We need to talk about Kai Anderson (Evan Peters). The sociopathic narcissist at the center of American Horror Story: Cult has been enacting his radical agenda week after week, but on the most recent episode of the FX anthology, his madness reached a frightening new level when he brutally — and cruelly — killed off one of his own.
Now, American Horror Story has had its fair share of stomach-churning deaths over the past seven seasons, but "Holes" was especially unsettling.
After the gruesome murder of her tyrannical boss Bob, Beverly (Adina Porter) tells Kai that there’s a weak member in the group: R.J., her cameraman. She thinks he's been soft during all the murders, so together, they decide that he needs to be cut from the cult "like a cancer." This scene between Beverly and Kai undoubtedly foreshadows the power-struggle to come, as Beverly becomes more hungry for power, but in the present, it pretty much sealed R.J.'s fate.
And Kai, in all of his sociopathic glory, plans an excruciating death for him. As a way to demonstrate their loyalty, each member of the cult has to shoot a nail into R.J.'s head, using a nail gun — and Ivy (Alison Pill), Ally's wife (!!!), has to go first. "Are you with us, or are you against us and all that we stand for?" he asks. (Ivy really hates her wife for voting for Jill Stein.)
This scene painstakingly slow and brutal to watch. (Full disclosure: I had to fast-forward through the scene after Ivy shoots the first nail into his head because it physically made me ill to watch.) After each member of the cult — which we now know consists of Kai, Winter (Billie Lourd), Beverly, Ally, Harrison (Bill Eichner), Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes), and Gary (Chaz Bono) — does the heinous deed, Kai finally puts R.J. out of his misery, striking a fatal blow to his medulla oblongata.
It was just as grisly — and unnecessarily grotesque — as it sounds. To be clear, I'm not upset that R.J., a murderer, died. It's the way in which he was killed that I found to be total torture porn.
As if that wasn't enough for one episode, Cult then went and gave Kai a sympathetic backstory. (Ugh.) In a flashback to 2014, it's revealed that after years of emotional abuse Kai's mother shot his dad and then herself because it was her "only way out." But instead of calling the police, Kai called his brother... Dr. Vincent Anderson (Cheyenne Jackson), a.k.a. Ally's therapist. Vin decided to cover up the murder in order to evade paying the estate tax on their late dad's injury settlement.
So Vincent and Kai simply place a padlock on their parents' bedroom door and let their bodies rot on the bed. Kai sometimes likes to visit his mother — and let's just say the only thing more disturbing that seeing a man take eight nails to the head is seeing a man talk to two decomposed bodies.
You've truly outdone yourself, American Horror Story.