Samurai Jack: Season Five Premiere

 

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Samurai Jack is quite possibly one of the most uniquely gorgeous cartoons on television. Now in its final season, it’s pulling out all of the stops for some truly groundbreaking and beautiful art. The plots of each episode  aren’t complicated but the overall arc of the season is complex enough to make watching it a worthwhile endeavor.

*Fifty years have passed, but I do not age. Time has lost its effect on me, yet the suffering continues. Aku’s grasp chokes the past, present and future. All hope is lost. Got to get back. Back to the past. Samurai Jack.

— Jack, in the opening sequence

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Voiced once again by Phil Lamarr from Pulp Pulp Fiction, and MadTV, it’s  some fifty years in the future, and Aku has finally succeeded in taking over the world. But he’s become bored and jaded. He’s no longer interested in hunting Jack, or trying to kill him. He let’s his robot drones and cultlike followers do his dirty work for him. A new group is hunting Jack called The Daughters of Aku.

Jack lost his legendary sword long ago and wanders Aku’s corrupt landscape, with no purpose. He failed to stop Aku from taking over the world but he can’t or won’t die. One of the side effects of having gone through the time portal to kill Aku is that he no longer ages. He longs to die, but out of long habit, fights Akus servants, over and over.

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It’s a gorgeous looking show with lots of action, and is rather mordantly funny, with the humor found in unexpected places. In one of the earlier sequences we watch as Aku goes about his day, receiving  penitents, eating breakfast, and doing some stretching and deep knee bends, because the Evil Ruler of the World has to remain nimble.

In fact, Samurai  Jack and Aku have a lot in common, as they navigate a world radically different from what they thought things would be. They’re old, jaded, weary, and tired of fighting, but just can’t seem to stop. Jack is  facing new foes, old friends, and trying to live in a world he failed to save. Aku realizes that ruling the world isn’t as wonderful as he thought it would be, but he can’t stop either. So,  the show contains a surprising amount of depth and pathos, where you have two former foes, who are tired of being foes, but have invested too much in it to stop doing it.

The art takes a bit of getting used to, because its wholly unlike any other cartons on TV, and is very minimalist and deco.

Its an excellent cartoon ,worth watching on  Adult Swim, Saturdays at 11 PM.

 

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American Horror Story: Hotel – Be Our Guest

I’m only a tiny, little bit disappointed at the season finale of American Horror Story: Hotel, for going out with a whimper instead of a bang. It’s like the writers chickened out and decided that everybody deserved happy endings, even though a lot of them had been acting like total shits all season.

Don’t get me wrong. I had feels, everybody’s stories got wrapped up nice and neat and Denis O’Hare gets to steal the show as always, but I really did want the hotel to be burned down so all the ghosts could be free. The writers decided that’s not a good idea, though.

So, the Queen is dead! Long live The Countess! In the aftermath of The Countess death, she’s a ghost who can no longer leave the hotel and a more fitting end, I wouldn’t have written myself. The hotel has now been taken over by Iris and Liz, who sell off the Countess’ art, to fund their redecorations and grand reopening.

The reopening attracts travel critics, who quickly get offed by the hotel’s ghosts. Namely Sally, who is  bitter and unhappy and Will Drake, who is bored because he’s dead and trapped in the hotel.

This is too much for Liz and Iris, who decide to hold an intervention to beseech the ghosts to stop killing the guests. If they keep killing the guests, the hotel will go out of business and the building could be destroyed. James March comes down on Liz and Iris’ side in the debate because if the building isn’t condemned by 2026, then it will be declared an historical landmark, which can’t. After which the ghosts can kill all they want, I guess. This meeting is also notable because you get  to see that they have become a kind of community, who care about each other.

Drake and Sally refuse to cooperate and Iris and Liz decide they need some one on one attention to get them on their side. Iris introduces Sally to Twitter and Snapchat, after which she blossoms, realizing she need never be alone again because of social media. Perfect! That is not a solution I foresaw, but it makes perfect sense. After all, Iris found a new life that way, too. It’s hilarious as Sally really gets into it. She takes pictures of everything but herself, she writes a blog, she cries with happiness, rather than pain now, and even throws away her junk.

