One of Ryan Murphy’s usual ensemble members made her debut in the latest episode, “Mid-Western Assassin,” but , her time on this season is short-lived. Still, Mare Winningham’s Sally Kefler is a memorable voice of reason . . . before the cult murders her in a staged suicide.

It’s a shame her appearance is so brief because Winningham is a fine actress. Coven, Freak Show, and Hotel as Alicia Spencer, Rita Gayheart, and Hazel Evers, respectively. She also has seven Emmy nominations (with two wins, for Amber Waves and George Wallace) and one Oscar nomination under her belt. Plus, she’s one of the more obscure members of the 1980s “Brat Pack,” so check her out in St. Elmo’s Fire if you ever get a chance.

Sally first bursts onto the scene in Cult during the city council debate between Kai and his hapless-looking opponent. She calls Kai a “snake-oil salesman,” and not even a very good one, at that. He claims he’s a conservative, but she says otherwise.

“You’re not a conservative,” says Sally. “You’re a reactionary. You use fear and the fantasy of a time that never was — [mocking] ‘when people left their doors unlocked.’ People like Mr. Anderson and Trump are not the garbage. They are the flies that the garbage has drawn. It’s time that we stop worrying about the flies and we start hauling away the garbage.”

So when Ally (thinks she) saves Meadow from Kai’s cult, Sally is her natural ally. Sally doesn’t really want to believe what Ally is telling her about Kai’s cult being responsible for the brutal murders plaguing their town, but she’s not overly surprised.

“That kid that I’m running against is no good,” she says. “And every society that has ever chosen to lead with fear has undone itself. He needs to be stopped, humiliated. . . . If even half of what you’re saying is true and it helps me win this election, then I’m willing to walk with you a while down this road . . . you came to the right place. Nothing shocks me; I went to Berkeley.”

Unfortunately, that’s when the cult bursts in and unceremoniously takes care of Kai’s latest problem.


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