The Big ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ Question: Who The Heck Is Behind Those Freaky Clowns?

Warning: obvious, clown-filled spoilers ahead!

American Horror Story: Cult premiered on FX Tuesday night, and so far things are, well… confusing (read our review here), but we’re intrigued to see how this all plays out. By far the biggest lingering question following the premiere however, is what exactly is the deal with those freaky clowns? At first they seemed like a figment of Ally’s imagination, being that only she saw them and no one else did, both at the grocery store and later the restaurant (the episode ends on a cliffhanger as one of the clowns surprises her in bed).

But after Oz watches the gang of murderous clowns pull up in an ice cream truck and brutally murder their neighbors — even though Winter also claims not to have seen the clowns — it all but cements the fact that they are, indeed, real. So who is behind the masks, and who is pulling the strings? Given the supernatural nature of the series, it seemed possible that perhaps the clowns were some physical manifestation of the fear people experienced after the election, and that the other characters would in turn exploit that fear.

However in an interview with Jimmy Fallon the night of the premiere, series lead Sarah Paulson let it drop that the clowns are supposedly not supernatural beings. “Basically every year we have a monster, a rubber man, a piggy man, a monster, sometimes it’s a supernatural element, sometimes it’s not,” Paulson said, through giggles. “But this year we don’t have any of that.”

Well that certainly points to one or more of the characters having something to do with the clowns. But who is it? Have we even met the character(s) yet? Let’s take a look at who we’ve met so far (and in one instance, who we’re about to meet) to speculate who might be behind it all.

Ally: It’s entirely possibly that Ally is suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (also known as Multiple Personality Disorder) and that she herself is behind it all, which is a pretty common horror trope. The only problem with that theory is that she was at the restaurant with Ivy when the clowns showed up to murder the neighbors, unless that in itself was premeditated by another persona within her head.

Ivy: Another popular horror trope is an angry lover or spouse trying to gaslight their partner and drive them slowly insane. The restaurant scene was definitely suspicious in that regard, that Ivy somehow managed not to see the clowns terrorizing Ally, not to mention who else could have swapped out the bloody plate with the severed fingers. Ivy also seems to harbor some deep-seeded resentment towards her wife over having voted for Jill Stein, but is that worth driving her insane over?

Oz: After the episode wrapped, several people on Twitter speculated that Ally and Ivy’s son Oz might possibly be the antichrist boy from season one’s Murder House, who’s since been adopted. That would be some serious fan service on Ryan Murphy’s part since most viewers (myself included) are dying to know what happened to that boy. After all, how many 10-year-olds are reading comic books about murderous clowns in bed at night? Winter asking Oz which of his mothers carried him (which one was his “real mom”) very well may have been some foreshadowing, because we never find out.

Grocery store clerk: It’s also extremely suspicious that the Trump-supporting clerk (Chaz Bono as Gary Longstreet, who has a recurring role this season) somehow failed to notice that his entire store was full of clowns terrorizing its only patron. Like, you’d think he would have at least seen them come in the door — unless someone let them in the back. Gary likely isn’t the brains of the operation, but at the very least it seems possible that he’s in on it.

Kai / Winter: Clearly these two are the most obvious culprits, since they’re both short a few screws, keep going on about fear this and fear that, and are definitely up to no good. But given that American Horror Story seldom has one villain or big bad, it’s entirely possibly that Kai and Winter aren’t necessarily working in tandem with the clowns, but are their own separate threat. Then again, Kai did threaten the city council member (Ally and Ivy’s neighbor) who was eventually murdered by the clowns, although that seems like too obvious a red herring.

The New Neighbors: Next week Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman’s characters are introduced as Harrison and Meadow Wilton, the neighbors who mysteriously move into the home previously occupied by the murdered couple, as seen in the teaser for the upcoming season (below). Not much is yet known about this couple, but the title of the third episode, “Neighbors from Hell,” doesn’t bode well.