It all comes down to witches and warlocks at the end of the world
A look back at the past of the outpost, Michael Langdon, and a post-witch+warlock world.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 12: “Be Our Guest”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by John J. Gray
* For a review of the penultimate Season 5 finisher, “Battle Royale” – click here
This finale for the wild Season 5 begins with Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) talking about taking over the Hotel Cortez. Only she has her throat slit with a gloved hand, not unlike the one we’ve seen Countess (Lady Gaga) wear earlier in the season.
Cut to a couple checking in. Iris (Kathy Bates) and Liz woo them, with champagne on arrival, hoping to make the guests feel at home and ready for a wonderful time. They’re apparently from some website, one which reviews hotels. “It was going to take 4–stars on the internet,” Liz tells us. All the rooms are newly redone, looking beautiful; even Egyptian Cotton on all the beds. Looks a far cry from where it was once.
Except Sally (Sarah Paulson) shows up from out of nowhere to greet the new guests, lazing around smoking in her usual leopard print. She’s even getting ready to shoot up, which soon does in one of the guests. The other one goes running in the halls, coming across Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). “I‘m new at this murder game and jesus christ is it a thrill,” he says before stabbing her to death. Seems like things aren’t exactly perfect at the Hotel Cortez, despite the beautiful surface.
A very wonderful start to this final episode for the season. Plenty more macabre, nasty fun to come, I hope.
The meeting is called, as Liz and Iris try to create order among the ghosts of the Cortez. They all meet at the bar, everyone wanting something different. Marcy wants a new room. Will and Sally would rather kill. The rest are too self-involved, but not those two. They’re more excited for killing: “I‘m dead,” Will tells them, “but I‘ve never felt more alive.”
Up turns James March (Evan Peters), wanting them all to stop the killing. Funny, right? He’s mostly concerned about what happens if the Cortez gets shut down, torn down, bulldozed. Where will they go? In the meantime, everyone’s aruging. Until March flips a lid and sets them all straight. They need to make it a historic landmark, March claims, only they’ve got to keep the building there another 10 years, until 2026. Sally needs a “soulmate,” though, and she doesn’t look poised to change. Even with the threat of March sicking the Addiction Demon on her, as once he did before.
Most interesting is how Iris shows Sally about the world outside, social media, which will help her not be so alone in the world. She can’t go out, but that doesn’t mean Sally can’t interact with the world. Great way to bring the issues of today into the show, instead of only relying on dates onscreen from time to time. Plus, it goes well with Sally’s 1990’s rock/grunge character, to think she might be someone who would fall into social media and all its trappings.
Mainly, everyone is now trying to figure out the way to head into the future. Liz has all but convinced Drake to stay holed up in the hotel, all “Howard Hughes” and such. In fact, Liz is now Will’s acting hand at his company. Amazing new age company being led by Ms. Liz Taylor. The fashion goes on, the clothing still coming out – even Sally models bits of his work, plus Ramona (Angela Bassett) and other ghosts in the Cortez.
But sadly, Liz misses Tristan. Then we’re introduced to an old, familiar face – Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson) back from Season 1’s Murder House. What a beautiful return to the original season, another character linking things together. Great season for this sort of thing, with Queenie in the last episode, Marcy showing up from time to time, and more. This sequence sees Billie helping Liz to try reconnecting with his now lost, murdered love, Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock). But it seems Tristan isn’t willing to fully reconnect, he’s angered and doesn’t want to talk with Liz. Not right now, anyways.
But wait – it’s Donovan now reaching from the other side, talking of “pancakes with blueberries” and that it’s “always Saturday morning” wherever he is.
Gathering the ghosts together, Liz tells everybody she’s got prostate cancer; inoperable, “nothing to do.” All those ghosts are worried, but Liz absolutely has a plan. Of sorts. Weapons are out on the bed, ready for everyone. She wants to be hacked, bludgeoned, et cetera, to death. “It‘s not murder,” Sallys says to them: “She wants to be reborn.”
“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” by Marianne Faithfull starts to play while everybody weapons up. Liz lays back on the bed, ready for the murder to take place. At the door, though, Countess arrives. “You were always my fondest creation,” Countess tells Liz. She’s there to join in on the fun: “I wanted to be here to help you transition.” Great word play all around with this sequence. Great, viciously bloody fun. This takes us back to that first scene, watching Liz have her throat cut open, the blood flying and beginning to run down onto the floor. Savagery – the best sort which Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk continually give us. And in death? Liz finds Tristan once more.
