cop, he was forced to cut him in on all his dealings. Also at one point Kai walked in on Detective Colton Haynes having erectile dysfunction issues with a lady and advised him that maybe he should give sex with dudes a try. At first Detective Colton Haynes seemed hesitant about this idea, but then Kai did sex to his behind and he was convinced. It was a poignant story overall.

Unfortunately Winter did not love the story, and she especially got ticked when Detective Colton Haynes attempted to strangle-rape her for some reason, so she stole his gun and proceeded to really make a mess of his Mustang!

Oh, well. Rest in peace, you handsome sex criminal with the Anderson Cooper hair. We will miss you and your sexual journey dearly.

The final scene was a real doozy. Kai and his team of masked clowns called forth their two newest prisoners: Dr. Cheyenne Jackson and Beverly! They’d both been caught scheming against Kai and now they had to pay the price.

In a particularly rude act of brutality, Kai got his brother to pinkie-swear that they still love each other, and then Kai snipped off his brother’s finger with garden shears! Oh, and then Kai murdered him. Winter seemed very perturbed by this, because it’s not every day you see your brother murder your other brother. As for Beverly, Winter had lied and claimed Beverly had been the one to murder Detective Colton Haynes, so now Beverly was going to be locked up in solitary confinement somewhere. Fortunately she got in a good verbal lashing first, calling Kai out for being a liar and a piece of trash. Tell him, Bev!

And that’s when the masked clowns took off their masks revealing that Sarah Paulson had joined the cult. This was going to be very awkward for Ivy.

Guys, that was an episode. I don’t mean to argue with you, but last week’s Valerie Solanas-themed bummer was a major mistake for this series, and this episode was not just an improvement but one of the best episodes of this show in a long time. Whoever wrote it made it funnier and sexier and more surprising than I’d come to expect. And, yeah, now that Sarah Paulson’s in the cult, I’m guessing she’s fixing to bring it down from within, and that’s going to make for an amazing final two episodes. I can’t believe it took me this long to care, but I care now. Let’s stick the landing, show! I beg of you.

American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

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