FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 11: “Great Again”
Directed by Jennifer Lynch
Written by Tim Minear
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Charles (Manson) in Charge” – click here
* For a recap & review of the premiere of Season 8 Apocalypse, “The End” – click here
In a maximum security prison, Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) plays his pinky game with one of the correctional officers. He asks to see her “biker chick titties” and she complies, right before a couple of his buddies need to chat. But it’s clear his influence is still uncanny. Well, his friends are actually there to beat him down in the shower. They don’t like him throwing off the prison hierarchy. Thus begins a brutal fight, two on one. Until one guy stabs the other. He’s a pawn for the Divine Ruler, of course. And ole Kai, he’s still seeing Manson lurking around. So he also has to kill his accomplice, who deems it “an honour” to be killed by his leader.
Feels like there’s a full-on massacre about to go down. I only wonder how far Mr. Anderson will go.
On the prison yard, Kai receives a new fish named Trevor (Ian Bamberg), he’s a young man serving 25 years. Divine Ruler’s an important lad in jail. He and Trevor play the pinky game, talking truth. Kai doesn’t like Trevor’s cowardly crime, killing a kid after running him over. He sees prison as a “fertile breeding ground” for men while women tear the world down outside, needing easily influenced bros like this kid.
Skip back eleven months. Kai can’t find Speedwagon (Cameron Cowperthwaite), though Ally (Sarah Paulson) keeps him on track. He talks to the cult about their latest plans. No dice on Night of a Thousand Tates; Night of One Hundred Tates is ready for the murder to commence. They’ve done research tracking down enough pregnant women to murder. Tough task, apparently. Divine Ruler gives a gruesome presentation on how to stab, impaling mother and baby at once. Like Manson before him with black people, Kai plans to begin the women’s uprising after this “electoral bloodbath.”
Meanwhile, Ally and Beverly (Adina Porter) chop food in the kitchen, as the cavemen believe women should in their specified roles. However it’s more than obvious Bev can’t handle it anymore. She’s cracking up, like any normal person would in her position. Although she’s suicidal, which isn’t good. She’s so suicidal, in fact, she urges Ally to kill her. That doesn’t work. Ally urges her to hang on a bit longer.
“Fuck a Manwich“
When Kai’s about to boil over, Ally tells him about Speedwagon. He was busted with ecstasy, and the cops set him on Dt. Samuels. Undercover. When Speedwagon admitted this to Ally, she killed him. So Winter (Billie Lourd) didn’t betray him. He’ll use this pain, this guilt, to commit the atrocities during the Night of One Hundred Tates. Yikes. Fuelled by anger and vitamin A.
Ally’s got her own plans with the FBI.
They descend on the Anderson home. Flashbangs are tossed in and an armed team come for Kai and the meathead bros. A gunfight ensues, shots fire in the dark and the smoke. People are killed, some commit suicide instead of being caught. Bev takes her chance to shoot one of the bros in the head. But in the end, Divine Ruler is taken into custody.
After everything, Ally’s trying to leave that life behind. Naturally people treat her like a famous person, though she tries evading all that shit. Bev shows up one day, talking about Kai, who’s not going to trial. She realises Ally didn’t turn her in with the rest of them. She worked with the FBI ever since right before joining the cult, pulling their strings as much as Bev, Ivy, Kai. She’s still living the lie, fairly well, too. Pretending she didn’t murder her wife; in all fairness, Ivy deserved it. All the same, Kai claims he didn’t do that one, that Ally killed her wife. Not many are suspicious, except for Bev, not that she’ll tell anybody.
Ally does her best to move on, helping Oz like a normal life. Things aren’t all fine, the infamy is hard to deal with, she’s become a “feminist icon” in the media. And Kai calls from prison one night. He’s found out that Oz is indeed not his son, enraging him further. He’s left with his “circle jerking fascists” and a prison cell for life. Only he says he’s building a true army, he’ll escape, he’ll come for her. Scary thing is he’s got the prison guards on his side, banging Gloria to keep himself with the right privileges. At the very same time he’s discovering Ally’s running for Senate. She’s running on bringing down cults, of the “two–party system” and all the tyranny of patriarchy, for the benefit of everybody, men and women alike.
What Ally cannot escape is her victim status, as the victim of Kai. She wants to shed that image. While Kai is alive, it’s hard to separate herself from him. First, she’ll debate Senator Jackson currently serving. In jail, Kai is doing his own shedding of an image. He’s shedding himself, his skin. He’s created another him, his new fish recruit. They’ve got him tatted up like Divine Ruler.
You know exactly where this is going. Someplace vicious, violent. A way for Kai to fake his death and get out of prison. Gloria helps him out through the gates, then he’s back in the real world again, free to do his damage.
So the debate goes ahead, Senator Jackson against Senate hopeful Ally. She stands up against the misogyny, the mansplaining, all the rhetorical devices used to hold women down. In the midst of it all Kai stands up to ask a question, setting the place on edge. He rants against the one who brought him down, he belittles Ally and all women, threatening to kill her. He finds himself double crossed.
By whom? Gloria, baby. She’s been pulling the long con for Ally, putting him centre stage. Ally helped Gloria see the misogyny under his ruse. Because women might not always be stronger physically than a man, but she can always be smarter, by far. Bev gets the last laugh when she puts a bullet through Kai’s face. Leading to Ally’s successful run for Governor.
“There is something more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man: a nasty woman.”
And don’t you think Ally is gonna do things totally above board, either. She learned that sometimes you’ve gotta get dirty, especially if you’re going to be a politician. No matter how hopeful a leader.
Personally, loved this season, deeply. Sure the end is a bit rosy, that’s fine. The rest of the season really took on both sides, not just a big anti-Trump run of episodes. You can’t expect Ryan Murphy & Co. not to be liberal leaning at some point. There’s a positivity, in ways, at the end of every American Horror Story season. So you shouldn’t expect any less here. There’s always darkness, but there’s always some light, too.