Down at the desk a woman shows up on Devil’s Night in 2022. She booked a room way in advance. In other news, Iris and Ramona are lamenting too much publicity after Billie Dean Howard’s specials aired on television, bringing out the weirdos, the perverts. Funniest is seeing John Lowe in league with them all, just another part of them. We get cuts back to Howard doing her various specials in Room 44, Room 64, and so on.
Now Lowe has got himself a plan. They call Billie Dean down for another taping, as she continues to try calling on the Ten Commandment Killer to reveal himself.
Then there’s Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) and John’s family. They made things work in the outside world. Or at least, as best as it would work. They tried. Out on the streets, Lowe killed, stockpiling blood in coffee canisters, stalking the streets for more victims with which to feed the family. One night, he finds himself caught by the police. Bleeding, full of bullets, John tries his best to make it back inside the Cortez, to die in there. Instead of making it all the way, he’s left on the sidewalk. Returning on Devil’s Night, though, it is easy to see James March has a hand in it all. Another dinner party, perhaps?
Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch), Richard Ramirez, Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe), they’re all back! Gacy’s trying to teach Jeffrey to talk to guys, in such a creepy scene. The music in the background plays heavy, lazy. Everything is terrifying and dark. John introduces her around the place, acclimating her to the strange surroundings. The Zodiac is there, too. Quiet and chilling in the corner with his baghead costume on, totally silent. A surreal sequence here, as Billie Dean navigates through “all these dark spirits.” March appears soon enough to toast them all. Lots of fun! A top five favourite sequence out of this Hotel season.
This is all a way to get Howard to stop doing specials at the hotel. The ghosts all want, need, to be left alone. So they need to her to give up. None of the ghosts can leave, but Ramona shows up to tell her: “I can.” Seems ole Billie Dean has more to fear than a few ghosts. Best she start moving on, right?In Room 64, John keeps his family. His daughter has grown a few years, obviously, and the others sleep soundly. Must be strange for her to age while the family stays the same, forever. Yet she seems fine with that mostly. It’s nice for John and Alex, who have their son back and eternally get to sleep next to one another, just like a new family. A creepy finish, as John has to go away for a whole year until the next Devil’s Night, when the family will come back together in the Cortez, to enjoy each other’s company, to love one another for that single day. A semi-happy ending in one sense, but a deeply tragic one for Lowe.
The very end of the episode sees The Countess at a table in the lounge, drinking, smoking. Out of the dark hallways comes a man she likes the look of, so off she goes to sit next to him at the bar. He sort of looks like Donovan – hair slicked back, handsome, a bit of stubble. Is that the intention? I think so. “You have a jawline for days,” says the Countess, right before everything cuts to black. Beautiful.
Loved the end to this season. An impressive full circle, but in a way that doesn’t only recall the beginning of the season, the beginning of character relationships, it also adds things on, making the layers deeper, more enticing. People complained a ton about this season. Me? I dig it. Totally. Stay tuned, we’ll see where Falchuk and Murphy go from here next season.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 10: “She Gets Revenge”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by James Wong
* For a review of the previous episode, “She Wants Revenge” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Battle Royale” – click here
Only a few more nights left at the Hotel Cortez.
Tonight we open with the wondrous Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) lamenting “forgotten hotels,” such as the Cortez, and what they’re good for – from drug deals to indiscretions of all kinds. Love that we’re getting more Liz because I find her spectacular. O’Hare is an enormously talented character actor who gives life and luxury to Liz. Here, we see more depth to her and all she is, as she tells us about one particular old couple who commit suicide/murder together in order to not have to see the twilight years come for them. After their brains are blown out, Iris (Kathy Bates) does lamenting of her own. Mostly about the time it’ll take to clean the blood out and scrub the walls. Meanwhile, Liz cries because she may “never be happy again,” unlike the happy couple who chose to go out on their own terms right there in that very room. She picks up a gun, wanting to die. But Iris reminds her that would only see her trapped in the Cortez for eternity. I’m glad Liz choose not to, at least not right now. She tells Iris there’s a little unfinished business that might be good to tend to: her son. The old life of Iris still lingers, that’s how much she obviously cares about his boy. Both she and Iris have their plans, together, for a grand finale to life.
Liz has Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) calling up his son. She can’t bear to talk to him herself, not just yet; after all it’s been 31 years. Liz says she’s “written letters” and “god knows I‘ve written cheques.” But we’ll see if this comes around to a good thing for her. For now, Miss Evers is giving Liz a hard time over lifestyle choices, et cetera. She fears Liz is expecting too much of her son, for him to be too understanding.
