Why Each Character Has Joined the Cult on American Horror Story (So Far)
Now that we're deep in the belly of American Horror Story: Cult, we have quite a few things figured out. We know, beyond all doubt, who plays who in the creepy masked clown cult. We know that Ally is Oz's birth mother. We even have a sneaking suspicion about Dr. Vincent's role in the whole operation. With this week's episode, we also have another set of facts locked down: we know what convinced almost every cult member to start murdering in the name of Kai Anderson. Let's review what we know about each character's motivation . . . so far.
Stunned by the presidential victory of Donald Trump, Winter — who had dropped out of Vassar to pour all of her time and effort into Hillary Clinton's campaign — seems to be completely lost. While she appears pretty progressive on the surface, she quickly pairs up with Kai to begin laying the groundwork for the cult. In a flashback, she tries to convince Ivy to join, asking if she wants to follow a real leader. Winter seems to follow Kai because she doesn't believe in our elected President, and wants to take any possible measures that might aid in the upheaval of society as we know it.
When Kai finds Beverly, she's a frustrated and enraged woman who can't seem to catch a break. Beverly is in trenches of a corrupt corporate system. She works harder than her younger associate, Serina Belinda, but she doesn't get the big stories or big promotions. That's because Serina's sleeping with her boss. Beverly seems like she wants control, and that's something she can attain easily in Kai's cult. But this hunger for power could also be her undoing.
Kai seduces Harrison (both physically and intellectually) at the gym where he's a personal trainer. It's clear that Harrison is kind of a doormat to everyone, especially the head hotshot trainer who works as his superior. Kai inspires Harrison to stick up for himself, which means killing his boss and moving on with his life. It's this sense of importance and value that Harrison covets the most.
It's not until pretty far into the season that we get Ivy's backstory. In fact, she's known Kai and Winter for a very long time. Ivy confides in Kai that she's grown to hate and resent her wife. Because she voted for Jill Stein. Because she has all these "bullsh*t" phobias like coulrophobia, trypophobia, and even agoraphobia. Most of all, Ivy hates Ally because Ally is Oz's biological mother. Ivy has petty motivations for standing behind Kai, to be sure. She just wants to get away from her wife, and take Oz with her. And Kai's making good on his promise.
At the end of the day, Meadow just wants to be loved. She's in a platonic marriage with her gay best friend. She feels unwanted, unvalued, and underappreciated. Until Kai comes along. Kai makes her feel like she's worthy of love, attention, respect, and admiration. Even though it becomes clear he's feeding her lies, Meadow initially joins the cult because she's head over heels for the leader. She's so devoted to his love, in fact, that she's willing to pull off a mass shooting and commit suicide in his name.
Gary's motivation for joining the cult is pretty obscured. We know Kai helps him escape his brutal imprisonment — let's not forget that Ivy and Winter tied him up and left him to rot — so he can exercise his right to vote. There's a chance this was enough of an event to sway Gary over to Kai's side. After all, Kai convinces Gary to saw off his arm to get what he wants. I'd venture to say Gary will do just about anything for Kai at this point.
This one is by far the most mysterious. Detective Samuels is a man of few words. He's obviously in the cult to give a direct connection to the police and to corrupt the law enforcement in the city. As for why? Beats me. We know he's sleeping with Harrison, so maybe that's why he decides to join in. Other than that, he hasn't given us much to work with.