Kai took his nefarious plan to the next level on American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 6.
What appeared to be fractures in his cult wound up being something far more sinister, as an opening scene fake-out took a dark turn in the hour’s third act.
Following the flashback-heavy American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 5, “Mid-Western Assassin” continued to fill in gaps in the cult’s activity while forwarding the plot in a horrifying and shocking manner.
Of course, it's important to address the changes made to the installment’s opening scene.
I first watched the screener after the events of the Las Vegas shooting, prior to it being made public that FX had chosen to edit the mass shooting in the opening.
For that reason, I saw the original edit of “Mid-Western Assassin” (which is available to stream online, for anyone interested in comparing the two).
That said, I immediately knew that something would be changed from the original version given the recent events.
The initial cut was extremely graphic, extended, and chilling. The camera focused largely on Ivy (in order to preserve the third act twist about the shooter’s true identity), much as it did in the updated version.
Alison Pill did a phenomenal job portraying a mass shooting survivor in the thick of it. Her horror, disbelief, and being frozen in fear all felt extraordinarily organic and true to life.
That's why it was so difficult to watch, and that's why it could have been potentially triggering for a nation who had just faced this horrifying reality in Las Vegas.
That said, the scene was extremely effective, both in conveying the horror of the moment without making it gratuitous and at setting us up for the twist that Meadow (not Ally) was the shooter.
The altered scene didn't change this in any substantial way – it just significantly shortened the scene, making it less graphic and less drawn-out. In particular, they completely cut out the moment where a man is shot and killed mere inches from Ivy as he reaches his hand towards her.
What we were presented with, turning back the clock after the shocking opener, was a series of events designed to trick the audience as much as to trick Ally.
Something is going on, and I have been targeted.Ally
We'd already seen Meadow escape from her grave and spill the beans about the cult to Ally on American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 5. But this time around, we saw Ally’s reaction in the immediate aftermath.
I have to say, Ally was far more likable than she's been all season long – largely because she was an active presence, for once. I'll admit that I was cheering for her when she snapped into action and rescued Meadow from near-death at the hands of Harrison and his detective boytoys.
One thing that was a bit unclear was who, exactly, was in on the plan for Meadow and Kai’s to fake-defect to Ally and tell her all about the cult, then attempt to "assassinate" Kai.
Were Harrison and the detective in on it, allowing Ally and Meadow to escape? Or were they as clueless as Ally?
Harrison, I think it's time to call the police. Something terrible has happened to your wife.Kai
I'm inclined to think the former, given how quickly Harrison escaped the gunfire when the shooting began. It's like he knew what was coming and needed to skedaddle ASAP. Ivy, on the other hand, clearly had no idea what was happening – it showed all over her face.
Sarah Paulson’s performance as Ally struggled to digest everything Meadow was divulging to her was perfect. She was the right mix of disbelieving and semi-smug that her paranoia was finally being proven justified.
The one thing that Ally had a hard time wrapping her head around was Ivy’s involvement – and not even Meadow could explain that to her.
The audience, however, got an earful – straight from the source.
Kai: What fills your dark heart with dread?
Ivy: The thought of laying in bed next to my wife.
“Mid-Western Assassin” wasn't quite as flashback-heavy as its predecessor, but it still gave us several valuable insights by showing us events from the past yet again.
I previously complained about finding it hard to believe that Ivy found her and Kai’s interests to be aligned. But American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 6 explained away that apparent disconnect very well.
Namely: Ivy’s hatred of her wife isn't anything new. It's been building up and threatening to boil over for years now.
Much of it, according to Ivy, was rooted in her resentment of Ally for having been able to be the one to carry Oz. Ivy couldn't, due to endometriosis, and she felt (rightly or wrongly) that Ally lorded that fact over her.
Ivy had also had it with what she called Ally’s “entitled bullshit phobias.” Can't say I blame her on that one – some of Ally’s quirks are more than a bit hard to take.
So, there you have it: Ivy’s willingness to help Kai and to commit murder is tied to her desire to get full custody of Oz (despite not being the mom who birthed him) and to keep Ally out of their lives forever. And also Kai's thinly-veiled threat to tell Gary who kidnapped him.
Interestingly, Ivy still isn't willing to kill Ally to get her out of the picture. She purposely didn't rat Ally out or murder her outright when she found her hiding in Sally's bathroom during that killing.
Speaking of which: I was so glad to see Mare Winningham show up but deeply disappointed with the brevity of her appearance.
My parents were Reaganites. I interviewed Barry Goldwater for my high school paper. I've seen conservatives up close — you're not a conservative. You're a reactionary. You use fear and the fantasy of a time that never was — when people "left their doors unlocked." People like Mr. Anderson, and Trump, are not the garbage. They are the flies that the garbage has drawn. It's time that we stop worrying about the flies and start hauling away the garbage.Sally
Her character was a smart and eloquent female politician, calling out Kai's falsified statistics and fear tactics – so naturally, she had to die horribly at the hands of the cult. Sigh.
And I understand that Kai is meant to be cocky, but it's utterly absurd to think that nobody would put two and two together and realize that she “committed suicide” literally the day after she challenged him in the city council race.
That's too big of a coincidence for anyone to ignore. Especially with that silly excuse of a "suicide note" on Facebook.
Sally: No one's going to believe any of that!
Kai: Of course they will — it's on Facebook.
I'd be inclined to think that Kai is starting to get sloppy if he hadn't just pulled off an extremely convincing fake assassination attempt on his own life.
Of course, this very storyline is problematic in the sense that it enacts a common (and inane) conspiracy theory often cited by people in relation to real-life mass shootings. "False flag" attacks are a thing supposedly orchestrated by the government upon itself to give themselves a reason to oppress their people or launch a counter-attack on the supposed perpetrator.
Certain conspiracy theorists cite "false flag" attacks every time a newsworthy mass shooting occurs. Of course, that is incredibly disrespectful and upsetting to the real-life victims' families.
But this is exactly what Kai orchestrated on "Mid-Western Assassin" – a fake attack, perpetrated with his knowledge by one of his own, for the sole purpose of propelling him to the national stage (as a "victim") and furthering his dark agenda for a worldwide takeover.
Kai knew exactly how to play Meadow, preying on her need to be loved and desired, to get her to do what he needed her to do. Namely, to fake an attempt on his life and then take her own life.
That's some serious cult leader skill. Props to Evan Peters for being so deliciously scary/magnetic/gross/terrible (all at once!) this season.
- Kai and Meadow having sex is easily one of the creepiest Evan Peters scenes ever.
- The score this season is fantastic. I especially loved the music accompanying Ally going next door to "rescue" Meadow.
- Meadow explained the chemical trucks! Just water. It was kind of a let down of an explanation, to be honest.
- "Would my young, hot sister make you happy?" The thing between Ivy and Winter = confirmed.
- Kai's creepy smile at the end was perfect.
- Hopefully, Ally figures out that Dr. Vincent is Kai's brother (and likely in on the cult activities) sooner rather than later.
What did you think of "Mid-Western Assassin"?
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Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.