In other parts of the Cortez, John Lowe (Wes Bentley) is admiring his Ten Commandments work, while Sally (Sarah Paulson) watches on. We cut to John, knife in hand, approaching some – what looks like – Mexican faithfuls, whom he cuts down. He doesn’t have much work left to do before he’s free: “One more and you‘ll be free,” Sally tells him.
Then there’s Donovan (Matt Bomer) who approaches Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock) in his motel room, all while Natacha (Alexandria Daddario) goes to see The Countess (Lady Gaga). Great editing back and forth between their two paralleled conversations. On the one hand, Rudolph and Donovan have a semi-manly confrontation. On the other hand, Countess seduces Natacha a little before they each take out a knife. Only when Rudolph produces a Middle Eastern style sword, Donovan replies “Bitch please,” along with a bullet, or a couple, to his face. At the hotel, Countess likewise slashes down Natacha. Ouch. How will The Countess react after she discovers Rudie dead?
Back to James March (Evan Peters), a late favourite of mine in this season. He’s suited up in his creepy leather mask with a new sacrifice at his hands. He lights a man on fire, who quickly perishes in flame. Right afterwards, Lowe shows up. They’re quite cozy now, the two buddies. Murderers in league. Nice special makeup effects here, too; some nasty burn work. That’s something I forget to mention often in these reviews. I love all the makeup and special effects work in general the series has done, from blood and gore to more understated stuff. Plus, there’s great costume and set design.
John is reunited with his wife Alex (Chloë Sevigny) for the time being. She has certainly changed. As has John, or perhaps he hasn’t changed just accepted his identity. He’s hurt by the lies she fed him, concerning their children. But at the same time, John has both accepted his new murderous identity, as well as accepted his own faults in everything. A dark turn of events. Regardless, the husband and wife are seemingly back on the same side. She admits to him what happened with the children, and the fact The Countess has threatened to kill her and their boy if she doesn’t control the vampire outbreak amongst the young ones. John has agreed to help. Will this be a husband-wife blood bath of some sort coming up? Can’t wait to find out.
Then Douglas (Josh Braaten) shows up at the Cortez, sitting down for a drink. Liz serves him up a drink, then they chat together a good long while. Douglas even talks about his father, who split, and that it was just he and his mother. He mentions about being in town to finally reconnect with his father. Such an emotional moment to watch Douglas walk away, Liz left wanting to say all the things that need to be said, only afraid to go ahead and do it.
But more importantly, John is helping Alex. They sneak into a house, which looks like the one where she last saw the kids. John is still in cop-mode, even holding his gun and flashlight like an officer of the law. There’s blood on the floor downstairs in huge splashes. Upstairs, John tries to find anything in terms of a clue. Out of nowhere, one of the kids shows up trying to stab Alex. More come after John appears. One of the young girls is very sick, dying, but the kids aren’t being any help obviously. The lead kid is upset about the dead girl, though, his other idiot friend seems hellbent against adult involvement.
The Countess is explaining to detectives where she last saw Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). He’s nowhere to be found. One cop says it could be “cold feet.” Yet Countess disagrees. Then, to her surprise, Will shows up in a slick black suit looking better than ever. The look on her face is worth a million words. “You murdered me, you bitch,” Will spits venomously at his wife. But she’s not happy how he treated Bartholomew, the things he said. Spiteful, no? She was going to do it anyway. Countess has it all figured out, or that’s what she’d have others believe.
Later on, John and Alex show up with the kids back at the hotel. Finally, the killer vampire children have been convinced to settle down. They lead the kids to a hallway and tell them there’s a room a ways down where they can rest, wait for some food. Reluctantly the children go inside, except the jerk, who John knocks on his ass into the hall. They’re locked away in the darkness by the Lowes. What follows is a descent into Lord of the Flies territory, only with vampire kids, and instead of an island a hotel’s forgotten hallway. Best of all? Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) turns a corner, full of blood, and sees the children: “Mm. Mama smells appetizers.”
What I love about this entire sequence of scenes is the way John and his wife seem like a happy couple again, now that they’re both monsters of sorts. On top of all that, Sally shows up asking if he came inside her, or if he “shot it on her tits” the way he does with her, because “with a whore it‘s always on the tits.” So even with the happy couple dynamic, Sally is still kicking around as the mistress in John’s new fucked up world. Sally is a drug addicted ghost of some type, a demon even. Alex is a vampire. John is the Ten Commandments Killer. But Sally says “she doesn‘t know about you – not like I do.” He wants to do it for his family, though, we know that addiction is strong. And it never lets go easily. Sally and John end up having a knife-point confrontation; she isn’t pleased with his decision to be with Alex.
