American Horror Story: Hotel – Season Recap, the Season That Tricked Me

 

  So here we are, once again, at the end of another season of American Horror Story. The good news is it didn’t make me want to hurl my TV through a window like I did after wasting 13 weeks on that garbage that was the Freak Show season. This season had some good, yet predictable story lines; the character back stories were really the best part of the show. Additionally, other than blessing us with the gift of Liz Taylor, I was extremely appreciative of the writers omitting the song and dance numbers. This season, rather than have the characters break out into a random song and dance, they dubbed some pretty wonderful tunes over various scenes. Listen, I get that this show is brought to us by the creators of the comedy-drama Glee, but when I’m watching a scene in which a sadistic killer-clown is slashing through people like someone angrily trying to cut their way into an overly sealed package, and then am thrown into a musical diddy that features Jessica Lange belting out a Lana Del Rey song, well, it tends to take me out of the moment a bit. But what about the Donovan/Hotline Bling scene? Don’t you worry my friends, I’ll get to that. Anyway, I was going to write a piece about this season prior to the season finale, but after watching the finale I just decided to combine it all. The season finale, just like in the other seasons, ruined it for me which meant there was no point in trying to write an entire piece on the ending. If you saw it then you know what I’m talking about.

Let’s begin with everything we learned about the Hotel Cortez in the very first episode. The Countess (Lady Gaga) is a vampire who apparently kidnaps kids; if you die in the hotel sucks to be you because you’re stuck there, FOR-E-VER (like the death house in season one); Hypodermic Sally is super into shooting people up with heroin, and then crying about it as well as everything else; we’re introduced to the series’ greatest character ever, Liz; Iris (Kathy Bates) isn’t dead but stuck in the hotel; and we meet detective John Lowe, a cop who is hunting a serial killer and moves into the hotel with the belief that that’s where they’re hiding, and also he has a wife named Alex who is kind of a dick.

Now, here is what has transpired this season. We’ll start with John Lowe. So he moves into the Hotel Cortez hell bent on catching the Ten Commandments killer: a serial killer whose victims are people who break one of the Ten Commandments, kind of like Dexter but not as lovable. When he first moves into the hotel he’s sober John, and we later find out it’s because he went on a 2-day drinking binge after working a particularly disturbing crime scene, and then when he finally went home he took his family to a carnival by the beach in an attempt to make up for his behavior and instead of making things right he lost his son. It was a really bad week for John. His sobriety doesn’t last long in the Hotel Cortez; while there he has seen his son Holden who is seemingly frozen in time, the killings haven’t stopped, he’s being taunted by the killer, and to top it off he gets invited to and attends a party on Halloween night that is also host to some of the most infamous serial killers in the world, and they’re dead. Wait, why did detective John Lowe get invited to a party full of serial killer ghosts? Simple. Because, as it turns out, Mr. John Lowe, predictably, is the Ten Commandments serial killer, something you probably caught onto a couple of sentences ago. Here’s what happened: during his alcohol binge he somehow wound up at the Hotel Cortez where he was introduced to James March (I’ll get to him in a bit). Basically James and the Countess get him to become the serial killer. So how did the writers pull off this great secret that we all kind of realized in episode 4? It appears as though John had selective amnesia and couldn’t remember being a serial killer, and it isn’t until he annoys the piss out of everyone that Liz finally makes Hypodermic Sally tell him what’s up. And then he’s like “oh yea, I do kill people. LOL.” He gets back to killing and seems to really enjoy it but one day, and just short of one kill, like someone who gets down to “one bottle of beer on the wall” and calls it a day, he decides he’s over it. What made him up-and-quit? Well, his wife, who had since filed for divorce, is back.

