FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 6: “Mid-Western Assassin”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Todd Kubrak
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Holes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag” – click here
“America for Americans,” screams Kai Anderson (Evan Peters). “We are the Wall!” his crowd chants. Then a gunshot breaks the celebration. Ivy Mayfair-Richards (Alison Pill) starts running, Harrison Wilton (Billy Eichner) telling her to go. She stops as a police presence walks onto the courtyard.
The shooter is Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson). And on the stage, Kai lies unconscious. Or dead? Oh, we’ll see.
Cut back to Ally inside her home, Meadow (Leslie Grossman) outside telling her about the cult, that even Ally’s wife is involved, her husband. This surely will make the woman’s paranoia go through the roof, as if it weren’t already. She gets a call from Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson), saying that Ivy’d called him, they’re worried.
Ally goes across the street, where Harrison and Dt. Jack Samuels (Colton Haynes) are banging. She gets into the garage where Meadow’s hidden, amongst the barrels. She unties the poor wife. Only Meadow makes noise, alerting the men. They manage to get across the street to Ally’s car and speed off. They go to the Butchery, where the alarm’s going off. Why would they go there? Not that Ally’s one to think straight. Although if they go to the cops, they’ll just think she’s insane, plus there’s Dt. Samuels in the mix. So, it does make sense, I guess. And she’s also worried about Oz.
Now, Ally says: “Convince me.” She wants more proof. Meadow tells her intimate details about the cult’s plans. The trucks, that were just holding water. The dead birds, killed via poisoned feeders. All to drive people further into fear. Particularly those who don’t believe in much to begin with, because “if you already believed in something there wouldn‘t be room for him.” As in Kai, the all powerful cult leader.
Meadow discusses her love for him. Whereas Harrison was her friend, not a true husband, she felt Kai cared for her. He fostered her interests, made her feel special. Just like Manson did with his various women, just as many enigmatic leaders appealed to their followers throughout history. In a way, it liberated her. Of course, all liberation requires violence.
One day, however, Meadow discovered she wasn’t special, that it was all just rhetoric in order to lure her in; she witnesses Kai tell Ivy all the same things. But once you’re in with the cult, you can’t just walk back out. This made her lash out. Followed by retribution for her rebellion. Suddenly Kai ain’t so sweet and nurturing.
All this leads to her being saved when Ally showed up after she got tossed in that grave. The only way forward? Kill Kai.
Skip to April 2017, at a city council debate. Kai’s grandstanding about the federal government, local change. Blah, blah, blah. “The boogeyman” nomenclature followed by his rant about illegals, Satanic murder, the fake news he’s been creating himself. A woman named Sally Keffler (Mare Winningham) challenges him, believing he’s, essentially, full of shit. She gives it to him in front of everybody, and quite truthfully. Afterwards, she declares a write-in candidacy for council, too. This does not bode well for her.
Sally: “People like Mr. Anderson and Trump are not the garbage, they are the flies that the garbage has drawn.”
Day after the election. Ivy meets with Winter (Billie Lourd) about their having left Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono) to a grisly fate, the bloody hand, all that. So Winter takes her to Kai. He chastises her for having done what she did, trying to prevent Gary from exercising his voting rights as a “red–blooded American.” They sit down and play the pinky truth game. She admits difficult truths.
This takes us into the history of the Mayfair-Richards clan. Ally was the one to deliver Oz, to breastfeed. This drove a wedge between them, how she seemed to lord the fact of her physical motherhood over Ivy in subtle ways, the resentment because of it. Kai delves deep to the core, uncovering honesty even where it feels revolting to the teller. Thus begins the process of driving Ally insane, so that Ivy can secure custody of Oz.
Back to current affairs. Ally’s gone to the wrong person: Dr. Vincent. She’s also left Meadow there alone. Elsewhere, at home, Ms. Keffler pours a drink and relaxes, as she hears banging at her door. It’s Ally, who saw her on TV. Sally lets her in after a moment, hearing her out. They talk about the “modern day Charles Manson” corroding their city. It all sounds mental, naturally. But the woman understands how this type of thing occurs when the “patriarchy‘s threatened.” She has very definite, intelligent ideas about men, how the gender goes horribly wrong.
But they’re fast intruded upon by the clown cult. Sally goes for her gun while Ally runs. They manage to subdue Ms. Keffler, and then Kai reveals himself. He rants against the “overeducated elites” before sitting down to her open Facebook. He posts a status in his insane worldview voice. All leading to a supposed suicide.
Kai: “Knowing stuff has no value anymore”
When the suicide’s faked, they still have Ally left upstairs. She’s found by the elephant mask wearing clown. She wonders if it’s Ivy, and then she’s left alive. Oh, yes. This gives Ally the time to get back to Dr. Vincent. Except Meadow’s not there, doc says she left. Hmm. He claims there was nothing said about a cult, faking concern, as usual. She shakes him and his bullshit off.
Now we’re back at the beginning, the rally with Kai onstage. He even throws shade at Sally, for abandoning the people. What a pig. Just like his big orange papa. Ally watches nearby, she also sees Meadow in the crowd heading for the stage.
And it’s in fact Meadow who pulls the trigger on Kai. She fires on several people, as Ally pleads with her to stop, grabbing for the gun. Meadow puts a bullet in her own mouth after telling her: “This is the face of true love.”
This is how Ally’s left holding the gun in front of police, no one left to corroborate her story. Likewise, we discover it was all a twisted plan from Kai, using the love Meadow felt for him to elevate him onto a national platform. He enacts his own failed assassination using the power he holds over her.
Wow. My favourite episode of American Horror Story yet, as in out of the entire series. This just cuts to the true heart of what the title speaks to, this might be the biggest horror story of all in America, the sociopolitical landscape of the country in 2017. So much going on here. Loved Sally’s bit on the patriarchy, it’s so true, so relevant.
“Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag” is next! Some people hate Lena Dunham, I don’t. If you want to argue, go somewhere else. Because I’m here for this next one. Gimme some Warhol cultish madness.