Last night Love Has Won, the HBO docuseries by Hannah Olson, wrapped up its wild story of the Love Has Won cult, which venerated Amy Carlson as “Mother God,” in a stoned-out New Age voyage of substance abuse and blind delusion.
The conclusion of the docuseries was…well, just sad. This is a spoiler but: Nobody went to jail. Nobody was charged with anything. The cult members are living free and clear, apparently in the blissful conviction that they alone know the truth of the universe and everyone else is just an idiot who didn’t smoke enough or surrender their souls to Amy Carlson, Robin Williams, Saint Germaine, Gene Wilder, the aliens on the spaceships that look like clouds, and also…Trump? It’s an ugly and absurd rabbit hole of irrationality and destructiveness that the cult liked to blanket in Instagram filters and cheery livestream narration.
But the fact remains: Amy Carlson was killed by the cult she created. As she asked to go to the “3D” hospital, as her organs shut down, and as she was gradually poisoned and starved in the act of “worshipping” her, she lost her life to these smilingly blissful people who are now floating around cyberspace and South Florida.
Over the weeks in which the cult refused to take Carlson to the hospital and continued to pour colloidal silver down her throat in obscene quantities, Carlson—only forty-five—became a wizened husk of a human, her skin turning a horrific gray-ish blue that looked like a bad matte painting for a new breed of Star Trek alien.
Then she died. And her followers continued to drag her skeletal body from state to state in a strange, aimless pilgrimage toward nowhere, documented thoroughly on cell phone videos.
I won’t lie. I was getting pretty sick to my stomach as the cult followers toyed with Carlson’s body, taking electrical readings near the corpse with the apparent conviction that that would “prove” she was god. It’s obscene in a way you thankfully don’t see every day.
None of these people look or sound healthy. Years of little food, little sleep, and lots of drugs will do that. But those factors aren’t the only things that dragged the cult followers away from reality. It was also the allure of an easy story—the same kind of mythos that makes it easy for any group-think collective to shut down counterargument and rationality in favor of the most cozy and self-aggrandizing narrative. Easy mythologies are both insidious and alluring. It’s so efficient and so comforting to say, “I know all the answers.”
And that’s what Hannah Olson’s documentary accomplishes in communicating. In the end, there’s no justice for this band of lethal dreamers. They float away, their worldview unbroken by consequences. Olson says she set out on this documentary journey to understand how people can be roped into these alternative forms of reality, especially in the wake of MAGA cult-like behavior and continued belief in contradiction of all rational evidence. And in that, she succeeded.
Looking into the eyes of the followers of “Mother God,” the heartfelt belief becomes more and more uncomfortable and actually, eventually, painful to witness. These are people seeking sanctuary in certainty, and they certainly found it—but they’re also trapped in it now. They can’t leave the bubble of their narrow thinking without admitting to themselves what they’ve done and the insanity they’ve participated in. How much easier it is to just keep on going.
Even the cult’s internal logic—or at least how they express it—seems to undergo a stress test after Carlson’s drawn-out murder reached its inevitable conclusion. Has god died? No! God ascended. In the spaceship. Yes. No! God didn’t die. But what do you do when god dies? None of it makes sense. And still, the blinders stay on. The power vacuum is filled by the truly unbalanced successor of “Father God,” a quintessential drifter and drug abuser whose behavior is frightening even through the buffer of a TV screen. The cult frays geographically but sticks together in spirit and conviction.
Love Has Won is a frustrating and incredible true crime journey that’s really about the people who enabled it. They lost their minds, for sure…but where along the way? It’s worth a watch, but go in with a strong stomach.
All three episodes of Love Has Won are now streaming on Max.