‘American Horror Story: Cult’ Episode 1 Recap: Election Night

American Horror Story: Cult Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson as Ally Mayfair-Richards in ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ (Photo by Frank Ockenfels/FX)

The season premiere of FX’s freaky American Horror Story: Cult, the seventh season of AHS, begins with Trump and Clinton announcing they’re running for president. The MAGA signs and American flags wave, and there’s a snippet of Jeb Bush declaring he finds Trump’s actions abhorrent. Clinton’s emails are brought up along with all the media attention they received, but still the polls indicate she’s heading toward a win. The focus of the news reports shifts to protests, fighting in the streets, and altercations at Trump’s rallies.

And now we come to the fateful night of November 8, 2016. Election Night arrives and Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) watches from his Michigan home as Trump’s victory is announced on Fox News. The reporters declare the election’s the most surreal in history, while on his sofa Kai says, “The revolution has begun.”

The mood’s less than celebratory in Ally Mayfair-Richards’ (Sarah Paulson) house. Clinton lost, but Ally refuses to accept the defeat until MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow confirms it. Ally’s friends discuss how this could have happened, while over at Kai’s place he’s screaming U.S.A. repeatedly and telling the world to f*ck off.

Ally’s devastated as she watches Pence introduce Trump as President. She cries and screams into her hands, upsetting her young son, Oz (Cooper Dodson). Ally’s unable to control her anguish, and her wife Ivy’s (Alison Pill) attempts at calming her down fall on deaf ears.

Ally wails about Merrick Garland who will never become a Supreme Court Justice under Trump, while over at Kai’s place he’s overjoyed at the outcome and happily munching on an orange Cheetos-ish snack.

Ally’s friends are dumbfounded Michigan went for Trump, and pissed at Jill Stein for taking votes Hillary needed. Ally and Ivy’s friend and neighbor Mr. Chang (Tim Kang) is also angry at his wife, Marylin (Nanrisa Lee), because she didn’t vote and he’s mad so many people cast protest votes. He’s concerned Ally and Ivy might lose their rights as a married lesbian couple. Oz is also worried his moms won’t stay married, but they assure him it will be okay.

Kai places the orange treats into a blender and then smears their liquefied form on his face. He imitates Trump’s hand gestures while looking very orange.

Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) is on the phone with a friend, and she can’t believe she gave a year of her life for this election. She dropped out of college to help the Clinton campaign, and she claims not to know what’s real anymore. “She was supposed to win. Is this really happening?” asks Winter on the verge of tears. Her friend warns her not to self-harm just as orange-faced Kai jumps on her bed. Winter punches him and yells at him to get out, pissed he’s there to rub it in.

Once she’s off the phone, they hook pinkies. Kai seems completely satisfied that “everyone” is scared now.

Next, we get a visit from an AHS fan favorite character. A couple’s about to have sex in a field when the woman freaks out, thinking someone is watching. The man tells her about Twisty the Clown and the people he hacked to death, just as we see Twisty approaching. He bows in front of the couple and produces a bouquet of fake flowers. The man pulls a gun and shoots Twisty in the stomach to no effect. Twisty slices the man’s throat and then repeatedly stabs him in the chest while the girl makes a run for it as she dials her cell phone for help. She crosses a footbridge and hides in Twisty’s old school bus, however the 911 operator’s voice gives away her hiding place.

Twisty rips her apart and tears out her tongue. He then picks up the cell phone, removes the mask covering the missing lower half of his face and says, “Wrong number.”

It turns out, the Twisty tale was actually from a comic book Oz was reading. Ally catches him reading it in bed after he’s supposed to have been asleep and forces him to fork over the reading material. When she sees Twisty on the cover, she has a horrible panic attack. Ivy once again comforts Ally, as she explains to Oz that Ally has an irrational fear of clowns.

Ally gets herself under control and apologizes for her phobias affecting Oz. Ivy gives her a gentle kiss and says they’ll work through it.

