American Horror Story is known for providing its fans with Easter eggs linking seasons together. There was the appearance of Lana Winters in both Asylum and Roanoke, or Pepper and Sister Eunice, who turn up in Asylum and Freakshow. Cult, it seems, is no different – this week’s episode links it to not one, but two previous series.
Episode seven is the first to show a different cult from throughout history (those run by Charles Manson and Jim Jones amongst others will be shown later in the series), focusing on Valerie Solanas – the woman who tried to assassinate Andy Warhol and wrote the SCUM Manifesto. Played by Lena Dunham, she leads a cult of women (and two gay men) and masterminds a plot to “eliminate the male sex” by killing men and the women “who spread their legs for [them]”.
Valerie’s story is told to the women of Kai’s cult by Bebe Babbot (Frances Conroy), a mysterious, cloaked lady who approaches Beverly and gets into her head about the blue-haired leader’s intentions now he’s got what he wanted and won a seat on the council. “The women always get pushed aside,” she says, provoking Beverly to call a meeting with Winter and Ivy. It’s there Bebe tells them about Valerie and claims she was responsible for the murders attributed to the Zodiac Killer, but an imposter took the credit, sending letters to the press taking responsibility for the deaths.
Two seasons ago, in Hotel, that very same murderer made an appearance. In the episode ‘Devil’s Night’, hotel owner James Patrick March (Evan Peters) hosts a dinner for a cast of serial killers – John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, Aileen Wuornos and, of course, the Zodiac. The latter’s face is never shown, presumably because the killer’s identity remains unknown. Now, however, fans are wondering if it was Valerie, one of her followers, or her imposter who was present at the table.
Back in Cult, Bebe tells the “women’s auxillary” of Kai’s group about Valerie’s demise. But before that, she shares another story about the SCUM leader and how she disposed of the Zodiac – one of the gay men in the cult. After finding a notebook containing evidence of the man’s involvement, she attacks him, with her minions soon following suit. With them all stood over their victim, stabbing him in a frenzy, the scene feels like an echo of one from Coven – when the witches kill the Axeman in almost exactly the same way.