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(Every week, we’re going to get the discussion going about American Horror Story: Cult by answering one important question: who is the main villain of the episode?)

American Horror Story: Cult hit its halfway mark in Tuesday’s episode, titled “Holes,” spilling, even more blood while dropping a few predictable story twists along the way. We did get more Sarah Paulson cry-face, but thankfully it wasn’t as much of a tearful onslaught. The majority of the episode focused on the inner-workings of Kai Anderson’s (Evan Peters) cult, the motivations of Ivy’s (Alison Pill) betrayal and the group’s insidious game-plan moving forward.

This Week’s Big Bad: Kai Anderson

It may have taken five episodes, but it finally happened … not only did “Holes” reveal Kai as the man behind the penis-nosed clown mask – linking him to the murders that have been plaguing this small Michigan neighborhood for weeks – we finally saw Mr. Anderson commit two brutal acts of murder. As Ryan Murphy previously stated: Evan Peters is bringing bits of Charles Manson, David Koresh, Jim Jones and Andy Warhol to his performance, giving Kai all sorts of creepy layers to work with. Adding cold-blooded killer to the list just makes him much more dangerous.

Kai’s cult and that clown mask-wearing murder party hadn’t been visually linked in AHS: Cult, until now. As we watched the multiple flashbacks take place, rewinding the story to the numerous kills that have taken place in town, viewers received solid confirmation that this whole gang is guilty. Still, there’s something weird about seeing Harrison (Billy Eichner), Beverly (Adina Porter), Ivy (Alison Pill) and the rest walk around in these odd circus outfits. But as soon as they removed their masks, the terrifying mystique disappeared as well.

Everyone’s guilty, for one reason or another, in American Horror Story: Cult. But Kai Anderson is the worst of the worst. Anderson’s mostly been a manipulative string-puller – ala Charles Manson – but watching him introduce a nail gun to cult member R.J’s (James Morosini) medulla oblongata showed just how dangerous of a man Kai truly is.

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A Family Affair

The first four episodes of AHS: Cult made us extremely suspicious of Dr. Rudy Vincent’s (Cheyenne Jackson) involvement in all the killing. As it turned out, he’s definitely an accomplice, but seems to be working a completely different angle entirely. Oh, and one more bombshell revealed his underlying connection to Kai and Winter (Billie Lourd): He’s family.

The episode’s final flashback is brought on by a sitdown between Beverly and Kai. But this pinky-to-pinky moment doesn’t find the reporter releasing her deepest fear to her new partner-in-crime. Instead, she does some investigative digging of her own and it doesn’t take long before Kai reveals the watershed moment that broke him.

Taking a trip a few years into the past, the audience is given insight into Kai’s home life. A motorcycle accident left his father permanently handicapped and the family abuse quickly escalated until Kai’s mother reached her breaking point, murdering his wheelchair-bound father and then turning the gun on herself. Instead of alerting the authorities, Kai called his big brother Rudy for guidance. And together, they cleaned up the mess and laid their dead parents in bed, locking the door behind them.

Piecing together a replacement family is a tough thing to do, but it looks like Kai, Winter and Rudy have done just that with this burgeoning little cult. But is Rudy the one really calling the shots? Is Dr. Vincent the man behind the murderous curtain? And what is his end-goal with Ally (Sarah Paulson)?

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An Inevitable Power Shift

After having Serina Belinda (Emma Roberts) killed, the group expected the public to fall in line and vote for Kai Anderson for City Council. But Beverly’s addition to the crew opens Kai’s eyes to the simple fact that seeing is more powerful than hearing – and a murder must be shown on the nightly news. Instead of simply donning their clown masks and hunting the next victim, a new twist to their killer plan is put into place: Make the murder satanic and film the entire thing.

It’s been pretty obvious that Beverly’s sleazy boss Bob (Dermott Mulrooney) was going to meet his maker sooner, rather than later. As the group enters Bob’s house, we learn that the newsman keeps a gimp tied up in his attic. And while members of the group point out the bound man’s innocence, Kai doesn’t hesitate before plunging a knife directly into the leather-clad man’s chest.

Chanting praise for Satan, Bob’s killing becomes the worst kind of viral sensation. As we said at the very beginning of the season, fear is a motivator for Kai. And for the citizens of this township, seeing Bob get an ax to the head is all Kai needs to secure their vote.

Beverly’s partnership with Kai may be slipping, though. Their eye-to-eye shock doctrine-style perspective seems to falter as she witnesses Kai’s own mask disappear. Seeing Anderson as this damaged emotionally unstable boy may drive her to take matters into her own hands. If she makes a power grab, something tells us the balance of control won’t be an easy thing to shift.

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For Better Or For Worse

Welp, it sure looks like Ally and Ivy’s relationship is over. Not only did Ivy leave her unstable wife all alone in that giant house, she took their son and canceled all the credit cards, to boot. Needless to say, Ally’s not dealing with this well at all. To make matters worse, her trypophobia – the fear of holes – has returned in a disturbing new manner: Visions of black insects crawling in and out of the giant pours in her neck is quite unsettling.

The rift between Ivy and Ally began months prior, as restaurant debt began piling up. Apparently, their farm-to-table establishment, The Butchery on Main, wasn’t bringing in a profit. Ally’s Jill Stein vote acted as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The reveal that Ivy’s a member of Kai’s cult was unexpected, but not that interesting. With so much terror transpiring on a weekly basis, the audience requires someone to root for. Ally’s unstable decline has overtaken any sense of future final girl-style heroism – at least with where the story currently is – and we were looking to Ivy for some sense of hope. That all went out the window when she began the process of murdering weak link R.J., Beverly’s cameraman, by shooting nails into his brain.

As Ivy joined the rest of Kai’s group in all this clownish murdering, we watch Ally do some Rear Window-style spying on Harrison across the street. Took her long enough! This little bit of peeping not only connects Harrison with Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes), it leads Ally to a three-fold discovery: Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman) is still alive, all these horrific events are connected to a crazy cult and the love of her life is a card-carrying member.

American Horror Story: Cult has passed the halfway mark and cracks are beginning to show in the season’s two leads. Ally’s realization that it’s not all in her head, as she’s backed into this horrifying corner, may finally flip the switch to take her from victim to hero. Thusly, if Kai’s emotional admission is any signifier, he could be facing a coup in his cult’s near future.

Whatever the case, the literal (and figurative) masks Ally and Kai have been hiding behind have begun to fall away. If those holes in Ally’s vision is any indication, it’s that something new is bubbling up inside her. Is some new force about to replace her debilitating fear? If you ask us, it’s about time AHS: Cult retires the Sarah Paulson cry-face. And, not for nothing, but blind rage would be a nice and welcome replacement.

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