A cleaned-up Kai addresses the city council, asking what humans love the most. He answers his own question and says humans love fear the most as the council members exchange looks. “Fear is currency. It has value. We don’t need more cops, we need less,” proclaims Kai. He’s convinced if people live in fear, they no longer will have to think for themselves. Ally and Ivy’s neighbor is the head of the council and he wants to know if Kai’s suggesting they let chaos reign so people will give them unlimited power to do what’s best. Mr. Chang says he appreciates that Kai feels free to join society now that Papa Bear Trump’s been elected, but he also believes Trump’s a blip. He suggests Kai go meet people now that he’s no longer living in his parents’ basement and find out about the real world.

As Kai’s leaving he says, “There’s nothing more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man.”

Ally talks to her psychiatrist, Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson), confessing she doesn’t know how she’ll make it through the next four years. She relives the election night over and over again, and now her old phobias have all been triggered – clowns, confined spaces, blood, particles in the air, the dark, a coral thing in the doctor’s office that keeps looking at her. Dr. Vincent picks it up off the shelf and Ally says it’s the holes in the coral she finds repulsive. Ivy got her through this once before after 9/11, and then Barack Obama was elected and the world was a better place. She loved him and was proud of her President. Dr. Vincent admits he’s been getting through it by deleting all his social media accounts. He prescribes an anti-anxiety medication since her reaction has been so extreme. He says it will be okay, but Ally honestly doesn’t think so.

American Horror Story: Cult
Evan Peters as Kai Anderson in ‘American Horror Story: Cult” (Photo by Frank Ockenfels/FX)

Ally heads to grocery store where the clerk informs her all of his customers are home watching Trump deliver a speech on TV. Ally and the clerk exchange pleasantries, and she mistakenly believes they share the same political views. The clerk puts on his MAGA hat, declaring he’s happy there’s a real leader in Washington now.

Ally doesn’t reply and instead heads down an aisle. She glances up at a mirror and sees two creepy figures in clown masks behind her. Frightened, she calls out hello but no one answers. She keeps shopping, but she’s clearly freaked out.

Ally makes it to the end of an aisle and sees two people in grotesque clown masks having sex on the watermelons. She tries to catch her breath when loud music suddenly blares over the speakers and more people appear in horrifying masks. She heaves a wine bottle at one on a scooter and he holds up a large knife as he rides by. Ally grabs another bottle and races down the aisle. The scooter creature appears again and she throws the wine and misses. She runs screaming from the store.

Ally’s car is the only one in the parking lot and when she gets in she immediately calls Ivy in pure panic mode. She tells Ivy they’re trying to kill her. Ivy says she’s calling the police and to stay where she is. Just then Ally looks in her rearview mirror and sees a clown in the backseat, panics, and crashes into the light post.

The police leave Ally and Ivy’s house after taking a report, and Ivy says the police are looking into the incident. The clerk only saw her throwing bottles of wine and screaming, and claims not to have seen the masked clowns or heard the music. Ally swears she’s not making it up and thinks she was targeted. She believes since they had clown masks, and the masks had holes, they knew her fears and wanted to murder her.

Ally and Ivy make it into work at their restaurant, with Ally needing to play catch up because she hasn’t been there since the election. Ivy reminds her they had an agreement that Ally was the face of the restaurant and Ivy is supposed to be in the back making it work. Ally can’t function because of the election, but Ivy’s trying to get on with life. She wants more from their marriage, and Ally asks if Ivy wants to leave her. Ivy reminds her she’s stood by her, even when her story sounded crazy, and she just wants the old Ally that she loves back. “Isn’t this more important than some stupid election?” asks Ivy. Ally swears she wants to conquer her phobias.

