‘American Horror Story: Hotel’: Checking out

American Horror Story: Hotel
“Be Our Guest”
January 13, 2016

It’s been about a year since the two people with any sort of claim of ownership to the hotel have gone missing (were murdered), and Iris and Liz Taylor have put into motion their grand reopening. Having sold Lady Gaga’s extensive art collection to fund a remodel of some of the rooms, the ladies are hoping for a four-star review from a pair of travel bloggers to get the word out. And they’ve got everything in place: complimentary champagne, recently redesigned room, 400-count Egyptian cotton sheets, and a Toto self-cleaning wonder toilet. However, they neglected to hire the psychic from Poltergeist to clean the hotel of murder ghosts, and before the bloggers can even unpack, one is given a lethal dose of heroin by Ghost Courtney Love and the other is stabbed in the neck by a now homicidal Will Drake. WHY SO ANGRY, WILL DRAKE?

Needless to say, Liz Taylor and Iris are NOT AMUSED at this behavior and call a ghost meeting down in the bar. There, our Swedes and Gay Lumberjack and Will Drake and Ghost Courtney Love and Marcy the Realtor and I think Porn Star all get a sound lecturing from Liz Taylor who implores them not to kill the guests — even though it’s only really Ghost Courtney Love and Will Drake who are doing all the ghost murder, and they aren’t interested in quitting.


That’s when Mr. March appears and explains that he’s surprisingly siding with Iris and Liz Taylor on this one: NO MORE GHOST MURDER. The thing is, the hotel will be up for historic landmark status if they can keep the hotel open through 2026. And for you ghost dummies who don’t get the significance of that, landmark status means the hotel can’t be torn down and their spirits be sent to who-even-knows-where. (Except in Texas. In Texas, it just means you have to fill out a few more forms to tear a building down.)

Will Drake protests that his lawyers will continue paying for upkeep, but Iris and Liz Taylor regretfully inform him that without his presence, his fashion house is going under, and his stock is worth pennies. And then Ghost Courtney Love has a snit about not being allowed to continue ghost murdering people in search of her soul mate, and Mr. March is like, “too bad, so sad.”


To smooth things over with Ghost Courtney Love, Liz Taylor goes to her room with a gift: a smart phone, the password to the hotel’s new free wifi connection and a bunch of social media accounts so she can be the literal “ghost in the machine.” In no time at all, Ghost Courtney Love finds herself a social media star, somehow, despite posting clichéd Instagram pictures of lipstick and needles, bad teenage poetry and videos filmed in portrait mode. Ghost Courtney Love is so sustained by the attention that she even throws her heroin kit out the window. Happy ending #1!

As for Will Drake, to discourage him from ghost murdering all the guests, Liz Taylor hands him a sketch pad and encourages him to start designing again. Here’s the plan: Liz Taylor will be his representative out in the real world, they’ll spin a story about how he is holed up in his hotel, ala Howard Hughes, and they revitalize his fashion house. Deal! (Oh, and also, too, we learn that Liz Taylor has shipped Will Drake’s son, Lachlan, off to get a haircut some private boarding school in Ojai called The Thacher School, which incidentally is a real place.)

Liz Taylor marches into a board meeting for Will Drake’s company, announces that she’s in charge now, is bolstered by a lawyer who met with Will Drake at the hotel, and fires the one man who tries to challenge her. So that was easy! And with that, Will Drake finds himself re-inspired, begins hosting highly exclusive fashion shows at the hotel with ghost and fauxpire models, and becomes a huge success again. Happy ending #2!

But, Liz Taylor would be lying if she didn’t admit that the fashion shows don’t remind her of her one true love for five minutes, Tristan, who since his death has not been paying Liz Taylor any visits. Even though there seems to be very little difference from not being a ghost to being a ghost, and they could have had a relationship with no trouble at all. Aside from the whole “can’t leave the building” issue, what, honestly, changes? According to “Murder House,” ghosts are not just capable of having the sex, they’re capable of reproducing.


But I digress. The point is, Iris hires Billie Dean Howard, the psychic from season one and who is now something of a television star, to try to reconnect Liz Taylor with Tristan. And Billie Dean does connect with him! Only to have Tristan tell her that he has nothing to say to Liz Taylor. This sends Liz Taylor into despair, convinced that Tristan is still angry with her for getting him killed. Which, fair enough!

Oh, and Billie Dean gives Iris a message from Donovan, something about pancakes, and that he loves her. Happy ending #3!

Liz Taylor, having been rejected by her ghost boyfriend, spends the next years reconnecting with her son and his wife and their baby, which is very sweet. And then, sometime later, she learns that she has inoperable prostate cancer. Rather than allow Ramona to turn her, Liz Taylor instead goes to her ghost friends and asks them to ghost murder her, which they are happy to do.

But before they can do the deed, who should materialize but Lady Gaga to claim the honors for herself. After all, Liz Taylor was always Lady Gaga’s favorite creation, who better to help with her final transformation. And with that, Lady Gaga slits Liz Taylor’s throat. Once transformed, Liz Taylor is welcomed into the spirit world by none other than Tristan who explains that he never hated her: she had more living to do, and he didn’t want to get in the way of that. And now they are together forever. Happy ending #4!

