Cult "In the Blood" Review: No Use Crying Over Spilled Kool-Aid

Cult S01E02: “In the Blood”

Okay, fine, so it’s a trainwreck. Cult has managed to put me in an awkward position where I know objectively that it’s a not-great show but I don’t hate watching it and I’m even willing to admit that I LIKE watching it. It makes me laugh. Clearly, it’s not Cult’s intention to be seen as an accidental comedy, but whatever gets people to keep tuning in, right C-Dubs? Right?

Or in Cult’s case, just tune in at all. I mean, ouch. You saw those numbers last week, right?

And yet there’s still a part of me that’s recovering from my Kool-Aid hangover, that wants to believe the show could swing around to crazy-in-a-good-way instead of crazy-in-a-WTF-way. It’s just that for every genuinely interesting thing Cult does, it seems to make a lot of questionable narrative decisions to counter the choices that aren’t completely awful. Specifically, at this point, I’m not entirely clear why we need to spend so much time watching excerpts from the fake TV show. It was novel during the premiere because it was initially confusing—what was real? What wasn’t? Then there were the clear parallels between Jeff’s search for his brother and Kelly’s on-screen search for her sister that tied the everything together.

This week, Kelly investigated a former cult member being buried alive upside-down in a mimicry of Billy Grimm’s initiation ritual (COOL.) aaaand... Jeff crashed a funeral and found weird symbols behind some dude’s wallpaper right before said dude threw out that creepy catchphrase and let the crazies kill him. Both victims were revealed to have “betrayed” the cult in some way, earning their gruesome deaths, but now, with the understanding that one storyline is real and the other isn’t, I find myself annoyed that we’re spending time with the fake one when the real one is moving so incredibly slow. In the case of "In the Blood," the clip of Cult-within-Cult wasn’t even really necessary to understand the harsh penalty for screwing over Steve and his gang. A smarmy Hollywood executive showed up and discussed changing the scripts from Rae’s explicit instructions, then ended up abducted, tortured, and (probably) dead. Merriam’s husband accidentally helped Jeff and Skye and ended up dead. The lead actor complained about the script and ended up conveniently running into that hot bartender who keeps showing up at almost every kidnapping and murder and CUE CLIFFHANGER. Pattern established, Cult, and while this week's show-within-a-show stuff was actually kind of more interesting than the real story, it was ultimately just a way to kill time this week and frankly, it needs to be more than a way to kill time and give Alona Tal some lines.

So where DID the real plot take us this week? Dumb Jeff’s Claudia Donovan rip-off of a friend (c’mon, an extraordinarily young, brilliant hacker geek girl with a thing for dying her hair?) reiterated what we established last week: that the man was a moron for sticking that disk in his computer and expecting it NOT to somehow ruin his life. He asked her to analyze it using her magical hacker skills and she came back and told him that it fried his hard drive and wiped itself clean except for a bunch of creepy symbols that mean something we’ll theoretically find out at a later date. One of those symbols appeared on Dead Merriam’s wallpaper, and by some miracle of obvious coincidence it was one that the Claudia imposter, E.J., enlarged so that we could, you know, see it. OH WOW IT WAS TOTALLY ENLARGED ON MERRIAM’S WALL TOO! That’s totally weird and clever and not at all sloppy and/or lazy!
Unfortunately, that development is at a standstill since Merriam’s widower handed over the actual wallpaper to Detective Evildoer (after smacking Nate around on some security footage from one of the filming sites) and then the True Believers burned the rest of the evidence.

Alrighty then, True Believers are a thing and there may or may not be secret messages hidden in episodes of Cult, which means there are TOTALLY secret messages hidden in episodes of fake Cult. Everyone over at fake CW seems to be in on the nefarious influence of their show except Skye and at least one member of the regular fake cast, Roger Reeves. Jeff has done absolutely nothing to rid himself of the title “Dumb Jeff.”

Is anyone else still on this crazy train? What did you think of this week’s episode?  