Argument over, they walk home arm in arm. But, they’re not back to a good place in their relationship yet. It turns out Ally voted for Jill Stein because she hates Trump but didn’t trust Hillary. Ivy doesn’t forgive her since they only needed 10,000 votes to turn the state blue. As they argue on a street corner, Kai spills his coffee all over them. He claims he tripped, but Ally calls him an asshole given there was room to go around them. He walks away, but not before calling Ally a bitch.

Winter applies for the job of Oz’s nanny, answering the ad for a part-time position in a two-mother household.

A flashback to a pinky promise with Kai finds him asking her what fills her heart with dread. The scene switches to Winter telling Ivy and Ally she loves children. Back to her time with Kai, Winter reveals her most humiliating experience was in 5th grade when someone copied a love letter she wrote to Paula Abdul. That confession to Kai and his follow-up question as to whether she’s a lesbian transitions to Winter telling Ally and Ivy she went to Vassar – English Lit, Women’s Studies. She adds that she took off a year to campaign for Hillary and claims her proudest moment is when Lena Dunham retweeted her.

Another brief flashback shows Kai trying to get Winter to say who she wants to kill. In response to what scares her the most, this time she replies, “Honestly, Kai, you.”

In a parking lot at night, Kai sings “La Cucaracha” and puts a condom on his penis. He fills it up with urine and heaves it at a group of Mexicans standing around a pickup. He tells them they’re not welcome here anymore and they attack. They beat him senseless, unaware it’s a set up and he’s filming the assault.

Back at their restaurant, Ivy pours Ally a glass of wine before returning to the kitchen to prepare a new possible addition to their menu. Ally checks Twitter, reads a tweet from Trump, and says, “Stop tweeting!”

Ivy returns and sets a meal in front of Ally, and finally Ally focuses on the plate. She once again freaks out when she sees blood coming up through holes in the main course.

Winter babysits Oz, helping herself to soup and asking which one of his mothers is his real mom. He says they both are but he doesn’t know which one gave birth to him. He admits he doesn’t know his father as he draws a picture of Twisty the Clown killing someone with a large knife. She asks if he’s ever seen a real dead body, and Oz shakes his head no.

Winter shows Oz the dark web – “where you can find all the cool stuff” – and asks if he’s scared. He claims he’s not.

Ally sees the clown again as her wine glass crashes to the floor. Ivy races in and Ally tells her she saw a clown. Ivy’s less than comforting this time, asking her wife if she’s insane. Ally admits she hasn’t been taking her medicine and now she thinks she might actually be losing her mind.

Winter shows Oz a person being stabbed to death, but he doesn’t want to see it anymore. She assures him this is like a vaccination for his brain and it will only serve to make him stronger. When Winter goes to get cookies, Oz heads to the window and sees Ally’s clowns getting out of an ice cream truck. They stare up at his house and Oz screams and moves away from the window.

Ally and Ivy drive home, both still upset. They arrive on their street to discover their house is now an active crime scene. Racing past the police tape, they find Oz alive and well. Winter’s also alive, but the Changs aren’t as fortunate. The Changs are dead and Oz claims the clowns did it. Oz says the clowns got out of the ice cream truck, stared at him, and then he ran and got Winter.

A flashback reveals that when they went over to check on the Changs, they heard screaming. Oz and Winter watched through a window as the clowns butchered the Changs.

After Oz walks away, Winter tells Ally and Ivy that Oz imagined the whole clown story. They didn’t exit the house until after they saw the police cars. Winter then shows them the comic book with clowns she found in his room.

Ally and Ivy ask Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) what happened and if they’re safe. He reveals the deaths were the result of a murder/suicide.

After everyone’s gone, Ally hears noises in the house. She turns to Ivy, but it’s a clown and not Ivy sharing her bed.

More on American Horror Story: Cult:
Recap of American Horror Story: Cult Episode 2 “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”
Recap of American Horror Story: Cult Episode 3 “Neighbors From Hell”
Recap of American Horror Story: Cult Episode 4 “11/9”
Recap of American Horror STory: Cult Episode 5 “Holes”