One last night in the Hotel Cortez before we leave it behind for new adventures. This finale offered up a few surprises, with the most surprising part of all being how touching and uplifting it managed to be ... while still being American Horror Story. I'll start this recap with the usual warnings that.... there will be spoilers. Now let's talk Be Our Guest.
We begin this episode with an ominous opening. Liz is laying on a bed, and in voice over, detailing the hopes and dreams she and Iris had for the Cortez. They want to remodel the hotel and turn it into a place of acceptance for all the misfits out there. It sounds like things didn't exactly turn out that way though, and that suspicion only increases as Liz's throat is slashed (apparently by her own hand) and blood begins to seep out onto the mattress.
We flashback to shortly after Iris and Liz had remodelled their hotel using the proceeds from selling off some of Countess' art pieces. They had two reviewers checking in with the hopes of increasing their Yelp star ratings. Sadly, things quickly took a turn for the gory pretty much as soon as Liz showed them to their room. Seems Sally isn't happy with all the changes or the fact that she's still hanging around the Cortez. She says that all the upgrades couldn't get rid of the pain that haunts the hotel. Sally stabs the male reviewer with a needle which was filled with something that makes the guy start foaming at the mouth (drugs I assume). The female reviewer runs into the hall screaming and bumps into Will Drake who stabs her instead of helping her. Liz and Iris lament the stains on their new carpet and discuss the fact that if the killings don't stop they are going to end up with zero stars. Liz declares it's time to have a sit down with the ghosts about all the murdering. A meeting that included a majority of the murdered guests (the Swedes, the 'lumberjack', Mr Wu, Marcy, Sally, and Will). It was nice to see (almost) everyone back.
Liz explains that they would love for the murdering to stop. Some of the ghosts get insulted as they are not the ones doing the killing. Sally is not impressed and tells them to just be honest and admit they are talking about her and Will. She is not enthused by the idea of no longer killing and makes her disgust known. She points out that the others are too busy doing their own thing to be killing the guests (including that 'hipster couple who trips around moaning about the kale'). Her and Will refuse to stop killing. Mr March arrives though and puts his foot down. He tells them all that the killing must stop. This makes Sally laugh. She tells him that him telling them not to kill is like Colonel Sanders telling people not to eat chicken.
Mr March however remains firm in his decision. It turns out that he only agrees because he wants the Cortez to reach it's 100 year anniversary (which is 10 years away) so it can be declared a historical landmark and therefore restricted from being torn down. Mr March has a point. They don't know what will happen to them if the hotel is torn down, and nothing would get it torn down faster than it being discovered as a murder site. Will says his design company must make enough to pay for the hotel and it's upkeep. Iris points out that since Will was so controlling of his image there was nobody to continue on after his death. His company is floundering and it won't be long before the money runs out. Sally is the only one not on board with this plan, so Mr March threatens her with the Addiction Demon. The season's only real plot hole. We know Mr March controls it, but the how and why has never been explained. Sally is pissed and says that going to hell can't be any worse than being stuck the way they are and storms out.
This next scene is one of my favourites of the season. Iris brings Sally some champagne and a gift. She tells Sally that she wants to help her. Sally snarkily reminds Iris of the fact that she pushed Sally out the window. Seems that Sally hasn't been the same since John left, and Iris thinks that she needs a new kind of connection. She's gifted Sally an iPhone and introduces her to the wonders of WiFi and the internet. The fact that the Cortez now has WiFi might be the most shocking development of the finale. Sally, naturally, becomes an internet sensation. Her very first Instagram picture is of a drug needle and lipstick (obviously). She amasses a ton of followers, and actually smiles over something that is not murder. Turns out all Sally wanted was to be adored. She wants to be part of the world now, not numb to it, so she tosses away her drugs. Seems like Sally is well on her way to a happily ever after (ghost version anyway).
With Sally looked after, it was time for Will's energy to be redirected. Liz reminded Will of his company and how much he loved designing. Will lamented the fact that he is unable to attend meetings and has no muse. Liz offers to take care of both. She'll be his muse, and go run his company. They'll turn Will into a recluse who never leaves the hotel and his infamy will only grow. Since Will has only been dead for a year, they can still do enough to keep the business afloat. We also learn that Lachlan is off at boarding school so that is at least one child who is going to get a happy ending away from the blood and murder. Turns out Liz is a natural and it's not long before they are hosting fashion shows at the Cortez with the ghosts and vamps who haunt it's halls as the models (no camera allowed, obviously).
All the success should have made Liz happy but the fashion shows only served to remind her of Tristan and how much she misses him. Iris, knowing her bff was sad, went and hired a psychic to help try and reach Tristan. That psychic? Billie Dean Howard from season one (and also played Sarah Paulson). Fun touch to tie the seasons together even more. I was so happy that this storyline was part of this episode. I wanted answers as to why we haven't seen Tristan and I am so happy they cleared up this potential plot hole. Billie Dean contacts Tristan asking if he has a message for Liz. Tristan, however, does not want to talk to Liz. Rude much, Tristan? This is not happy making. Before Billie Dean leaves she gets another message. This one is from Donovan for Iris. Donovan tells them that he is some place peaceful that smells like the pancakes Iris used to make for him when he was kid. He wants Iris to know he loves her. This is also the first time that this episode made me ugly cry. I am happy Donovan has peace.
