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FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 8: “Winter of Our Discontent”
Directed by Barbara Brown
Written by Joshua Green
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins: Scumbag” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Drink the Kool-Aid” – click here
Dr. Rudy (Cheyenne Jackson) goes to see his brother Kai (Evan Peters), who’s now got all sorts of people around him, those muscle-bound, work shirt wearing followers. The younger brother thanks his older brother for the “edible arrangement” he sent at the hospital. That’s because Dr. Rudy couldn’t go there, considering his connection to patient Ally (Sarah Paulson). The doc is proud of Kai and they have a nice time together. Maybe a bit of family bonding, going forward. Except little bro wants to be called “councilman” from now on. Can already see the modicum of power in his slight victory going to his head.
Ivy (Alison Pill) has to serve the misogynist dickheads in Kai’s little group of sheep at the Butchery on Main. She’s not impressed with the “handmaid shit” and the “dude–bros.” And Beverly (Adina Porter) understands. She brings up the council meeting recently, where Kai presented his work shirt mob as a private security force. In between is Winter (Billie Lourd), believing her brother has some master plan, whereas the other women know what’s going on already: ain’t no plan, girl.
But we’re given a look at why Winter is so dedicated to her brother. We zip back to 2015, when the brother-sister pair were having fun, trolling the “social justice warriors.” They got a message from a Pastor Charles (Rick Springfield) about Judgement House. When they arrive, he welcomes them with ominous, cryptic warnings. Inside, they find a room with a crib stained in blood, a woman saying she’s bleeding to death, plastic bags hanging from a mobile with what looks like fetuses in them. They quickly realise this is real, the blood on the woman is real. This is an Old Testament haunted house.
In another room is a withered junkie, connected to various IVs, dying. Another contains a man strapped in a chair, rigged to be killed with blades. Kai won’t leave, though. He insists on trying to help everybody out. He and Winter work trying to free them. Only she’s caught by Pastor Charles, luckily saved by her brother. So, they strap him into the chair, Kai turns the tables. And the blades cut him deep, through every past of the body. This, Winter says, is where things changed for her brother. Beverly gives her a week to try figuring something out with him.
Later, Winter goes to Kai. They talk, they get closer, discussing what is to come. He then claims she is to be the “mother” of a “messiah baby.” Then he proposes that Dt. Samuels (Colton Haynes) get her pregnant, while Kai gets him pregnant, y’know? That is some seriously fucked up shit. Also, she has to realise now that his worldview is inherently misogynistic, he views her as not his sister, not the girl he claims to love as family, but rather as a uterus, through which he’ll bear an Antichrist-like figure.
Dr. Rudy goes to see Ally, and she’s not having any of his shit. She knows he didn’t believe her. But he’s finally listening. He wasn’t so much involved as I thought before, as he was simply connected to Kai through blood. He tells Ally about it, as well as the fact Winter is their sister. He feels terribly, not having seen the picture clearly. She blames him for all the things the cult figured out, though he denies having given that willingly, sure Kai must’ve broken into his records. He promises to do what he can to put her lie back together.
Winter: “I can‘t believe I was at the Women‘s March three months ago”
Down in the “holy space” of the basement, Kai initiates the ritual insemination. Beginning with All-4-One’s “I Swear” that has become a hymn now, consecrated for the purposes of the lovemaking about to commence. They’re all wearing robes, getting perfectly cult-ish. It’s a hilarious and disturbing scene in equal measure. More misogyny as the leader refers to his sister’s womb as a “receptacle.” After which Samuels has trouble getting an erection, and then sister gets too creeped out, feeling “raped.”
Meanwhile, Ally’s attempting to live, to keep surviving. She’s home, but that’s not really any comfort. She gets a visit from Councilman Anderson, she’s cooking, and he wonders if she has any “leftist salads.” She’s invited him over to eat, to give him information. She wants her son back in return. This is where she tells him that his brother’s trying to have him committed. Yikes, that’s desperation right there from her.
Ally: “Because a sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal.”
Winter’s sentenced to do penance, putting trash back where it belongs because Kai does not believe in climate change or any of the liberal agenda. We get a bit more insight about Dt. Samuels, too. He catches Kai doing illegal shit, blackmailing him into business. This soon led to a different relationship between the two of them. The cult leader discovered a dangerous side to the cop, from Nazi collectables to anger towards women, and on top of that his preference for dudes. This gets a Kai lecture, straight out of the Proud Boys, about how women “take your power” when you have sex. DENY THEM YOUR ESSENCE, says Sterling Hayden, puffing away on a cigar (that’s a little deep cut for film lovers). Plus, Kai believes man on man action is an exponential build of power. What we’re actually seeing is the Charles Manson handbook to cult leadership: hypnotise your followers, then fuck them, man or woman. Back to the present – Samuels tries to rape Winter, so she grabs his gun and puts a bullet through his brain.
At the Anderson home, Dr. Rudy and Beverly are brought before the “divine ruler.” Things are getting scarier, fast. We can see, with the brothers in contrast, Kai is totally losing grip on reality. Power is overtaking him. They play their pinky game, but he cuts his big brother’s finger off. Before stabbing him in the throat, letting him bleed out. Next up, Bev. Winter lied, claiming she didn’t kill Samuel, that it was Ms. Hope. The accused is taken to an isolation chamber.
And the cult has a new member: Ally.
Another fantastic episode in this wild seasons, a roller coaster. Definitely a lot of disturbing stuff happening here, though I’m glad it came out the way it did with Winter getting out from under those ugly moments. Can’t wait for more.
“Drink the Kool-Aid” is next week. Wonder if we’ll get any Jim Jones references aside from the title. I’d bet on it.
Father Gore is first and foremost a passionate lover of film— especially horror. He's also a Master's student at Memorial University of Newfoundland with a concentration in postmodern critical theory, currently writing a thesis which will be his debut novel of literary fiction, titled Silence. He also used to write for Film Inquiry frequently during 2016-17 and is currently contributing to Scriptophobic in a column called Serial Killer Celluloid focusing on film adaptations about real life murderers. As of September 2018, Father Gore is an official member of the Online Film Critics Society. Get in contact (email@example.com) if you want to chat movies or collaborate!