Gender wars brew on American Horror Story: Cult

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It had been known for some time that series star Evan Peters would also be playing multiple roles this season, including Andy Warhol and this is the week he gets to don that white wig. But how on earth does Andy Warhol fit into the story of a political wannabe and his rabid followers? Actually, Warhol is just a small part of it. The main gist of the story this week focuses on the woman who shot Andy Warhol, Valerie Solanas. And how someone who gained fame for shooting the artist in 1968 figures into the story goes a little something like this …

After Kai’s shooting, the suicide of Meadow and the arrest of Ally, Kai has seen his poll numbers jump by 20 points. In fact, his plan worked so well that he actually won the City Council seat. But now he’s surrounded himself with buff, handsome young men in blue shirts who have come from all over to be his volunteer security force. Meaning the women in the group are now being pushed to the background. But Beverly Muthafuckin’ Hope is not having it. They were supposed to have an equal partnership, to blow things up and cause chaos and now Kai wants to bring the people who elected him a sense of law and order. He used fear to get them in his corner, so now he has to make them believe only he can keep them safe.

Plotting her next move, Beverly has an encounter with an odd woman in a hooded cloak smoking a cigar, Bebe Babbitt (played by very welcome special guest Frances Conroy). Bebe, it turns out, was the lover of Valerie Solanas, who wrote the SCUM Manifesto which basically was a guide for murdering men (and the women who let themselves be used by men) so that women could take over the world. After forming her own little cult (which also consisted of the returning Jamie Brewer and Ryan Murphy favorite Dot-Marie Jones from Glee), they all went to San Francisco to plot their next move. Valerie returned to New York and once they got her signal, they would begin to fulfill Valerie’s orders.

That signal was, of course, the attempted murder of Warhol who had apparently “lost” a screenplay Valerie had written. After feeling completely dismissed by Warhol, and men in general, she shot him and ended up in a prison for the criminally insane from where she continued to give direction to Bebe. The group committed a series of gruesome murders in San Francisco which became attributed to … a man who went by the name Zodiac. (And since the Zodiac killer was never found, it’s an interesting little twist to connect the SCUM crowd to the killings.) Of course, that did not sit well with Valerie and once she was released from prison she discovered one of the two gay men in her group was the one taking responsibility for the murders. Needless to say, it did not end well for him, dismembered with his limbs arranged in the Zodiac killer’s symbol of crosshairs (it was pretty cool to see Jones in the famous Zodiac outfit with the large black hood).

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Beverly, Winter and Ivy were drawn into Bebe’s story, and knew it was time for them to take action. Winter went to talk to Kai (in their parents’ mausoleum bedroom) and at one point he asked if he could count on her. She said of course and then he pulled out a copy of the SCUM Manifesto he found in her room while looking for her Adderall. A bit of fear crept over her but she said it was just something she’d read in college, the ramblings of a crazy woman. Kai found it very interesting and informative though, and felt that he could use it a a guide for his next move, giving his movement a name, perhaps FIT: Fear Is Truth. Or MLWB: Men Lead, Women Bleed. Winter thought that might piss off the wrong people, but he said that one was Harrison’s idea. And not a very good one but Harrison has some deep-seated issues with women he needs to work on.

Back at The Butchery on Main — where it always seems to be Monday — Ivy brings Harrison in to get a victory party set up for Kai. But Harrison is the only one there. Winter and Beverly reveal themselves, and the next thing Harrison knows he’s whacked in the head with a wrench and wakes up strapped to a table in the butchering room. They want to know what happened to Meadow, why she killed herself and how Harrison could have allowed his wife to be so misguided by Kai. They also weren’t too happy with his name for Kai’s movement, something he vehemently denied proposing. Bebe entered the room and encouraged the women to take their power back, and Ivy proceeded to cut Harrison to pieces.

The next day, some joggers found the body arranged in a strange pattern and who should be first on the scene by Beverly Hope, clearly delivering a message to Kai as she reported on the scum covered body. Kai knew exactly who was responsible … because Bebe was sitting in the room watching he news with him, reveling in how they both managed to play those women.

This was one of my favorite episodes yet of the season. It was great to see Conroy and Brewer back, and although Jones didn’t really have any dialog, hopefully this will be just her first foray into the AHS family. Evan Peters also did an outstanding job as Warhol, with the voice and mannerisms down to perfection with the hair and makeup helping complete the transformation. Lena Dunham was also terrific as Solanas, keeping her mania in check until she really started to unravel as her group began to desert her, including Bebe, until all she was left with was the suggestion that all she’d ever be remembered for was as a footnote to Andy Warhol’s life and career. Ouch. (Note: this episode was written and directed by women, Crystal Liu and Rachel Goldberg, respectively.)

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

What did you think of this episode? Who will get the upper hand moving forward, the women or Kai? Sound off in the comments below!

 

 

Valerie Solanas: The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM (and Shot Andy Warhol)

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