That’s right, his wife, who was kind of an asshole but now we completely understand why, is back. Where was she? Well, you see, after hearing from both her husband and daughter (will get to her soon) that Holden was still alive and living at the hotel, she decides she’s had enough BS for one lifetime and personally serves John with divorce papers. As she leaves she spots a child down one of the hallways, a child none other than forever-a-five-year-old Holden. She finds out he’s a vampire and that the Countess is responsible for his transformation, so she confronts the Countess. The Countess offers her the opportunity to become a vampire in exchange for watching over her Village of the Damned kids for all eternity. Sold! She accepts. But being a doctor by day and vampire by night proves to be a little too difficult for her. How? Ok, so she has a nine-year-old patient who has a severe case of the measles, none of the meds are working and he is basically on the outs. So like any doctor would do she turns him into a vampire, who then turns all of his friends into vampires, who then start killing everyone, because vampires. The Countess finds out and tells Alex to get her Lord Of The Flies creation under control or she’ll kill both her and Holden. So she meets with John and comes clean about everything: she’s a vampire, Holden is a vampire, everyone is a vampire, and can he help her capture the vampire kids. John is like “ok but we still have another kid” and Alex is like “yea, right, Charlotte, I haven’t forgotten about her.” Well neither had we so I was glad that they finally mentioned that she still existed as opposed to making her disappear like ABC did with that middle child from the show Family Matters. They decide to deal with Charlotte later, right now they’ve got killer kids to catch. They eventually find the kids, lure them back to the Hotel and give them a permanent time out by locking them in the sealed corridor that was created by James but perfected by the Countess. Nothing brings a couple together like locking children away to ensure a drawn out and painful demise; they’re a family again and, along with Holden, they leave the Hotel. As they leave Hypodermic Sally, who is more unstable than usual, screams at John like she’s on day 1 of detox, and looking about as homicidal as the sensors will allow. What does she scream at him? That she’s going to kill him, like all jilted lovers.

So why is Hypodermic Sally completely losing her shit? Well, it turns out that being a serial killer wasn’t the only thing ol’ John Lowe forgot, he was also banging Sally. Wait, so Sally is alive and stuck in the Hotel? No, no she’s not. She’s dead. After shooting up Donovan (Iris’ son, and someone I’ll be getting too soon) Iris finds him dead (or so she thinks) in Sally’s room and pushed her out of a window. So she didn’t exactly die in the Hotel but close enough. When John became a regular of the Hotel he also became Sally’s bang buddy, for reasons unbeknownst to me. So naturally, when he gets back together with his wife Hypodermic Sally freaks the fuck out, and if there’s anything we’ve learned from the movie Fatal Attraction it’s that Sally will not be ignored. Knowing that the best way to keep them together is by killing him in the Hotel, she recruits the Countess to help her lure him back and kill him. (This is really all there is to say about Sally because she’s the most irritating character on this season, the entire series, in the entire world)

Why would the Countess help Sally? Because Sally saved her life, of course. Here’s how this all went down. The Countess has been pissing people off left and right for the last several decades. She didn’t always used to be a dick, though. She started out as a shy actress in love with her co-star, Rudy Valentino. He was into her too and thus began their love affair, a love affair that included his wife, Natasha. One day he fakes his death and then the Countess is sad forever. To take away her sadness she marries James March, the millionaire who built the Hotel Cortez. Surprise! He kills people but it’s cool because he’s rich and she likes things. So she’s happy in all of her riches when one day, while visiting the grave of her great love, Rudy Valentino, his wife appears out of nowhere and the Countess gets pissed. Natasha (Valentino’s wife) is like “calm down, he’s not even dead.” And then boom, like a vision he walks towards the Countess and they all promise to be together 4-eva. They’re scheduled to runaway together but the Countess is stood up at the train station and she never sees them again. After her husband, James March, kills himself (we’ll get there) she travels around the world, breaking hearts and racking up more money. Eventually she ends up with Donovan. Surprise! He’s not dead, she turned him into a vampire. So she likes him until a model named Tristan comes along and then she likes Tristan. Then she pretends to like Will Drake (new owner of Hotel Cortez) so she can marry him and take his money, but let’s Tristan know he has nothing to worry about. She only has eyes for him. Tristan doesn’t really care though because he’s in love, with Liz. Liz confesses to the Countess she’s in love with Tristan, the Countess is pissed, and she kills Tristan, in front of Liz! Meanwhile, Will Drake is still in the middle of remodeling the Hotel. His contractor stumbles upon a part of the Hotel that isn’t in the plans and Will Drake makes them tear down the wall to keep the construction moving. Well, wouldn’t you know it, Valentino and his wife Natasha didn’t stand the Countess up. They were locked away in that sealed up corridor the whole time, ha ha. It wasn’t so ha ha for the construction workers because do you know what happens to a vampire who hasn’t fed in decades? They’re thirsty. That’s not a one-liner, that’s what happened. They go on a killing spree and get back to their old selves. And then the Countess finds out, she finds them and puts together a plan to get lots of money, get rid of Natasha and then her and Valentino can live happily ever after. After that she manages to get Will to marry her, thus producing one of the best scenes of the season.