Good job, Iris!

Liz makes the point that the ghosts need the living because the living are their bridge to the outside world and relevance. So maybe let them live, and stop killing them for shits and giggles.

Liz agrees to help Will Drake rebuild his fashion empire, which has been languishing since his disappearance, by becoming it’s figurehead. This is a success and Liz makes arrangements for Will’s son to be housed at the Thatcher Boarding school, although Drake doesn’t believe he should ever see him again.

But Liz isn’t quite as happy as you’d think. She still misses Tristan, and Iris, concerned for her happiness, hires a psychic (Sarah Paulson in a dual role) to talk to him in the afterlife, but Tristan refuses and won’t say why. On the other hand, Donovan, who managed to escape being trapped in the hotel, is in a happy place and wants Iris to know he loves her.

Liz, disappointed with Tristan’s cold shoulder, gets on with her life, witnessing the birth of her grandadaughter and being a part of her daughter-in-law’s life, until she discovers she is the only woman in LA who is in the late stages of prostate cancer. She tries to make the best of things, by asking the community of hotel ghosts to kill her, so she can spend eternity with them because they’re her friends, and Denis O’Hare is so good at this, that I almost teared  up.

Almost.

His friends are about to get started brutally killing him but the Countess shows up to deliver the coup de grace. She and Liz reconcile  before the deed, as they damn well better, because they’ve got to spend all of eternity together now. Staring down at her dead body, Liz is surprised by the appearance of Tristan, who says he didn’t want to contact her because he wanted her to have a full life and not live in the past with his memory.

Hold on! I’m a little verklempt! Talk amongst yourselves! Query: Where the Hell is the Countess’ mutant baby? And who is taking care of it? Discuss!

Many years pass. The psychic comes to the hotel again. This  time she wants to contact John Lowe, The Ten Commandments Killer. John shows up and we learn that he is dead, but can only come to the hotel once a year along with all the other killers, Aileen Wuornos, Richard Ramirez, Gacy and Dahmer. It’s also the only time he can see his vampire family, except for Scarlett, who has grown into a remarkably well adjusted young lady, after being shipped off to the Thatcher School, too. Scarlett can visit her little brother and never aging Mom anytime, but Dad can only be seen on Halloween night. It’s a bittersweet reunion.

Having gotten her wish and interviewed the TCK, the psychic gets drugged and accosted by the other serial killers. They agree to let her live if she never tells anyone about them, and Ramona, who can leave the hotel and terrorize her anytime she wants, is there to let her know she’ll be watching her. She runs out of the hotel and doesn’t darken its doors again.

Overall, I liked this season. It was uneven, and more concerned with spectacle than plot, but then AHS is always like that. I really wish there had been more depth and more artistry. The show really needs to play up the unreality and dreamlike state, the way it did in the first season. I enjoyed this season more than the last one, which was kind of depressing. This was a  more joyful season, even if  was full of pretty people being stupid and doing awful things, and I was kind of disappointed that many of them did not get their comeuppance, but I can live with happy endings, too.

Angela Bassett was hilariously bad as Ramona. She was the worse actor and obviously having waaay too much fun with that character. The scenery is just totally shredded by the time she’s finished talking. I think she needs to stick with movies, if possible because television is just too small for her. Denis O’Hare was awesome as Liz. I didn’t even know who Denis was before this, having paid no attention to his career. As for Liz’ wardrobe! Dayyum! She was totally rockin’ those frocks, the bald head and the high heels! She was the epitome of style and grace, holding her own in every scene against Ramona  and Iris. I have to give a shoutout to Kathy Bates too. Every season she brings her A game, and so she did here. It was a quieter role than Liz and the Countess, much less glamorous, but that’s why her character arc was so lovely.

I’m given to understand that Lady Gaga won an award for this show. I don’t begrudge her that. I was very happy for her, as she did some great amateur work, and this is a good beginning and  good encouragement if she wants to keep acting. She shows some promise, but Denis deserved “all teh awards”. Denis O’Hare and Kathy Bates had the two most touching character arcs and the finest performances of the season.

