This week's episode title teased that plenty of answers would be revealed during the episode, and I certainly was not disappointed. We found out the identity of the Ten Commandments Killer and saw the long spiralling road to creating a killer. I'll start this recap with the usual warnings that.... there will be spoilers. Now let's talk The Ten Commandments Killer.
We begin this episode where the previous one ended - with Wren running out into traffic. Even though Countess did warn us that the usual things can kill these vampires it is still jarring to see one taken out by something as mundane as a car. John finally clues in that she's one of the vampire children (for a detective he is not at all perceptive) and gets angry enough to storm into Hotel Cortez to demand some answers.
The first person he starts demanding them from is Liz, who is still in mourning over Tristan's death (Me too, Liz. Me too). John demands to know who the killer is, and Liz is just not interested in answering anything or putting up with John's tantrums. Sally shows up and is concerned. John screams that he wants to know what is going on and who everyone has been protecting. Liz and Sally share a loaded look that basically screams "You, John. We have been protecting YOU" and Liz gives John a gun in case they find the killer.
Sally takes John to room 64 and assures him that the answers he is looking for are on the other side of the door. Sally tells him that they can forget all this, walk out and go have a drink instead if he wants. John is determined to find out the truth and Sally urges him to look behind the armoire. Turns out that the Ten Commandments Killer has a trophy room. One that is filled with body parts in glass cases from the previous victims (a hand for Thou Shalt Not Steal, etc). The first two were completed by Mr March. John, smartly, says that nobody has a 90 year lull between kills. Sally says it took Mr March that long to find a successor to continue on his work. John, once again, showcases that he is a terrible detective by seeming confused about HOW the body parts got there. HE was the one who locked them up in the evidence room. HE is the only one who had access to the room. Sally looks at him with this mixture of sadness and sympathy while telling him that the killer had a key to get into the room, nobody let him as John suspects. She begs him to come to her, calling him baby. She's trying to gently get him to come to the realization of what is right in front of him (and that I've had since like episode 3).
John is hit with bunch of memories of him killing the Ten Commandment Killer's victims (including the fact that Miss Evers used to help clean him up after). It also included a delicious (inappropriately so) shot of Wes Bentley looking incredibly hot covered in blood. I mean.....
So thanks, Ryan Murphy, for that. Also thanks for making me right! John is a murdering murderer. As the memories come back, John breaks down and cries as he realizes the truth. Sally cradles him as she gently tells him "It's you". She's obviously deeply in love with John.
Meanwhile, John's old partner is still worried about John and his family. He's at the morgue with Wren and asks another cop to go check on Alex and Scarlet (wherever she is). John, straight out of his life altering realization, decides the smartest thing to do is to go to his old partner to confess. Even with clarity John still makes the worst life choices. John's ex-partner thinks he's there to confess to some assault charges, and helping Wren escape. John's like "Actually.....I am here about murder". He tells a story of how the first time he actually went to the Cortez was FIVE YEARS AGO on the worst night of his life. The one where the kids died because of carbon monoxide poisoning and the father shot himself out of guilt. The night he went on a three day bender. He got drinks at the Cortez that night. He meets Sally, and gets an invite from Donovan to an after party when the bar closes. John isn't into whatever Donovan is offering at first (as if, because who would turn down Matt Bomer?!). However, Donovan tells him that since last call is in 5 minutes, John is welcome to join them upstairs and John relents.
This also happens to be the same night that Countess and Mr March have their arranged dinner. Turns out this is the party Donovan is bringing him to. Countess is delighted as she calls John 'yummy' upon getting a look at him. Mr March is not happy with the interruption UNTIL he gets a look at John.
Side note that has nothing to do with anything... Donovan does a lot of leaning against things in this episode. Leaning while wearing a shirt that shows off a bit of his stomach. I wish I could get a better screen capture because it really is an impressive view, but this will have to do.
Introductions are made, Donovan tells Mr March that John has had a bad day (one that makes a man want to drink himself to death). When Countess introduces herself to John, this AMAZING exchange takes place. I LOVE the Countess' one liners and this (along with the 'jaw line for days') is a line that you want to work into every day conversation.
Countess and Mr March are discussing John and he is convinced John is the man who should carry on his macabre work. Countess doesn't think John'll do it, at least not without a push. Mr March wants her to kidnap John's son so that John'll snap and be easily shoved down the path to madness. He uses the fact that Countess has as soft spot for kids to get her to agree. I love this inclusion. This is typically about the time that American Horror Story starts to fall apart. Things get messy and not as cohesive. Instead of that happening, they are connecting all the dots. They are showing the connection between things that didn't necessarily need to be connected but makes the story richer because they are. Of course Countess took Holden to help John along his path to becoming a serial killer. John didn't stand a chance with these two shaping and manipulating everything.