(Images from Tumbler)

Anyway, the Countess marries Will Drake and after he meets her kid (yes, the Countess has a kid: a half vampire/half monster thing) and calls the kid a monster (which it was) she kills him, in the Hotel. To be fair she was going to kill him anyway. So now he’s dead and after reporting him missing she gives a statement to the cops while doing her best impression of what she would be like as an animatronic at Madame Tussauds (she did win a Golden Globe so I guess what do I know about acting). Just when it looks like she’s gotten away with it, ghost Will Drake walks in on her robot-esque performance and is like “I’m back, I just got lost for a little bit is all.” So now she has to come up with a different plan to get his riches and after some thought she hatches a little scheme that involves Donovan. Nothing major, she just needs him to get Will’s rotting corpse out from the sealed up corridor and stash it someplace where the police will find it and discover that he’s dead and then she’ll get the money. She discusses this ingenious plan over dinner and Donovan is like, “yea, I’ll help you out. But I’ll need you to help me out. I blew your boyfriends face off and left him at his hotel and someone should probably go clean him up. Do we have a deal?” It turns out Donovan found out he wasn’t her one-and-only, tracked down Valentino and killed him, ironically (not really) at the same time the Countess killed Natasha. After discovering Valentino’s body she’s pissed and heads back to the Hotel to find Donovan, which she does. She walks in her room to find, what looks like, Donovan reenacting the Hotline Bling skit from Saturday Night Live. (If you haven’t seen it I suggest you YouTube it this second. I’ll give you a minute) She’s ready to kill him and he’s like “that’s how much I love you, you can kill me!” which makes no sense but Donovan has been a first class vagina this entire season so it does make sense for him. So then the Countess is like, “huh, maybe I do still like you”, and just when you think they’re about to do it in walks Liz and Iris with guns blazing.

TV Time with Typical JennTV Time with Typical Jenn“OMG, IRIS FINALLY HAD ENOUGH AND KILLED HER OWN SON?!” I thought the same thing and as happy as I was about it, because Donovan was a prick to her, that wasn’t exactly the case. So prior to Iris going gangsta she’d had a pretty rough go in life, especially with her son. After tracking Donovan down at the Hotel Cortez and watching him nearly die of an overdose, Iris decides to stay close to her now-vampire son for the rest of her life. So she takes a job as the front desk clerk at the Hotel and does everything she can to be a part of Donovan’s life. He, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with her and after the Countess dumps him he throws a big boy tantrum which included telling Iris to just kill herself, even after Iris tried to help him get away from the Countess and help him start a new life, er, afterlife, whatever. Well she’s so distraught about Donovan being such an asshole (I really did not like this kid) that she decides to kill herself; she recruits Hypodermic Sally to help her, and because Iris killed Sally, Sally is more than happy to help. Then the most least expected thing happens: Donovan interrupts her suicide attempt and turns her into a vampire so she’ll live. Why, you ask? Because being jilted sometimes makes you want revenge and he, as well as Ramona Royale (we’ll get there), needs her help to take down the Countess. Iris is down and just when she thinks it’s Go Time she discovers it was all a trick: Donovan conspires with the Countess to capture Ramona, which he does, and he locks her away in the Iron Maiden: a steal contraption used to drain victims of their blood and now, keep someone hostage. So Iris is like “oh goddamn you’re an idiot, the Countess just going to kill you.” Ramona seconds that and Donovan is like “nuh-uh”. At this point Iris has fucking had it (and so had the rest of America) so when she finds Liz attempting to kill herself (be patient, we’ll get there) she convinces her to wait and they’ll do it together. When the time comes around for them to kill themselves Iris is ready, and she’s created the world’s saddest funeral video to prove it. But Liz drops a bomb: she’s not ready to die as she has made amends with her son. Iris starts throwing a pity party when Liz basically tells her “get it together and let’s just run this place.” Their first item of business: kill the Countess. Only problem is they were completely unaware that Donovan was in her room too, so they accidentally shoot him. He manages to stay alive long enough for Liz and Iris to get him out of the Hotel, and then he finally dies. Iris mourns him, in fact she kinds of bathes in his ashes, and then it’s time to get back down to business: they need to find the Countess. Yup, she managed to survive the shooting and scamper off. Iris and Liz know they can’t kill the Countess on their own so they decide to ask Ramona Royale for help….

