SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen Season 7, episode 3 of “American Horror Story,” titled “Neighbors From Hell,” which aired on Sept. 19.
The isolation of Ally (Sarah Paulson) is in full swing. After she shot and killed her former employee Pedro at the end of the last episode, her neighbors and fellow liberals have turned against her, and by the end of “Neighbors From Hell,” she even loses the support of her wife, Ivy (Alison Pill). She still has one person on her side, though: Kai (Evan Peters), and it’s hard not to think that this is all part of his plan as he begins to earn her trust.
But before all of that happens, we meet a couple who’s seeing Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson). The woman had a fear of coffins going back to a childhood trauma, but, thanks in part to Dr. Rudy, she overcame her phobia… that is, until the murderous clowns break into her home and lock her and her husband into coffins, killing them under the smiley-face mark of the cult. At this point, I’d be shocked if Dr. Rudy wasn’t working with the cult, relaying his patients’ fears, including Ally’s, to the perpetrators.
Back at the Mayfair-Richards residence, Ally is less racked with guilt over shooting Pedro and more worried about the trouble she’s in. But Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) assures her that, legally, she should be fine, thanks to Michigan’s Stand Your Ground laws. He even goes so far as to demonize Pedro, almost trying to lay out Ally’s defense for her: she was trying to protect herself and her child. Ally, with her liberal beliefs, doesn’t argue, even when Samuels stoops down to seemingly play on racial fears.
Even if she’s okay in the eyes of the law, she still has to face her fellow liberals. As we learn from reporter Beverly Hope (“Roanoke” star Adina Porter), she’s being referred to as the “lesbian George Zimmerman,” which is at least a little hilarious. Protesters have taken over the couple’s restaurant, and as Ivy leaves Ally to go hold down the fort, Kai appears and surprises Ally by praising her “bravery.” Despite her previous unsettling interactions with Kai, he serves as a comforting presence in this scene, promising to take care of the mob of protesters for her. “Just keep living your truth,” he tells her.
But even at home, Ally can’t get away from the controversy. Harrison (Billy Eichner) and Meadow (Leslie Grossman) accost her, accusing her of racism while wearing sombreros, seemingly completely unaware of the irony. “I’m one-tenth Mexican,” Harrison yells at her, before throwing Taco Bell coupons at her feet. “Does that make you want to kill me?”
The harassment — if it is, indeed, that — only gets worse from there. Ally finds dead crows all over their yard, and Ivy brings Winter back in (seriously?) even after she abandoned Ally in the last episode. Winter, again proving she’s a horrible nanny (is this not obvious to them at this point?), had let a man in the house, who was stark naked and demanding that Ally and Ivy pleasure him, as promised in a Craigslist ad. After Ivy chases him out, they find that someone’s posted the ad asking “studs” to stop by their home for a… good time, so to speak.
Now, Ally thinks it’s time to take matters into her own hands. She calls Dr. Rudy and tells him she’s on her way to confront the protesters, which, as he rightly tells her, is a Very Bad Idea. Ally’s comments in this scene, perhaps more than any other, demonstrate a humorous lack of self-awareness: “Do you understand the specific pain of something like me being accused” of racism? “These are my people!” Also worth noting: Dr. Rudy, as he suggests Ally see in-patient treatment for her phobias, plays with clown pins. This guy is so part of the cult.
As Dr. Rudy warned, the confrontation with the protesters does not go over well… at first. As she devolves into screaming and honking at them, Kai appears, and, with just a touch of his hand, they disperse. He’s helped her here, but if he can get rid of them so easily, it’s likely that he also put them there.
At home, Ally and Ivy are surprised that Oz now owns a guinea pig, but unfortunately, no such furry rodents are allowed in the house because of Ally’s allergies. Oz is furious that he can’t keep the guinea pig, which Meadow and Harrison gave to him to drive a wedge between him and Ally, or so Ally thinks. She calls the neighbors, who are curiously hanging out with Detective Samuels, and unleashes her fury on them. Harrison says they gave Oz the guinea pig to provide him with some testosterone in his life, while Meadow tells Ally simply, “I think you’re a horrible racist.”
Speaking of Meadow, it’s been confirmed: she’s part of the cult. We see what seems to be her initiation interview with Kai, who slaps her after she makes a “Real Housewives” joke instead of getting personal. He gets her to admit that she’s scared that she’s childless and loveless, and she’s afraid the man she loves is turning against her. She tells Kai that the man in question “has a friend now.” Could she be talking about Harrison and Samuels? Once again fear-mongering, Kai tells her, “You want to be somebody? You want to matter? Then you make the world wrong.” This, in particular, seems to take aim at white nationalist worldviews.
After that, though, we’re treated to a particularly delightful scene where Ally, Ivy, and Oz enjoy some ice cream-tasting at the restaurant. Ally even tells Oz that he can keep the guinea pig, and it’s a wonderful moment! Everyone’s happy! Until the family gets home to find the clown mark on their door… and Mr. Guinea in the microwave. Poor, poor Oz has to see his beloved pet explode, which sets Ally over the edge, marching over to the neighbors’ house to assault Harrison and accuse them of rodent murder. They deny the allegations, then grow somber when Ally mentions the clown’s mark. “You’ve been marked by the killer,” Harrison warns. As the family walks away, we find out that Harrison and Meadow have too, with the symbol on their home.
As Meadow got her interview with Kai earlier, now, we see Harrison’s. He admits that he regrets marrying Meadow, and Kai goes so far as to ask if he wishes she were dead. Harrison is appalled by the question at first, but then admits that it’s true.
Back in the present, however, Ally has called the cops and is in the process of explaining her conspiracy theories to Samuels before they’re distracted by Oz’s scream upstairs. He reveals that he was sent a link: a video of Winter seducing Ally in the bathtub. Ivy is understandably outraged, slapping Ally and yelling as she tries to blame everyone else for her actions. Before she takes Oz to leave for the night, she tells Ally, who is begging her to stay, “You should call Winter.”
Just as Ivy and Oz are about to leave, though, they see a troubling scene next door: Harrison, covered in blood, yelling at the police. Something’s happened to Meadow, it seems. And Harrison knows exactly who to blame: Ally. “What kind of ‘Gone Girl’ s— are you up to?” yells Harrison as the cops restrain him. Oz has managed to disappear into their house, where he finds — what else? — blood smeared across the walls, and the mark of the clown. This neighborhood just can’t catch a break.