By Edward Petty

American Horror Story Cult returns with 708 “Winter Of Our Discontent” on FX and Fox

This episode’s first scene sees Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) meeting with his brother Kai (Evan Peters), first outside the house where all the cultists meet, then later at a bar where Rudy congratulates Kai on his election victory. Kai chastises Rudy for not visiting him while he was in the hospital, yet Kai understands that Rudy might’ve been ashamed to visit him because it was Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) who colluded with Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman), who tried to murder him. Rudy tells Kai that he, Rudy, is proud of all his, Kai’s accomplishments. He offers to film Kai’s social media videos. Kai thanks Rudy, then tells him that there’s one more thing that Rudy should do: call him Councilman from now on. The scene cuts away to the opening credits with Rudy looking alarmed as Kai hugs him.

Scene two’s where Ivy Mayfair-Richards (Alison Pill) is relegated by Kai to serving customers like she’s wait staff in her own restaurant. She tells Beverly (Adina Porter) that she’s fed up. Beverly tells Ivy that the snake (Kai) is the one that should be taken down so that all the remaining army falls behind him. Winter enters the conversation. She tells Beverly and Ivy that she wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Kai. Flashback to October 2015 where she and Kai meet Pastor Charles (who’s played by 1980’s pop star Rick Springfield) at Judgment House. Pastor Charles warns Kai and Winter not to divulge any of what they might see once they enter the house. Their punishment will be dying. There’s a woman inside one room who’s strapped to a gynaecological table where she’s bleeding out from having killed her baby. She tells Kai that what they’re seeing isn’t a show and that Pastor Charles caused her to do what she did. Kai thinks that he’s being fed a line all for theatrics until he tastes some of the woman’s (real) blood. Kai and Winter see a man inside a second room who’s strapped to a bed frame with all sorts of drugs – drugs of the man’s choice – being piped into his veins as he dies agonizingly slowly. Another man, who’s a supposed sodomite, is seen inside a third room strapped to a chair with knives positioned to burst through his chest as soon as Pastor Charles finishes preaching from his pulpit. There are buttons on the pulpit that the pastor hits to exact punishments. Kai realizes that he has to help all these people escape. He sends Winter out to find more help, yet Pastor Charles, who’s been watching all on closed-circuit TV monitors stops her, saying that she should be another show. Viewers then see that Pastor Charles has been strapped to the chair with knives on it, which burst through his chest killing him. Beverly, back in the present day, reluctantly agrees to let Winter try to get Kai back on a less-destructive course. She warns Winter that she’ll be gunning for Kai if she’s still doing the same menial work at the restaurant at week’s end.

Kai sits with Winter, with their pinkies locked, in scene three. Kai asks for Winter’s complete honesty and loyalty in return for understanding her place in Kai’s grander plan. Winter tells Kai that she finds it difficult to love him sometimes, yet she tells him that she does love him. This causes him to break the pinkie grip with her and tell her that he loves her as equally. Kai then says that his plan’s for him and Winter to create a so-called “messiah baby”, not together, yet with Detective Samuel (Colton Haynes) as a third party or a so-called “instrument” between Kai and Winter in the baby’s creation. Winter later refuses to participate in creating the baby, feeling like she’s being raped.

Ally Mayfair-Richards and Dr Vincent are at Ally’s house in scene four. Ally’s upset with Dr. Vincent for having her locked up for three weeks. She has more to be upset with him about when she realizes that it was Dr Vincent who Kai used as a way to get inside her head or, more correctly, to make her crazy. Dr Vincent tells Ally that Kai’s his brother and that he, Rudy, will work to get Ally back together with her son and get Kai either committed or prosecuted.

Ally later meets with Kai with a bargaining chip. She tells Kai that Rudy’s trying to have him committed, yet she wants him to promise to allow her to be with her son again for this information. She tells Kai that he’s cured her, and that she’s no longer afraid of anything, satisfied that Kai will help her.

Detective Samuels tells Winter a tale about how he and Kai first met after she gets into his car after doing her penance of can and garbage pickup for refusing to follow through with Kai’s maniacal messianic plan. Detective Samuels sees Kai selling drugs years before, using one of his older brother Rudy’s prescription pads. Detective Samuels offers not to arrest Kai for this, wanting instead to be his partner in selling drugs for a 70-30 percent split in the take’s cut.

Kai learns later that night when bringing him money that’s inside an envelope for drug sales that Detective Samuels, Jack, can’t get sexually aroused with women unless he simulates strangling them. Kai tells Jack that he, Jack, hates women. He tells Jack that women take his power from him every time that he has sex. Kai says that Jack’s trying to stop them from doing so. Kai tells Jack that he must take power back by sexually dominating not women but men. Jack tells Winter that he follows Kai’s rules because he and Kai have a sort of symbiotic relationship that flows like electricity. Winter disputes this claim saying that Jack’s gayer than he admits to being. Jack tries to impregnate Winter again, yet by strangling her this time. Winter breaks free and turns a gun on Jack, shooting him in the head.

Kai and many of the other cultists are in his parents’ house’s basement in this episode’s final scene. Kai asks that his betrayers be brought to him. Beverly and Rudy are ushered in with pillowcases on their heads. Kai tells Rudy that he knows all about his intentions to have Kai locked up as insane. Kai tells Rudy that people are expecting him to lead them to a better world and to a newer beginning. It was Rudy who taught Kai about what they call “pinkie power”. Kai cuts off Rudy’s pinkie, and Rudy notices that Winter’s in the basement. Kai then stabs Rudy to death, leaving his jugular vein spurting. Kai then tells Beverly that he knows that it was actually her who killed Jack, leaving Winter with a message that her brother’s next. Winter couldn’t keep her mouth shut. Beverly tells Kai that he’s an incompetent attention whore. Kai tells Beverly that death won’t suffice for her until she suffers. She’s taken out of the basement and into isolation. Kai then asks all the cultists to welcome their newest member: Ally.

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