Then, the addiction demon briefly appears in flashes behind Sally in the hallway, its drill-bit dildo barely visible for a moment in time.
Douglas returns to the hotel. He reveals knowledge of his father; at first Liz is a little ashamed, but quickly comes to see things are okay. Well, not okay. But nothing crazy seems poised to happen. Liz is happy to see Doug is a well-adjusted, grown, responsible man. Doug isn’t outraged by his father, his lifestyle: “There‘s plenty of room for another woman in my life,” he tells Liz, who staggers back in emotion. Amazing. I hope this is all headed somewhere nice, a bit of a reprieve in the life of Liz.
Other seemingly happy times between Donovan and Countess at dinner. She talks about what she did to Will Drake, which he loves, of course. Lots of hilarious inclusion of modern talk and technology, modern phrases like “hate–watch” and “FaceTime.” Then, Countess finds Rudolph with his face shot to pieces at the motel. Brutal. Though, I don’t care about her pain. She deserves all she gets. Will she get revenge in this episode, or will another she get her revenge?
Over in a different room, Iris shows Liz a various assortment of guns, knives, poison possibly, slipknots, and so on. As well as a final video, tribute to her including good pictures and one of herself with a cat; all to be a “beacon of hope for my 3 follows on Instagram.” Only Liz doesn’t want to go out any longer. She wants a connection with Doug now. Now, Iris is abandoned once more; she feels as if everyone has left her behind. Liz has got other plans: “Dammit, we‘re the ones who should inherit the earth,” she tells Iris. Will these shes get revenge?
Alex and John go to the weird video game room, where father is reunited with long lost son Holden. He cries and takes the boy in his arms, happily embracing the son he never thought he’d see again. John loves his family, even if two of its members are now vampires. But what will The Countess have to say about this? Is she simply going to let Holden leave, letting Alex go? And what about John – can he abandon his Ten Commandments work? On their way out of the hotel, the Lowes are confronted by an angry Sally who swears on her soul: “I will kill you.”
In the penthouse, Donovan rocks out to Drake’s “Hotline Bling” until being interrupted by The Countess’ cold, dark presence. She talks about Rudolph, her search for him over a century. She and Donovan exchange thoughts about “being trapped here“, inside the walls of the Cortez.
“He made me everything I am”
“And you made me, in his image.”
Before Countess can kill Donovan, in bust the two bad asses Liz and Iris, each wielding two guns, blasting at their nemesis. Though we don’t see what happens. Only a cut to black.
Very excited to see the next episode, “Battle Royale.” We’ll see what happens with Countess, Donovan, and the two new gangsters in Liz and Iris. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans!
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 9: “She Wants Revenge”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Brad Falchuk
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Ten Commandments Killer” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “She Gets Revenge” – click here
This episode begins with Countess (Lady Gaga) explaining that “women age differently than men do,” but the kicker is, of course, as we know she’s a vampire. Here, she stares into the walled off corridor where James March (Evan Peters) had sealed Natacha (Alexandra Daddario) and Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock).
Countess is convinced to build “something new” and makes it clear: “I will not be managed.” Later downstairs, she’s talking about her upcoming wedding to Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). She wants it small. Yet he tells her “I‘m a showman” and he wants a big wedding. Finally, she agrees that he will design the gown, she will get everything else taken care of. Then there’s Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare), who Countess wants to arrange the flowers. Liz does not want any part of her: “Buy your own damn flowerrrrs.” And why would she want to help the Countess, after the Tristan incident. Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) is still kicking around, serving drinks, to a highly disaffected Countess who only grows more and more disdainful about the world around her.
Then Countess tracks down Rudolph Valentino at a motel. While simultaneously at home, she beds Donovan (Matt Bomer) again, screaming “I forgot how good you feel inside me.” They have a nice little bit of pillow talk. He asks that it only be him for her, forever; he needs commitment. Not in the way of just being with one person, but rather he wants to be the ONLY person she loves: “I swear it. But I won‘t make the same mistakes again,” she replies. Is this all a ruse on Donovan’s part? I’m sure he didn’t just switch back to loving her, did he? I imagine Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) is lurking along the periphery of the Countess’ life, alongside Donovan. We’ll have to wait and see. For now, Donovan and Countess seem to be making a list – of who to murder.