Postcards from Crazy Town

– There were no mourners at Merriam’s funeral and it was literally held the day after she blew her brains out. Seems planned-ahead to me. – The detective’s smooch was weird. Mind control? Poison? Over-friendly business exchange? – The Cult room at the fandom bar was locked because yet another Cult fan snuck a knife in. I eagerly await the episode that tackles Cult conventions. – So Skye took her job in order to get close to Rae and finish her father’s work. I can’t help but wonder whether Rae’s influence really does extend as far as it seems to, he would know exactly who she is and what she’s up to. – Skye and Jeff outran an explosion this week. Brb lmao.

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I kind of want to know what happens next. Then again I found myself checking my phone and starting to wonder when the episode is going to end. It's just too slow. And chuckling when there's not supposed to be anything funny happening is never a good sign. Not in a show like this.

Still I need to watch more. If it doesn't get worse, it's still not the worst way of spending time.
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I have a feeling that if this was aired at a different time (summer season maybe??) this would have more followers. The time they started was bad with college students doing Midterms and whatnot, they don't have time to start (another) TV show. That and I feel that Steven Rae wants the watchers to find the messages in the show (if there are any) like how the "True Believers" and regular watchers do for Fake Cult to get them more engaged. Once again, "Aint nobody got time for that!"
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After watching the pilot I figured I'll just completely ignore this show till the season finale if it makes it that far..considering CW has a knack for keeping some utter tosh shows around
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The actress who plays Skye along with Matt Davis keep the show from being completely unwatchable. They should have just kept Alaric on the Vampire Diaries, I honestly TVD has been really iffy since they killed off his character.
I really find myself liking Skye, she is exactly the type of actress CW needs to employ more, an ethnic person who isn't just a plot device or the person used to interject comic relief at random moments. I hope she makes her way to another show when this is cancelled.
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Preach.
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Fake-Cult >>> Cult
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Rae might not know who Skye is because maybe Skye isn't her real name? Idk, I'm just shooting a theory out there.
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For me, I was a little excited about the show because:

-T-Bag from prison break is in it, and he looked like a scary cool character

-Alarac from VD is in it and he's cool too

-People that follow cults are crazy and a show about crazy people are cool.

Now after watching these 2 episodes

-T-bag, as it stands now, is just a fake character and isn't the crazy character as depicted in the commercials for this show (but this could change?)

-Alarac's character is kind of dumb

-a show about crazy people who follow a show is not cool

-the acting on this show is questionable

So my expectations were too high for this show and now that I've seen 2 episodes, I will have to say it has a small chance of survival.
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lol alaric
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The music?...sound? before the opening sequence reminds me of Castle (I was excited!)

I fell asleep after that so I can't really comment on anything else.
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Boring episode! I'm out.
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I love this show and can add Cult to the ever growing list of favorite CW shows which includes: TVD, SPN, Arrow and Nikita. Though with the ratings severely low, I have to ask

the question of why there aren't more people watching Cult. I had such high hopes that it will do well ratings-wise at the start and now I'm pretty sure that it'll be cancelled. I'll keep on hoping that it'll be renewed even though I'm bracing myself for when the shoe drops. Seriously, more people should be watching this since it's ambitious and different from all the usual cop/doctor/lawyer shows. I've had such bad luck with shows in recent times with the cancellations of my beloved TSC, 666 PA and Alphas and I really don't want that fate to befall on Cult. So I'm begging for the network and people to GIVE A CHANCE to this awesome show. Also, putting it with HOD on Tuesday is a bad idea since it's up against NCIS so maybe putting it at a different time slot may help its ratings. Maybe putting it behind TVD and dumping BATB on Friday is a good idea. Also, I love both Matt Davis and Alona Tal and want to keep seeing them in this.
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I was hoping they'd move B&B to Friday and stick this with TVD as well. I'm torn on the Friday move because UGH FRIDAY, but then again, it could benefit from being paired with Nikita. :/
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But if they did pair it with TVD, then it'd be up against Person Of Interest, Grey's Anatomy and Glee. Seriously, there has to be a perfect timeslot for this great show!
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For me, the fake show is necessary to display that there's a reference to what the True Believers are doing. The concept is that there are crazy fans that mimic's a tv show or there's a show who mimic's what people did in an actual cult.
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Alright I'm going to say it. I enjoyed this episode, as well as the one before it. So yeah, I enjoy the show, so sue me. Seriously, sue me. Or rather try and sue me, you'd be laughed out for court for suing someone for just liking a show. Except for maybe if you claimed to like Zero Hour for the dialogue and the strong foundation of history and facts upon which it is built. Seriously though, I think that Cult has been a good show so far. Not the best, but a good show.