And that was worth watching, if no other reason.

So long American Horror Story, until next season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Horror Story : She Wants Revenge

 

 

This was an incredibly frustrating episode to watch, mostly because I kept yelling at the TV. These are some of the dumbest, most venal characters on TV right now. Not one of these people attempts to make any effort at trying to be better whatever-they-ares. They’re  not dumb in the sense of, “nonsensical motives, nobody knows what the hell they’re doing and neither do we” sort of way, like in The Strain. No this is the, ” they’re motivations are completely understandable, but you really wish they’d make another, better choice”, type of way.

Or in other words, why don’t any of these people walk the hell out of these situations instead of making it worse? Yeah, the reason why is because these characters are stupid and petty. They’re the better dressed versions of  the worst kind of  “trailer park people”. Given a choice between acting on their better natures and achieving some sort of peace, and acting according to their basest and most petty instincts, they always choose their basest instincts, which only worsens the situation:

Lets take inventory, shall we.

 

Donovan:

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Instead of moving on with his life after the Countess kicked him out of the hotel, he has decided to seek revenge. He could move on and forge a life of his own, instead of leeching off the Countess largess, but he decides to team up with Ramona to kill the Countess. After he has a one-night with the Countess, he changes his mind and betrays Ramona, because he is so desperate for the Countess love. When he finds that the Countess is playing him with her maker, Valentino, he kills Valentino to eliminate his rival.

Side note: Matt Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson need to team up for Magic Mike XXX. Seriously!

 

Ramona:

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She had the opportunity to move on and forge a life for herself, too. After the Countess killed her lover we find, in a beautiful and touching flashback, that she retired to her family home to care for her aging parents. She makes the mistake of trying to save her father from senile dementia by making him a vampire but it does not go well because dementia cannot be cured by vampirism. Eventually she has to kill him. Afterwards, she has the choice of whether or not, after twenty years, to move forward and make a new life for herself. She doesn’t do that. Instead, she decides she needs to get revenge on the Countess. She teams up with Donovan, who betrays her at the last second. She gets locked in the armored hall that was used to imprison Valentino and Natasha and tortured with UV lights, in an Iron Maiden.

Side note: This week’s episode has done so much to deepen this character and I really like her, but I still don’t understand why she has decided to come after the Countess, after waiting twenty years.

Will Drake:

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The oblivious Will Drake and new owner of the Hotel Cruz. He’s almost as dumb as Tristan because he’s so enamored of the Countess’ charms that he can’t see anything but her. He hasn’t noticed any of the weird goings on at the hotel  and knows nothing about the Countess other than what she has told him, which is of course,  nothing. They get married in the lobby of the hotel. When the Countess goes to check on the status of her monster baby, he interrupts and reacting with repugnance, says some nasty things, which pisses her off.  She imprisons him in the armored hallway, which she has had  equipped with cameras, so she can watch whatever happens. Drake, thinking Ramona to be  an ally, and not knowing that she  is a vampire, frees Ramona from her restraints. She promptly eats him.

Side note: It don’t make no sense for a man to be that damn pretty!

Liz:

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Liz has an opportunity to leave the hotel and make a new life for herself but chooses instead to sit around the hotel, sniping at the Countess, whenever she wanders into orbit and is resigned to waiting for the Countess to eventually get tired of all that and snap her neck. Nevertheless, despite her fatalism and depression, which is understandable, she still manages to look magnificent. Seriously, she is one of the best dressed characters on the show, rivaling even the Countess. I wonder where she’s getting her frocks because her taste is impeccable.

Side note: Dennis O’Hare is tearing it up in this role and I love this character.  He never resorts to making her comic relief and Liz is always elegant, just like her namesake. Dennis knows exactly when to make her warm, bitchy, or funny. In fact, some of the most touching and beautiful moments in the show are supplied by Liz.

