I am a huge American Horror Story fan. I've enjoyed the previous seasons to varying degrees and decided to recap this season because it is rumoured to include vampires which immediately piqued my interest. I am hoping for a sexy, thrilling, bloody season that will remind me of the first season.
If you read my Once Upon A Time recaps you’ll know I am quite wordy (sorry) and that I tend to gush about things and do give very FULL recaps. There will be spoilers, so read at your own risk.
With that… Let’s check into Hotel Cortez!
We begin this season with two girls checking into the Hotel Cortez (both blonde, pretty, possibly Swedish). Ryan Murphy favours these long shots that both distort and lengthen the room and add an ambience and feel to the hotel immediately.
The hotel is certainly beautiful, and immediate bonus points are given for the hotel having similar carpeting as the ones in The Shining!
While they are not an EXACT match, there is enough similarity to be considered an homage. The pattern, and colouring are especially similar.
The girls pass rooms where questionable things are obviously happening and they timidly inquire about WiFi to which they are told that the hotel is a dead spot. No WiFi, no phones, or anything like that. That may just be the most horrific aspect of the entire hotel (okay, obviously not BUT still).
One girl goes to get ice and is greeted by a maid cleaning what looks like blood out of a carpet, then a blonde tyke beaconing her forward and disappearing. She continues ahead (very determined to get ice, apparently) and this vacation is off to the worst possible start.We also get our first glimpse of a silver glove reaching for the blonde as she gets ice out of the machine. From teasers we know this glove belongs to Lady Gaga's character!
Combined with this fantastic start to their vacation, the girls immediately realize something in their room smells awful. They call Iris at the front desk and demand to change rooms. Unfortunately, the hotel is 'sold out' so it is not possible. They instead decide to suss out the source of the smell... because that can only lead to good things right? Great use of music to increase the tension and you want to yell at these two to LEAVE immediately. They realize it's coming from the bed and discover that the bed has been ripped open and stitched back up. The obvious thing to do would be to leave at this point right? Well, the girls decide the best course of action is to CUT OPEN THE SEWN SHUT MATTRESS. Turns out someone was sewn into the mattress and he very creepily crawls out looking malnourished and screaming. This is about when I would be leaving, refund or no refund.
The girls demand to know what the hell is going on. Iris assures them that they will not be charged for the room (such a relief as I would need the money for THERAPY) and shows them to another room while they wait for the police to come. Camera lingers on door 64 as Iris tells them this room is not normally rented out. The girls discuss giving the hotel a bad review on Yelp (which is perhaps my favourite thing ever because THAT is your response to this). We quickly see that this room is not any more comforting than the last as the radio starts playing on it's own. It wakes one of the girls who looks for her friend only to find her in sprawled on the bathroom floor with some of those adorable little blonde children drinking her blood. We can all agree worst vacation ever, yes?
|Creepy Blonde Vampire Children|
Cut to Wes Bentley walking in with paramedics and police. He's obviously a detective. He's been told that the victims were chloroformed when they walked in the door. It's a hotel, I believe Hotel Cortez but could be a different one. It's styled differently, more modern.
They walk into a room where a dead couple is posed in the midst of sex. Detective Wes is told that the male's eyes are in the ashtray by the bed (along with his tongue.. ewww). The male victim is still alive but the female is definately dead. John (Detective Wes Bentley) determines that the couple were cheating on their respective spouses, and muses that it might be a motive. The male victim seems to be asking to be taken out of the room. John realizes that he means OUT of the female victim as he was given what is basically Viagra.
Back at the office, John listens to notes for another case, one of a guy who had been beaten excessively (with gold paint chips left on his skin). He takes a phone call from his daughter (who could be one of the creepy blonde kids at the Hotel Cortez, they look that similar). John defers work to read his daughter a bed time story which is just adorable. When leaving, he tells someone that he wants the beating case cross referenced with the new case, as he seems to think they are linked.. As he leaves he receives a phone call from someone who sounds like every single horror movie villain who taunts people over the phone. He tells John that he's not happy John didn't take his call, and that he is the one who nailed the couple to the headboard and that he is going to do it again (also mentioning he can be found at Hotel Cortez in room 64).
Back at Hotel Cortez a very blonde, and skinny Max Greenfield is wanting to check in for one night. He haggles with Iris over the price and she eventually relents to give it to him for cheap. She provides him with the keys to room 64 and off he goes. So room 64 is awful. Never go there. Sarah Paulson tells Iris that she calls dibs on Max Greenfield and follows him up. Please don't go in there. Nothing good happens in room 64.
