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'American Horror Story: Cult' episode 5 recap: Nailed It

Price Peterson
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Warning: This recap of the “Holes” episode of American Horror Story: Cult contains spoilers.

As a famous poet once said, “Every day is a winding road,” and that goes double for gimps suspended from fish hooks in the attic. It’s a story as old as time: One day you’re an ordinary gimp just literally hanging out in the attic from fish hooks minding your own business and the next thing you know a cult of masked clowns attacks your roommate while he’s eating ice cream and he alerts them to your presence in the attic hanging from aforementioned fish hooks and then they murder you for no real reason. The universe is always throwing curve balls at us like that, and not even gimps hanging from fish hooks in the attic are exempt from life’s twists and turns.

“Holes” was the fifth episode of Cult and the first to finally get across what the point of this season is. Better halfway-through-the-season than never! Yes, it was still a disgusting and unpleasant episode of television, but finally learning the inner workings (and identities) of the cult while also filling us in on Kai’s background did much to cause all the different elements to finally gel. Also an unlucky gimp had a very bad night. Let’s talk about “Holes”!

We began with a suddenly VERY upbeat local news reporter who had one less trifling hater in her life these days.

Beverly was pretty happy that Emma Roberts was no longer around to act a mess around the office, but she was even more stoked that she was able to be the first to report her death to the increasingly terrified general public. Kai’s plan to recruit Beverly was already paying off: He now had someone in the media to help foster widespread fear of an active serial killer while also driving up poll numbers in his campaign for city council. (Wait, they poll for city council races?)

We were then invited to our first cult meeting, where we got official confirmation that, yes, pretty much everybody except Sarah Paulson was in the cult, even Beverly’s cameraman, Cuteguy Suretodie. And if you hadn’t guessed it from last week’s episode, “Holes” treated this next revelation as a shocker:

Yes, of course Ivy was in the cult. Come on, guys.

We didn’t get quite as much Sarah Paulson this week, which was honestly fine. But she did experience this highly disturbing fantasy moment where she discovered holes in her neck from which bugs and spiders were crawling. Get outta Sarah Paulson’s neck, you little cuties!

Some time had passed since the last we’d checked in on Ivy and Sarah Paulson’s relationship; Ivy had officially moved out and also gotten custody of Ozy. But as we learned in a flashback, their marriage had been falling apart since before the election. Ivy no longer wanted to do sex with Sarah Paulson, and also Ivy “hated” her wife for voting for Jill Stein, and it was this anger that caused her to radicalize and join Kai’s cult. In what was this episode’s most shocking (and admittedly least believable) revelation, his cult is politically bipartisan! Alt-right, alt-left, all just people who wanted to destroy the system and start a new world. Which, uh, sure. Ivy was definitely going to become BFFs with the grocery store redneck who’d groped her. A natural fit.

I am not in favor of child abuse, but this show’s decision to place this hat on this child was really testing me. I think we were supposed to be sad that Sarah Paulson no longer had custody of Ozy, but this kid is clearly the worst, worse than murderous clowns even, and his hat was irrefutable proof. Get out of here you jerk-urchin!

At this point Kai decided their secret, non-publicized murders of people in the neighborhood weren’t getting enough attention, so the cult decided to raise the stakes a little bit. They set their targets on Beverly’s boss, Dermot Mulroney, and also decided to record his murder on video! Next thing we knew, they put on their costumes and invaded his home at ice cream o’clock. But in one of the truly most surprising turns this series has ever taken, Dermot Mulroney attempted to save his own neck by directing the clowns to the GIMP he currently had hanging from fish hooks in his attic!

They were SO confused by this. What on EARTH? But Kai, ever the quick thinker, immediately murdered the gimp! For no real reason except, uh, maybe the gimp could hear them? The entire scene was insane and gory and loathsome, but on the other hand, I was just grateful SOMETHING memorable was happening finally.

