This week's episode of American Horror Story: Cult, airing October 10, opens and closes with a graphic depiction of a mass shooting. However, following the October 1 tragedy in Las Vegas, now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, FX and executive producer Ryan Murphy have decided to make "substantial edits" to the opening sequence, in which someone opens fire at Kai Anderson's (Evan Peters) campaign rally.
On Monday, FX released the following statement regarding the episode, titled "Mid-Western Assassin," and its violent cold open:
"In light of the tragedy last week in Las Vegas, Ryan Murphy and the producers of American Horror Story: Cult have chosen to make substantial edits to the opening scene of tomorrow night’s episode (Tuesday, October 10, 10 PM ET/PT). This opening, which was filmed two months ago and which portrays an occurrence of gun violence that has sadly become all too common in our country, contains a sequence that some viewers might find traumatic. Only the edited version of the episode will air on the FX linear channel, while the unedited version of the episode will be available on the VOD platform of your cable, satellite or telco provider, as well as on the FX Networks non-linear platforms, FXNOW and FX+."
Over the weekend, Murphy, TV's top provocateur, attended the New Yorker festival and revealed that he was "unsure" of what to do about the episode in the wake of the real-life tragedy in Las Vegas. Normally never one to shy away from difficult subject matter, Murphy ultimately made the decision to edit the episode out of respect for the victims and those affected by the shooting.
"I believe that now is probably not the week to have something explosive or incendiary in the culture because someone who was affected might watch that, and it could trigger something or make them feel upset," he said.
The episode was made available for press to review, and MTV News has screened the unedited hour in its entirety. While we can't give away the motive behind the shooting, we can say that "Mid-Western Assassin" opens and later revisits a deadly shooting at one of Kai's campaign rally. If the deafening gunshots and anguished cries aren't enough to make stomachs nervously churn, it's also extremely graphic and bloody. Of course if you've been watching Cult at all this season, then you have a good idea of the level of brutality to expect.
Though FX will air the edited version of the episode on Tuesday, it's important to note that, in a rather questionable move, the unedited version will later be available on VOD — so if you regularly catch up on AHS via On-Demand, consider yourself warned.