Okay, so the first episode of Cult, to put it simply, is a confusing mess of a CW TV show on a TV show on the CW network. To make this process easier, we’ll separate the two shows for you – with the Fake CULT TV show [here on out referred to as “Fake CULT”] first, followed by what was happening “in the real world”.
Kelly Collins (Alona Tal) is a former member of Billy Grimm‘s cult, but now she works as a police detective. She and her partner are working a “Missing Persons” case, trying to find Meadow and Andy (Christian Michael Cooper) – Kelly’s sister and nephew. Kelly believes that Billy Grimm’s followers have taken them in retaliation for Kelly leaving Billy’s cult.
A map leads the two to an abandoned house/shack in the middle of nowhere, with a car that Kelly recognizes as belonging to members of Billy‘s followers. An exploration of the inside of the house reveals a man cemented into a wall. Kelly pulls him out and recognizes him as Douglas, her sister Meadow’s husband. When she asks him if he knows where Meadow (Shauna Johannesen) and Andy are, he just responds “Well, hey, these things just snap right off.” Then, he dies.
The next day, Kelly pays a visit to where Billy Grimm (Robert Knepper) lives with his followers, intending to confront him and demand that he tell her what he did with Meadow and Andy. Billy tells her that he didn’t do anything, but he can’t be held responsible for what his followers may have done. Kelly hints that she knows which of his followers kidnapped Meadow and Andy – some man named Joey – but Billy refuses to demand Joey turn him over.
Later, Kelly and her partner are assigned a new case, but when they realize that it isn’t related to Meadow and Andy’s disappearance, Kelly refuses to work the case. Her sole focus is on finding her sister and nephew – to the exclusion of everything else. Kelly hunts Joey down herself and questions him, promising to protect him from Billy if he’ll just tell her what they did with Meadow and Andy.
Joey tells Kelly that there is no hiding from Billy, but also informs her that she needs to check the shack/house they were at earlier. When Kelly tries to argue with Joey, he maintains that she just isn’t “seeing” what’s really there. He then follows the cryptic statements with the same phrase “Well, hey, these things just snap right off,” before shooting himself in the head.
Kelly and her partner head back to the shack to double check in case they missed something the first time around. This time, Kelly also has 3-D glasses that Billy Grimm supplies to all his followers – as messages are often hidden that can only be seen when wearing the 3-D glasses. With the glasses on, she finds a hidden room within the shack, where she discovers Andy hidden in a crate inside. However, there is still no sign of Meadow as yet.
“The Real World”
Nate and his friend Miriam are what you would call die-hard fans of the Fake CULT show. They like to participate in the extra fan experiences – like solving mysteries and puzzles related to the show. In “the real world” CULT, groups of fans like to get together to watch Fake CULT at Fandomain Cafes. At the end of the most recent episode of Fake CULT – in which Douglas has just died – Nate finally cracks one of the main codes of a fan-game associated with Fake CULT.
He gets excited and takes off, while a waitress at the Fandomain Cafe sort of creepily spies on him. Eventually, something about the whole thing even spooks Nate (James Pizzinato), so he contacts his brother Jeff to try and get his help getting out of the Fake CULT fandom. Jeff agrees to meet up with him, but doesn’t take him seriously – and we learn that the reason for that is largely because Nate had a substance abuse problem and has a habit of getting too obsessed with things. Anyway, Jeff brushes Nate off, but Nate tells him to contact his friend Miriam if anything should happen to him.
Jeff (Matt Davis) later receives a suspicious phone call from Nate, who says “Well, hey, these things just snap right off” before the phone line goes dead. He goes to Nate’s and finds the apartment empty – with a chair covered in blood. Naturally, Jeff contacts the police. Once they arrive, the police do a search of the apartment and find a stash of drugs hidden behind one of the walls, and assume it was probably a drug deal gone bad.
Jeff, because of the messages he received from Nate, doesn’t believe that’s the real story, so he decides to do a little investigating of his own. He pays a visit to the show, pretending to be working on a piece for The Post. Soon, they realize that he is no longer employed with The Post, so they try to have him kicked off set – thinking that he’s just another crazy fan of the Fake CULT trying to get a hold of Steven Rae, the reclusive creator of Fake CULT.
