SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen Season 7, episode 5 of “American Horror Story,” titled “Holes.”
For the first four episodes of this season of “American Horror Story,” the titular cult was somewhat mysterious. Bit by bit, puzzle pieces fell into place: Harrison (Billy Eichner) and Meadow (Leslie Grossman) are in the cult, Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) is even in on it too, etc. But after this week’s episode, the aura of mystery is pretty much gone. We know who’s in the cult, how they function, and what can get them cut off.
The episode opens with Beverly Hope reporting on a “crime wave” taking over the community… with clips of crimes mostly provoked by Kai (Evan Peters). As her boss Bob (Dermot Mulroney) correctly points out, she’s blatantly fear-mongering. Her facts aren’t straight, there’s holes in her story, and he even brings up the dreaded f-words — “fake news” — in reprimanding her. But Beverly has an ulterior motive. She’s angry at Bob for not showing the tape of Serina (Emma Roberts) getting murdered by the clowns. Not only is the footage gruesome, but they’re being sued by Serina’s family, so Bob’s refusing. The argument gets so heated that he fires Beverly, despite her threats of holding a press conference about him “sexually harassing” Serina.
After that, Beverly heads to a meeting of the cult, where Winter (Billie Lourd) is informing them that interest is low in the special election, in which Kai is a candidate. Kai goes so far as to slap RJ (James Morosini), who we don’t quite know much about, when he suggests that the special election might not actually be that important. The cult’s solution? Amp up the fear — and the violence. Beverly insists that the public has to see the violence in order to get riled up, and Kai reprimands her for not getting Bob to air the footage of Serina’s murder. Now, Kai wants to kill Bob “in the most satanic way possible.” And then the big reveal: Ivy also attends the meeting, confirming her involvement in the cult (which, for this record, this recapper called two episodes ago).
Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, Ally is not doing well (and I’m starting to think I write this sentence in every “Cult” recap). She has a dream where bugs are crawling through holes on her skin, and, as she describes to Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson), she woke up to find she’s scratched off some of her skin. She tells him that she has a “biological need” to see Oz every day, so it’s been rough after Ivy took their son and bolted. Ally’s still freaked out over being “marked” by the local serial killer, and she’s strapped for cash too. She notes that Ivy seemed to be “prepared” for all this, and though it’s probably her paranoia talking, she’s also probably right. She begs for Dr. Rudy to help her, which, as we learn later, is probably a mistake.
When Dr. Rudy asks if there were any signs of their relationship crumbling, Ally thinks back to September 2016 (worth noting, a significant time of the election ramping up) at a moment where she was trying to seduce Ivy, but Ivy was stressing over work and money. Ally gives Ivy a lovely gift, but Ivy rebuffs her, insisting that they can’t afford such luxuries. And back in the present day, Ally is allowed only supervised visits with Oz, which come off strained and awkward as she tries to maintain her relationship with her son.
In the car with Winter afterward, Ivy tells her that Oz asked her if Winter would be her “third mommy.” It’s revealed that Ivy was in on that video reveal — especially disturbing when you consider that her son was so closely involved — but she’s doing what needs to be done to please the cult, she insists. “I hate this country,” Ivy rants. “I hate my f—ing wife for letting it happen.” She really can’t get over that Jill Stein vote.
The time comes for the cult to descend upon Bob, and Kai orders them to chant in Latin while they do it, because obviously, “Latin is inherently scary.” In their clown costumes, they surround him, dutifully chanting their Latin as Bob offers money to try and escape alive. Complicating matters, he reveals that he has a gimp in the attic, and when they head upstairs, they find said gimp, blinded, deafened, and hung from the ceiling by hooks through his body. They debate what to do, and it reveals a lot about each character — Harrison is all for killing him, for example. But when Kai makes the decision to do the deed, Ivy’s sickened and rushes to go vomit, with Winter following to comfort her.
They drag Bob upstairs, where he sees his butchered gimp. They slowly stab Bob to death, and Beverly takes off her mask before finishing the job, burying her ax into his head. Later, she’s seen reporting on the murder, accomplishing her goal of delivering a gruesome video to the public, claiming that the clip was emailed to her. When she meets with Kai later, they discuss some hesitance in the group, and they decide they have to take out the weak link. Remember that “equal power” promise Kai made to Beverly in the last episode? They very much seem to be running the show together now.
Over at Ally’s house, she’s spying on the neighbors — what else is new? But when she sees Harrison acting suspiciously before making out with Samuels, she rushes over to investigate, where she finds Meadow, alive but seemingly hurt, in an open grave in the yard. Meadow begs for Ally’s help, but Ally rushes home, caving and calling Ivy, who unsurprisingly is no help at all. Meadow has escaped the hole and is now banging on Ally’s window, yelling “It’s a cult, Ally! It’s a sick cult! And everyone’s in it!” Meadow tells her the police, Harrison, and even Ivy are all in on it.
Harrison and Samuels, though, attend a meeting of the cult, unfazed. Winter reveals that Kai is now leading in the polls, thanks in large part to the clown stunt. But Kai senses some “resistance” in their small group — an interesting choice of words. He leads everyone to the basement, where RJ is tied up, which leads to mixed reactions. While some, like Winter, plead for mercy, Beverly doubles down. Ivy begs Kai not to go through with it, and he reminds them of how she ran when they killed Bob. He wants her to be the first to plunge a nail into RJ’s dome to prove her dedication to the cause, presenting her with a nail gun. “Are you with us, or are you against us and all that we stand for?” he asks her.
Ivy relents and goes through with it, aiming for his temple, presumably trying to take him out quickly, but it doesn’t work. Harrison doesn’t hesitate, going right for the forehead. Gary smiles as he does his part. Beverly is calm and collected, while Winter is clearly distraught. It’s excruciating to watch as each cult member gets their turn to shoot a nail through RJ’s head. Now that they’ve all proven their loyalty, Kai goes for the kill shot, kissing RJ’s cheek and whispering “Good night, sweet prince” before handing out the final blow.
After that, we get to see Kai and Beverly’s pinky power scene, though it seems that Kai is the one being challenged and interrogated for once. She asks him where his family is, and he at first refuses to tell her, but ends up spilling the details after Beverly pushes him. His parents died three years ago; his father was a lawyer, and after a motorcycle accident, had to get around in a wheelchair. The accident changed him, it seems, and he’s clearly abusive to his family. As his family situation gets worse, we see Kai on the internet scrolling sexist pages like the Red Pill subreddit.
But as he surfs the misogynist web, he hears gunshots, and runs to find that his mother killed his father, and then herself, right in front of Kai. He calls his brother, and it’s — guess who? Dr. Rudy. He seems mostly annoyed by the trouble, wanting to hide their parents instead of bury them. If he reveals that they’re dead, he explains to Kai, they’ll lose their father’s disability checks. Plus, it will hurt Dr. Rudy’s practice. And then, there’s the infamous pinky promise, maybe the first in a long line of them.
They go on to set up both parents in their bedroom, leaving them in their bed to rot. When Winter comes home from college, Kai breaks the news to her in a devastating way, showing her their decomposing bodies. “This is the end, but it’s also the beginning of something,” he tells Winter as they stand over their dead parents. “The omega and the alpha.”
They’re still there to this day, and Kai even visits them sometimes. He promises to his mom that he’ll “be someone someday.” And after he reveals all that to Beverly, he breaks down. It’s the weakest we’ve ever seen him, and it’s the work of Beverly. And if anyone’s capable of surpassing Kai in the cult, it would absolutely be the ruthless Beverly, so it will be fascinating to see their dynamic develop.