American Horror Story: Cult Episode 6 began with a shooting at one of Kai's political rallies in a scene that mirrored real life too closely for comfort. The perpetrator appeared to be Ally, driven to the edge after weeks and weeks of increasing paranoia, but the episode eventually revealed the truth. Meadow was actually the shooter, and she took her own life at the last minute. But why did Meadow kill herself on AHS: Cult? By the end of "Mid-Western Assassin," her motives were more than clear.
However, in light of the recent events in Las Vegas, the network decided to edit the opening scene of the episode. In an official statement about the episode, FX said:
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 wove back and forth through time as it slowly explained what actually happened. Ally was initially believed to be the shooter and she was arrested, but the scene told a different story when it was revisited later on. Ally saw Meadow pull the gun from her purse and shoot Kai in the leg before firing into the crowd. Ally actually attempted to stop her, but she wasn't able to. Meadow placed the gun into her own mouth after saying to Ally, chillingly, "This is the face of true love."
Throughout "Mid-Western Assassin," it seemed like Meadow had genuinely lost faith in Kai as a leader. While she loved him desperately at the beginning, his charm began to wear thin once she realized that he was playing the same game with everyone. He built up Meadow's self-esteem and made her feel special, but he did so with the same exact lines he used to lure Ivy. That was the final straw that pushed Meadow to try and leave the cult, but Kai wasn't going to let that happen so easily.
After Harrison and Detective Samuels tied Meadow up, Kai came in to speak to her and his manipulations were effective enough to bring Meadow back from the brink. He told her that by questioning him, she had proven that she saw the real him and understood what needed to be done. He explained that she was the only one who could help him reach the level of national fame that he needed to effect real change. And to do that, he needed her to assassinate him.
Meadow balked at killing Kai, but he told her she didn't actually have to kill him. She just had to make it seem like he was in danger, injuring him enough that his recovery would make him even more inspiring to people. She was the sole person he trusted to do that, even though Meadow didn't trust herself. When she still wasn't convinced that she would be capable of hurting him, Kai told her that it would be their eternal secret — their "everlasting love."
Meadow's last words to Ally made sense then. Kai had given Meadow what she wanted all along: love, affection, and a purpose in life. She thought that meant their love was true, and it made her willing to do anything for him. By shooting him and killing herself, Meadow could feel (in a bizarre, deeply unhealthy way) that they were linked forever. She was the only one he could trust. She was finally special.
But ultimately Meadow was just a means to an end for Kai. He utilized her for a purpose that benefitted him and only him; in the process he got rid of a follower who was ready to leave and could have exposed the truth of his organization. Kai doesn't actually love anyone in his cult. He uses them, and disposes of them when they no longer serve a purpose. Meadow thought she was acting out of love, but she was only playing into Kai's plans.
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