Kai's "pinky up" process is very similar to auditing
In Cult's first episode, "Election Night," Kai explains to his sister Winter as they're about to undergo their first ritualistic session that once their pinkies are locked, she must answer every question he asks. Similarly, in a Scientology audit, "preclears" -- or, the person being audited -- are told by their auditor that they will "remain aware" of everything that happens in the session. Once boundaries are established, the preclear is asked a series of questions that return them to past traumas or incidents, anything they feel they can "face." The auditor instructs them to make connections between these moments and others in their life as a means of understanding and combating specific issues. Audits are sometimes accompanied by the presence of an E-meter, a device that records electrodermal activity and is said to detect changes in the "reactive mind" of the preclear.
Though an E-meter is absent from Kai's sessions, he does invite his participants to revisit notable moments in their lives, and to confront their demons. In "Election Night," he asks Winter a series of starkly personal questions: "What fills your heart with dread?" "What is your most humiliating experience?" "What's the most physical pain you've ever experienced?" "What's the most intense moment of pleasure you've ever had?" "Who was the last person that you wanted to kill?"
In this week's episode, "Neighbors from Hell," Kai pinky inducts Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman) by presenting her with a similarly invasive proposition: "Tell me what you're afraid of." (Which she answers with a sarcastic quip about the Real Housewives -- to Kai's chagrin.) He then questions her existence as a motherless 40-year-old married to a gay man, and spoon-feeds her what sounds like fairly reasonable -- if somewhat extreme -- advice: "Stop saying sorry. For anything. That makes you nothing. Everything is somebody else's fault from now on. Do you understand? You wanna be somebody, you wanna matter? Then you make the world wrong."
It's unclear just how involved Kai is in the murderous clown ring at the center of Cult, but it's looking more and more likely that he's the master manipulator. If that's the case, is he a Hubbard-like practitioner, using the mind-controlling tools of a predecessor to both heal and turn the people in his town? And if that's the case, who else will sit in his audit chair before the season wraps? No one seems safe, but with Ally's mental stability fraying, she appears to be a target of the cult. To what end? That remains shrouded in mystery.