Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins: Scumbag

Written by Crystal Liu
Directed by Rachel Goldberg

Valerie: "You've taken my art, you've taken my life. You've taken my motherfucking legacy."
Andy: "Who are you kidding? Shooting me will be the only thing you'll be remembered for. I am your legacy."

Okay, this was an episode I was not particularly looking forward to watching or even reviewing. I'm far from the biggest fan of Lena Dunham, who I think it's fair to say is at best, a rather divisive and polarising figure, so having her on the show as infamous radical feminist Valerie Solanas in this rather flashback heavy episode was the sort of thing you've could've made a drinking game out of and ended up with liver failure as a result.

In flashbacks we get the famous moment where a dejected Solanas shoots Andy Warhol (played by Evan Peters rather skillfully) and automatically become a cult icon in her own making as we're briefed on her backstory (abused by stepfather, prostitute, given children up, etc) as she forms her own group of psychotic man haters that would even make the worst of the Tumblr crowd shudder a little (or give them some bad ideas).

Of course with Dunham somewhat dominating proceedings in her guest appearance, the episode also brings back Frances Conroy as a cigar smoking radical feminist, who is quickly revealed as an older version of Solanas's lover, Bebe Babbot who decides to round up Winter, Beverly and Ivy and give them a harsh lesson on how men tend to shaft women once again.

Throughout the flashbacks we got to see Valerie's cult of man hating murderesses in action as they apparently were the real Zodiac killers going about knocking off couples in a bid to make Valerie's SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto into a reality while the two token gay men involved were forced to degrade themselves in an attempt to prove their worth only for one of them to get hacked to bits anyways.

I have to admit that I nearly lost the will to live sitting through Valerie's scenes and I honestly wondered if the episode was deliberately going out of it's way to take the piss out of radical feminists and the more woke male feminists to boot. It certainly did more to make me feel less sympathy for Solanas rather than any, although I will admit that Dunham excelled herself during the moment where Valerie lamented about her tainted legacy while Evan Peters being on rather top form as Andy Warhol, which should bode well when he plays other cult leaders in later episodes.

As for the present day stuff, the episode did have some surprises. Less so with Beverly suddenly rebelling against Kai but more that the latter was a few steps ahead once again. In a handful of scenes he was able to manipulate the girls into murdering Harrison while also revealing that Bebe is working for him as well. With Kai's cult status growing, he's certainly proving to be more and more dangerous as his own original cult dwindles.

- Ally was missing for this episode but we know that she was released and Meadow was announced as Kai's would be killer.
- Men Lead, Women Bleed? No wonder Winter was more than happy to kill Harrison, who did admittedly seem somewhat misogynistic anyways.
- The return of Jamie Brewer in this episode along with Dot Marie Jones was a nice surprise here even if they were a part of Solanas's cult.
- Chronology: From where Mid-Western Assassin left off along with 1960s and 1970s flashbacks for Solanas's story.

Well, this was certainly a divisive episode. Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins: Scumbag for it's intentions for being a feminist episode, did more to highlight the more destructive side of it that social media has been doing for a while now. I will admit that there were some good performances and shocking moments but other than that, it's a bit of a frustrating one.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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