Skye Yarrow, who is a newly-hired production assistant for Fake CULT, likes to creep around the set eavesdropping on conversations. When she overhears Jeff talking about his brother’s disappearance, she pulls him to the side and offers to help him try and figure out what’s going on.
Between Skye‘s assistance and watching video clips of the Fake CULT, Jeff manages to get a pretty good idea as to what the TV show is about. Skye also introduces him to the Fandomain Cafe, where she takes him to try and find a someone who can tell them more about what has so many fans spooked. Through some Fake CULT fandom chat rooms, they find out the time and location of a LARP [that’s Live-Action Role-Playing] group, and take off to meet up with them.
Jeff and Skye show up to the LARP location, which is actually an on-location set the Fake CULT filmed at before. The scene that the LARP group is re-enacting is the scene where Kelly confronts Joey before Joey eventually kills himself. As Jeff and Skye pull up, all the LARP-ers are running away from the scene, screaming about someone going crazy.
They walk into the building, and Miriam is there by herself, so Jeff tries to find out what she knows about Nate and his disappearance. She tells him that she regrets getting involved in the fandom, and that “they” will be coming after her soon. Then she let’s loose the line that’s quickly becoming the theme mantra “Well, hey, these things just snap right off,” and shoots herself in the head, essentially mimicking the scene between Joey and Kelly in the Fake CULT.
The cops are again called in, and Detective Sakelik starts to imply Jeff has something to do with what’s going on. She tells Jeff she knows all about the reason he lost his job as a reporter – which was apparently because he completely made up sources to break a story that ended up putting six cops behind bars.
Jeff defends himself saying that, though he may have made up the sources, the cops were still in the wrong. It isn’t revealed why, but supposedly the cops were dirty cops. Still, the point is that his credibility is damaged. As Detective Sakelik implies, if Jeff lied in his job, there’s no reason he might not be lying now.
It turns out that Detective Sakelik doesn’t have any room to talk. Everyone knows you’ve always got to have someone on the inside if you expect to get away with the crazy stuff the Fake CULT fans are supposedly doing. For the fandom, their insider in the real world is Detective Sakelik (Aisha Hinds). When she hops in her car after a long day of being a sketchy detective, we get a glimpse of her wrist and see the CULT show logo.
Meanwhile, they get the blood on the chair DNA-tested, and they learn it’s not Nate‘s blood. When a dead body is found wearing a t-shirt with the CULT logo, it’s presumed that the blood on Nate’s chair is the dead guy’s. After, the creepy waitress from the Fandomain Cafe shows up to watch Fake CULT being filmed, and is also seen giving Mark, the new PR guy for Fake CULT, the same creepy stare she gave Nate shortly before his disappearance. A little while later Mark gets kidnapped, and the creepy waitress is right there in the middle of it all.
Finally, after finishing up with the cops at the LARP group’s crime scene, Jeff heads back to search Nate’s apartment, where he eventually comes across a CD hidden in Nate‘s notebook. Making another connection between the CD and Fake CULT, he calls Skye and she comes over. He asks her what the CD was used for in the show, and she tells him that when Kelly put the CD in her computer, it downloaded everything about Kelly and sent it to Billy Grimm – allowing him to track her every move.
Not deterred, Jeff puts the CD in his computer, thinking Nate left it for him intentionally. Using the same 3-D glasses Kelly had to use in the show, he sees that it’s password protected. The password? “Well, hey, these things just snap right off.” When he types it in, the computer immediately flashes with his entire identity. At that moment, Jeff‘s phone rings. It’s Nate – who yells at him for putting the CD in his computer, and then tells Jeff to stop looking for him.
So, that’s the first episode of CULT broken down. Of course, we’ll be reserving judgement until after the second episode as you really can’t ever tell how good [or bad] a show will be based on it’s Pilot episode. So far, we are enjoying both CULT and Fake CULT- though this is certainly a show that will not interest everyone. It will keep you on your toes.
For those who need a second look – or if you missed the first showing – an encore of the episode will air this Friday night at 9/8pm on The CW. Read on to learn more about next week’s episode.
Episode 1.02 “In the Blood” Synopsis: A tech expert aids Jeff in his search for his brother. Meanwhile, Skye voices concern about hidden messages in the “Cult” TV show.
“In the Blood” will air next Tuesday, February 26th at 9/8pm on The CW.