Lots of questions lingered from last week's American Horror Story: Cult: Just who are these clownish killers? Are the Mayfair-Richards next? How does Kai know the Wiltons? What happened to Meadow? And will Ivy ever forgive Ally for voting for Jill Stein?

All these soap-y questions and more are answered in this week’s flashback episode, which jumps around various days just before and after the 2016 election. Whereas previous episodes have focused on paranoia, anxiety, and fear, this one explores anger, and how it is harnessed by those who feel powerless.

We’re also introduced to the rivalry between local TV reporters Beverly Hope and Serena Belinda. Serena is young, entitled, and white, and gets preferential treatment from the boss; Beverly is black and more experienced, and marginalized. The bitchy Serena squares off with Beverly over election coverage. Nasty woman exchange? Check.

In the voting line on election day, Ally and Ivy coo about Hillary becoming the first female president. Nearby, Winter and her friends chant, “This pussy grabs back,” as the Wiltons look on at the “mess of humanity” with disgust, quickly realizing they don’t feel qualified to vote for anything weightier than the Emmys. The whole sequence smacks of #toosoon, but the perversity is the point. This is horror, after all.

We get privileged shots of the voting. There’s a Gary Johnson nod, a Trump vote from Serena, and an “Oprah” from Meadow: 2016! But the majority go with Hillary. (Get it? Like the country!) Ally loses her nerve and votes for Jill Stein, in a sequence played as if she’s just fed a mogwai after midnight. Kai comes in carrying Gary Longstreet, played by Chaz Bono, who needs to cast his Trump vote immediately because he is bleeding, later revealing a severed arm.

“Welcome to Trump’s America, motherf---ers,” Gary screams.

After this teaser, the episode jumps to November 9, the day after the election, and we finally get an insight into how this cult manipulated the weak into doing its bidding. Harrison trains his new client Kai at the gym, who spouts alt-right nonsense about labels like “gay” being divisive, all while seducing Harrison. Turns out, Kai works as a computer expert and app developer, which explains his free time and disposable income. Harrison’s boss tells him to clean up the bathrooms after some clients’ sexual escapade; apparently he makes Harrison do this a lot. In the steam room, Harrison sees the clown symbol. Hmm. Later, he finds Kai jerking off in the shower.

Copyright 2017, FX Networks. All rights reserved.

Things aren’t going so well at home either: the bank is foreclosing on the Wiltons’ house because Meadow screwed up their finances. Back at the gym, Harrison’s anger boils over, and, at the urging of Kai, who sketches the smiley face on the steam room door, Harrison murders his boss. Kai neatly covers the murder up with a mixture of computer hacking and research. Meadow comes back to their temporary lodgings to find Harrison cutting off his boss’s head.

In December 2016, Beverly the fearless reporter is at the dump, where said body has been found. At the end of the newscast, we see Kai watching at home, as Beverly notes to the anchor how great it is to be back. Kai wonders: Where was she? He searches and finds online video of Beverly being taunted by scores of young men in all her interviews, then finally attacking one. The obligatory auto-tuned viral version follows. Then there’s a cheery archival segment from Serena Belinda, who reports Beverly went into treatment for 90 days. Kai looks at Serena hungrily.

Back at the news office, the lead anchor, Bob (Dermott Mulroney), is fondling Serena when Beverly barges in to proclaim, “Sucking dick is no way to build a career." Serena has her sights set on The Today Show: “I don’t care how many dicks I need to suck to get there.”

Beverly is slashing tires in the parking lot when Kai finds her. He attempts to recruit her to what appears to be his cult, not as a follower but as an equal, because she has something: rage. It’s not long before Serena gets slashed by the killer clowns. Back at Kai’s, Beverly storms over because she’s figured out Kai is responsible for the murders: Serena’s killers were Kai, Meadow, and Harrison. Kai did it for Beverly; Beverly believes in Kai. Equal power. Cult!

In a separate story line, we go back to Ally and Ivy’s conversations before the election, which echo thousands of living rooms around the country. Ally doesn’t want to go to a rally because, duh, Hillary will win! Ivy goes solo and gets assaulted by pro-Trump Gary. Winter chases him down, and then shares a moment with Ivy. In a twist, we find out these two knew each other before. They have an intimate lunch, and share their frustrations about misogyny in America, culminating in their tracking down and locking up Gary so he can’t vote. Is Ivy crazier than Ally? Ivy’s **{:.small}hysterical other half finally has some solid ground to stand on. Ally's paranoia is all too real.

At home, Winter tells Kai, her brother, what she did to Gary, and he goes to find him. Kai’s anger-baiting takes an even more sinister turn, as he convinces Gary his vote is so important he needs to break free of his chains at all costs. Oh, and Kai just happens to have a saw handy. Cher’s son is playing a MAGA supporter so devoted that he saws off his arm to cast a vote for a former reality TV star.

Welcome to Trump’s America, indeed.

Copyright 2017, FX Networks. All rights reserved.

Related: American Horror Story: Cult Episode 3 Recap

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