American Horror Story: Hotel
October 28, 2015
It looks like Hotel Cortez has a new guest: one Richard “Night Stalker” Ramirez, the man who terrified California, raping and murdering and stealing, for over a year in the 1980s. He signs the guest book as a delighted Liz Taylor greets him on his third visit, ever since he died in jail in 2013. Liz then shows him to his room, promising that “the master” left treats on his pillow. Ramirez declines a key, however, assuring Liz Taylor that he doesn’t need one.
He then proceeds to climb into the room through a window where he finds a couple asleep in bed. He grabs a bedside lamp, casually smashes in the man’s face, and when the woman wakes up, he shows her his pentagram hand tattoo before making her “swear to Satan” she won’t scream. The woman swears, but when she sees what is left of her husband’s skull, despite promises to the Dark Lord, she begins screaming her fool head off. Night Stalker begins to strangle her with the lamp’s cord, but, somehow, she manages to break free. Lady runs terrified down the hallway, only to be caught by Mr. March himself, who urges his friend “Ricky” to finish her off.
Detective John is woken up from a nap by a call from Scarlett, basically instructing him to not pick her up from her grandmother’s house. Uh, OK? Nice to see you, Scarlett! Now, if you’d be so kind, please exit the episode.
After getting off the phone with the daughter he can’t be bothered with, Detective John notices blood pouring down from the ceiling and all over his Crazee Conspiracy Wall, and is like “Uh wuh?” He goes upstairs to investigate and finds Ghost Maid furiously scrubbing at a sheet whose blood stain not only won’t come out, but keeps spreading and spreading and spreading.
There, over a glass of sherry, Ghost Maid explains that one Halloween, her son, whom she’d dressed up in a lazy sheet ghost costume, was up and abducted while she was yakking at some other lady. Apparently, Son was taken to a chicken ranch — not a euphemism — where he was murdered along with countless other boys (and chickens). All they found of him was that sad sheet costume.
Detective John is like, “HEY, I LOST A KID TOO!” Ghost Maid is like, “Ya, I know,” before excusing herself … it’s a busy night at the hotel and she has to go get ready for The Master’s big dinner party.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chloë has re-abducted Holden the Damned back and brought him home. There, she takes his temperature, (75.5) and when he complains of being thirsty, pours him a glass of juice. When she returns, Holden of the Damned is busy draining the new Detective Family pet, Jasper, of all his delicious terrier blood. “EEP!” says Dr. Chloë. Holden of the Damned then complains of not feeling good and wanting his Mommy. Dr. Chloë is like, “WHAT AM I, CHOPPED LIVER?” But Holden complains that he wants his “other” Mommy. Ouch.
So Dr. Chloeë marches him right back to Hotel Cortez where Holden of the Damned climbs back into his swimming pool coffin, and she’s met by Lady Gaga, who promises her answers.
The two mommies retreat to Lady Gaga’s penthouse, where Lady Gaga is like, “Look, I took him from you because your idiot husband neglected him. But good news! I turned your 5-year-old into an immortal sorta-vampire, and I can do it to you, too! All you have to do is promise to be my slave. Sound good?” NO IT DOES NOT SOUND GOOD AND DR. CHLOË IS GOING TO CALL THE COPS SHE REALLY MEANS IT. Dr. Chloeë tries to run out of the penthouse, only to be cold-cocked by Tristan. But Lady Gaga orders him to let her go, Dr. Chloeë would never risk losing her one true love.
Tristan is an idiot.
Over at the police station, Detective John is researching this Chicken Ranch Murder business, shocked that he never heard of a nearby mass murder, and his cop friend is like “Oh yeah, that happened like 90 years ago and they had to change the name of the town and everything.” Detective John is like, “well that can’t be right…” but then he Googles it and sees Ghost Maid in a picture from 1925 and he’s like, “wuhhhhhh…”
Detective John is understandably a little shaken up by this, and once back at the hotel treats himself to a drink at Liz Taylor’s bar. A drink drink. A double martini drink.
And that’s when
Joe Dirt Aileen Wuornos struts into the bar and plops herself down next to Detective John.
Detective John knows he recognizes her, but when she explains that she’s the same Aileen Wuornos from that Charlize Theron movie, he’s like, “LOL, GREAT COSTUME.” As Detective John continues to drink and drink and drink, we are reminded of what, exactly, Wuornos did (kill a bunch of truck drivers in Florida). And the next thing he knows, Detective John is agreeing to take her upstairs to his room to get his Joe Dirt on. Liz Taylor tries to tell him just how unattractive this woman is, but Detective John is very drunk and very uninterested.
They go to his room where Ghost Aileen Wuornos promptly bops Detective John over the head before tying him up and yelling at him about how he’s a cop and she can’t trust him and she’s going to kill him. You know, what you might expect from the ghost of a serial killing truck stop prostitute. Struggle struggle fight fight fight, and Detective John manages to gain the upper hand, handcuffing Ghost Aileen Wuornos to the bathroom sink before rooting through her things to figure out who she “really” is. Hey! Guess what! It really is
Joe Dirt Ghost Aileen Wuornos!