Unsurprisingly, Max Greenfield's character is a drug addict. He gets high and it's a perfectly shot scene. He starts to hallucinate and Max Greenfield is selling the hell out of this scene. Something grabs him and pushes him onto the bed. I read about the "Addiction Demon" that is part of this storyline and I am guessing it's this monster. It pushes Max Greenfield on to the bed and pulls down his pants and proceeds to rape with him with what is basically a steel strap-on. This show...just when I think it could not get more uncomfortable and strange (in the best way).
John shows up and Iris hits on him, which is hilarious. I love Kathy Bates. He asks about room 64 and is told that it is currently vacant (but it's not, lying liar who lies). We cut to Max Greenfield still being raped and yelling for help. Sarah Paulson walks into the room and sits down and basically watches his torment.
John is being led up to the room by Elizabeth Taylor (Dennis O'Hare who is fantastic in drag) while Sarah Paulson's character (who is named Sally) starts to talk to poor Max Greenfield. She tells Max Greenfield's character to tell her that he loves her. She promises him if he says it all of this will go away. He does (because obviously). This entire scene is basically a metaphor for being an addict. You love the thing that is hurting you. The Addiction Demon is just the addiction given a face, and even though it's brutal, and horrible, the need for the next fix is still there. I have a feeling addiction is going to be a huge part of this season.
John FINALLY arrives at room 64 to find it empty (which is creepy because Sally and Max Greenfield were just there). There is NOTHING in the room from either the girls or the previous occupants. John lays down after securing the room (because that seems like a smart thing to do) and the camera pans down to show an unconscious (perhaps dead) Max Greenfield under the bed ... who then violently shudders awake. So did he overdose, was he just asleep, is he now one of the undead that seem to live at the hotel? Inquiring minds want to know.
John wakes to see one of the vampires tykes in his room and promptly chases the kid out of the room calling out 'Holden' but the kid disappears (maybe put bells on them as this seems to be a thing).
We're treated to the best sign ever (a hot pink "Why Are We Not Having Sex Right Now" neon one) along with Lady Gaga's entrance.
Her entrance also includes a shot of Matt Bomer's butt, so thanks for that Ryan Murphy. Lady Gaga's Countess seems to enjoy cocaine and her and Matt Bomer are preparing to go out for the evening. Also, we need to take a moment to thank Ryan Murphy for Matt Bomer in guyliner... because dayum!
So Countess and Donovan (Matt Bomer) end their night out by picking up another couple for a foursome back at Hotel Cortez. There is a glam rock feel to both Countess and Donovan. Countess and Donovan are also incredibly in sync with each other. Halfway through the sexytimes they share a look, clasp hands briefly and then each cuts the throats of their sex partners using the little 'finger nail type blade' on their gloves. They feast on the blood and yup, this season is officially about psedo-vampires (only pseudo as there are no fangs to be found). This season is already sexier that previous ones and if it keeps up this fast pace, it may be the bloodiest. The scene ends with Countess and Donovan sharing a bloody kiss over the bodies of their victims. A couple who slays together...
Countess playfully teases a smoking Donovan that he didn't even want to go out and he bemoans the clean up that comes after. Countess quips that he should just call housekeeping (and with this I love her so much).
The pretty (maybe Swedish) blondes from the opening are being held in a room and Iris is obsessed with cleansing their system so that 'she' doesn't complain that they taste like crap. Her proposed diet is extremely disgusting however (oysters, chicken liver, kidneys, and some wine all blended together). She is forcefully feeding them when Sally walks in. We learn that Iris is not a fan of drug addicts and she accuses Sally of not caring about the girls (which, really?!) and Sally counters with a snotty 'We've seen what your caring looks like. We've all seen it' and asks why Iris doesn't just leave (and also mentions Iris has been there for 20 years). She accuses Iris of liking it at the hotel, and Iris assures her that she doesn't and even accuses Sally of being the 'beginning and end of all her suffering' which makes Sally happy. These two obviously HATE each other. Oh, and there is apparently a 'thing' in room 33 that needs to be fed. Um.. so room 64 and room 33 are to be avoided at all costs. Iris leaves Sally to care for the girls while she goes to deal with room 33 and Sally, surprisingly, lets one of them go and screams at her to run. Seriously, WORST VACATION EVER.
The poor girl is caught at the doors by the Countess who quickly cuts her throat with her finger nail blade. The Countess tells Iris that 'this' can never happen again and it seems that Iris is fearful of Countess (with good reason).
John takes his daughter for sushi where we discover that there is someone the daughter is afraid she's forgetting. She sees 'him' in her dreams, but can't remember what he looks like when she's awake. I bet she's talking about a brother who also happens to be blonde and adorable and is most likely at Hotel Cortez (guessing the family thinks he's dead or missing though). John gets a phone call that interrupts dinner, and ends up rushing to a crime scene. He arrives to find police surrounding a house and goes inside (leaving his daughter in the care of a police officer) to investigate. Is this his house? I am not sure. He gets another phone call from his wife's phone but it's the killer on the line! Eeep! The daughter decides to go into the house (where is the cop that is supposed to be watching her!!). This entire scene is tense and really effective. Wes Bentley is selling it extremely well and the backdrop of the police sirens is perfect. The daughter stumbles upon two victims strung up over two different beds with their intestines hanging out of their bodies. Seriously, GROSS.
