The fifth episode of FX’s American Horror Story: Cult begins with the secret co-conspirators teaming up for a news report. Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) interviews Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) about the recent discoveries of body parts, the chem trucks cruising through neighborhoods, and the fact the government seems to be doing nothing to help the city. Beverly wonders if there’s a serial killer loose, and she provides the update that Meadow Wilton is still missing.
Back at the station, Beverly’s boss – anchorman Bob Thompson (Dermot Mulroney) – is incredulous. He watches her taped piece on crime and calls her out for faking the stats. Crime is actually the lowest it’s been in years, contrary to her report. Beverly’s story is full of holes, plus Bob wonders why Beverly is always the first on the scene. The cops say it’s too early to label it a serial killer, and what she’s doing is reporting fake news. Plus, he warns her to stop scaring people and stop interviewing Kai. No one cares about him.
Beverly wants Bob to air the tape of Serena, and he admits the station’s being sued because they didn’t protect her. They argue some more and Bob fires Beverly, but she warns him she’ll call a press conference and expose that he sexual harassed Serena if he follows through with that threat.
#TeamKai gathers at Harrison Wilton’s house and Winter (Billie Lourd) addresses the group, letting them know her unofficial poll indicates no one cares about the city council or the election. When Beverly’s cameraman, RJ (James Morosini), speaks up and asks why anyone should care, Kai slaps him hard across the face. “The perception of credibility leads to the perception of power. People don’t follow experts anymore, they follow titles,” explains Kai. He believes the citizens will turn to the city council to lead them.
Harrison (Billy Eichner) doesn’t think people are scared enough of the killer, and Kai decides they need to make the murders scarier. But, Beverly believes people need to actually see the killings. She claims people need to see the clowns, but no one is seeing this show they’re putting on.
Beverly also reveals her boss is catching on, so Kai decides to it’s time to kill Bob in a horrible, satanic way. RJ is going to film it. As they come to that decision…surprise!…Ivy (Alison Pill) shows up, apologizing for being late.
Ally (Sarah Paulson) is home alone, washing her face and neck repeatedly. She sees holes in her neck and freaks out. This turns out to be a nightmare she’s discussing with Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson). She admits she’s always been afraid of holes and can’t believe the holes were on her skin. He tells her this fear is deeply rooted in her subconscious. He believes she’s scared of falling into the darkness of her life. They talk about Ivy and Oz moving out, and Ally is torn up. She wants to see her son so badly, and now that’s yet another hole in her life. She’s sad and angry, and can’t believe she was tempted by Winter.
Ally’s upset she has to stay in that house – the house marked by a serial killer – all alone. She was promised police protection, but that hasn’t happened. She doesn’t have any money other than what’s tied up in the restaurant, so she can’t move. “It was like she prepared,” says Ally. Ivy closed their credit cards immediately.
A flashback to September 2016 shows Ivy doing the books while Ally tries to distract her with kisses. Ivy’s concerned about cancellations at the restaurant eating into their profits, claiming they’re in a hole financially.
Fast-forward to Ally’s visit with Dr. Vincent and she’s sure every piece of her life has fallen apart. Dr. Vincent tells her to only work on things she can control.
Another flashback reveals Ivy is only allowing Ally to see Oz for supervised visits which make Ally so nervous she can barely think straight. She brought Oz notepads for his drawings, attempting to reconnect with him again over his love of drawing. The supervised visit was in the restaurant, and Ivy watched as Ally tried to act normal. It didn’t work and Oz wasn’t fooled. He told Ally she was being weird and she apologized.
Ally asks Dr. Vincent to try and help her get back her son.
Ivy and Winter are driving home from the #TeamKai meeting and Oz calls, checking in. He’s spending the night with a friend and Ivy admits Oz loves being at the motel. Ivy reveals Oz asked if Winter was going to be his third mom, and Winter apologizes Oz saw the video but says it had to be done that way. Ivy gets it and Winter reminds her things are about to get real. “This isn’t knitting a pink pussy hat and marching with a clever sign. This is radical action,” says Winter. Ivy agrees and believes radicals are the only ones who get things done, adding she hates this country and what it’s become. She hates Ally for helping to let it happen. She’ll burn everything down to make America a better place.