Iris:

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She mopes around the hotel, pining after her son, Donovan, occasionally killing any of the guests her get on her nerves. Donovan discovers her in the aftermath of one of her killings and is surprised and delighted at his mother’s new attitude. But when  he tells her he has changed his mind about the revenge, and is back with the Countess, she becomes depressed because she still believed she could have a life with him, outside the hotel. She still loves her son but he long ago chose the Countess over her and she’s never come to terms with that until now.

Side note: Iris is my second favorite character. Her story closely parallels Liz’. She has come into her own, as a woman, far too late in life for her to truly enjoy it. It makes sense that it is the two of them who would  become the closest friends, but not until after Iris’ death. Of all the relationships on the show, theirs is the most genuine. The two of them are real  with each other in a way none of the other characters try to be.

Alex:

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Has decided to abandon her daughter and become a vampire, working for the Countess, so she can be with her first great love, her lost son, Holden. To that end she gas-lit her husband to make him flee the hotel, so he wouldn’t discover what she’d been doing or what she was. On her first night back to work, she turns a young boy into a vampire. He goes out into the world and transforms his classmates at school. They go on a killing spree, which the Countess hears about  and holds Alex responsible for stopping.

Side note: Alex is one of the least understandable and less sympathetic characters on the show. She’s supposed to be a doctor but she makes dumb decisions, that I don’t understand. Its almost like she’s starring in a different show than the other characters..

The Countess:

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Wow! I don’t even know where to begin with her. Its true that she has known a significant amount of pain in her hundred years but her way of handling it was to make one bad decision after another, living according to whatever whims took her fancy, thereby causing herself more pain. She is largely the architect of most of her own problems, a beautiful woman who won’t get out of the way of her own happiness. From marrying a serial killer to turning Ramona and killing Ramona’s lover, to turning Tristan and discarding Donovan, after she gets him to fall in love with her, and  killing Tristan after he’s fallen in love with someone else, this is a woman who doesn’t seem to know how to make any other kind of decisions except bad ones, for herself and anyone who wanders into her orbit. Sooner of later its all going to come down on her, as she does not seem capable of making and keeping friends.

Side note: I know this is hard to believe, considering how much shade I’ve thrown her way,  but I actually like the Countess. True, she’s not very bright and hasn’t matured one damn bit since she was turned, except to become more cynical, but now that the show has progressed in its characterizations, her motivations are entirely understandable and I’m actually beginning to feel for her.

March:

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The serial killer who lives in the attic . One can make the argument that March is the person who set all this shit in motion by being an asshole, building a hotel that traps ghosts, and  imprisoning his wife’s lovers in the  walls of the hotel. It was their disappearance that sparked the Countess fatalistic attitude, believing that Natasha and her maker,  Valentino, had abandoned her.

Side note: March is definitely the villain of the show. In fact ,the show wouldn’t be the show, or as weird as it is, if he wasn’t the mastermind behind most of the tragic consequences in the hotel. On the other hand, he’s a one note character, without much depth. He’s diabolical because he enjoys it.

Hazel Evers:

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Her mistake was falling in love with March, who dumped her for the Countess. She remains eternally loyal to him and the hotel. Of course it helps that she can’t leave because she’s a ghost.

Side note: Hazel is obviously the shows comic relief. She gets the funniest lines and  is always, always cheerful. She’s the world’s happiest specter. Make no mistake, she is a villain, though. She happily participated in March’s killing spree when he was alive and makes no effort, whatsoever, to warn or protect the guests in the hotel. She’s  too obsessed with cleanliness, it seems, to have room for much else in her personality.

Sally:

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Her biggest mistake is falling in love with John Lowe, though he’s married and doesn’t actually love her at all. Of course,  becoming a drug addict and ODing in March’s hotel, was probably not the best use of her decision making skills.

 

John Lowe:

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John is too messed up to analyze wit any kind of accuracy. He’s a serial killer who doesn’t remember being a serial killer. He’s a cop who was assigned to solve his own serial killer case. The  best you can say about John is that he’s largely a victim, as he’s  always being manipulated by someone. He was manipulated by March into being his successor as the Ten Commandments Killer, his  wife, Alex, tried to drive him insane, (I think she succeeded), and Sally and the other hotel employees  were in on the secret of who and what he is and never said anything.

