[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Episode 7 of American Horror Story: Cult, "Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag."]
American Horror Story: Cult just set the stage for the back half of the season. With everyone's cards finally exposed — that is, except Bebe Babbitt (Frances Conroy) — "Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag" revealed that the next phase of Kai's (Evan Peters) master plan isn't a psychological war with Ally, it's with his own former followers.
After winning the City Council election, Kai wastes no time before isolating his female followers, Beverly (Adina Porter), Ivy (Alison Pill) and even his own sister, Winter (Billie Lourd). Angry that this is not the "equal power" she was promised, Beverly listens to the advice of former Valerie Solanas (Lena Dunham) protégé Bebe Babbitt and decides to turn against Kai before he can turn on her any more than he already has. However, as the final moments of the episode reveal, Bebe is actually another one of Kai's minions, purposefully angering the women into unwittingly following the master manipulator's grand plan.
TV Guide spoke with Adina Porter about what this new war of the cults will look like going forward and why even she doesn't know Kai's real motivations for turning Beverly against him.
Beverly just declared war on Kai. What are her next steps now that that line has been drawn?
Adina Porter: She had a hard time trusting him, if you remember a couple of episodes back. And she took a chance to trust Kai and she feels betrayed ... and maybe even feeling a little even embarrassed or ashamed, because she said that line, "Now that he has his power, he does what men always do, which is push women aside." When you trust and you open your heart and you think — well, maybe not heart — when you put down your guard and you let someone in and they betray you, that guard goes up really hard.
What do you think Beverly's primary goal is now: taking down Kai or setting the world on fire?
Porter: I think still setting the world on fire. And trying to stop Kai or anyone else from getting in her way.
At first, it looked like this season was leading to a showdown between Kai and Ally, but now it looks like it might be between Kai and Beverly. Will that be the case?
Porter: At the end of [Tuesday's] episode, you had our new teacher, our new words of wisdom from the past, Bebe, sitting there with Kai at the end. So you never know who you can trust completely or what turns and twists will happen.
Beverly thinks she took back the control and power, when really, this was all part of Kai's plans. How much will we see her continue to be manipulated by Kai through Bebe Babbitt?
Porter: Let's just say maybe people underestimated this young, blue-haired kid. He's not stupid... I remember what he said a couple episodes earlier: "When people are scared they just want to have someone to follow." And they can take that responsibility, they can give it to someone else and someone else is going to tell them what to do. And in that way, they're like little kids and they feel safe. Even if it's a false safehood, we still feel like there's someone else in control. And I think Kai's a master of tapping into that in people.
Is there anything you can say about Kai's motivations for turning Beverly and the women against him?
Porter: Not really, for two reasons: Evan is so freaking good... I thought, one actor to another, [that I knew] what his motivations are when we were sitting and filming everything. I'm completely surprised by what I see his motivations are now. And I also have to say that so much that we shot also didn't end up in the final cut, so even my performance, I go, "Oh, I thought I showed this different color, but I can see why they cut that different color to make the payoff for something else work." So I'm kind of surprised by last night's episode and how angry I was at the end. So I can't really tease what Kai's motivation is, because it's different from all the very different takes. It's like we did a buffet and we did all these different scenes and takes and then Ryan Murphy and his team made a plate of what they liked. So what we're eating at the very end, I still don't actually know what it's going to be.
Winter is Kai's sister. At this point in time, do you think Beverly trusts her or is she suspicious that Winter will eventually turn against her?
Porter: That's a really good question, especially because Beverly has introduced Bebe to us all. I don't know. I guess we all have to be careful now that we see what happened to a fellow female cult member, Meadow. We were turning on people left and right anyway. We turned on my little camera assistant. So can we trust Winter? Well, I guess I have to say keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
This episode was so focused on gender, but it didn't touch upon race at all. Will we see that be explored more this season?
Porter: Yes, because I wanted to explore it. When I walked into the room of all those white guys in military uniforms and I talked also about how as a black woman, talking with white women about the struggle, I feel a little not genuine, because I don't know if white women can relate or pay a lot of attention to a black woman's struggle, even as recently as this year's Women's March. I spoke my concerns and John Gray, one of the producers, came back to me and said, "We hear you. But we're going to save that for another episode, so don't worry." And I said, "OK, then I'll continue." Because Beverly's not stupid.
This episode was all about female rage, both in the past and the present. What do hope viewers take away from it?
Porter: I guess my first thought that comes to mind is that rage isn't enough. Valerie, she was done in by her own rage. And it's not just rage alone that is getting Kai to have men and women at his feet. I think we have to be smarter than that. And that's what Bebe talked about. Valerie's rage did her in. And as an African-American, my personal thoughts and belief is, if you attack with rage, then you can be discounted so incredibly easily. But when you try to speak another to person's humanity by sharing your humanity, when you're a lot more vulnerable, that's when doors can get opened, eventually... You can so easily be dismissed as a thug or hysterical if you're a woman if you don't keep your rage in check.
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.