Frank Ockenfels/FX

'AHS: Cult' Is Making Fans Question What's Real & Not Real

Much of the premiere episode of American Horror Story: Cult deals with Ally's phobias. At any moment, she could find herself overwhelmed by fear, whether it's coulrophobia (fear of clowns), hemophobia (fear of blood), or trypophobia (fear of small clustered holes). Sometimes it resulted in a panic attack in her son's bedroom, triggered by a clown comic book. Sometimes it came in the form of full-scale hallucinations. However, as the episode went on, the line between reality and delusion seemed less and less certain. So are Ally's clown hallucinations real on AHS: Cult?

By the end of "Election Night," that question didn't have a clear answer. Ally was beset upon by hallucinations several times throughout the episode and at first they definitely appeared to be figments of her imagination. She was undertaking a routine trip to the grocery store when a group of grotesque clowns descended and sent Ally screaming from the store in terror. However, evidence seemed to indicate that they weren't really there. The clowns didn't harm Ally physically despite their menacing, and there were no witnesses to the harassment. Security cameras didn't catch a thing and the only other person in the store, the cashier, just saw Ally screaming. He claimed not to have seen a single clown.

The gang of clowns also seemed too absurd to be real, especially for all the destruction they were causing in a public place. How could no one see them besides Ally if they were real? When they showed up again at the restaurant Ally owns with her wife Ivy, it seemed even more certain that the clowns were merely Ally's terrified imaginings. That was until someone else saw them too.

Towards the end of "Election Night," neighbors of the Mayfair-Richards were slaughtered in their home. The only witness was Ally and Ivy's son Ozzy, who peered in the window of the house in question just in time to see family friends violently killed by the exact same group of clowns Ally had been seeing. It's possible that Ozzy could have been hallucinating clowns himself, like Winter indicated, by drawing on the phobia he witnessed firsthand with his mom, particularly because of his own interest in killer clown comics. But to see the exact same clowns? That seems suspicious. Plus, can we really trust what Winter says?

The clowns Ally saw were distinctly costumed and it didn't seem like she had described them within hearing distance of her son. For him to see an identical group raises the question that the hallucinations are real — and there are people targeting Ally specifically. Perhaps the grocery store clerk was in on the stunt, which was why he didn't back up Ally's story.

Ally's hallucinations may seem like just that — a trick of the mind brought about by her phobias — but things aren't always what they seem, especially on American Horror Story. Something more nefarious might be going on here.