Over on a completely unrelated show: the conclusion of John’s story. We jump ahead to Devil’s Night, 2022, where Billie Dean has made the hotel quite famous in her television specials, and Iris has had ENOUGH. And that’s when John shows up at the hotel and offers to take care of the problem for her. John explains that ever since he became a ghost, Billie Dean has been trying to contact him, wanting to talk to the famed Ten Commandments Killer. “Well, go ahead and call her,” John instructs. “Let her know I’m ready to chat. But it has to be today.”

Billie Dean sets up her camera crew in Room 64 and “summons” John who tells us her his story: After being reunited with his family they all went on the lam for a while. But staying at stinky motels and drinking dog blood is no kind of life, so they headed back to the hotel with the exception of Scarlett, whom they also shipped off to the Thacher School, with what money, I don’t know. As for whether or not his family knew about his little murder hobby, yes, and they were cool with it, because of reasons. One night while he was out hunting (to bring back blood for Dr. Chloé and Holden), he found himself in a shootout with the cops a mere few steps away from the Cortez. Though he tried to make it inside, he didn’t quite get there before dying.

Billie Dean asks him why she only feels his presence in the hotel on October 30th, and John explains that it’s “Devil’s Night,” a holiday he can explain better if she’s willing to leave her camera crew behind and go upstairs with him.

So they head up to Mr. March’s suite where the annual serial killer party is in full swing. Billie Dean, once she realizes who, exactly, she is partying with, declares that she is surrounded herself with “white light” so as to protect herself. John is all, “LOL, OK.” The killers offer her a drink and shove her in a chair and threaten to make her their “party favor,” unless she promises to never talk publicly about the Hotel Cortez ever again. Billie Dean reminds them (stupidly) that she can promise them whatever they want to hear, but since they can’t leave the hotel (Which, wait, no, though? Aside from John March, none of them died in the hotel? So why would any of them be bound by it?), they can’t hold her to the arrangement. And that’s when Ramona bursts into the room, explains that she’s alive and a bloodsucker and can go wherever she damn well pleases and would be more than happy to hunt Billie Dean down if she utters one more word about the Hotel Cortez. Wait, so why didn’t Ramona just threaten her in the first place? Anyway, the point is Billie Dean has better luck than Queenie, R.I.P.,  and is released screaming into the night.


That bit of business done, John heads back to his room where Dr. Chloé and Holden are asleep in his bed, and a grown-up Scarlett is half-asleep in a chair. He thanks his daughter for coming to see him, and she’s like, “Hey! It’s no big deal for me to hang out one night a year with my undead mother and brother and my ghost dad, all of whom abandoned me! Why would any part of this be weird for me?”


And then John climbs into bed next to Dr. Chloé and holds Scarlett’s hand and goes to sleep because, yeah, duh, ghosts sleep. Obviously. And somehow Ghost Courtney Love doesn’t come shrieking into the room and stab them all with hypodermic needles while sobbing hideously. Happy ending #5!

Finally, down in the bar, Lady Gaga hits on some young thing with a “jawline for days.” Happy ending #6! I guess!

OK! I’m not going to belabor this finale, because, honestly, what’s the point. Instead I’ll just note that while I admire how well the writers managed to wrap up the story and answer many of my questions, including:

  1. Where’s Tristan?
  2. Where’s Will Drake’s kid?
  3. Wait, did Lady Gaga kill Ramona?
  4. So, how are they going to explain Holden to people?
  5. If all these people who died in the hotel are ghosts stuck there forever, where are they?

… the writers did leave some other questions hanging:

  1. Wait, where’s Lady Gaga’s Murder House baby? What happened to Bartholomew?
  2. So, if Lady Gaga kills Natacha in the hotel, isn’t she stuck with her forever and ever? What kind of plan is that?
  3. None of the witches are interested in what happened to Queenie? Really?
  4. And where is Queenie’s ghost? I’d have liked to have seen her come for Ramona after Ramona had her killed, especially now that we know ghost > witch > immortal.
  5. What ever happened to the guy in John’s trunk in the previous episode? WHAT HAPPENED TO TRUNK GUY? I’M NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO SLEEP UNTIL I KNOW ABOUT TRUNK GUY!

What about you: have any unanswered questions about this season?

As for next season, the writers didn’t seem to put many obvious clues for what the theme will be in this season. There are some who thought that Scarlett’s comment about radiation in her sushi might suggest a nuclear test/Area 51 theme; others thought the mention of Little Women (and the fact that Mr. March shares the same last name as the protagonists in that novel) must mean something. Maybe a Civil War theme?

However, this episode curiously name-checked the Thacher School twice, and also mentioned Howard Hughes who went to the Thacher School. It’s unlikely that American Horror Story will do a school setting — they’ve already done “Coven” after all. But perhaps there is a hint in the time period of the founding of the Thacher School, the late 1880s, and the location of the Thacher School, the West Coast. Maybe it will be a post-Civil War/pioneer/Native Americans being pushed out of their lands theme? Maybe American Horror Story: Frontier?  Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be overwrought, not entirely thought out and probably a hot mess. See you then!

American Horror Story: Hotel aired on FX.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.

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