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American Horror Story: Cult Finale: Evan Peters Explains Why the Ending Is So "Bittersweet"

But why viewers needed that message of hope

Sadie Gennis

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the season finale of American Horror Story: Cult. Read at your own risk!]

American Horror Story: Cult closed out its season with the kind of on-the-nose drama only creator Ryan Murphy can get away with.

After Ally (Sarah Paulson) is revealed to be working with the feds, Kai (Evan Peters) is sent to a maximum-security prison where he vows to get revenge on the rat who put him away. Meanwhile, Ally teams back up with Beverly (Adina Porter) to run for the senate seat Kai had previously been gunning for. But at Ally's debate with the incumbent Senator Jackson, Kai shows up, having escaped prison with the aid of a guard.

Kai proceeds to tell Ally that she symbolizes the hope that the fight for women's equality is winnable, and that he plans to kill her to prove that women will never lead. However, Ally, unshaken, tells Kai that he's been wrong this whole time. "There is something more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man, a nasty woman," Ally explains, right before Beverly fatally shoots Kai in the head.


Although the line felt a tad bit corny, watching Beverly and Ally finally take down Kai was a welcome moment of triumph in the dark season - not to mention, a very welcome break from the real world for many viewers. "I mean, [if Kai had won], that just would have been in a way what happened, right?" Evan Peters tells TV Guide. "I guess that would have made it a full-on horror story, and not maybe [a message of] hope or what could have been."

"Hope" is not a word that will likely ever be associated with Kai, who represented a lot of real and disturbing toxic aspects of our culture taken to their extreme. Although Peters has played a villain in American Horror Story twice before, Kai will go down as one of his most challenging roles in his career to date.

All of Evan Peters' American Horror Story Roles, Ranked

"It was incredibly difficult because it is out there in the world," Peters says. "What I liked about this season was that it was real and it wasn't fantasy/horror/monsters. It was a very real fear that was going on in everybody."

But as anyone who watched Cult knows, Kai wasn't always this man ruled by fear, nor did he always believe himself to be the "Divine Ruler" whose destiny it is to burn down the world in order for him to rebuild it. According to Peters, it was the death of his parents that planted the ticking time bomb within Kai that would go off after Trump won the election.

It was this same life-changing incident that poisoned Kai against women, transforming him into such a violent misogynist that in the end, he even turned against his own sister Winter (Billie Lourd), the one person he had in this world who ever truly understood or loved him. "Losing [his mom] the way that he did -- killing herself, abandoning him in that way -- I think created this subconscious hatred [of women]," Peters says. "And it's that fear of being abandoned again that creates this need to put down women in his presence so that he can put them in their place so that they're never too close to him, so that he keeps them at a distance and can never admire them or be in love with them."

Ultimately, Kai was killed by the thing he hated most, a "nasty woman," but Peters says we shouldn't call Cult's finale a happy ending, given that Ally wound up joining her own murderous cult, SCUM, in order to fight for her version of a better world.

"It shouldn't have to be that way," Peters says. "It shouldn't have to drive people to do such extreme things to get equality and fairness, so I guess in a way it is pretty bittersweet."