The sixth episode of American Horror Story: Cult opened with a mass shooting at a political rally for Kai Anderson, who was continuing his run for a seat on the city council. Kai ended up amongst those injured in the attack and he was left laying on the dais, seemingly unconscious. But is Kai dead on AHS: Cult? That question hung over most of "Mid-Western Assassin," which focused primarily on Ally learning the truth about the cult that had sprung up around her.
But the chillingly relevant opening scene hit much too close to home considering recent events, so Ryan Murphy revealed at the New Yorker Festival over the weekend that most of the violence would occur off-camera. Additionally, FX also released a statement about the decision to edit the opening sequence, stating:
In light of the tragedy last week in Las Vegas, Ryan Murphy and the producers of American Horror Story: Cult have chosen to make substantial edits to the opening scene of tomorrow night's episode (Tuesday, October 10, 10 PM ET/PT). This opening, which was filmed two months ago and which portrays an occurrence of gun violence that has sadly become all too common in our country, contains a sequence that some viewers might find traumatic. Only the edited version of the episode will air on the FX linear channel, while the unedited version of the episode will be available on the VOD platform of your cable, satellite or telco provider, as well as on the FX Networks non-linear platforms, FXNOW and FX+.
The episode skated away from revealing Kai's fate by jumping back in time to the night Ally discovered Meadow in an open grave in the Wilton backyard. After Meadow briefly escaped, Harrison and Detective Samuels tied her up in the garage with a bag over her head. That was where Ally found her and successfully cut her loose, escaping to the relative safety of the Butchery on Main. Meadow explained everything to Ally: the cult and its many members, Kai's manipulation tactics, and how Meadow had become disillusioned with his methods. He made her feel like she was special, but really he was using the exact same tricks on everyone. Realizing that inspired her to try to leave, but getting out was far from easy.
There was also nowhere to run. Meadow convinced Ally that they couldn't go to the police because the police were in on the cult, but Ally refused to leave the state because she didn't want to leave Oz behind. Instead Ally sought out the one person who seemed like a potential ally: a woman named Sally Keffler who was running against Kai for the council seat and openly challenged his fear-based rhetoric. It seemed like it could work because Sally believed what she was being told, and she didn't scare easily. She could be the very person to take Kai down.
That dream was short-lived, however. Kai and his people broke in moments later and killed Sally while framing her death as a suicide; instead of helping, Ally raced to a bathroom and hid until it was all over. Over the course of the season Ally has been pushed closer and closer to the breaking point, and it seemed like that might finally happen in Episode 6. It seemed as though "Mid-Western Assassin" was building to the moment in the opening scene where it was revealed that Ally had been the one holding the gun, and that she was responsible for shooting Kai and everyone else. But there was more to the shooting than there seemed.
Season 7 has relied heavily on flashbacks to fill in the gaps, and this episode was no exception. It returned to the rally to explain what happened from another, clearer perspective. In the unedited version of "Mid-Western Assassin," Ally arrived in time to see Meadow pull a gun from her purse. Meadow shot Kai in the upper thigh, then opened fire on the crowd. Ally tried to get the gun from her but Meadow turned it on herself, taking her own life and leaving the gun in Ally's hands so it looked like she was responsible for everything. It was all part of the plan.
Meadow had never left the cult at all. When it seemed like her faith was failing her, Kai made her feel more important than ever by turning her into his assassin. Being shot would earn Kai national attention while reaffirming his platform, which was built on the idea that the world was a terrifying place. He would recover stronger than ever, in more ways than one. Meadow sacrificed herself for the cause, and in the process made Ally look insane for spouting the truth.
The episode ended with Kai being taken away on a stretcher, injured but OK, smirking because everything had worked out just how he wanted.
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