We see the aftermath of John's three day bender, and how happy Holden is to see him (and how angry Alex is). We see the olive branch of the carnival being offered but we know the heartbreak it leads to and that it's just another stepping stone to John's current state. John lost himself in the search for Holden, but when things calmed down and the volunteers all went home, John went to the Cortez. He felt like two different people - the family man who felt every single excruciating second he spent at home and the guy who lost chunks of time at the Cortez. John spent most of his time at the hotel with Mr March who was a very attentive teacher. He shows John his own trophy room filled with dead animals (and other things he claimed John was not ready to see). He pushes and prods John towards vigilante murder by eventually framing a hotel guest by making it appear like the man was a pedophile (and wisely striking on Holden's birthday). This is the last push John needs. John goes to visit the man in question and it ends with John beating him with the Oscar statue (and making this guy the first victim of this new Ten Commandments Killer).
John is disturbed to discover that he enjoyed giving in to his dark impulses. John is so upset that he decides to hang himself, with Sally watching. Turns out Sally and John have been having quite the affair. An affair that started just after Holden disappeared. Sally accepted the dark parts of him and he was all too happy not to question certain things about her. Mr March is not happy that his protégé wants to kill himself and cuts him down yelling at Sally for not helping sooner. Pretty sure that Sally just wants her boyfriend to die in the hotel so that he can be with her forever. Mr March reminds her of their agreement. He reminds her that the demon 'her and her kind' have conjured has to feed and that if it's not feeding on others, it'll feed on her. I wish they had expanded on this more. What agreement? Sally, and the other drug addicts, conjured up the addiction demon? Does Mr March keep it from turning on Sally? Is that the agreement? TELL ME! Whatever the agreement it, mentioning it makes Sally fall into line. She does admit that she's afraid John will die outside the hotel and that she'll never see him again. Mr March tells her to get someone who can be her eyes and ears on the outside to watch over John, and that is how Wren got dragged into all this. Sally tells her to follow John, and protect him so that he doesn't die out there.
Later, John tells Sally that he cannot remember her when he leaves the hotel. Sally muses that the hotel is a jealous mistress and that it would never let him take anything with him when he left. John admits to her that he tried to kill himself because he liked committing murder. Mr March once again gives John a push by reminding him that the pain of losing Holden will be a permanent thing. He shows John the beginnings of the Ten Commandment Killer's trophy room and asks John to take up the mantle in honour of Holden. He tells John to make himself the lead detective on the case when John expresses concerns at getting caught and with that a serial killer is born.
John's partner isn't buying any of John's story. He points out that Sally died in the 80's by 'jumping out a window' at the hotel. He feels like things just don't add up but John isn't really there to make him a believer anyway. He's there to continue his murder spree. Turns out John thought that Alex and his old partner were having an affair. He wanted to use them to check off the Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery box on his list, but Sally (wisely) told him not to kill someone so close to him. John would have been caught ages ago if left to his own devices. He seriously makes the WORST possible decisions. The couple he did use were regulars at the hotel, but he killed them off property due to Mr March's urging (no turning victims into ghosts, thank you very much). Since John couldn't use them for that particular 'crime' he is going to use his old partner to fulfill Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour's Wife. He stabs his old partner and takes a trophy of the guy's penis for the collection.
As John enters the Cortez, Iris greets him wearily. John assures her that he knows who he is and what he is. She is relieved. Turns out even Iris was in on the charade of protecting John. She tells him she was never sure which John she would be faced with and she often just wanted to tell him the truth. John tells her that he's embraced being a raving psycho and that he has no regrets at all, except Wren. Iris tells him that what happened to Wren is on Sally and fills John in on how Wren became involved in his murders. John asks for the key to room 64 and puts his new trophy into it's spot while Mr March looks proudly on. Mr March realizes that John has total clarity and is thrilled that John can finally see what they are doing as art. He asks John what he is going to do now and John's answer is that he intends to kill two more people to complete their horrific masterpiece. Mr March is delighted and the two hug it out. It's the start of a beautiful bromance, and the end of the episode.
While the identity of the murderer was hardly a surprise, the unravelling of the truth and the connecting of the dots was so meticulous that it was more than satisfying. Wes Bentley gave a chilling performance of John's descent into madness and am breathlessly waiting to see who the two last victims will be. John is untethered now, and anyone is fair game (you may want to watch your back, Alex). Sadly, I think John will be his own final victim for Thou Shalt Not Kill... the question is will he do it within Hotel Cortez to have a macabre happily ever after with Sally?
The lack of Finn Wittrock did not impress me, but hopefully he'll be back next week (make it happen, Mr Murphy! I miss seeing his face).
Until next week..... enjoy your stay (just don't break any of the Ten Commandments)