Stay on target Top Movie and TV Trailers You Might Have Missed This WeekAmerican Horror Story Takes Us Back to the Days of Witches and Warlocks For about half of last night’s American Horror Story, it was hard to tell exactly where the show was going. It’s not that it wasn’t telling an interesting story, they just dragged out even its thematic connection until more than half-way through. I enjoyed watching the ongoing drama between Valerie Solanas and Andy Warhol; I just didn’t know why we were watching it. There’s nothing wrong with a delayed reveal like this, but it felt like a completely different show. Like Ryan Murphy wanted to make an Andy Warhol miniseries and this was the closest he could get. It wouldn’t feel quite so out of place if the show hadn’t also delayed the scares. For most of the episode, there wasn’t even any slight sense of dread, or any hint that something was coming.Of course, once the episode got going, it was as gruesome and horrifying as ever, so I’ll give it credit for that. There’s always a risk of becoming desensitized to over-the-top horror and violence while watching this show. Having close to a full episode where only one person gets shot (and you know it’s coming) is a good way to make us let our guard down. That way, the extreme violence that comes later is more of a shock. Lena Dunham plays Solanas very well, assaulting the audience with her anger and bitterness with every line. We can follow and even sympathize with her natural progression from “Andy Warhol is a dick” to “kill all men.” More than once during this episode, I thought I’d totally watch a season of Feud! about Solanas and Warhol. The only real problem was that it went on for too long. I come to American Horror Story to be scared, or at least disgusted. There’s very little tension in these flashbacks, and it seriously stalls the episode’s momentum.Lena Dunham (Photo via FX)As the episode goes on, you start to see exactly how Solanas ties into all the modern-day cult stuff. Beverly shows up to Kai’s house post-assassination and finds that he’s added a few new members. All white, all male, all suspicious of a black woman’s presence in Kai’s house. You can see why Beverly is starting to doubt Kai’s “equal power” promise. She’s approached by Bebe Babbit. (There you are, Frances Conroy!) Babbit invites all the women of Kai’s cult to her hotel room, and tells them the story of Valerie Solanas and the Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM). In this version of events, Solanas becomes a feminist precursor to Kai, turning SCUM into a cult. Solanas soon convinces her followers that they have to kill not only men, but the women who have sex with them. Soon, it’s revealed that this SCUM cult was the actual Zodiac Killer.If you’ve watched American Horror Story before, you know that we’ve already met the Zodiac Killer. He was a lone dude in season five, AHS: Hotel. Is that a plot hole? Who cares? Yes, Murphy has said that the all seasons of this show are connected, that they exist in the same universe, but the show itself has never taken that seriously. It’s a horror anthology, and it’s allowed to contradict itself. Nobody should be all that invested in the greater American Horror Story universe, because the show has made it clear that it certainly isn’t. Maybe they’ll reconcile the two Zodiacs. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter much either way. This is the point where the Horror Story part kicks back in. As scary as a murderous cult is on its own, the real horror is watching what happens when they turn on one of their own. That’s why cult stories work so well. There’s always the appearance of safety that is inevitably and brutally ripped away. In this case, one of the two gay men that are members of SCUM took credit for the Zodiac Killings and sent cryptograms to Bay Area newspapers. Solanas didn’t like having any man take credit for her work. The bloody, ritualistic stabbing that followed is the point where the episode got really scary.Alison Pill, Billie Lourd (Photo via FX)Back in the present, we had another death of a major character. Kai finds the SCUM manifesto in Winter’s room, and takes an interest in it. She claims it’s something she was studying from school. He doesn’t believe her, nor does he seem to mind. He says it made him realize that his cult needed a slogan. A message to rally behind. Trump has MAGA, Valerie has SCUM, Kai floats MLWB: Men Lead, Women Bleed. Winter doesn’t like that much, and Kai claims Harrison came up with it. The women confront Harrison about it who claims that Kai wrote it. He’s the genius behind everything. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter. The women, Ivy in particular, slice Harrison up with a chainsaw and reenact a Zodiac/SCUM killing. I was looking for scares and gore, but I wish it didn’t have to happen to Billy Eichner. I’m going to miss that guy on the show.Frances Conroy (Photo via FX)Maybe they should have listened to Harrison, though. As Beverly reports the murder she helped commit, taking extra care to insert the word “scum” in the report, Kai watches from his couch. Sitting with him is Bebe Babbit. All of it was part of Kai’s plan. What he hopes to gain from getting the women angry and rebellious is a mystery at this point. Maybe he intends to direct their rage at a different target. Maybe he wants to use them to martyr his new white supremacist followers. This season may not be the best, but it’s remarkably good at holding my interest from week to week. It helps that Kai has become a particularly scary villain. No matter what the rest of the characters do, it’s always according to his plan. There’s a feeling of hopelessness even to the most heroic or rebellious actions, that’s really helping the horror in these later episodes. Because another scary thing about cults is the feeling that no matter what you do, there’s no way out.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.
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