Review: ‘American Horror Story’ shows backstories of key characters

It seems that every season, “American Horror Story” gives us one gem of an episode that delves into the backstory of some of the characters, and that was definitely the case with Tuesday’s episode, which examines the events leading up to Election Day.

The fourth episode of “AHS” shows viewers the past lives of Harrison (Billy Eichner), reporter Beverly Hope (Adina Porter), Ivy (Alison Pill) and even grocery store owner Gary (Chaz Bono).

It starts off in a feel-good moment of seeing our beloved characters standing in line, excited to cast their votes. Everyone is smiling, certain that their vote is going to change the world for the greater good.

After the election, Kai (Evan Peters) begins to prey on the insecure, beginning with Harrison. This is common tactic in cult leaders; pick the weakest link and exploit them.

At this point, Harrison leads a miserable existence, working as a personal trainer in a gym full of meat-heads and facing foreclosure on his and Meadow’s home. That’s when Kai shows up: the radiant, charismatic and over-confident Kai Anderson. It’s not until Kai strolls into the gym ready for “world domination,” that Harrison begins to find hope.

Harrison admits that he’s stuck with nowhere to go, but according to Kai, “nowhere is the best place to be.” It’s in this moment of despair that Harrison is encouraged to murder his boss and does, without Kai ever lifting a finger, assumedly laying the groundwork for forthcoming blackmail.

Kai’s key to controlling Harrison is simple: exploitation. He capitalizes on Harrison’s economic and employment uncertainties and makes him feel like an outsider because of his sexuality.

The biggest shock for viewers, though, lies in Beverly Hope’s character. A tired journalist reporting on hard news, Beverly has received the short straw repeatedly, always paling in comparison to her younger coworker Serena (Emma Roberts), who is determined to sleep her way to the top.

Viewers learn that Beverly suffered an apparent mental breakdown after being humiliated on air repeatedly by men running into her live-shot and screaming in Trump-like fashion “grab her by the p—y.” After returning to work, she realizes her career will never be the same after being pushed out of the spotlight to make room for Serena’s fluff pieces on reflexology and wine tastings. With her picture-perfect looks, Serena reminds Beverly that no one cares about actual news anymore.

That’s when Kai makes his move, like a cheetah stalking its prey. He finds Beverly in the middle of slashing Serena’s tires when he invites her to coffee, digging deep into Beverly’s self-doubt and her unquenchable rage, which Kai admires.

Kai presents his plan: he needs a mouthpiece – a messenger – and Beverly’s the gal for it. This explains her constant editorializing anytime a crime has occurred. Her role is simple: encourage chaos and fear. Abandoning her journalistic integrity and the Society of Professional Journalist ethics, Beverly agrees to join Kai & Co. to wreak havoc in their Michigan town.

It’s during this conversation that Kai begins to reveal information about himself: he’s got a super-genius IQ, former military background and an Ivy league grad. Assuming this is true, it makes sense. Historically speaking, the textbook definition for a cult leader is one with an extreme IQ. Kai’s charisma and confidence is something he likely learned in the military, and it would explain his calculated tactics in ensuring world domination.

Our last glimpse of Serena isn’t pretty: the clown posse arrives midst a pet adoption live-shot and stabs Serena and her cameraman to death. Don’t be alarmed, though, the puppy survives.

Next, we see Ivy. This shouldn’t really surprise viewers, though, since fans have been supporting her cult involvement since day one.

Ivy shows up to a rally, supporting HRC. It’s there we run into Gary the grocery store clerk from episode one — with both hands intact, one of which he uses to sexually assault Ivy. Grabbing her crotch — again, shoutout to Trump — Gary insists he isn’t a deplorable. Interesting.

That’s when Winter rushes to Ivy’s rescue, chasing down Gary who retreats to his rigged, diesel truck. After calming down, Ivy and Winter ditch the rally and grab lunch. That’s when we see Ivy’s insidious side make an appearance: preying on Ivy’s doubts as a woman “well-versed in the art of misogyny,” Winter rages against the privileges surrounding men since the beginning of time. This also shows that Winter and Ivy knew each other before Winter’s placement as a nanny, making her job look even more premeditated.

The most interesting part of this whole episode is that those Kai targets are not your run-of-the-mill GOP lovers. He’s recruited an African-American journalist and two members of the LGBT community.

Who’s next?

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email

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