(Spoiler alert: Please don’t read on if you haven’t watched Tuesday’s episode of “American Horror Story: Cult”)
“American Horror Story: Cult” continued to mix real-life cult leaders with its fictional one, played by Evan Peters, in the season’s 10th episode Tuesday night. This time, Peters played both his usual character, Kai Anderson, and the king of cult leaders, Charles Manson.
Like last week, the FX horror anthology told some of the real story of the cults that have inspired the show. This week, it did the same with the horrific story of some of the Manson Family murders in 1969 — which really happened.
As Manson, played by Peters, noted on the show, the real cult leader is still alive despite his involvement with a string horrific murders, including that of actress Sharon Tate. Manson, now 82, is still incarcerated in Corcoran State Prison in California.
The murders shown weren’t perpetrated by Manson himself. Instead, he sent four members of his cult, the Manson Family, to carry them out for him. Just like in the show, the murders were carried out by Tex Watson (played by Billy Eichner on “American Horror Story: Cult”) with the help of Susan Atkins (played by Sarah Paulson), Patricia Krenwinkel (Leslie Grossman) and Linda Kasabian (Billie Lourd).
Tate, who was pregnant and married to director Roman Polanski, lived the the house that the Manson Family randomly picked on Aug. 8, 1969. She was there with friends, including Abigail Folger, the heiress to the Folger coffee fortune, aspiring screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski, and noted hairstylist Jay Sebring. All four were murdered, along with Steven Parent, an 18-year-old man who was visiting the property to meet with the property’s caretaker, William Garretson, in another building.
Manson’s “Helter Skelter” idea was the real thing, too. He instructed the Family members to leave signs and clues that would suggest that the murders were racially motivated and committed against well-off white people by black people. The hope was to ignite racial tensions in America against black and white people to trigger a race war that would, essentially, wipe out the country. Manson and the Family would wait out the war in their rural California hideout, Spahn Ranch, and then emerge afterward to rule the world.
Kasabian later became the star witness for the prosecution in the aftermath of the murders. It was her testimony against the Family that helped the prosecution build its case against Manson and the others. Manson, Atkins, Watson and Krenwinkel were found guilty and sentenced to death. California later repealed its death penalty, resulting in all four receiving life sentences. Atkins died in prison in 2009.
In “American Horror Story: Cult,” Kai sees Manson in himself — he even hallucinates Manson several times, including with a Swastika cut in his head (something that Manson actually did). And like Manson, he’s becoming more and more unhinged. Along with his hallucinations, it all suggests that, while Kai has always been messed up, he’s now starting to completely lose control. That can’t be good for anybody near him.