Beverly ended up landing the killing blow on her boss while Ivy was puking her guts out in the bathroom.

As it turned out, murdering strangers to stoke the public’s fears was not Ivy’s favorite thing to do. Sure, the outfit was fun, but murdering news anchors and gimps decidedly less so. She was starting to miss frosting cupcakes.

Sarah Paulson, meanwhile, was back at the house with little to do but use her telescope to watch Billy Eichner unload a body bag from his SUV and then make out with Detective Colton Haynes. Because she could no longer afford cable, Sarah Paulson decided to go investigate what was going on with her weird neighbor, and within minutes she was breaking into their backyard staring into a freshly dug grave… Where Mary Cherry was coming to! She hadn’t been murdered after all, at least not yet. Sarah Paulson ran back to her house and Mary Cherry chased after her, pounding on her windows for help. Mary Cherry was even able to tell Sarah Paulson that Ivy was in the cult of murderers before she was dragged away. I think we’re supposed to believe that Mary Cherry had run afoul of the cult because she’d questioned Kai’s double-casket murder from a few weeks back, but come on. She’s clearly just pretending to be in danger to somehow manipulate Sarah Paulson into… I’m not sure. Joining the cult? Who knows. Anyway, she now knew that Ivy was a clown and that was bound to be a wake-up call somehow.

Meanwhile back at Kai’s place, he had grown concerned that Ivy wasn’t fully onboard the murder train, so he forced her to participate in a group execution of Cuteguy Suretodie. What followed was another gratuitous-yet-effective scene of each of them firing nails into the poor dude’s skull. THAT’LL teach him to politely suggest they not murder a gimp!

To everyone’s credit they seemed sad about killing their friend? But Kai’s M.O. was beginning to become clear: forcing the gang to murder the “weak links” among them would only strengthen their allegiances to Kai and the cult.

At this point Beverly asserted her power within the cult by questioning Kai about his background and his fears for once. That’s when we were treated to some flashback action to a time when Kai looked way less greasy and murdery.

Three years ago, his abusive father was terrorizing everyone in the house because he’d become paralyzed in a car accident and hated tacos now. Kai and his mother handled all this domestic dysfunction in different ways: He got involved in the “red pill” online community and she got involved in murder-suicide.

Suddenly Kai’s parents were dead and he had no one left in his life except his brother and sister! And did you guess who Kai’s brother was?

Yep, it was Dr. Cheyenne Jackson, Sarah Paulson’s therapist! It wasn’t yet clear if he was officially in the clown cult or not, but maybe? He was definitely a messed up dude, since it was his idea to simply place the corpses of his parents in their bed and mummify them with lye. Estate taxes are a b*tch, y’know?

Also, OH RIGHT. Winter is Kai’s SISTER! Was that obvious to everyone but me? I truly didn’t guess that, possibly due to the explicit sex conversations they’d had earlier in the season. Thought maybe they were FWBs or whatever. Anyway, these three siblings really were something.

This was admittedly not the most charming scenario, but it was kind of cute that Kai sometimes visits his mummified parents and talks to them about how he wants to make them proud of him someday. I guess starting a clown-masked murder cult so that he could become a city councilperson was a step in that direction? (Seriously LOL-ing at his master plan of being on the city council. Can you imagine a worse goal?)

Considering this season is about a cult, it’s probably a good thing that we’re shifting focus to its leader. Without understanding Kai’s motives, motivations, or charisma, the entire premise of the show doesn’t work. And though it’s always disturbing to follow murderers as protagonists, getting to ‘join’ the cult finally made this season make sense. It’s fascinating to see what brought all these people together and why they’re doing what they’re doing. Adding Beverly to the mix to satirize the media is another clever idea that’s really paying off. Sarah Paulson is a national treasure, but there’s only so much of her scream-crying we could take. Halfway into the season Cult finally has a purpose! But then again, so did that gimp and look what happened to him. Come on, show, hang in there.

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

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