American Horror Story: Cult is here, and it's going to drastically change the way you view the emojis page on your iPhone. The first episode had timely political scares, phobia-induced frights, and of course, a gaggle of murderous clowns. And it also gave us a creepy symbol that we're going to be seeing a lot of this season: a smiley face with a dripping, red blot in the middle. Spoiler alert: This post will discuss moments from the first episode of American Horror Story: Cult. The mysterious smiley face popped up at the scene of the clowns' first murder in the Cult premiere, scrawled on the wall in the blood of their victims. So, what does the murder sign mean on AHS: Cult? It actually might provide us with some interesting theories on what's really going on this season.
The smiley face appears to fit into the themes of phobias, cults, and clowns that are populating this season. Most clearly, it plays with the creepiness of clowns, which are meant to exude positivity and fun like a smiley face, but are often twisted into something evil in horror movies, as represented by the bloody red splotch in the middle of the smiley face. The disturbing image could also be a reference to cult mentality, in which a charismatic leader can convince followers to commit murders or suicide willingly — with a smile on their face, as it were.
But what I personally think could be the most interesting aspect of the symbol is how it relates to phobias. In the first episode, we learn Sarah Paulson's character of Ally is plagued by a number of phobias, which reemerged recently due to the election of Donald Trump as president. We also see Ally visiting her therapist Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) to try to get her phobias in control. The bloody smiley face sign could also represent phobias dwelling in a person: the bloody splotch most people don't see beneath a smiling exterior. And now for a bit of a stretch, but it also makes me a bit suspicious of Dr. Vincent. I mean, he's supposed to be the smiling face at Ally's side to help her through her fears, right? Maybe the murder symbol actually reveals that he's hiding something sinister beneath his friendly exterior...
Obviously, it's too early to really speculate too much, but after that first episode, I'm going to be keeping my eye on Dr. Vincent. Let's see when we next see that murder symbol pop up, and maybe we'll get some more clues about what's going on this season.