Nice to Iris (Kathy Bates) again. She even tells the people at the front desk the “douche bag convention” is somewhere else. Proper. A couple pornstars show up with their disgusting director. Iris tells them she’ll bring up some “extra towels.” An AMAZING voice-over sequence after this, starting off with a Blue Monday cover and Iris talking about the “Sydney Pollack” of porn and how she went to see Deep Throat back in the day. She even calls herself “Dirty Harriet,” as well as gives us a little lesson on why pornography “hurts people,” what it does to the male and female psyches. Plus, afterwards she goes into the room and starts slitting throats, stabbing chests, and generally bloodying the place up. Good gore. Out of nowhere, Donovan appears. Very impressed with his mother. “You have clearly come into your own,” he tells her. Though, she warns about problems. We slip back to the Bartholomew incident, where that creepy little baby got out to wreak some havoc with its terrifying face; Iris gave up Ramona’s name to the Countess.
However, now we’re getting a bit of the real story. Donovan is definitely in love with the Countess. At the same time, he’s still looking for revenge. Will he get it? Or will the Countess figure it all out? Has she already? You can never tell fully.
Drake explains to his son Lachlan (Lyric Angel) about how the Countess understands him, gets him, all that. Then Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) shows up talking about how the Countess will only “bleed you dry“. It’s an eerie moment.
Then a flashback comes where Miss Evers talks about how she loved March. He claims that the Countess “is a creature from heaven” and tells her: “It‘s not your fault you were graced with… different gifts.” But back in the present, Will does not heed any of her warnings. Despite the fact we know the depth of the darkness into which he is about to plunge. I won’t quote her exact words because you NEED to experience them from her mouth; she lets Drake know exactly how she feels before leaving the room.
Down at the sealed, now unsealed, corridor, the Countess is trying to get a contractor to re-seal the hallway. After a bit of talk from him, March shows up to try and explain how it’ll all get done: “Make haste – much to accomplish!” Some people don’t like Evan Peters this season. Me, on the other hand, I think he is classic. At times he’s darkly funny. Others he is downright fucking terrifying, to me. Here he shows off a few more chops, as the Countess gives him an ultimatum, of sorts.
Donovan shows up at Ramona Royale’s place. He has an offering: the pornstar guy from the hotel. But she thinks Donovan is a big “pussy” in her words. Though, for all Donovan’s love for the Countess, and all the doubts Ramona may have, he actually seems to be against the Countess. He admits his “addiction” for her. Yet then Donovan claims he slipped enough ghb in her drink to “knock out an elephant.” He further admits he can’t “pull the trigger.” At least Ramona “appreciates a man who recognises his own weakness.” They seem together, toasting on the blood of the pornstar.
Another excellent flashback to Ramona in the ’90s, running back to her father (Henry G. Sanders) in L.A. Her mother (Marla Gibbs) and father helped straighten her out. Also, there’s sadness. Her parents are getting older, forgetting things, getting sick. Then her mother died and her father went further off the deep end in his mind. Such a tragic sequence, yet gives such an amazing depth to Ramona. There’s a break-in scenario and her father ends up getting hurt badly, which sees Ramona give the gift of the ancient virus to him. I saw this coming. I still found it effective, and beautiful in a sense. Eternally sad, though, as “a diseased brain is not a broken bone” and not everything can be fixed with vampirism. We see more and more how absolutely shattered inside Ramona is, having to effectively euthanize her own father so that he wouldn’t remain “frozen in amber.”
Alex Lowe is off doing her own thing, too. Not only serving up drinks for the Countess. She spies on a house, then makes her way inside only to find a bunch of dead, bloody corpses. Further in, there are a bunch of vampire kids with Max as the leader; remember, the kid from the hospital to whom she gave her blood? A few of the kids are getting sick, probably drinking bad blood. Earlier in the episode there was a news report about homeless people dead in the city: all the kids. Some of the kids don’t want to drink, they’re feeling worse and worse. They want Alex to help. Other kids are alive and thriving, one even saying they should “off them,” y’know – “all the sickies.” Such a creepy scene, evoking lots of the creepy children aesthetic. Makes things quite tense and eerie. The kids, most of them, don’t want anything to do with Alex.
Back at the Hotel Cortez, Ramona and Donovan stand outside the Countess’ room, as she lays just inside sleeping on the bed.
Then a double cross, I think? The Countess wakes up before Ramona can sink a knife into her. Donovan tasers Ramona and takes her downstairs. Iris is upset about it all. Donovan is in love and he actually fell into the abyss, even though I imagined he was on the straight and narrow. Ramona ends up locked in one of those neon-lit cages. “You‘re weak. I should‘ve let you die,” Donovan tells his mother getting a slap in the face as a response. Where’s this going to lead Iris and Ramona now?
