American Horror Story: Cult is starting to get lost in its own backstory. ‘Mid-Western Assassin’ is another time-shift heavy episode, and the multiple jumps in time are starting to make Cult feel more like a puzzle that’s just not worth putting together.
This week’s episode opens with a scene of a mass shooting where Kai is shot down, with the gun revealed to be in Ally’s hand. The rest of the episode shifts around in time, explaining how we got here and fleshing out even more characters. The final ‘Aha!’ moment, though, really just feels like a middle finger to the viewer. To be fair though, this is American Horror Story, and nothing seen on screen can ever be trusted, so the surprise really isn’t all that surprising.
Following the opening credits, we go back to when we last saw Ally. Meadow comes to her window begging to be saved, warning Ally of the cult and that Ivy is in it. Ally quickly launches a plan to rescue Meadow that involves breaking into their house and helping her escape through the garage. The escape plan interrupts Harrison and Detective Samuel’s sexy time (sidenote: who would ever have thought a sex scene involving Colton Haynes would be so meh?) The two pursue Ally and Meadow, who hide out in Ally’s Butcher Shop.
Meadow tells Ally everything. She found herself in love with Kai and drawn to his cult because he showed her attention that husband Harrison was busy giving to Detective Samuels. It was the little things — like how he appreciated her drawings, especially those of Elephants and Donkeys (symbolism!)
Meadow walks in on Kai giving the Elephant/Donkey mask to Ivy and romancing her similarly to the way he did Meadow. This inspires her to leave the cult. Kai, Harrison, and Samuels tie Meadow up and plan her death that was seen earlier in the season. They throw her in the hole, where Ally then rescues her.
Meanwhile, at a speaking event, Kai tries to rouse up voters and further secure his unprecedented lead. Mare Winningham guest stars as Sally Keffler, an educated and worthy opponent for Kai who quickly turns his fans against him. She throws her name into the race, giving Kai some chilling words of wisdom.
A young man’s certainty is also his burden. I’m going to relieve you of both.
Burn! We then take another nauseating time jump to the day after the election when Ivy is freaking out on Winter about the man who sawed off his arm to vote. Winter introduces her to Kai, and she is inducted into the cult, revealing her secrets to Kai with relative ease.
She shares the true reason for why she has grown to despise Ally. Due to a medical condition, Ivy is unable to safely have a child, which meant that Ally carried their son, Oz, and she never let Ivy forget it. Ivy said she wanted Ally dead, but she didn’t want Oz to go through such a trauma. Kai assures her that all will be taken care of, promising Ivy both custody of her son and his ‘hot’ sister in exchange for her loyalty.
In the present, Ally takes Meadow to see Dr. Vincent. It was revealed last week that he is Kai’s brother and must certainly be working with the cult. When Ally leaves Meadow in his care so that Meadow can tell all, it’s one of the only suspenseful moments of the episode. We know Vincent is associated with the cult…how will he deal with Ally delivering the traitor right to his office?
While Meadow talks to Vincent, Ally rushes off to warn Sally about Kai, his cult, and the likelihood that they’ll be coming to kill her soon. How does Sally handle the news? She takes it in stride, believing everything, and rolling up a blunt. The two begin to develop a course of action when Kai’s insane clown posse comes in. Ally makes a quick getaway into the bathroom, leaving Sally surrounded. Not cool, but who could blame poor Ally in this situation?
You’ve got to hand it to Sally, the bitch is not scared of these clowns at all, pointing her gun at them and daring one to make a move so she can make an example of them. Kai eventually overtakes her and pulls off his mask. Beverly does too, and Sally is quite shocked to see this. While the clowns suppress Sally, Kai logs onto her Facebook account and posts her suicide note.
Sally: No one’s going to believe any of that!
Kai: Of course they will. It’s on Facebook.
He shoots her in the chest, and the clowns go to leave. A cult member in the Donkey/Elephant mask (presumed to be Ivy) does a check of the house and finds Ally in the bathroom but doesn’t let anyone know. If Ivy truly wanted Ally dead, this would’ve been her chance.
Ally flees back to Dr. Vincent, who tells her that Meadow didn’t say anything about a cult and simply left. On screen, we see that Meadow gets a suspicious call from Kai during the visit, choosing to leave right afterward, presumably to flee the country like she talked about to Ally.
We then cut to the day of the shooting. Ally is at the speech Kai is giving, walking through the crowd when she spots Meadow and realizes what is about to happen. Meadow makes her way to the front of the crowd and opens fire. American Horror Story jumps the gun with this scene though (no pun intended.)
It was revealed in the opening scene that, as we now know, Meadow was capable of shooting a main from a distance right in the head. So when she begins to open fire and goes for Kai, why does she only hit him in the leg? The rollercoaster of twists that ensues becomes a kiddie ride with this in mind.
Ally tries to stop Meadow, but Meadow is persistent, saying “This is the face of true love,” before eating a bullet. The cops then catch Ally with the gun in her hand and arrest her.
Going back to the night of Meadow’s confrontation of the cult, it is revealed that Kai had a darker, deeper plan for Meadow than actually killing her. He wanted her death to be presumed, but for her to escape and run to Ally. He wants to be assassinated (or rather, to have an attempted assassination.) He proceeds to have sex with Meadow, telling her that when Ally eventually knows the truth and says it, no one will believe her.
With pretty much any semblance of tension that could lead to an eventual climax (namely, Ally having a partner in defeating the cult) having been orchestrated by Kai the entire time, American Horror Story is starting to run itself a bit thin with its plot. Hopefully the arrest of Ally will be used to get Cult back up and running, because ‘Mid-Western Assassin’ twisted and turned so frequently that it felt more like a dead fish flopping about than a taut thriller.
The next episode of American Horror Story: Cult, ‘Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag’ airs October 17th on FX.