You mean the same Ramona that was tricked and managed to get herself locked away? Yes, that Ramona. It was a long shot, seeing as how Ramona was pissed at Iris for not releasing her sooner, but Ramona wanted to see the Countess dead just as bad as everyone else. You see, Ramona used to be a movie star. Well, a B-movie star but a movie star nonetheless. Then she met the Countess, the Countess turned her into a vampire, and her career went to shit. The Countess ends up leaving her (duh) but Ramona manages to find her true love: a man that she is just about to turn into a vampire when the Countess bursts in and kills him. Oh, and side note: these vampires, who are supposed to posses super human strength kill all their victims by using guns. So I don’t know but that just seems lazy. Anyway, Ramona moves back home in an attempt to get her vampire life back together. She’s there for 20 years before she has to kill her dad (she made him a vampire to cure his Alzheimer’s but unfortunately it just kept him in a trance-like state) and then decides to rejoin the real world. When she does she realizes that everyone has been watching her movies (for free) and she starts to get recognized which pisses her off even more because she starts to remember everything that was taken away. Now she’s ready for revenge. Soooo, after drinking the blood of a witch, who was also a human voodoo doll, she feels strong enough to kill the Countess. BUT, when she tries the Countess somehow seduces her and Ramona falls for it.  As you may have already guessed, they do it. So then afterwards the Countess leaves and right when she opens the elevator something happens that I had been waiting all goddamn season for. She. Gets. Killed. And it’s at the hands of none other than John Lowe himself, the very person she was supposed to kill. Dun, Dun, Dun! It actually wasn’t that incredible, I was just happy someone finally killed her.

But if John left the Hotel for good, why did he go back to kill the Countess? Easy. Because he believed James March kidnapped his family in an attempt to get him to finish the Ten Commandments killings, the last one being Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder. So John killed the Countess because she was a murderer, which James was super happy with because she would be trapped in the Hotel with him forever. That’s right, this whole thing is James March’s fault. Fucking everything. He built the Hotel back in the 20’s so he could have a hiding place for all of his murders. Then he married the Countess and she was cool with him being a murderer because he gave her lots of money. So one day the police find out he’d been killing tons of people and he, along with his trusty maid, decide to off themselves. Now they’re part of the Hotel forever (which the maid loves because she’s in love with James) and he can still kill people (which he loves because serial killers). So throughout the years he trains some of the most infamous serial killers how to be, well, serial killers. So he’s to blame for that too. And that’s really all there is to say about James: he’s a serial killer who still kills people even though he’s dead and helps make other people serial killers now he gets to spend eternity with the Countess because she’s dead, again.

So now we’re finally at the end. FINALLY. You ready to find out how it ends? Brace yourself: everyone lives happily ever after. I’m not joking. This show that has the word Horror in the title allows for everyone to live happily ever after. So Hypodermic Sally and Will Drake are so pissed off about being dead that they just start killing every guest that stays at the Hotel, which really puts a cramp in Iris and Liz’s business plan: keep the Hotel going long enough to become a historic monument thus making it impossible to tear down. So they have a meeting and naturally Will and Sally are like “you’re not the boss of us.” Iris finds a way to help Sally and Liz finds a way to help Drake. Starting with Sally, Iris gets her an iPhone and gets her set up on every social media site she can. Turns out Sally was just lonely and now she won’t be because she can reach out to strangers all over the world. As you may have suspected her first posts are about sadness and they’re whiny, which is just what social media needs: more people using social media as a therapist. But then she starts to post happy things, I guess, and Sally and her iPhone live happily ever after. (until the screen cracks, am I right?!)

And how does Liz help Will Drake? She takes over his business, which started falling apart shortly after he died, and gets it back on its feet. She uses his business plan to help the Hotel, which it only kind of helps. Either way, Will Drake is happy to have his business up-and-running again. There’s more about Liz but I’m saving her story for last, because like the rest of America I love her.

