[Warning: The following contains spoilers for American Horror Story: Cult's latest episode. Read at your own risk!]
Did American Horror Story: Cult just deliver its first big death of the season? (No offense Roger or Pedro.)
"Neighbors from Hell" ended with Harrison (Billy Eichner) being arrested for the apparent death of Meadow (Leslie Grossman) after waking up to find the house splattered with blood and his wife nowhere to be found. Earlier in the episode, Harrison had confessed to Kai (Evan Peters) that he wished Meadow were dead, so this could have been Kai's twisted way of making Harrison's dreams come true. But there is another, even more dastardly theory about Meadow's fate...
After her own one-on-one with Kai, in which the cult leader gave her some tough love about taking control of her life, it's possible that Meadow decided to take Kai's words to heart and do something drastic like, say, stage her own murder to frame her husband as revenge for never appreciating her. But does Meadow really have it in her to pull off a coup like this? It sure sounds like it!
Without confirming whether Meadow is still alive or played a part in her disappearance, Grossman teased to TV Guide that fans will see "Meadow commit to the courage of her convictions" after her interesting discussion with Kai this week. "Kai changes Meadow in fundamental ways," the actress hinted.
See what else Grossman revealed about Meadow and Harrison, why Kai is so interested in Ally (Sarah Paulson) and much more in the interview below!
Harrison and Meadow's relationship is bizarre, to say the least. Beyond her decision to marry her gay best friend, why do you think Meadow has chosen to stay married to Harrison all these years?
Leslie Grossman: I think that Meadow doesn't believe she deserves any better and will take what she can get. And also, I think Meadow truly is in love with Harrison and always has been.
Do you really think Harrison meant it when he told Kai that he wanted Meadow dead?
Grossman: I think Harrison meant it. (Laughs) I think that when you settle, you end up hating the person that you settled for, so I think that he feels extraordinarily trapped by her.
We don't actually see the incident Harrison gets arrested for at the end of Episode 3. Will we get to flashback to what actually happened in that bedroom?
Grossman: Oh, you'll find out. I can't give you any details, but all I can tell you is it's bananas! Nothing is ever as it seems on this show and nothing is ever simple. So it's really interesting and fun and crazy and unfolds in a really amazing way.
Harrison said that there was blood everywhere, but Meadow's body was missing. What can you say about Meadow's status and whether she's alive or dead?
Grossman: You know I can say absolutely nothing. You know what, you get all points for asking. They take spoilers very seriously over at American Horror Story. All I can tell you is there's a lot more to the story.
Before Meadow goes missing, there's a very interesting scene between her and Kai in which he instructs her to take more control of her life and stop apologizing. If Meadow is alive, how might we see a different side of her?
Grossman: You're asking really good questions. It's so irritating to have to talk to me because there's only so much I can say. After the third episode, there's so much more to learn. I think you'll see Meadow commit to the courage of her convictions. Kai changes Meadow in fundamental ways.
We've seen a few ways Kai manipulates his followers, including both physical and mental abuse. What do you think Kai is providing Meadow that she isn't getting elsewhere?
Grossman: I think that Meadow thinks she's nothing and that any attention, whether it's negative or positive, she's so thirsty for human contact and interaction that she'll take it. I think that she believes what Kai tells her about herself.
This show skewers a wide range of real-life archetypes, from the liberal snowflake to the conservative redneck. What do you think Meadow represents?
Grossman: I think Meadow represents the apathetic person who doesn't really identify with either [side] and doesn't much care about politics and isn't interested in getting involved. She feels disenfranchised and left out, but has just sort of given up.
We only get a few insights into Meadow's personal interests, such as Nicole Kidman, Real Housewives and Etsy. Why do you think those are the perfect signifiers for the type of person she is?
