Frank Ockenfels/FX

The Clowns On 'AHS: Cult' Have Taken On A New Catchphrase

In American Horror Story: Cult Episode 5, Kai and his growing group of acolytes decided that their plans for world domination simply weren't moving fast enough. They needed to up their game so that their creepy clown murders gained more publicity. To create the chaos and terror Kai needed to thrive, they decided to embellish the crimes with a new catchphrase: Ave Satanas. But what does "Ave Satanas" mean on AHS: Cult? The Latin phrase has a very simple translation: hail Satan.

Kai wasn't off base in his choice of inflammatory slogans. Satanic panic can give an already horrifying crime a boost when it comes to capturing the public's attention. If a gaggle of grotesque clowns killing people in ways so inventive they could each be their own Six Feet Under cold open wasn't enough, that hint of Satanism could really push things over the edge. As Kai patiently explained to his followers when they asked why they couldn't just hail the devil in English, Latin is inherently scarier. When it comes to spreading fear, that hint of the strange and the unknown makes things all the more terrifying. And Kai's plans for the future involve manufacturing as much terror as possible.

Kai's philosophy is based on the idea that he needs to create chaos and panic so that he can step in as a protective force to guide and control people. It's obviously the height of arrogance that he thinks he's the person for that job (especially when he's the one creating the panic in the first place), but it worked with all of his followers so far. Kai was able to exploit their fear for his own gain. However, he has bigger dreams than just controlling a small group of people. He wants to run for city council and then move up from there, jumping higher and higher on the political ladder. To do that he needs to craft a very specific narrative, which is where the clowns come in.

The idea of clown serial killers is just the kind of weird and horrifying situation the public would easily latch onto and obsess over. Even without the threat of murder, the random clown sightings in 2016 in the real world were deeply unsettling to people. Clowns have taken on an inherently scary quality thanks to movies and books like IT (original and new flavor) and real life serial killers with clown connections like John Wayne Gacy. It was a savvy decision on Kai's part to utilize that fear, but when it didn't result in enough hysteria he needed to up the ante. Enter the hint of Satanism.

Satanic Panic was a major part of the cultural landscape in the 1980s, mainly because of two big news stories that were alleged to have Satanic influence. There was the case of the West Memphis Three, in which three teenagers were convicted of the murder of three children supposedly in a Satanic ritual. Then there were the allegations of child abuse at the McMartin Preschool, which were also thought to be caused by Satanism and resulted in a lengthy trial but no convictions.

It makes sense that Kai would try to incorporate as many of scary elements into his crimes as possible since he wants media attention. That was why he decided to give the murder of Bob Thompson a Satanic twist. Bob had been thwarting Beverly at work and refused to air the graphic on-camera cult murder of reporter Serena Belinda, which made him a target. By taking him out, Kai would be getting rid of one of his perceived problems and creating the terror he desperately wanted. He had his followers film Bob's murder while chanting "Ave Satanas" in all their clown gear to launch a media frenzy.

It seems like all of Kai's plans are unfolding just how he wants them to, which means American Horror Story: Cult is about to get even darker.

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