Now, I realize that at the moment there is a lot of disconnect between the fake show and the real show. I'm not going to pretend that the way Cult handles its two worlds is as fluid as Awake did with its two realities, because it isn't. So far, as MaryAnn pointed out, the fake show has only mirrored elements of what is going on in "real life." Last week it was finding someone, and this week it was someone being killed for betraying the Cult. At this point in time, that's all the parallels we're getting between these two worlds. But this leads me to ask the question: why do these two worlds need to be so parallel in the first place? I realize that this is the tried and true standard for a lot of procedural out there, that in cop dramas you want the cases they investigate to have to do with something that individual characters are going through, for instance. But there are a number of good shows that don't really use this formula, that sometimes have the whatever of the week be crazy, random, and have little on the surface to do with what is going on with the main characters.

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be an overall theme to an episode, but I do think that Cult doesn't need to have it's two shows always mirror each other in terms of events. As long as they complement each other tone and theme wise, I think they're fine. Besides, this show is working with a fairly novel premise here, and I would hope this would make them want to embrace this difference, rather than try to make this show as normal and formulaic as possible. Besides, at this point in time this show has only had two episodes, so its really hard to tell where the show is going, especially since it hasn't really defined itself as being a procedural/horror/supernatural/general drama or whatever. And I'm completely fine with that, since I like it when shows don't place themselves in a box right away, and instead meander around the playing field for a bit before taking up position.

I also happen to think that this show has done a lot of things right within these two episodes. We've learned a lot about the background of our different characters. We've gotten to see a little into how this cult operates. We've already gotten to see some scenes with the actors on the fake show, and what they're like in "real life" (I'm calling Alona Tal's character as a cult member); I think that the relationship between the actors and their characters is going to be one of the more interesting things on this show. And the show has done a great job of exuding this feeling of the main characters always being watched and messed with.

I also happen to think that both the "show" and the show are progressing rather nicely. While the fake show didn't mirror "reality" all that well in this episode, we still got to learn more and more about Billy Grimm, and by extension the mind and vision of Steven Rae. And while Jeff and Skye didn't get that much further toward finding Nate, they did identify two cult members, one of which is still alive. And considering the cult member they identified was the cop who they were previously updating about their progress in the case, I'd say that's quite a bit of progress. If it takes them only two episodes to unmask a valuable cult member, learn about true believers, and understand more about how the cult operates, then I don't see this pace being slow at all. And while it "doesn't matter" how many mysteries are solved in the fake show, we're already started to learn a lot of secrets about Billy Grimm and his cult, such as that he had Alona Tal's character's character do a number of illegal things, just as he does with his other cult members. We saw him hand off the finger in the strangest venue choice of all time, and we saw the FBI agent's initiation into the cult. So in my opinion, the show is chugging along at a more than acceptable rate,so far at least.

