American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 8 Review: Winter of Our Discontent

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We've already seen that Kai is ruthless. 

American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 8 confirmed that ruthlessness even applies to his family members, as one of the Anderson siblings lost their life at Kai's hand.

A New Look - American Horror Story

Dr. Rudy Vincent (aka, Vincent Anderson) is dead. His death proved wrong a theory that many fans (myself included) had considered: that Kai's older brother was the mastermind behind the entire cult's ideals and maybe even pulling Kai's strings.

In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Vincent's decision to have Kai hide the bodies of their parents (something revealed earlier this season) certainly suggested that something was amiss with the supposedly-good doctor. But as it turns out, that idea was something of an anomaly.

The hour opened with Vincent pledging to help his younger brother. When Vincent first approached Ally, I still thought it was possible he might be playing the long con. But I should've known that he was being genuine based on his perturbed reaction to Kai requesting Vincent call him "Councilman."

Kai: Thanks, big bro.
Vincent: Of course.
Kai: Oh, there's just one more thing I need from you. Call me "Councilman."

Vincent knew right then, if he didn't before, that Kai was off his rocker. He also, apparently, never helped Kai gain access to his patients' sensitive information. But he never expected Ally to betray him and run to Kai with what Vincent had told him.

To be honest, neither did I. It was a ballsy move, and not anything the Ally of earlier this season would ever have done.

But pushed to her limits (and past them) by Kai's months-long torture, the betrayal of Ivy, and most importantly, the loss of her son, Ally has apparently resolved to stop at nothing to get Ozzie back.

Kai: There's something different about you. Did you get a new haircut or something?
Ally: After months of you terrorizing me, forcing me to face my phobias, you did the one thing that my wife, your brother, and all the meds in the world couldn't do. You cured me. I'm not afraid of anything anymore.

Kai's murder of Vincent was brutal. The pinkie chop was shocking and gross, and the callous stabbing was chilling.

It was especially disturbing because we've seen via flashbacks that Kai did, once, have genuine affection for his big brother. But now, Kai has been entirely corrupted by his warped worldviews.

Billie Lourd's performance throughout the entire hour was fantastic, but I was particularly struck by her visceral reaction to seeing Kai chop off their brother's pinky and slaughter him viciously without a second thought.

Based on the title alone, it was always clear that "Winter of Our Discontent" would be a Winter-centric hour. And it certainly didn't disappoint in that regard.

Pinkies Linked — American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 8

This season has relied heavily on flashbacks throughout to fill in gaps and explain character motivations.

I don't particularly love this structure – it's very different for this show, and I haven't been particularly blown away by any of the flashback sequences. But I did appreciate these flashbacks, to the beginning of Kai's transformation, for one very specific reason: Rick Springfield.

The singer and former General Hospital actor made me laugh out loud with his brief cameo as Pastor Charles, a deranged sicko who kidnapped and tortured people to punish them for their perceived "sins."

How dumb were Kai and Winter to respond to his message on the Dark Web and venture out to his secluded farmhouse? I get that they were bored teenagers being dumb online, but that's some next-level stupidity.

Winter — American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 8

Regardless, Pastor Charles' over the top weird accent and his Bible-laden voiceovers were campy as hell (in a great way). It was also interesting to see how the very traumatic event that pushed Kai over the edge shaped him and influenced the person he is today.

Winter's explanation for this was a little wonky. After all, Kai was undoubtedly the hero during the Pastor Charles debacle, taking charge to save Winter, the Pastor's kidnap victims, and himself from the evil man's clutches.

But according to Winter, it was when he realized that "he couldn't save them all" that he became the anarchist, egocentric mess he is now. It still doesn't fully make sense to me.

As much as I'm enjoying Evan Peters' portrayal, I can't fully connect with Kai the way I could with previous Evan characters like Tate. His motivations don't quite track.

Beyond Kai's "origin story," I really enjoyed the other Winter-centric portions of the hour. Well, maybe, "enjoy" isn't quite the right word – particularly where that extremely icky almost-threesome was concerned.

As he enters you, I will enter him. That way, I will be the father, but you will remain pure and unsoiled. You cool with that?

Kai

If anything could succinctly demonstrate how far off the deep end Kai has fallen, it was this "proposal" to his sister. That Winter almost went along with it is just the disturbing cherry on top of the f*cked-up sundae.

Kai's whole "messiah baby" plan was, as Winter correctly deduced, something he came up with off the top of his head. It was transparently a bid to flex his control over his sister, to have her prove her submission. But it didn't quite work.

Winter surprised me by murdering Detective Samuels (who turned out to be a closeted, raging asshole, and almost-rapist in the end).

As much as I dislike the continued references to Valerie Solanas – can we please just collectively agree to forget that American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 7 ever happened? – the car shooting scene was badass.

When Hillary lost, I did too. I should've fought back. I should've gotten angry. I joined this thing, and it's too late for me. And it's too late for you too, turd.

It was a phenomenally powerful performance from Billie, and I'm so glad she was finally able to stretch her acting chops beyond her signature deadpan delivery. She was great, particularly with expressing subtle shifts in emotion with only her eyes.

I'm honestly shocked that Winter survived this installment (and this long into the season in general). Is it possible that she'll emerge as the hero in the end?

She's obviously not without her complexities and bad points (like, y'know, murder and also framing Beverly for murder). But a hero turn from Winter is looking more and more likely, especially now that Ally has seemingly turned fully to the "dark side."

Face-Off — American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 8

Anytime Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters share a scene, magic happens. That was very much the case during the face-off in Ally's kitchen.

Now that Ally traded her information about Vincent's betrayal to Kai in exchange for assistance getting Ozzie back, I have to wonder what this twist means for the story in the final two installments of the season.

Ivy was clearly shocked and more than a little nervous to see Ally remove her mask and reveal herself during the final scene. Does Kai intend to make good on his deal with Ally? If so, what does that mean for Ivy? I don't doubt that Kai would betray her in a second, but that would likely piss off Winter even more.

As for Ally: how deep into this will she get? And will she unexpectedly wind up being Kai's perfect protege after all?

Stray thoughts:

  • "I Swear" by All-4-One was a truly inspired choice for Kai's aborted incest-lite baby-making session with Winter and Detective Samuels. 
  • This season has killed off a disproportionately large number of gay men – Harrison, Valerie Solanas' follower, and most recently, Detective Samuels (despite the latter repeatedly swearing that he's not gay).
  • I don't really understand the continuing purpose of the clown costumes, especially in the final scene. Everybody in the cult knows who everybody else is, so the need for masks seems like a moot point. Of course, it did allow for the very dramatic reveal of Ally as the brand-new cult member.
  • It felt very pointed that Beverly was only relegated to the isolation room and not killed like Vincent. I'm betting we're due for a Beverly comeback before the season ends.

What did you think of "Winter of Our Discontent"? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and remember that you can watch American Horror Story online here at TV Fanatic anytime!

Winter of Our Discontent Review

Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
  • 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (16 Votes)

Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 8 Quotes

You know, your bangability would go way up if you'd just smile.

Kai's soldier

Kai: Thanks, big bro.
Vincent: Of course.
Kai: Oh, there's just one more thing I need from you. Call me "Councilman."