#TeamKai prepare for their next kill. RJ has a new phone to shoot the video and everyone is instructed to chant “Ave Satanas” during the kill shot.
Bob’s at home in his undies, licking something red off his rubber gloves as he heads downstairs into the kitchen. The clowns arrive and quietly make their way into his home. One hits him in the back and then they surround him in the kitchen. He looks freaked out and offers money for his release. He grabs a kitchen knife but they continue to circle him. As they begin to chant, Bob yells, “I have a gimp in the attic!”
The gang head upstairs and find a man suspended by hooks through different parts of his body. He’s wearing a hood and it’s beyond disturbing the way the hooks pierce his flesh. They debate what to do with him, and RJ says the gimp can’t see or hear them. Kai ends the discussion by stabbing the man in the stomach. The hooks pop out of one side, tearing his flesh more as now he’s suspended only from one side’s worth of hooks. Kai stabs him again and he screams in pain, landing on his stomach on the floor.
Ivy flees the attic and races to the bathroom to vomit. Winter follows to help her and to settle her down.
They bring Bob upstairs and he’s still alive but bound and gagged. They ask Bob if he has any last words, and he screams into his gag. RJ begins filming again as they chant and stab Bob. Beverly takes off her mask so Bob can see her. “Ave Satanas, mother**ker!” she says as she slices Bob in the head with an axe.
Next, we see Beverly reporting live in front of Bob’s house. First on the scene yet again, she reveals Bob has been killed and the station is mourning the loss of their friend. She also reveals she has an email with footage of Bob’s murder. The video with the tag “Cell Phone Footage” plays as Beverly warns those who are squeamish to change the channel.
Beverly and Kai meet at Ivy’s restaurant and she asks if he noticed anything “bothersome” at Bob’s place. Kai says only she impressed him and the others asked too many questions. Beverly thinks they need to get rid of the weak link, and they both know who that is.
Flashback to five weeks ago during the coffin murders. The team sets up the coffins, with Beverly directing how each is positioned. They have 12 minutes before the victims will arrive, according to a call from Dr. Vincent providing the heads up. We see the murders again and watch as the coffins shake as the victims scream and pound on the lids from the inside.
Meadow asks how long they’ll keep the couple in them and RJ agrees. He wants to let them out, but Beverly tells him to stop being a bitch.
Returning to current events, Beverly and Kai agree they need to cut him out of their group.
Ally’s home alone and she straightens up Oz’s room. She hears a noise and sees Harrison with a large body-sized bag. Using Oz’s telescope, she’s able to get a better look at what’s going on. The bag is definitely big enough to fit Meadow. Inside the house, she spies Harrison and Detective Jack Samuels (Colton Haynes) hugging and kissing. She had no idea they knew each other.
Ally heads across the street, armed with a bat. She sees a large hole dug in Harrison’s back yard and falls to her knees. Meadow is in the hole and she begs, very quietly, “Help me.” She’s tied up and can’t move.
Ally races back across the street, locking her doors and turning off the lights. She calls 9-1-1 and is put on hold. She hangs up and calls Ivy, begging her to come to the house. She says Harrison is going to kill Meadow, describing the hole in the backyard. Ivy can’t believe Ally is talking about holes again, and just then there’s a loud banging on the front door. Ivy tells Ally to hang up and call 9-1-1 again.
The banging is Meadow and she’s screaming for Ally to help her. Meadow says it’s a cult and everyone’s in it including Ivy, Winter, and Harrison. Ally doesn’t react in time and Meadow’s hauled away from the window with a pillowcase placed over her head as she screams.
Ally picks up the phone and Ivy’s still on the line. She hangs up.