Flashback to 2010, and we do discover that John and his wife did in fact have a son named Holden and he is a dead ringer for one of those little vampire children. John takes Holden and puts him on a carousel at a carnival and turns his back for one second and Holden disappears. Bets on him being at Hotel Cortez as one of those vampire children? Because I predict the odds are VERY good.
Back in present time we see the strain this has put on his marriage and the new strain this killer is adding to it. John is going to move out to protect his family, and his wife tearfully admits that she isn't sad because he's leaving but rather she secretly wants him to go. This is a heart crushing scene because you see how Holden's disappearance has torn these two people a part.
Our first link to season one is introduced as the real estate agent from season one is showing a new buyer for the hotel around. It's Cheyenne Jackson who is playing a fashion designer looking to move to L.A. Turns out his name is Will Drake and Iris is not too happy to have him there. She tells Elizabeth Taylor that they are going to be kicked out. I predict the Countess may not be too happy, so I wouldn't worry just yet, Iris.
The real estate agent and Will enter one of the rooms, and find a very angry Donovan who demands to know who they hell they are and why they are in his room. Matt Bomer is KILLING this role. You get the sense he is on edge and quick tempered. He storms into the Countess' room who is calm and controlled and not ruffled by Donovan's outburst. She acts happy to see Will and welcomes him with a drink and is entirely charming to him and his son. Donovan in the background rubbing his forehead like he's got a headache may be my favourite thing though. There is some martial strife going on between Donovan and Countess right now as she tells him to show Will around. Countess, in the meantime, takes Will's son and shows him the room where the vampire children spend their time (when they are not out being creepy and feeding on hotel guests that is). It's a kid's dream room filled with everything a kid could want (including a hidden door entrance). She introduces him to one of the little blonde vampires who is.... HOLDEN (as guessed).
Donovan (who seems to have left Will some where) goes to the lobby and Iris immediately pounces complaining about the sale of the hotel. Donovan calls her mother, which is interesting and perhaps explains the reason Iris stays somewhere she hates.
Another flashback to a very human Donovan walking into Hotel Cortez with Sally. Iris is spying on them and rushes in asking Elizabeth Taylor for the room number they just went into. I am betting this explains why Iris and Sally hate each other. Since this is a 'no tell motel' Iris bribes Elizabeth with money to get up into the room (but she has to leave to get more first).
In the meantime, Donovan and Sally are getting high and when Iris finally gets the room number (room 64 naturally) she finds an unconscious Donovan barely breathing in the room. Sally saunters away nonchalantly after being confronted by Iris, and Iris is so upset that she follows her to an open window that she pushes Sally out of. Sally falls and dies in a bloody mess on the ground. SO WAIT! WHAT?! Is everyone at Hotel Cortez a vampire? Is Sally a ghost that haunts Iris for killing her? What is going on?!
Hotel California starts playing which is not only perfectly timed, but PERFECT for this season. You can basically check into this hotel but you'll never leave, so REALLY, REALLY fitting.
Iris goes back to the room to find a still unconscious Donovan being cradled by Countess who informs Iris that 'your boy has a jawline for days' as she runs her finger nail blade across it. The Countess may just be my favourite. She's fantastic. Also, 'jawline for days' is my new favourite thing. I need to work it into conversation. Rumour is Lady Gaga ad libbed that line.
We end with John moving out of his house and into Hotel Cortez, (because there is no way that decision will not end badly) as Hotel California plays us out with the reminder that you can 'check in any time you like, but you can never leave'.
Officially hooked and left with so many questions. If this is set in present time, why does everyone look like they are in the 80's? What happened to the poor guy in the mattress? Is he another victim of this serial killer who seems to be using the seven deadly sins as a murder blue print (sloth, perhaps)? Is Max Greenfield okay? Where is he? Will Mr Drake buy the hotel? Now that John is at the hotel, I am guessing it won't be long until he stumbles upon his son. A chilling, sexy, blood soaked set up for what seems to be a fantastic season. The themes of addiction seem to be handled right so far, and I am looking forward to seeing more of each of the characters.
Let me know in the comments if you watched the premiere, and if you did are you eager to extend your stay at Hotel Cortez? Were you, like me, saddened by the lack of Finn Wittrock in this episode? Seriously, Ryan Murphy, DO NOT KEEP A WOMAN WAITING! What was your favourite scene, and which character did you most enjoy so far?
Until next week .... enjoy your stay (and do avoid room 64).