Rudolph and Countess are having drinks at the motel. Meanwhile, Natacha is off with her head full of “shopping and Uber.” I feel even worse for Donovan now because he’s fallen back for the Countess, while she’s still wrapped up in a time almost a century ago when she and Rudolph had their first great love. All the same, Rudolph hates the modern world. He is disgusted with everything in it, no “enchantment left” anywhere. Countess claims to hate the modern world even more than him and wants to turn the Cortez into a “fortress” against it. Still there’s Natacha to deal with. She loves everything out there. Somehow the Countess begins to try reeling her in, though. Sets up a girls night for them both without Rudie. Hmm.
And then, outside as she strolls away happily, there is Donovan. Will he finally see the light?
At the Cortez the wedding is about the be finished. Naturally, Liz objects with a hilarious quip: “Don‘t mind her. She drinks,” says the Countess. But the happy couple is proclaimed man and wife. The Countess wants to get the honeymoon started, so she plans to go get changed and get going. First, she gives over the flowers to Liz and gives off some nonsense about hoping she finds true love. Sad, to see Liz have to grin and bear it against this awful vampire of a woman.
Nice little meeting at the bar between Will Drake and James March. Very good stuff with James, having a little drink with Will in congratulations. “Here‘s to new worlds to conquer,” James toasts the newlywed gentleman. Even better is when March brings Will up to see Bartholomew in his black little crib. “What the hell is that thing?” Will draws back in terror after seeing the child-thing. Countess shows up and doesn’t like the “hateful things” Will has to say about little Bart: “I‘m going to make sure you suffer immensely,” she says before whacking him over the head.
Following this new development, Will finds himself down with Ramona. Only he’s on the floor while she stays locked up. But I’m sure he’ll be caged up right away, as soon as the Countess or March or whoever returns.
However, Drake doesn’t last long. He gets Ramona out, finds their in a sealed hallway, to which he quips: “Nobody knows we‘re in here. We‘ll starve.”
“I won‘t,” replies Ramona. She then pounces on him, starts to feast on his bloody neck. Miss Evers shows up to gloat, as the Countess watches on a screen up in her room comfortably. The end.
I’m interested to see who the she is in the next episode’s title, “She Gets Revenge”. Who will get it? Who will be revenged upon? Very exciting. Honestly, the haters can keep on hating this season. I’m digging it. Especially once we see more of John Lowe (Wes Bentley) next week. Curious to see where he goes now plot/character-wise after the revelation last episode that he is, for certain, the Ten Commandments Killer.
Stay tuned with me friends and fellow fans, more to come!
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 8: “The Ten Commandments Killer”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Ryan Murphy
The end of the previous episode saw John Lowe (Wes Bentley) watch on helplessly as Wren (Jessica Belkin) ran into the road getting killed by a truck. Here, we begin with him dazed, everyone wondering what exactly happened.
Back at the Hotel Cortez, Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) deals with a belligerent Lowe. Sally (Sarah Paulson) shows up, too. He keeps demanding to see the Ten Commandments Killer, over and over. Until finally Sally agrees to take John to the killer, where “he‘s been hiding.” Ominous. They head up to Room 64. “Is this a joke?” Lowe asks. But Sally insists there are answers inside. She starts talking about James Patrick March (Evan Peters). Though, it can’t be him. He’s dead. In a secret chamber behind one of the walls, there are a bunch of dismembered body parts, teeth, brain, and so on; each inscribed with one of the Ten Commandments. There needs to be a successor. All of a sudden, John seems to be remembering all the murders as being committed by him – he is the Ten Commandments Killer.
Really, though? I’ve got to say, not that I didn’t see it coming a little. But I’m still not impressed. Because you can see this coming a mile away. Or is this the whole truth? Are we really being given such a wild revelation, a supposedly big one, in the opening of an episode? I’m not sure. We’ll see as the episode goes on. I just feel a little disappointed if this is the real case, if John is actually the killer.
“Nobody let him in: he had a key.”
Down at the morgue, John shows up to freak out his old partner Andy (Richard T. Jones) a bit. He wants to confess. First of all, he looks like absolute roadkill. So it’s creepy. Then he lays out a timeline of when he first went to the Hotel Cortez, a drunken night five years ago – 2010. Flash to that night with Liz tending bar, Sally hanging off it smoking and Donovan (Matt Bomer) lurking among the shadows. They all sort of descend upon him, eerie and foreboding. John sucks down drinks and finds himself invited to a party upstairs.
