SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen Season 7, episode 9 of “American Horror Story,” titled “Drink the Kool-Aid.”
Now that we’re all the way into episode 9, this is where “American Horror Story: Cult” is starting to get really interesting. It’s not just for Kai’s (Evan Peters) cartoonish quest for power — though that’s fun, too — but “Drink the Kool-Aid,” masterfully directed by “AHS” vet Angela Bassett, introduces us to an entirely different version of Ally (Sarah Paulson). And also, sassy Oz. Sassy Oz is a lot of fun.
Kai kicks off the episode by telling his followers a fairytale of sorts. With admiration, he retells the exploits of cult leaders like Heaven’s Gate’s David Koresh, interspersed with childish interjections like “Isn’t that cool?”… and of course, he had “divine semen,” and so forth. But Kai seems especially taken with Jim Jones, the man from which the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” comes from. Peters is almost unrecognizable as he plays Jones in a reenactment of the gruesome scene in which his followers commit suicide, and Kai’s army eats it up — until they realize what they’ve gotten themselves into.
“Wait, are we a cult?,” asks one of the followers, who have been given names like Tripod, Heart Attack, and Speedwagon. “I thought we were a political movement.” It’s not labels that Kai values, though, but loyalty. He asks his followers if they would die for him, and many say they would. And Kai’s power is extending beyond his wayward guards.
On the city council, he champions a ban on websites by the “left-wing propagandists” of the media. One councilman opposes him, strongly at that, but the others vote in favor — it almost seems as though they’re under his thumb. There, he announces his run for Senate, but the councilman who’s not-so-friendly toward him reminds Kai that he’d be running against a popular incumbent. But I think it would be safe to say that Kai has his own way of dealing with tough competition (RIP Sally Kefler).
Getting back to the thoroughly troubled Mayfair-Richards, Ally confronts Ivy (Alison Pill) over joining the cult, putting their son in danger, actual murder… you know, typical married-couple quarrels. Ivy, though, seems genuinely remorseful for what she’s done, explaining that she at least thought she hated Ally. But Ally’s returned for the family, and Oz arrives with Winter (Billie Lourd). Ally, whose fears are a thing of the past, presents Oz with a Twisty comic before Winter apologizes to her. Rudy’s (Cheyenne Jackson) murder, it seems, has snapped her out of her trust for Kai.
Winter wants to plot an escape, getting her advice from WikiHow, no less (in case you forgot that Winter is a millennial). They all seem to agree that running is the way to go, but before they can make a break for it, Kai’s guards arrive and demand that they come with them — Oz included. At what could be called the Cult Headquarters, Beverly (Adina Porter) is unleashed on Winter, attacking her for lying to Kai about Samuels’ (Colton Haynes) murder. But Kai enters and reminds them that they need to get past the “petty s—” of politics and enter the “power space.”
He sets a bowl of punch in front of them, and they protest as he pours them all cups of the liquid. It’s not just the women, however — the men have to go through with it, too. When one of the guards, Puss Bucket, refuses, Gary (Chaz Bono) shoots him dead. Realizing their lack of choices, they all down the hatch, the women terrified and most of the men grandstanding. Don’t worry, though. It was all a test! It really is just punch, but now they’ve proven their loyalty. Plus, why kill his followers when Kai’s running for office?
With that wake-up call, though, Ally and Ivy are officially running for the hills. They go to pick up Oz from school, but to their horror, find out that he’s already been picked up by his “nanny,” Winter. Kai has Oz, almost taunting him with talk of how “two mommies can’t make a baby.” Oz is generally unimpressed, however, until Kai tells him that he’s actually his father. Once Ally and Ivy arrive, he repeats the same story to them — he used to donate pretty frequently to the sperm bank they went to to conceive, so it’s not impossible. Fearing for Oz’s life, they leave him with Kai for a sleepover.
On the bright side, that allows Ally and Ivy to have a romantic evening alone. The scene is a role reversal for the two: Ally tries to calm Ivy down, becoming the perfect wife as she makes pasta and pours her wine. But as Ally starts to tell what happened to her in the psych ward, how Ivy left her all alone, Ally’s motives become clearer. Her need for revenge, she said, replaced her phobias, and Ivy insists that this new bada– Ally is just a “passing phase.” But then she starts to choke on her dinner and Ally reveals, as she watches Ivy die on the ground in agony, that she poisoned the meal. And now she’s out to save Oz.
Meanwhile, it’s storytime once again at the cult. Kai picks up his Jones story, giving it a different ending: Jesus Christ himself comes to resurrect Jones’ followers, and they all live happily ever after. Oz, however, notes the many holes in his story, citing Wikipedia, of course. Kai accuses him of being a “doubter” and resorting to “fake news,” and one of the officers drags the child into time out.
Ally has a plan, though. She goes to the sperm clinic and finds out that Kai was not, in fact, their donor… but she wants him to think he is. After swapping out a photo of the actual father for one of Kai in the file, she invites him to dinner, where she gleefully tells him she killed Ivy. Once she tells him he’s Oz’s father, Kai is overcome with joy over his “messiah baby.” She uses his own trick against him, making him feel special and loved. After they drag Ivy’s body into Kai’s parents’ room, now they can “be a real family,” Kai proclaims. We’ll just have to see how this dysfunctional family works out, especially given Ally’s desire to kill Kai. For once, she has the upper hand.