Before jumping into this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult, it is important to address that the series pulled a last-minute edit together along with a disclaimer that the episode was altered in respect of the Las Vegas mass shooting that took the lives of 59 people. The unfathomable crime became the deadliest shooting in our nation’s history and with the episode centering around a shooting - they wanted to make the necessary changes to acknowledge the timing. (similarly to Buffy the Vampire Slayer after the devastating Columbine shooting.) Those who want to see the intended episode can find it on FX On Demand and FX Now, but if not we’ll explain the important narrative aspects in the recap/review below.
The beginning of the episode titled “Mid-Western Assassin” shows us a rally for Kai Anderson, the leading candidate for the chair on the city council board and in the crowd is many of his die-hard (quite literally) supporters like Ivy and Harrison. A shooting begins and the uproar of the crowd is heard before police eventually find the suspect armed - and it’s none other than Ally who may or may not have fired at the murderous cult leader Kai. Before we can find out, the series cuts back to Ally’s reveal last week where she learned of Ivy’s involvement and it becomes known that shortly after getting off the phone with Ivy, she gets a call from her therapist and Ally is fully aware that she can’t trust anyone surrounding her.
She decides to take things into her own hands and arms herself with a knife before heading over to the Harrison and Meadow’s home. After entering through a bathroom window, she notices Harrison and the detective having sex - so she takes the keys off the floor discreetly and makes her way to the garage where Meadow is held. She helps her escape (I’m both shocked and slightly pleased) but the pair of men find them both, luckily for Meadow - Ally is fast enough to mace Harrison and get them into her car, driving to The Butchery. Meadow (seeming very calm) asks for a cappuccino but is forced to explain herself to a confused Ally. We learn that Ally doesn’t want to believe her wife could be a part of this, but Meadow shares that most of his followers were found because they were lacking any true beliefs to begin with. Meadow admits that she truly loved Kai (until seeing his ‘love’ shared elsewhere) something he seems to play into for each person he wants to do his bidding.
When Meadow finally saw things for what they were, she decided to leave but she wasn’t able to have make that choice once Kai snapped his fingers to have her former best-friend leave her in a ditch to bury her alive - until Ally intervened. Meadows big plan to end the cult: Kill Kai, something Ally could quickly be backing once it clicks that he is the catalyst behind the mayhem in her life. Back at the council meeting, Kai professes his standard ‘chaos is rising’ ideology which is backed by zealots until one woman (Mare Winningham) questions his claims with facts and points out he is merely using the conservative voters fears to his aid - much like our unfortunate president. The woman decides she will be running for the same spot and for the first time so far, the concern across Kai’s face is apparent - he could lose to someone that could run circles around him.
A flashback to election time in 2016 begins with Winter and Ivy both discussing the potential of their arrest for kidnapping the groper named Gary that Kai freed. Ivy is truly panicking so Winter offers her the chance to meet with her brother who could help them. The private meeting is all too familiar, (pinky promises, indirect blackmail and truths for everyone) so Ivy begins to overshare and eventually says she has hatred in her heart from waking up next to her wife. The moment that triggered it was the fact that Ally carried their child and made Ivy feel as if she could never measure up to the mother role that Ally played. So despite learning that she actually wishes Ally death (now that’s pretty extreme…) she says Oz going through that loss is the only thing keeping her from acting on her hidden desires.
Bouncing back to present day again, Ally takes Meadow to her therapist and leaves her in his care - but even though he’s related to Kai, we don’t know his full involvement. She takes it upon herself to go locate the woman that Kai encountered earlier and spills everything about the cult, hoping to gain help from someone. The kicker is that she believes her pretty quickly and proceeds to light a joint and says not much shocks her - after all she is from Berkeley. So even though I have a new favorite character, her existence is cut short when Kai’s cult storms her home and they remove their masks to have a d*** measuring contest with political circumstances. Kai uses her computer to post a message backing his views from her account - telling her that everyone will believe it “because it’s on Facebook.” before shooting her in the chest. Ally had managed to hide right before they entered the woman’s home and the only one who saw her was Ivy who was quickly called by her name when Ally noticed her elephant-masked wife. Instead of killing her or telling the others, Ivy shuts the door and leaves her wife when the cult prepares to leave.
Ally exits when safe and discovers the Meadow has left the office and her therapist tells her she didn’t speak of a cult (a flashback shows Kai called her) so he tries to convince Ally to check herself in for a mental health evaluation - but that only pisses off Ally even more. Next, we get back to where the episode opens and Kai is speaking at a rally for his supporters speaking about the “suicide” of his opponent Sally. Ally approaches the event, noticing Meadow reaching into her bag where she pulls out a gun and fires on several attendees while only shooting Kai in the leg. Ally rushes Meadow to end the murders but Meadow calmly looks at Ally and says “this is the face of true love” pulling the trigger and killing herself leaving Ally holding the gun and looking like the shooter. Once that occurs - we see that when we think Meadow turned on him, Kai convinced her to give herself up for him and take the step that nobody else could help him with. Finally feeling like she had received his love by taking on this solo mission, she chose to end her own life feeling like she had accomplished all she was meant to for the man she loved.
Overall Grade: 7.5/10
For the most part, this episode was another way to show Kai’s influence/manipulation over people and tied a lot of loose ends such as Ivy and Ally’s relationship struggles, Ivy’s thought process, Meadow’s perspective and pushed Ally to a point where hopefully she will fight back (if she isn’t arrested of course.) It was a slight letdown to see Kai’s one-episode rival become a fatality after becoming a potential favorite - but Emma Roberts met the same fate so I wonder if my other favorite Frances Conroy will meet the same result of an unfortunate guest spot demise next week.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- I was really hoping to see an Ally / Meadow combination but that’s just another storyline I won’t get more of.
- Mare Winningham was superb as always, I just wish the guest spot murders could maybe go a little differently sometimes.
- Anyone else rooting for Ally to kill everyone in the cult and be the last woman standing? How epic things could get…