Detective John then marches downstairs to confront Liz Taylor and try to call the cops, but Liz Taylor is like, “YEAH, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.” She then exposits that it’s Devil’s Night, Mr. March’s favorite holiday, and he is hosting a dinner party for a bunch of serial killers, and HEY, LOOK WHO GOT INVITED, but one Detective John. Have fun!
Detective John returns to his room to find Aileen long gone, but a garment bag on his bed, with a note from Liz Taylor, urging him to “knock [me] dead.”
So Detective John gets suited up and heads to room 78 where he is greeted affectionately by Ghost Aileen, who is all, “Sorry for trying to kill you!” His host, Mr. March, introduces Detective John to the other guests, and everyone enjoys a glass of absinthe before Detective John is like, “hey, wait, Mr. March died 85 years ago …” Quick on the uptake, this one.
Mr. March then has all of his guests introduce themselves to Detective John, including Ghost John Wayne Gacy, Ghost Jeffrey Dahmer, Ghost Richard Ramirez and Ghost Zodiac Killer. But Detective John is like, “NOPE. NOT HAPPENING.” The ghosts don’t care though, and one-by-one they explain to Detective John how coming to the Cortez Hotel and meeting Mr. March helped them become their best serial killing selves.
However, Detective John continues to be all, “NOPE. NOT HAPPENING.” And that’s when Ghost Maid brings out the “amuse bouche”: a drugged young man. Ghost Jeffrey Dahmer grabs a drill, and as he blathers on and on about wanting to control his victims and make them a part of him, Detective John manages to get his hands on his gun and shoots Ghost Jeffrey Dhamer in the chest. But this does not stop Ghost Jeffrey Dahmer on account of the whole “ghost” thing, and he continues to drill into Amuse Bouche’s skull.
Meanwhile, outside the hotel, Ghost Courtney Love strikes up a conversation with an amused douche who wants to buy drugs from her, and she’s like, “YOU GOT IT.”
Back at the dinner party, Mr. March applauds his guests as being legends before Ghost Maid brings out desert: Ghost Courtney Love’s drugged Amused Douche friend. Ghost Courtney Love confirms with Mr. March that she’s good for another year, as the Ghost Murderers grab knives and begin gleefully stabbing Amused Douche to pieces.
All of this is TOO MUCH for Detective John who collapses, screaming, like a crazy person surrounded by serial killing ghosts. So Ghost Courtney Love steps in and tells Detective John that none of this is happening, he’s just had too much wormwood, and she returns him to his room while Mr. March pouts. “HARUMPH,” says Mr. March.
Elsewhere in the hotel, who should be back in Lady Gaga’s suite but Dr. Chloë who is ready to drink some of that sweet immortal boob blood, please and thank you.
As my dear friend and fellow American Horror Story blogger Bobby put it, this episode was like “acting out a Wikipedia page…” We learn a lot about real life serial killers (fun fact: Richard Ramirez really did stay at one of the hotels that served as inspiration for this season), and the performances we great (Lily Rabe and John Carroll Lynch were, as always, amazing, and Seth Grabel was practically unrecognizable as Jeffrey Dahmer) but what did we really learn? And how are all these seemingly unrelated storylines connected?
I think it is fairly obvious that Lady Gaga will be the former Mrs. March who eventually turned her husband in to the police once she grew bored with his murderous shenanigans.
As for Detective John, his serial killer case and the Serial Killer Dinner Party, it seems Mr. March (and the show) was subtly trying to tell Detective John (and the audience) that he is the killer he is searching for. Just as Mr. March revealed to Tristan his true killer self in their first meeting, and just as Mr. March instructed all the other serial killers in the art of murder, he is trying to serve as a homicidal Obi-Won Kenobi to Detective John’s Luke. The problem is, Detective John is not consciously aware that he is even on Tatooine, much less a murder Jedi. The episode used the word “illusion” a number of times; pointedly when Detective John falls off the wagon and begins drinking again, the show muses that “control is an illusion.” Up until this night, Detective John was living under the illusion that he is not a serial killer, and, in fact, a upstanding police officer. But the moment he takes a drink and relinquishes some control over his consciousness, the illusion is stripped away.
So I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Detective John broke down mentally after Holden was abducted, gave up drinking but took up serial killing. It became his new way to cope; like Jeffrey Dahmer (and to some degree, Aileen Wuornos) explain, to assert some sort of control, even if in the clear light of day he wasn’t able to acknowledge what he is doing. And thus, all of these disparate storylines — Lady Gaga’s vampirism, Mr. March and the murder hotel, addiction, child abduction — are all neatly tied together.
But, then again, this is American Horror Story, and asking for a tidy and well-integrated plot might just be too much to ask from the people who gave us Asylum. So who knows.
American Horror Story: Hotel aired on FX.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.