So what happened to everyone else? Well, the police finally discovered that John Lowe was the Ten Commandments killer and him and his family go on the lamb. It’s not working out very well so Charlotte is finally like, “we need to go home.” And by home she meant the Hotel Cortez, so they all move back in. One night John is out killing someone to get blood for his family when it turns out, the police were on to him the whole time. He tries to run back into the Hotel but is shot just feet from the front door. He tries to crawl to the door in order to die in the Hotel but the police don’t let it happen. Alex and Holden still live in the Hotel, John only sees them on Devils Night (Halloween), and Charlotte is the only one being normal, as normal as you can be with a vampire mother and brother and a dead, serial killer dad. The Countess is stuck in the Hotel forever with James March. Ramona is stuck there too because it appears as though the Countess killed her after they did it. Listen, basically just everyone lives there. Iris is trying to keep the Hotel afloat but it’s not as easy as she thought it would be. They never go into detail on what happens to the Hotel but who cares. Let’s get to Liz.

Oh Liz. The primary reason I watched this season. While everyone else was off being assholes, crazy, killers, vampires, and robots, Liz was off being fabulous. How did Liz become Liz? Well, she started out as a man living a lie. She was a married, traveling salesman who would cross-dress whenever he had the chance. One night, while staying at the Hotel Cortez, the Countess walks in on her wearing lingerie and Liz kind of freaks out. But the Countess, and I think this is the only time I liked her, comforts Liz and does something that changes her life: she transforms Liz into the goddess she was always meant to be. So Liz decides to stay at the Hotel and continue to be awesome. When she meets Tristan they begin a love affair and she believes she has found her true love. But Tristan belonged to the Countess at the time and the Countess was not cool with it, so she kills Tristan in front of Liz. From then on, Liz hates the Countess and wants her dead. At one point the pain of living without Tristan becomes too unbearable and Liz decides she wants to kill herself. Iris catches her and convinces her to take care of her unfinished business and then they’ll kill themselves together. Well, Liz’s unfinished business is reconnecting with the son she abandoned. She gets Ms. Evers (James March’s maid) to call her son and invite him to the Hotel. Side note: Ms. Evers ends her conversations with “I must away now” and now I will end all conversations like that too. Anyway, Liz’s son goes to the Hotel, manages to not get killed, and him and Liz develop a relationship which makes Liz reconsider committing suicide. After convincing Iris to do the same they agree to work on taking over the Hotel together, which they end up doing. In addition to the Hotel Liz takes over Will Drake’s business, which is all about fashion and just perfect for her. She also becomes a grandmother. Everything is coming up Milhouse for Liz when she discovers she has prostate cancer and it’s terminal. She doesn’t want to suffer so she decides to have the regulars (ghosts) of the Hotel kill her so she can stay in the Hotel forever. Just when Hypodermic Sally is about to kill her, in walks the Countess. Liz is oddly happy to see her, and the Countess reveals that Liz was always her favorite creation, and then the Countess kills her. As ghost Liz stands over her body, Tristan appears and then they live happily ever after, something he could’ve just done from the beginning.

A writer from Vanity Fair wrote that the season finale was emotional. I hope that by emotional they meant sappy. Sorry but when the show is supposed to be based around all things Horror but ends with a Brady Bunch feel, I have a problem with it. In addition, the only relevance that the title American Horror Story: Hotel had was that a bunch of lunatics lived in the Hotel. It could’ve been called American Horror Story: Halfway House and it would’ve had the same effect. And there was almost no lead up to the end, if that makes sense. It just kind of felt like the writers were told “make all of the characters happy forever” and then the writers just said “fuck it” and wrote the ending in an 7 minutes. There were things left undisclosed and it was all so abrupt. I was tricked into believing this would be a creepy season (seasons 1 and 2 were kind of creepy) but at the end of the day it was vampires, ghosts, serial killers, rainbows, unicorns and fairy tales. Like I said earlier, it wasn’t that bad when it started, but the end really took a nose dive. The next season is American Horror Story: Cabin Fever and I’m already swearing off it, even though I’ll probably watch it. Here is my prediction for the show: It’ll be a cross between ‘Freddy VS Jason’ and that old Nickelodeon show ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’, and the season finale will just be all of them singing kumbaya around a campfire which they’ll put out with a cup of water just like the Midnight Society ended all of their ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ episodes. Either way I’m sure I’ll take one for the team and watch it, and then write about it. Oh, and if you’re wondering whatever happened to the vampire kids that were assholes: Ramona ate them. You’re welcome.

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