Meanwhile, the hilariously unsettling March has a monthly dinner with The Countess (Lady Gaga). They’re interrupted by Donovan, who brings along Detective Lowe. I suppose ole Jimmy loves when a man finds himself in despair, looking to “drink himself to death.” The attitude in which Lowe finds himself is perfect for March. He’s very intrigued by John and his lowly state of depression. They have a strange conversation, at times funny and others pretty creepy. March happens to repeat a phrase Iris (Kathy Bates) said a few episodes ago: “Black as the ace of spades.” I found that a little interesting, maybe nothing. But it was good. The entire sequence between Wes Bentley and Evan Peters is pretty damn awesome. I love them both as actors, personally. It took me a few episodes to warm to Peters’ March character, then after that I couldn’t get enough.
So John’s confessing all this to his partner. It appears to us that March and The Countess played into his madness. John losing his boy, or having him stolen, was all a part of their ruse. To apprentice him into being a successor to the throne of March, unlike Gacy, Ramirez or “that poof” Dahmer as March himself puts it.
Lowe talks about living two split lives: one at home with his wife, one at the Cortez with March. For the span of five years. March infiltrated his head with horrific ideas. He shows John around the hotel a little, by creepy candlelight, including a spot were he mounted the head of his former accountant. Naturally, John recoils at first. But slowly, his faith in the law slipping, the poor detective falls into March’s cold dark grip. On the anniversary of what he believed as his son’s death, John is back with March at the Cortez; current day 2015. “There’s no such thing as justice anymore,” says Lowe. March tells the tale of a pedophile who came to the hotel, which includes Polaroids Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) found. Lowe ends up at this man’s place – where the Oscar statuette was supposed to be purchased – and beats him to death. He then claims to have tried to hang himself, but Sally cut him down (she was actually watching him die; March cut him down). March and Hypodermic Sally/the Drill-bit Dildo Demon have a sort of pact, as well.
I’m starting to enjoy John as the killer. But where do we go from here? That’s my only question. Even though the “twist” was predictable to many, I don’t think it’s bad. At all. They tie everything back into itself, so many different little pieces, so well. It’s good writing, in my mind. More than that, I love the Bentley plays Lowe. Lots seem to disagree, but fuck ’em. He’s a solid actor, always has been, and here he gives a pretty unnerving performance as the man driven to complete insanity, to terrifying murder.
“You‘re home, John.”
With the end of this episode, we’re left with John as the killer. Is it real? Or is John only being manipulated into believing it so? I’m still unsure. But as I said, I’m easing into the idea of Lowe as the Ten Commandments Killer. Although, one little screenshot I included in this review does make me question, very subtly. Supposedly, though, this is the case. John is the killer. Just not sure where Ryan Murphy & Co. will be taking things from here.
Stay tuned for a review of the next episode, “She Wants Revenge.”
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 7: “Flicker”
Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Crystal Liu
* For a review of the previous episode, “Room 33” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Ten Commandments Killer” – click here
Checking in at the Hotel Cortez for another week, are we? Join me, as we walk the halls.
You can already feel new revelations about the come to light. Construction has broke ground at the hotel under Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) and his management. Eventually, the crew comes upon a part of the hotel covered with steel, running along a whole section. Drake tells them to get the job done, knock it down. Once a couple of the construction guys make their way down a hallway uncovered after tearing the wall down, they discover creepy people(things) lurking in the darkness. Not long after, they have their throats chewed out.
One thing others are whining about is the blood and gore. Those elements do not a horror make. However, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have explored a lot of avenues with the 4 seasons preceding this one. They’ve stated this season is meant to have more intense brutality and gore. They said that. So, sorry you don’t like blood, but there ARE horror fans who LOVE that. I am one who can appreciate many sub-genres in horror, including the splatter stuff if it’s done well. The splattery nastiness here is done properly between the writers, the directors, and the Murphy-Falchuk banner. Dig it, hugely.
Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) has brought her husband John (Wes Bentley) to the hospital. He’s almost in a trance-like state, walking in catatonia. He virtually mumbles everything coming out of his mouth. But rightfully so, he is definitely failing mentally. At the same time, most of his mental stress is being produced through his wife, through the hotel, through all the things he knows are real but just can’t prove. Not yet. He seems to have a plan, being checked in on purpose, though. I hope so hard he is NOT the Ten Commandments Killer after all. I don’t think he is, he seems to have an ace up his sleeve.
Back at the hotel, Iris (Kathy Bates) accompanies The Countess (Lady Gaga) over to where the construction crew are down two men. They don’t even know who did it, so that’s something I find interesting: Countess doesn’t even have the lid on everything happening under her roof. I’m sure James March (Evan Peters) knows all about the various comings and goings. But The Countess readily admits she’s not sure of what could’ve done the deed, and Iris notes how “I‘ve never seen you scared before.” Very intriguing little scene.
