‘American Horror Story: Hotel’: Mother Monster

American Horror Story: Hotel
October 21, 2015

Quasi-vampire baby Tristan returns to Mr. March’s time portal to summon the ghost and tell him, “DUDE, YOU WERE RIGHT! Killing innocent people and rolling around in their blood is SUPER AWESOME!” Mr. March appears and is like, “I KNOW, RIGHT?” He then reveals a few secret spots in the hotel, including a giant spike hidden in the closet that he would impale people on for giggles. Bonding!


Their comparing of murder notes is interrupted by Will Drake and Naomi Campbell, who are busy making plans to tear out the entire floor for Drake’s new atelier. Upon finding Tristan wandering around his hotel, Drake is all, “QUIT SQUATTING IN MY HOTEL, SQUATTER! But before you go, you must tell me how you got rid of that scar …”  Tristan declines to share his beauty secrets, and chooses to smirk instead. After Drake and Naomi Campbell leave, Tristan assures his new murder BFF that he will not allow them to desecrate his death palace.

We are then treated to a long soliloquy from Dr. Chloë Sevigny about how she never really wanted to have kids, but then she had Holden and she loved him more than anyone else, more than her husband, more than her other kid. But then her idiot husband went and lost him. After a year of mourning Holden, she tried slashing her wrists in the bathtub, but then her idiot husband went and ruined that, too, by saving her. So now she just spends all her time making other parents feel bad for not vaccinating their children. Oh, also, too, we learn that Holden improbably smelled like lavender.

So the Detective family has a therapy session, where Dr. Chloë accuses her daughter of making up the whole seeing Holden of the Damned in the hotel story as a means to hurt her mother, because that makes sense. But Scarlett sticks to her guns: there was Nintendo and jelly beans and tiny glass coffins at the bottom of an empty swimming pool, and Holden was there and he smelled like lavender candles. Dr. Chloë is all:


Back at the hotel, Naomi Campbell climbs into bed only to be attacked by Junkie Schmidt who pops out from inside her mattress …


… and proceeds to stab her to death with an ice pick. Surprise!


Over on another show, Detective John is at yet another murder scene, this one at a gossip site where an entire gaggle of bloggers have been Charlie Hebdo’d, with the extra gruesome twist that some of their tongues had been nailed to their desks for breaking the “not bearing false witness” commandment. That’s quite the efficient serial killer who can single-handedly murder an entire office and nail a bunch of tongues down all in the course of a night.

When Detective John returns to the hotel, he’s greeted by Junkie Schmidt, covered in model blood and in a full blown panic, begging for help. Detective John obliges, and as they wheel Junkie Schmidt into the hospital, Junkie Schmidt apologizes for killing “her,” explaining that he thought she was the other one, the “junkie whore” who told him he’d be free. Detective John is like, “Junkie Whore. That sounds familiar,” just as Junkie Schmidt begins flatlining.

R.I.P. Junkie Schmidt.


Detective John returns to the hotel where he finds Ghost Maid making up Naomi Campbell’s bed, and Ghost Courtney Love explaining that she heard Naomi Campbell had to check out early. Detective John asks Ghost Courtney Love about Junkie Schmidt, and she’s like, “Eh, he’s a junkie, you can’t believe any of the crazy things that come out of his mouth. And anyway, it’s not like I’m breaking any of the ten commandments…” Detective John is all, “WHAT THE WHAT? And, wait, I’m pretty sure ‘thou shalt not kill’ is one of the commandments.” Ghost Courtney Love argues that the commandment is translated wrong — it should be “thou shalt not murder” because “killing can be a righteous act.” Having had enough with the semantics, Detective John announces that she’s under arrest for … something, and handcuffs her. “LOL,” Says Ghost Courtney Love. “GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.”

As Detective John takes her down in the elevator, she gets all frisky, unzipping his pants, licking his face, and telling him they are “meant to be.” And then she just up and disappears on account of the whole ghost thing.

Meanwhile, Tristan has refined his master plan to keep Drake from destroying his new murder playground. Step One: seduce Will Drake; Step Two: slice Will Drake’s throat open, drink blood. However, just as he’s about to move to Step Two, Lady Gaga steps into the doorway, and signals to Tristan to STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. And so, with a sigh, Tristan pockets his knife and stomps out of Drake’s penthouse in a snit.

Hey, remember Iris and her ungrateful son Donovan? They’re still not getting along. Iris tries to suggest that they find an apartment together, and Donovan is like, “EW. NO.” They have a long dragged out fight about their relationship that basically boils down to: Iris left Donovan’s father and raised Donovan on her own and she made a few bad choices along the way (one of which involved joining a vegan cult). But the thing that most chaps Donovan’s pretty hide is that Iris saved him when he tried to OD all those years ago. When Donovan announces that he’s moving out that night, Iris laments that she doesn’t know who she is if she’s not his mother. But Donovan has some ideas, and suggests that if that’s true, she just go ahead and kill herself. OUCH.

Donovan heads out into the night to comfort himself with some hobo blood, and while out on the town spies what he thinks is an easy target: one fabulous Angela Bassett. However, joke’s on him, because Angela Bassett, and he finds himself tased and shoved into the trunk of her car. When he comes to, he finds himself strapped down to a chair and a dialysis machine. Weirdest first date ever.

Just settle into your restraints, Donovan, because we’ve got some more exposition to get through. Angela Bassett explains that they are calling her Ramona Royale this season, and that she is a former 1970s Blaxploitation queen.