While I admit that this show has made some questionable choices, and has done some things it probably shouldn't have done, I've still enjoyed it thus far, and not because I think it's an accidental comedy. I genuinely think this show could be great, though unfortunately it looks like it won't be around for that long. Regardless, though, I'd say that, at the moment at least, I'm a fan of the show. Though I hope this doesn't mean that I start getting strange phone calls and feel like I'm being watched all the time. I do think, though, that it would be interesting to see if Cult will do anything self referential if it does only get one season. It would be great, for instance, if the fake show were cancelled as well, and the cult tried to do something about this, like kidnapping a CW executive and demanding that the show continue. And then maybe the executives on the actual show would try and pull some kind of PR stunt here in the real world. That would be kind of fun I suppose.
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Plus, no matter what else you can say about Cult... it's still better than The Following. ;)

At least Cult has a mystery. Following has unanswered questions, but I wouldn't call it a mystery. I'm watching Cult because I want to know what happens and pick up the clues along the way. Is Rae running the cult? Is somsone else and they've got Rae prisoner? Is Rae alive, dead, what? Why is a cult member just now approaching Roger? Is Kirstie approaching him because she's an obsesed fan or because she's under orders?

It may not be much of a mystery, but at least it _is_ a mystery.
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And no matter what anyone says about the Following, it's still better than Zero Hour. :)

At least the Following contains dialogue that could conceivably be spoken by adults. And at least it doesn't butcher history, religion, and science all at the same time. The logic and series of events in Zero Hour make the Following look like its an official FBI resource that instructs trainees on the proper procedures of tracking down and detaining serial killers.

I realize that I shouldn't be hitting on Zero Hour since I just defended a show that probably has worse ratings (I'm referring to Cult here, and not the Following). But I genuinely want to know what goes on in the Zero Hour writing room, and how much of their process is actually writing out things that people say in real life, versus coming up with quotas for each episode. Quotas such as "you must have at least one religion versus science speech in each episode that can be inserted literally anywhere you want, and don't worry about actually doing research to see if you stay true to any actual religion or science."
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Steven Rae is Billy Grimm.
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I thought Nick Burkhardt was Grimm?
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I miss Grimm. :(
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Only for another week. It'll be on March 8. At the same time as Cult. :(
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So did you see this week's episode last week? Because last week you mentioned that Skye's father's disappearance was related to Steven Rae. But they didn't reveal that until this week...
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Hmm, sounds like a possible instance of editing after they sent out the pilot screener (there was no screener for Episode 2). With Cult in particular The CW never sent out updated copies; they stuck with the ones they sent out after the Upfronts last May.
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When in the pilot you saw did they say that her father was investigating Rae? We got a whole scene while they're driving to the hotel where Jeff says he's a reporter and then Skye talks about her father being a reporter and disapping while looking into union corruption?

If they delayed it, good for them. It woudln't have had nearly the dramatic punch with the two of them just talking in the car about the shaping incident in Skye's life.
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I ~want~ to say it was right before Jeff stuck the disk in his computer. I don't have the screener anymore to check but it was a very quick blurb without much elaboration. So I like the way they went about it in this episode too. It was a lot clearer and more obviously important.
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Well, let's move away from you said, who said, and say Ms. Tal was on Craig Ferguson and I'm expecting Ice T to guest; as that lady has junk in her trunk. Sorry to get real!
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You know what would be cool. If there was a cult following in real life about this cult show, which is about a fake cult show. Woah!
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Stranger things have happened...
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"I...umm.....well, that's........err..........what? WHAT?!" ~ me, watching this episode

I will continue watching it, at least for now.....I do find it entertaining. And the cast members are SOOO talented (having seen their work elsewhere), so I am holding out hope that it can only get better.
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Yes! It's such a wreck,but I still ENJOY it so...yay? I think there's definitely room to grow into something good. Cult has some cool ideas, but none of those ideas seem to gel together right now.
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There's so crazy it's good and then there's just plain crazy. This show is a hot mess and so terrible in every conceivable way that I pity every one of the awesome actors that had to be subjected to this material. They deserve Emmys for saying these lines with a straight face.
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FYI - your review changed fonts mid-way. It toggles between black and gray.
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Yeeeah. We're aware of it and we're working on fixing it. We started using a new publishing tool and it's a little wonky atm.
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Ha! Today I opened this website and it indicated 1171 unread notifications! Really... Some crazy stuff is going on in tv com's IT department.
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Mistake OR a comment on the show's ever changing format and lunacy? You be the judge.
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for a while I actually thought it was on purpose:)
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