This episode revolves around the separate adventures of John Lowe and his estranged wife, Alex. There’s a dinner party, some dancing, child ‘napping, and a couple of other interesting developments. There’s a Butchers Ball, and Holden’s mother makes a firm decision about her future.
At the end of last weeks episode, Alex came face to face with the love of her life, Holden. Now I get why we were told that gob-awful backstory about her character.This week, Alex decides to take Holden home with her, find out exactly what is wrong with him, and why he hasn’t aged since she lost him. The Countess continues to assert that what she has is a blood disease, so Alex, as a pediatrician, thinks she can cure him. She tests Holden but can find nothing. Angry at what was done to her child, especially after he kills and drinks the family dog, she takes him back to the hotel, where he climbs into the glass coffin provided for him. She confronts the Countess, who is all smiles and sympathy, offering to turn her, so she can be with her son, if Alex will work for her. Alex refuses her offer and barely makes it out of the room with her life, when she threatens to tell the police about the Countess.
The next day ,Alex changes her mind, goes to the Countess, and takes her up on her offer. I’m not actually surprised by this. I kept expecting Alex to be bitten by somebody, from the moment she found Holden.
John, unaware that any of this is going on, wanders around the hotel, looking for the room that had blood seeping through his ceiling. He comes across The Laundress Hazel, played by Mare Winningham, who gives him some backstory about why she is working for James March. I had the impression that she was just another homicidal psycho like March, but her story is slightly more complicated. Her child was also stolen, over forty years ago, by the Countess. Like Alex, she came to the hotel to rescue her child. I’m going to make a wild guess that the Countess turned her too, and probably did the same to March, which is the reason neither of them have aged. I’m still not sure what the Hell Sally is, though. It is telling that Hazel gives no explanation for why the room is full of blood, nor does John ask her about it. But we know that earlier that evening, Richard Ramirez killed two hotel guests, in that room.
John listens to Hazel’s story and because he was so sympathetic to her, out of gratitude, she offers him an invitation to a special dinner that her employer, James March has every Halloween. What she does not tell him is that all of the invited guests are serial killers and that he may not make it out of the dinner alive. (I have noticed that all of the worst guests of the hotel, are just full of information you don’t actually need, or didn’t ask for.) The invitees include, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Jeffrey Dahmer and Aileen, Wuornos. Later, John finds out, from a news article, that Hazel hasn’t aged since the abduction of her child.
John goes to the hotel bar and meets a woman who claims to be Aileen Wuornos. Thinking its just a costume, he takes her back to his room, where she hits him over the head, and ties him up. He escapes by kicking her ass. He angrily confronts Liz Taylor, who dismisses his worries, but tells him he’s been invited to a very special dinner party. Sally lures him to the party and ties him up, again.
During the party, John begins to understand what’s happening.That these are the real killers, alive and dangerous.. He is forced to watch while the killers commiserate with March about how difficult their crimes were, how they could have done better, and to laud March for being such a wonderful influence on their lives. Sally brings in a young male victim for Dahmer. I think some of this was supposed to be funny because the killers kept making jokes.
It was especially difficult for me to watch because, having studied True Crime, I know far too much about the crimes of these particular individuals, to find their presence in a television show, funny. It’s one thing to make up an unlikely serial killer like Hannibal, its another thing to use, as inspiration, real life serial killers in your show, just for the spectacle. The only kind of people who would find these scenes funny, are people who know nothing about the real life people, on which these characters were based. Kind of the same problem I had with Sons of Anarchy, in that I know far too much about actual Bikers, to be able to enjoy that show.
But, because I do know so much about serial killers, I did find it pretty scary.
The killers decide they want to kill John too, but March stops them. John wakes up to see Sally, who tells him that it was all an hallucination because he drank absinthe with alcohol.
Its not that I disliked this episode. I thought it was scary, mostly because of the knowledge in my head about serial killers. I thought they might actually kill John, who would then be trapped in the hotel, like all the other ghosts. I like john even though he’s a deeply oblivious detective, and I don’t want to see him killed.
This is only part one of a two episode arc, so things are going to reach a head this week, I hope. I’m also wondering when we’ll get to see Angela Bassett’s character again. She was all kinds of bad ass.