What Fills Your Heart with Dread? American Horror Story: Cult, ‘Mid-Western Assassin’

***Spoilers for American Horror Story:  Cult through Episode 6 follow. Spoilers***

If that wasn’t a slice of life that feels horrifically current, I don’t know what is.

Opening with a literal trigger warning, which I do appreciate even if there was still plenty of shooting in this episode, “Mid-Western Assassin” proved yet again that paranoia ain’t all bad. Ally does have some out of control phobias, and at the same time, her growing sense of nearly the whole town’s cult-ification is pretty spot on. Heck, my own suspicions got the best of me this hour when Kai’s political rival, Sally Keffler (Mare Winningham) showed up to taunt him at a public town hall meeting — I was convinced she was a set-up for him to easily defeat.

The same goes for the opening massacre which, unseen in its completion until the hour’s end, seemed dreamlike. Since cops arrested Ally — which makes a little more sense later on — I reasoned the events couldn’t have really happened. Sarah Paulson’s tragic heroine is also our own; if she’s locked up (and Kai keeps knocking off his group members), who’s left for Anderson to recruit … if not Ally, who’s the underdog we’ll root for? (Ivy?)

Returning to that small moment in last week’s episode, when some viewers mightn’t have been sure they heard correctly, a flashbacked Meadow reaffirms her assertion that everyone, “my husband, your wife”, is in a cult. After Ally hears the whole story and leaves Meadow with first on-the-mental-health-scene responder, Dr. Rudy, Mrs. Wilton (whose hubby’s getting it on with the town’s most useless detective) again reveals her true allegiance, in ways we couldn’t have predicted. Kudos to Leslie Grossman, whose sneaky look shared with Vincent was nearly as chilling as Kai’s end-of-episode, everything’s going according to plan grin.

Speaking of Dr. Rudy, his prophetic statement about lawyers and losing custody of Oz (where is he?) seems about to come into play, but for all Ivy’s apparent anger at her estranged spouse, the reluctant — blackmailed — recruit seems to be having doubts about her commitment to the cause. After Kai’s Klown posse takes out the competition (adios, fair Mare!), Ivy kept Ally’s location in the house to herself, possibly saving her wife’s life. And sure, it was crappy of Ally to use her fetus-carrying and breastfeeding abilities against the person she was supposed to most love, but murder isn’t exactly fair punishment. So, um … nicely done this time, Ivy?

The hour rounds out with a replaying, in full this time, of the opening shooting scene (still pretty graphic for an edited version). After we’ve discovered the entirety of Meadow’s manipulation by Kai, we see how far her devotion to him goes. Of course, Anderson planned the whole thing, right down to the minor injury to his body and Meadow’s suicide; it’s already clear how Ally’s release will come about. Though the police found Ally with the gun in her hand, Kai is going to be the witness that exonerates her; that’s how he’ll bring Ally into the cult. But, what Anderson and all his foolish little followers fail to understand is that they’ve underestimated Ally (and quite likely, Ivy, too), because no way does Kai maintain control. As I’ve posited for a couple of weeks now, Ally is going to infiltrate; she’s going to let Kai believe she’s fallen head over heels for him and they’ll be that “love story for the ages” …

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I cannot wait to see the moment Ally makes her reveal, takes out Kai (and yes, I do believe she’ll kill him, herself), and starts running her own game. If I know Ryan Murphy, this seventh season will end with Ally Mayfair-Richards running for (perhaps even winning) the next presidential election.


Deep Thoughts:

What a waste of Colton Haynes! We’ve barely seen more than a flash of his overly-peroxided hair since he was introduced.

Oh man, and we knew Winter was Mr. Guinea’s button-pushing murderer, but getting confirmation that Ivy played a role was a total bummer. Poor Mr. Guinea, and poor Oz.

Gotta give it to Kai; he knows how to pull the ultimate blackmail stunts (with his siblings’ help, of course). Winter manipulated Ivy into helping kidnap Gary, then Kai uses what happened to Gary — which Kai, himself, facilitated — to blackmail Ivy into the cult.

I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE ALLY MESS WITH KAI. Sarah Paulson is killing it this season; she’s just beyond everything, which is saying quite something, since all the major players are at the top of their acting game. Ally’s transformation has already begun, especially evident in her “… tell me this is fear” dare to Dr. Rudy. We’re witnessing Ally gaining control of herself and all her formerly debilitating fears, without Ivy, without Rudy, and it’s everything Ryan Murphy loves to do — turn expectations upside down. He loves women, for women to end up on top and yet, in this particular situation, I see him flipping that on top thing around as well. Nothing would be more AHS, so to speak, than Ally going beyond learning how to take charge of fear and using it to power herself, than if that power itself warps her. The show is having a grand time exposing both liberal and conservative hypocrisy this season. With Ally the leftist example, and Kai exploiting the right, having Ally gain power as the first woman president in our fictional future, with the twist of her becoming drunk on her own power, will be so fitting.

Alison Pill was exceptional this hour; her raw fear in the opening scene was affecting, and it’ll be interesting to see how far the subtle ways Ivy’s undermining Kai will go.

I’m still not sure I believe Meadow is dead. I think she is .. at the same time, I could easily envision her getting up and walking away after the cops took Ally.

Next week brings back Frances Conroy!

Great Lines:

Ally to Meadow as Meadow confesses what the cult’s been up to:  “This is insane. I am not insane; this is insane.”

Meadow as they enter Butchery on Main:  “Oh, could I have a cappuccino?”

Winter to Ivy:  “You have to meet my brother; he can fix anything.”

Kai to Ivy:  “What fills your heart with dread?”

Ivy:  “Our new president.

The thought of lying in bed next to my wife.”

Kai:  “The sheep are free, they are bleeding into the wind.”

Sally to Kai:  “You use fear and the fantasy of a time that never was. A young man’s certainty is also his burden. I’m gonna relieve you of both.”

Sally to Ally:  “People like Anderson and Trump are not the garbage. They are the flies that the garbage has drawn.”

Kai to Sally:  “Facebook … you are old.

We’re a Christian country. Everybody loves a resurrection.”

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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