Three episodes into American Horror Story: Cult and fans have no idea who to believe or what to think. Each episode has us believing something different, but there’s something that seems reliable: the use of the pinky swears, which are more like pinky truths. So what do they really mean? Just why does Kai use them on those around him?

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American Horror Story: Cult isn’t the first season of the show to use real lore and legends. Each season has involved some person or event from real life, including the murdered nurses in Season 1, Anne Frank in Season 2 and even the Lost Colony of Roanoke in Season 6. It’s not that surprising that real lore is used in Season 7.

Many people believe that pinky swearing dates back to a Japanese custom. Those who lied, stole or were unable to pay their debts would have their little fingers cut off. In Japanese swordsmanship, the pinky was the strongest finger, so someone without it would be weakened in battle.

The use of pinky swearing in the United States dates back to around the 1860s, with a poem that indicates those who lie when a pinky swear is being made will sink to a “bad place” and never return.

Kai makes it clear in the Cult premiere that when linking through the pinky finger, the other person must answer all his questions honestly. In the most recent episode, he hit Meadow because she hid behind humor and lied to him.

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Is It Just a Way to Feel Powerful?

Whenever someone links pinkies with Kai, they have shown to tell the truth. Does this mean Kai has superpowers and can make people tell him their darkest fears? We’ve seen nothing that would indicate that. It’s likely more just an element of relief playing into the part. Those who have shared their fears and darkest thoughts with Kai have had some sense of relief afterwards; they’re able to lift a burden from their shoulders.

It could be a power trip for Kai. He learns details about everyone and is able to use their fears against him. After all, his whole motive to get himself elected is fear and his Michigan town is starting to succumb to fear. It is highly likely that he’s the one attacking through fears after learning the truths from others.

Winter also uses the game on Oz. He has a sense of relief when he shares his deepest fears with Winter and there’s also a sense of trust as she promises to keep his fears to herself. Could it be that the use of the pinky game is a form of initiating into the cult, sometimes without even realizing?

Do you think the pinky game is something more sinister? What’s the point in it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

American Horror Story: Cult continues on Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX. Don’t forget to like our American Horror Story Facebook page for more updates straight to your newsfeed.

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(Image courtesy of FX)