While Liz was sad about Tristan, she had plenty to be happy about. Her son and daughter in law had a baby. That's right - Liz is a grandmother. Liz was happy, so naturally something bad had to happen. Liz finds out she has cancer. Cancer that is untreatable. She tells Ramona first, who offers to turn her. Liz has another plan however. One that includes dying in the hotel so she can be with her dysfunctional 'family' forever. She gathers the resident ghosts and delivers the news. Will immediately offers all the money needed for the best doctors (which is the sweetest thing, really). Liz tells them it's too late to save her. She fills them in on her plan to die in the hotel, and she wants them to kill her. The ghosts love Liz so they are not exactly willing but Liz tells them that she wants to be with them forever. As everyone is picking up a weapon (which Liz has so thoughtfully provided) Liz lays back on the hotel bed. The beginning of the episode makes much more sense now. The Countess walks in just before the killing starts, and she tenderly tells Liz that she was always her favourite creation and that she wants to help Liz through the transition. She lovingly slashes Liz's throat as tears stream down my face.
And because I haven't cried enough this episode, Ryan Murphy decided to give me the most AMAZING gift to end the season. As Liz, a newly minted ghost, overlooks her body while smoking a cigarette she hears someone say "those things will kill you" and I immediately lose it because it's Finn Wittrock's Tristan voice and I am ugly crying from happiness.
Turns out Tristan only ignored Liz because he wanted her to continue living. I am so glad these two are reunited! I am also very glad that Ryan Murphy brought back Finn for the finale. He's forgiven for taking away my Christmas present of Valentino. Look at his smile! *swoon* Seems everyone is getting a happy ending (or at least happy-ish).
After making contact with Tristan and Donovan, Billie Dean decided to do a whole bunch of television specials from the hotel. 'Fans' are starting to check into the Cortez in droves. One guest arrives and has paid to secure the room Mr Wu died in after seeing one of Billie Dean's specials. Nobody seems very happy with the reason the hotel has all this notoriety. Iris says it's bad for the brand to be known as the place to go for ghost sex. It also happens to be Devil's Night and John is now a ghost, I guess? I don't even know. He, also, is not thrilled that Billie Dean is all up in the hotel's business. He especially doesn't like that she's obsessed with contacting him. It appears that John is one of those ghosts that only gets to come out to play on Devil's Night. John tells Iris to call Billie Dean and check her into his room.
Billie Dean wants a sit down interview with John. Death has been good to John as he seems very relaxed and chill. During the interview John fills in the gaps we're missing. The Lowes tried hard to adjust to life outside the hotel, but they ended up back there anyway. Seems John found it harder and harder to secure blood for Alex and Holden. Scarlet is the one who told him to take them home (wich meant back to the Cortez). The rest of the family would stay there but Scarlet would go off to the same boarding school that Lachlan attends. These two falling in love and being happy together is my new head cannon and I need for it to be thing. It breaks my heart to think of these two adrift all by themselves, at least let them cling to each other. It feels fitting that the two 'orphans' would find comfort in being near each other.
John's death happened one night while he was out on a blood run. The cops had tracked him down, figuring out he was the Ten Commandments Killer and it resulted in a shoot out. John's only concern was making it back to the hotel as he rushed to the curb to make sure he died on the hotel property. He just missed the mark, sadly, and that is how he became a ghost that can only appear on Devil's Night. Billie Dean inquires about Alex and Holden and John says he doesn't want talk about them. He instead offers to show her the significance of Devil's Night in the Cortez (but only if she leaves her camera crew behind). There is this calm exterior to John that is more terrifying than unhinged John.
John takes Billie Dean up to Mr March's annual serial killer dinner party and the whole gang is back. Except this time around John is very much at ease with the serial killers. Jeffrey Dahmer blushes when John walks into the room which prompts John Wayne Gacy to tell him that he if likes a guy he has to talk to him. Serial killer dating advice. This show.
Billie Dean quickly puts together who everyone is and is pretty much overwhelmed as Aileen Wuornos and Richard Ramirez show up (who both try to hit on her). John points out the Zodiac sitting on a chair. Mr March is the last to arrive and Billie Dean says she can sense all the spirits of those he has killed. The group of killers grab Billie Dean and act like they are going to kill her. They tie her to a chair, and try to frighten her. It quickly becomes evident that this has been John's plan the whole time. He wants Billie Dean to leave them alone but her disappearance would cause too much attention for the hotel. He instead planned to threaten her into never coming back. Their secret weapon is Ramona who can still leave the hotel and promises to track down Billie Dean if she so much as whispers the name Hotel Cortez. Bille Dean, smartly, promises and rushes out of the hotel.
Having dealt with Billie Dean, John wants to spend the last of his remaining time with his family. A very grown up Scarlet is there with Alex and Holden (who are sleeping). John kisses Alex and Holden and has a very touching goodbye with Scarlet. The fact that he only sees his family once a year is heart breaking. I, obviously, cried my way through this whole scene. It's a sad ending for the Lowes but one that is almost happier than I anticipated.
We end this season with the Countess, of course. She's sitting alone in the hotel bar and a good looking man catches her eye. Countess saunters over to him and this exchange happens after a bit of small talk.
Of course Countess is still a seductress who appreciates a really good jawline. Of course. This is the perfect way to end this season. So fitting that she would have the last word, and it be THIS.
Only American Horror Story could make me cry over serial killers, ghosts, and pseudo vampires. While some of these characters may not have deserved the happy (ish) ending they got, it was no less welcome. This show hides it's soft side underneath a brutal, bloody veneer but it is there. As we check out of the Hotel Cortez there is some comfort in our beloved characters still being there, and still being that dysfunctional family we've come to care about.
I hope you enjoyed your stay because I certainly have.