An impressive flashback to The Countess and her former life, 1925 in Hollywood. She is an extra on the set of a Ruldoph Valentino (Finn Wittrock) picture, admiring how beautiful the man is. They end up back at Valentino’s luxurious home. “Flickers are the future,” she says to him. He doesn’t buy her talk of immortality on the silver screen, commenting that in a century nobody will remember any of the movies they were in. We already know this not to be true, 90 years on; highly and almost categorically untrue, overall. Regardless, we’re treated to an excellent few classical film-like moments where the young Countess is whirled around dancing by Rudolph. Then, out of nowhere, Natacha Rambova (Alexandra Daddario) – his wife – shows up and makes the entire thing unpleasant, terribly awkward. This sex-laden season continues with a Rambova-Rudolph-Countess threesome.
Young Countess heads over to a celebration held by none other than Mr. James March. Here, in a brief scene, we get to see Evan Peters really do some excellent acting. I love him, and I’ve loved his performance in each season. Although, at the beginning of Hotel I was not sold on his March; I thought it was too hammy, or something. But more and more I’ve been drawn in. With this scene, and the one following with him/Gaga, I’m beyond pleased. There’s some element of these moments which I can’t escape, so damn infectious.
More than that, March and young Countess come together: man and wife. She doesn’t truly love him, still burning for Rudolph (who in this timeline has faked his death). Nevertheless, we see the beginning of the March-Countess murder double team, plus there is an excellent black-and-white old school sequence featuring Wittrock as Valentino; it reminds me of an actual silent movie from the early 20th century, fitted with an homage to F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. Not just an homage, it’s actually Murnau who is a vampire seeking to preserve Valentino. There’s lots of good stuff, including a blood orgy of vampires in the Carpathians.
But Valentino and Rambova have plans to whisk The Countess away with them. Will March let anything like that happen? I think not.
Over at the West Los Angeles Health Center, John Lowe is stumbling around, dazed and looking like any other patient. Only soon he knocks out a guard, making his way into a locked wing of the hospital looking for a patient named HAHN. Opening the door, he finds a young blonde girl dressed like all the other kids The Countess took. Her name is Wren (Jessica Belkin), she doesn’t “want to feed anymore.” More than all that, she has information about the Ten Commandments Killer apparently. Wren was present during one of the crimes, but says: “Nobody forced me to do anything.” She doesn’t seem to want to run from any of it, admitting to what happened and claiming it was nobody else’s fault except her own. There are scary parallels happening now, between Wren/The 10 Commandments Killer and John/his daughter. The visuals are awesome, with close-ups on John’s face, as well as Wren. Then she takes us back to a 1986 flashback where her father leaves her in a hot car outside the Hotel Cortez; when she met The Countess. Finally, Wren agrees to take Lowe to where the killer lives if they can escape.
Big surprise! The two creepy things that killed those construction guys are actually zombified, starving corpses, vampire corpses starving for blood… they are Rudolph and Natacha. Trying to get enough blood to return them to a state of beauty, they argue with one another. Natacha hates him for needing The Countess, bringing them into their now horrific state.
“What curious creatures”
“Like Colossus come to life“
James March and The Countess have a nice dinner together, a monthly tradition it seems. He’s very dapper and lovely, she is also gorgeous and looking elegant. She wanted to see him because of the plan to marry Drake. He feigns a bit of sincerity. Clearly, he does not like the idea. The Countess, to James, is his property. The dinner isn’t exactly wonderful or happy. Mostly, they’re tense with one another.
Then we see what could’ve been assumed – March had Natacha and Rudolph attacked, then brought to the Hotel Cortez. After which he proceeded to wall them up in that hallway, where they were left to perish for the rest of eternity. Or, at least until Drake decided to start renovating his latest acquisition. But even while I knew this was coming, I love the sequence. It’s haunting, harrowing even, to see these two lovers – assholes though they were – discovering themselves forever entombed behind a steel, a wall, then a ton of bricks. Best of all, March reveals all this to The Countess.
The finale of the episode is incredible. “Circles” by The Soft Moon plays as we first see Rudolph and Natacha stroll out of the hotel replenished with youthful vigour. Then, John Lowe gets Wren out of the hospital. But instead of any answers, Wren wants it all to end: she runs into the street and gets ran down by a transport truck. Cue the black screen.
Excited for the next episode, “The Ten Commandments Killer“. What do you think? Will John be the culprit? Or is it an unknown, hidden character lurking just beyond the periphery of our vision? Stay tuned with me and find out, horror heads!