In 1977, she decided she wanted to go more mainstream, and met with a big powerful producer at the Hotel Cortez, only to have him suggest they discuss it up in his hotel room. Before she could take him up on his offer, however, Lady Gaga swept in, hissed at the movie producer and seduced Ramona, turning her into a pseudo-vampire and her lover for a good 14, 15 years. But things got stale between them, as things do, and Ramona moved on to a sexy rapper. But when Ramona turned Sexy Rapper into a pseudo-vampire, Lady Gaga somehow (?) found out, killed Sexy Rapper’s entire posse and shot Sexy Rapper in the head because NO. ONLY LADY GAGA GETS TO TURN PEOPLE INTO PSEUDO-VAMPIRES.

And that’s why Ramona is going to take away the only thing that Lady Gaga really cares about. Donovan is like, “Guess what, that’s not me.” And Ramona is like, “I know, dummy, I’m talking about those babies she keeps on a diet of jelly beans, and you’re the one who is going to get me access to them.” But then Donovan reveals that Lady Gaga dumped him last Tuesday, so Ramona unbuckles him and sends him away.


Back at the hotel, Dr. Chloë arrives to serve Detective John with divorce papers, because honestly though. Enough. Detective John reacts to this news by begging her not to leave him, bursting into hot hysterical tears and confessing that he thinks he’s losing his mind. “OH COOL,” Dr. Chloë says, “REMIND ME AGAIN WHY I SHOULDN’T DUMP YOU?” Dr. Chloë takes him up to his room, admires his crazy Homeland conspiracy board and plies him with sleeping pills. And then they start making out because sadness, but when Detective John suggests they have another baby, Dr. Chloë is like, “Oh, that’s right, I’m divorcing your crazy self for a reason, because you’re crazy,” and leaves.

And I’ll give you three guesses as to who she sees in the hallway. Did you say Holden of the Damned? Because it’s Holden of the Damned. Looks like someone has some apologies when she gets home to her neglected daughter.

Meanwhile, upstairs at the hotel, Lady Gaga plies Drake with red wine and begins telling him that he “needs to die,” and Drake is all, “yes, creatively, I think that is true,” but, haha, she means “Drake needs to die” in a completely literal way, and then the two begin to get busy? Even though he’s gay? LOL LOL OK.

Anyway, Tristan storms in on them and is all, “WAIT, WHAT?” So Lady Gaga leaves Drake and hustles her new hustler boyfriend downstairs to explain her master plan to keep Drake from destroying the hotel: Step One: marry Will Drake; Step Two: slice Will Drake’s throat open, drink blood; Step Three: profit. And then Tristan is like, “COOL PLAN. HIGH-FIVE.”

Elsewhere, unlike Drake, Iris takes her son’s suggestion that she kill herself quite literally and enlists Ghost Courtney Love to help her OD in a neat little reversal. However, just as she’s been filled with enough heroin “to kill a marching band,” who should return to the hotel to mope at Liz Taylor about not having any place to go or anyone to love him, but Donovan. Liz Taylor is like, “gurrrrrl…”


Liz Taylor reminds Whiny Baby that he still has his mother, and that while she might be awful, no one will love him as much as she does. And that’s why Liz Taylor is easily the best character this season.

So Donovan, filled with maternal guilt, goes upstairs to Iris’ room only to find that Ghost Courtney Love has wrapped Iris’ head in a plastic bag to hurry along the murdering. He freaks out, removes the bag and cuts open his arm to drip some of his not!vampire blood into her mouth and restore her. As Ghost Courtney Love helpfully explains, that’s some “twisted poetic justice.” THANKS, WRITERS. NEVER WOULD HAVE PICKED UP ON THAT, WRITERS.

One of the major themes of this particular episode, and of the season in general it would seem, is this issue of motherhood — in fact, it could be argued that it is a major theme of the entire anthology. The duality of the mother figure is a source of psychological horror going back to folklore: as a child, this being who gave you life, who nurtures you and is the source of food and comfort also punishes you, and prevents you and your unchecked ego from doing and getting everything you want. Thus it is unsurprising that in fairy tales, often the villain is a step-mother: she’s a maternal figure, but one that is safe to project one’s fear and anger onto. And in the past seasons we have dealt with this Bad Mommy trope: Constance in “Murder House”; Lana Winters, and Sister Jude, it could be argued, in “Asylum”; Fiona Goode in “Coven”; and, of course, Elsa Mars in “Freak Show.”

However, this season seems to be presenting motherhood differently: instead of mother being the monster, it’s the state of motherhood itself that is the horror — it is so consuming and powerful that it can become deadly. Both Iris and Dr. Chloë attempt suicide when taken from their children, because their love for them is so overwhelming that their very identity separate from being a mother is completely lost. And it is telling that when Ramona Royale decides upon revenge, she sets her sights not on one of The Countesses’ many lovers, but, instead, the children that she has (presumably) abducted and kept at the hotel. The loss of a child is the worst pain a mother can suffer.

The writers are drawing a parallel between this maternal need to the other primary horror of the season: addiction. (Maternal) love is a drug, it would seem. And tied to these themes of addiction and motherhood is this blood virus of Lady Gaga’s: her blood creates immortal life, but to sustain it, they must consistently consume more blood. Blood becomes an addiction, it’s a need that their bodies can not contain or control — and I’d be curious to know whether, like drugs, they can stop using. What are the consequences if they stop drinking blood? Do they die? Do they begin to naturally age again? Do they experience withdrawal? Anyway, the point is: motherhood = life = blood = addiction = motherhood. Or something.

In other news, Detective John is our serial killer, right? There’s like a whole Fight Club thing going on with him, right? And that’s why he’s at the hotel, staying in that particular room, not sleeping and progressively losing his mind, right?


That’s what I thought.

American Horror Story: Hotel aired on FX.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.

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