Grossman: I think that Meadow is filling her life with all of these things because there's nothing inside. She's looking to all of these outside things to get a personality, to define her. She's looking at all of these other things to create a personality because she doesn't know who she is. She's so terribly lost and is grabbing on to anything to identify with. I think that's why she's particularly vulnerable when Kai enters the picture. I have to say, you need to keep watching because you learn a whole lot about Meadow.
We do dig into Meadow and Harrison's backstory a bit next week. How do you think the insights we learn about their past inform how we view Meadow in the present?
Grossman: I think that you see why she's so vulnerable to being so heavily influenced by Kai. I think Meadow is representative of a lot of women in this country who are told by so many different people who they should be. "Well, are you going to be a wife and a mom? Are you going to be a power lady? Are you going to take charge of your life? Are you going to be focused on your family? Like, who are you?" There are so many different places that force women to define themselves through a very narrow lens and I think that Meadow doesn't know who she is and tries desperately to fit in by being what different aspects of society tell her to be like, but none of that resonates for her and ultimately, it leaves her feeling empty and like nothing.
It definitely seems that Kai is positioning all of his followers to be in Ally's life. What can you say about what's driving Kai's apparent interest in Ally?
Grossman: Um, well that would be a spoiler so I can't spoil it. But all I can say is that I think that Ally's arc in the show is the heart of the story this year and that's going to unfold in really interesting ways, so I think it will make sense later on why she is the focus.
In the episode, Meadow and Harrison do make it clear that they really don't like Ally, but they say that they actually do like Oz. What can you say about their intentions towards Oz and whether they're good or bad?
Grossman: I think they think Oz is a very sweet, innocent boy. And I think that in their minds they are just looking out for him.
Because we know that Meadow and Harrison are part of Kai's cult, it's hard to decipher what their real motivations are versus what they're doing in service of Kai. When you play Meadow, do you alter your performance depending on whether she's acting on Kai's orders or just being her genuine, un-influenced self?
Grossman: This year we did get a lot of scripts in advance which — this is my first year, but apparently this is not common — so I had some lee-time about what is going to happen. But then we caught up and I didn't know what was going to happen in the next episode and the episode after that... The way I chose to deal with it was to just try and be as grounded and real as possible ... because I think particularly since some of the dialogue is so fun and it absolutely has a lot of tongue-in-cheek, dark humor and I think it only works if you play it very straight. If you wink and nod and you're really playing it arch, it doesn't work.
That's what made the Taco Bell sombrero scene so great.
Grossman: I have to tell you that Billy and I were like, OK, how are we going to do this? Because first of all, no one makes me laugh harder than Sarah Paulson. She's the funniest person ever and I was like, how am I going to look at her and do this? It's going to be awful. But we went to a place of just playing it as real and sincere as possible and ultimately, I think that's why it works. Because you know if we played to the humor of it, it'd just be too ridiculous. But if you play to the darkness of it, it becomes creepy and unsettling and darkly comic. But that was a really, really fun scene to shoot. That was one of my favorite things all season. And just Billy in that sombero is my favorite thing.
It's one of my favorite scenes so far.
Grossman: Isn't he great? It's so fun to see people getting to see a different side of him. He's a really talented actor and brought so much to the table and I was so lucky that I got to have so many scenes with him. Every scene is a joy with him. He's the best.
Finally, I know this is a longshot, but is there anything you can tease about what's in all those creepy barrels Meadow and Harrison are keeping in their garage?
Grossman: I mean, you're just going to have to let your imagination run wild and wonder what's going on in there. What if I told you? Yeah, I'm going to tell you exactly what's going on with those barrels. No, you're just going to have to keep watching to find out what's going on. And by the way, I have to tell you that there are a lot of things that we don't know. We're like, 'what? What's going to happen?' I think that enhances the performances, that we don't know. It heightens it. It's better when you don't know, you can play a lot of different levels. If you know, I feel like you show the hand a little bit. When you don't know, I feel like it's more excited. So that was fun to not know.
American Horror Story: Cult airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.