American Horror Story: Hotel
November 18, 2015
Oh, look. We’ve found a secret room full of backstory. Great.
Back in 1925, Lady Gaga was a young flapper working as an extra on a film with one Rudolph Valentino, who just happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to Dead Tristan. Lady Gaga and her friend Lady Exposition discuss Valentino’s impending divorce from his wife Natacha Rambova (who was actually Winifred Shaughnessy from Salt Lake City) and how Rambova is busily ruining Valentino’s career. And that’s when some assistant director passes Lady Gaga a note from Valentino with his address on it. They cut the part where the assistant director shouts at Valentino that this is not his job, dammit.
Lady Gaga arrives on Valentino’s doorstep that evening for a private dinner. Over Italian wine, Lady Gaga reveals that her parents are Italian, like Valentino, not that you would know that based on whatever the hell accent this is supposed to be. German? Ukrainian? Mandarin? Because whatever it is, it’s most certainly not Italian, Finn Wittrock. They discuss art and film and immortality, and then start dancing which is when Mrs. Valentino interrupts and is like, “OH HAI, STRANGER DANCING WITH MY HUSBAND.” But she’s not (very) jealous, it’s not like that and the next thing you know we’re in the middle of a naked Rudolph Valentino sandwich.
Sometime later (August 23, 1926 to be precise) Lady Gaga and Lady Exposition attend a party being hosted by Mr. March at his hotel, which is where the news is announced that Valentino has died. Lady Gaga, despondent, thinks about hurling herself out a window, but is stopped by a smitten Mr. March.
Lady Gaga goes on to marry March, obviously. The two have crazy, censor-defyingly violent sex. At some point in their marriage she catches him in the midst of practicing his homicidal hobbies. But instead of disapproving, she encourages him to stop hunting hobos, and instead focus on wealthier victims.
But though she’s married, she never stops loving Valentino (and to a lesser degree Natacha) and Lady Gaga becomes the Lady in Black who leaves roses at Valentino’s tomb. It’s on one of her visits to the tomb that Natacha appears, and reveals that Valentino is very much not dead, and, in fact — LOL, SURPRISE! — with her right now.
And right there at his tomb, Valentino is like, “Hey, I’ve got an idea, let’s all stand around my tomb where my fans routinely gather to pay tribute to me and talk about how not only am I not dead, but I am actually a vampire because the guy who directed Nosferatu thought that my career would suffer once sound is introduced to motion pictures so he granted me immortality and a hankering for A positive. All of this just makes sense.”
And then Lady Gaga agrees to become a vampire with them. Yay, vampire buddies!
Except before the trio can run off together, Mr. March has his goons abduct Valentino and Natacha, has them thrown them into one of his hotel rooms, and seals off the entire hallway with a wall made of reinforced steel and bricks. Hospitality at its finest!
As it turns out, Mr. March’s trap was quite effective, and it is only when Will Drake is renovating the hotel to make room for his atelier some 90 years later is it revealed that there is this secret wall. Drake has his construction workers cut it open, thereby releasing a very dusty and very hungry pair of Valentinos who immediately feast on their liberators. NOM NOM NOM.
The Valentinos then eat that awful realtor lady from “Murder House,” Marcy. The couple takes a little break to quarrel about Lady Gaga, with Natacha blaming her for all their problems, before turning their attentions to a trio of Australians who appear to have come directly from a cartoon about the Outback. NOM NOM NOM. (And R.I.P. Marcy.)
And that’s how Rudolph Valentino and Natacha got their groove back.
As to where they got their wardrobe, that’s a whole other question.
Iris alerts Lady Gaga to the hole in the wall, and they are both like, “Uhhhhhh….”
Then Lady Gaga joins her Ghost Husband for dinner where she informs March that she’s marrying Will Drake. March toasts her choice before instructing her to murder him off the property, as it would be uncomfortable for him to keep running into him here in the hotel. Lady Gaga huffs that she might have finally found true love for the first time, and March is like, “OH COME ON. I KNOW ABOUT VALENTINO,” before revealing the whole walling him in out of jealousy business. Lady Gaga is not amused, and she is even less amused when she learns that Rudy has been released.
Meanwhile, on a completely unrelated show, Former Detective John has himself institutionalized after he showed up at his former job to rant about the Ten Commandments Killer and attack his partner. As he visits with his psychiatrist, he explains that his family is scared of him so he’s pretty sure he’s where he belongs, safely locked away.
Which is why it is confusing when later he attacks a security guard and breaks into another room where he finds one of Lady Gaga’s Children of the Damned, Wren. Wren is in a psych hold because she was at the televangelist murder scene? And she killed a security guard? And she wouldn’t talk to the cops? And she explains to John that she was at the other Ten Commandment Killer’s murder scenes, too?
HOW. WHY. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
But this is the story we’re going with, apparently. Wren assures John that whatever “he” did, it’s not John’s fault, which reminds John of his daughter? She tells John that he’s nothing like her father, before launching into a flashback:
1986, and her father was making gross comments about how he couldn’t wait for her to grow up and be his little lady. This one time, her father left her in a hot car, which is where Lady Gaga found her and “saved” her by turning her into a tiny little fauxpire.
Anyway, the point of all this is that Wren can take John to the Ten Commandments Killer because she knows where he lives. “Let’s go!” says John, and they break out of the hospital. However, once outside, John is like, “Alright, take me to him so I can kill him!” And Wren becomes all sad, telling him, “I like you, I hate to see it end.” With that, she tells John goodbye before running out in front of a speeding truck.
And dumb dumb, terrible John is all, “Wait, what?” because he is an idiot and a terrible detective and this show is making no sense.
This episode, you guys. It made me so tired. Was it the 40 minutes we spent on the Valentino story? Was it Finn Wittrock’s abysmal Italian accent (SRSLY, THO)? Was it the introduction of yet more new characters we don’t care about? Was it the whole “by the way here’s this vampire girl who is part of the whole serial killer plot line, don’t worry about why or how, oh and now she’s dead” pile of terrible writing? Was it the lack of Liz Taylor (yes, always)? Or was it all of these things together that made this one of the worst episodes of American Horror Story not just of this season, but of the series?
Don’t get me wrong: for the most part I am enjoying this hit or miss season. I don’t love it as much as “Murder House” or “Coven,” but it is leaps and bounds better than “Freak Show” and “Asylum,” certainly. It’s stylish and sexy and has legitimate moments of pure creepiness. And I have to admit that Lady Gaga basically playing herself fits right in to the American Horror Story universe.
But I worry that we have come to the place in the season where the writers start spinning their wheels until the inevitable conclusion wherein everybody dies — with maybe Liz Taylor being the last one standing. (Fingers crossed.) I didn’t hate the writers’ inclusion of historical figures (it was no Anne Frank debacle, that’s for sure), but the entire Valentino storyline felt like 45 minutes of story that could have been told in 10. It was entirely too much stretching, too much filler. In contrast, John’s story was so disjointed as to be incomprehensible. I understand that the writers are trying to tell the story of John’s mental disintegration through his perspective, but the result is dreary repetitive tedium and glowering. So much glowering. He’s the Ten Commandments Killer, we get it, move along, there’s really not that much to see here.
Let’s hope when AHS returns from its Thanksgiving break in two weeks, they’ve righted the ship — and included more Liz Taylor.
American Horror Story: Hotel aired on FX.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.