The gang is assembled at the Wilton house, including Ivy. She wants to know where Meadow is and Harrison says she’s with a friend. Winter announces her new polling indicates Kai’s winning the council seat now after the clown video was released. He still doesn’t think his lead is enough because he needs more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff. He says they need to keep doing “great sh*t” together, but he feels resistance and dissension within the group. He can’t have that because he needs them to be strong, vigilant, and ruthless.
Kai leaves the room to take care of the problem and they follow him into the basement. RJ is tied up and gagged because he’s the weakest link. Ivy can’t believe it and neither can Winter who says RJ is one of them. Kai doesn’t think RJ should have been a part of this, but RJ shakes his head vigorously. They think he’ll testify against him, and Beverly confirms RJ must die.
Ivy pleads with Kai not to kill RJ, and Kai reminds everyone Ivy ran away before they killed Bob. He hands her the nail gun and tells her she should be the first to shoot RJ. “The world record for nails in the head before death is 13,” says Kai.
Ivy doesn’t want to do it and Kai advises her she could just shoot him in the right spot and kill RJ before they all get to take turns shooting him. She still can’t and doesn’t touch the gun until Kai asks her if she’s with them. She finally takes the nail gun and slowly approaches RJ. RJ’s shaking uncontrollably and before she pulls the trigger Harrison reminds her she has to put it against RJ’s head for it to work. She does, apologizing to him before pulling the trigger. She shoots him in the temple and Harrison is next up. He shoots him in the forehead and RJ’s alive but no longer shaking. Blood and tears stream down his face as Gary (Chaz Bono), Beverly, Jack, and Winter take their turns. He’s still alive, but barely, when Kai takes the gun. Instead of trying for a world record, he puts RJ out of his misery.
Beverly and Kai pinkie swear and he asks her what scares her the most. She doesn’t answer and instead asks who he really is. She asks where his mother and father are, and if he killed them. He won’t talk about it and she tells him secrets make him weak. She wants the real story and he says they died three years ago.
A flashback to 2014 shows Kai’s father in a wheelchair. Kai’s voice-over tells us he was a lawyer but got in a motorcycle accident that left him disabled. He hassled Kai about getting a job and about Kai’s useless degree in religious studies. He became a jerk since his accident, screaming at Kai’s mom while she was caring for him. He even accused her of cheating on him since his own penis didn’t work.
Kai was forced to listen to them argue and then one night he heard gun shots upstairs. His mother shot his dad and then killed herself. Kai didn’t call the cops and instead called his brother, Dr. Rudy Vincent! Rudy decided they would cover the bodies in lye after putting them in bed. Then, they’d just padlock the bedroom door.
Kai didn’t want to follow the plan, but Rudy said financially it made sense. The government would take too much of their father’s accident settlement money if they reported his death. Rudy said they needed their dad’s disability check and their mother’s pension to pay bills and live.
Rudy also revealed he doesn’t want his clients to learn his parents killed each other. It wouldn’t be good for business. They pinkie swear on the plan. Kai asked what they’re going to tell Winter, and Rudy said they’ll fill her in at Thanksgiving when she comes home.
The flashback continues with Winter arriving home and she was pissed they didn’t tell her. Kai unlocked the door to show his sister the bodies, both still in bed and badly decomposed. She threatened to turn in both her brothers, but Kai said they’re all free now because of his father’s death.
Back to current events, Kai admits his parents are still in their bedroom and he visits them sometimes.
We see Kai sitting next to their bed, telling his skeletal dad he still hates him and is glad he’s rotting into nothingness. He promises his mom he’ll be something and make her proud.
As he tells the story to Beverly, Kai breaks down crying.
(I’ve got to say this is one of the most disturbing and nauseating episodes of television I’ve ever made it through.)
More on American Horror Story: Cult:
– Recap of American Horror Story: Cult Episode 1 “Election Night”
– 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 6 “Mid-Western Assassin”
– Recap of American Horror Story: Cult Episode 8 “Winter of Our Discontent”
– Recap of American Horror Story: Cult Episode 9 “Drink the Kool-Aid”
– Recap of American Horror Story: Cult Episode 10 “Charles (Manson) in Charge”