Side note: John is still one of the dullest serial killers ever seen on TV, except for his hair, which is much more dynamic than he deserves. There’s just no there there.

That sums up,the characters for this season, which wasn’t as crazy as some of the past seasons. Its calmed down a bit since episode one and become more cohesive. I really did think it would lose it’s way and wander off for a bit, especially after the last two episodes.  I just couldn’t see the direction the writer was heading. New threads kept being introduced without any tie-up, but the writer has managed to rein it in very nicely, since then.

I can much more clearly see some of the plot threads joining together, although I still feel the writer has a tendency to just whip some new plot point out of his ass. None of those new things have impacted badly on what we’ve seen so far, though.

The show will return for its final two episodes in January.

American Horror Story: Hotel : Flicker

Alright What plot points will remain from last week’s episode. Will the writers remember the The Countess has a baby? Will they remember that Sally is still on the show? Will they remember Tristan is dead?

Let’s find out.

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Will Drake (Dayyum, Cheyenne Jackson is foine!) and son are touring the hotel as deconstruction begins. He tells his son about marrying Countess. The construction workers have a problem, though. It turns out to be a secret corridor with monsters that eat the construction workers. Are they vampires? Cannibals? Just crazy gray haired senior citizens?

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John is undergoing psychiatric evaluation  at a hospital, after shooting up his kitchen last week. He confesses to feelings of entrapment, confusion and overwhelming events. He was nearly fired after he attacked his partner at work, a guy I recognize from Supernatural, once again,he’s  playing a cop.

Iris shows the bodies and hidden corridor to Countess and even she’s scared of what’s there. The hungry ghosts, or whatever they are, attack another guest.

Flashback to The Countess in 1925, on a film set with Valentino, who is the spitting image of Tristan, conveniently. I thought that was the last I’d seen of that actor, but hey!keep him on the show doing something.

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She’s enamored of the handsome actor. Shes so cute! And Gaga really pulls off the wide-eyed innocent waif act and even back then she was a snappy dresser. He seduces her in his home, until his wife, Natasha, shows up. They double team her, there’s the required sex scene and then cut to…three months later, when she’s been vamped.

James March opens hotel Cortez, when The Countess hears of Valentino’s death she is overcome with grief. I guess I’m supposed to believe by this reaction that she possessed some overwhelming love for him and his wife.

It turns out the he isn’t actually dead. He and Natacha are both alive. They ask her to travel to Europe with them.

She leaves them to marry March, and she later discovers, he is a serial killer. Well, this explains why she’s got commitment issues.

(Flashback once more, as  Valentino tells her how he came a vampire, shot in the style of the 1922  Nosferatu, by H W Murnau, who was himself a vampire. He decided to change Valentino as he has predicted the demise of silent films.)

John discovers the restricted ward at the hospital and decides to investigate Andrew Hahn in room 153. He finds a little girl named Wren instead. She’s a witness to one of the serial killers crimes. She also killed the security guard who interrupted the killer, which is why she’s locked up.

After which ensues the weirdest but most boringly important/unimportant conversation in television history, with the two of them whispering at each other. Well whattaya know? Wren is somehow acquainted with The Countess too. What. A. Surprise!

Nevertheless, Wren promises to help John catch his killer, if he gets her out of the hospital.

Ya know, at some point ,we are going to have to have the writer stop pulling plot points out of his ass, or maybe I’m just feeling grouchy because tonight’s episode was especially tiresome. It’s not a bad episode but none of my favorite characters have showed up, nobody did anything egregiously stupid, that i can yell at my TV about, and nothing astonishingly crazy happened, The writers remembered that John is looking for a serial killer, and that aspect is the least interesting plot of the show.

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At the end of the episode, its revealed that March bricked up Valentino and Natacha in the hotel, and those are the two people-eaters who were released at the top of the episode, and have since been chowing down on various guests.

The Countess goes to have dinner with James March, who confesses that he had  Valentino and his wife confined inside the walls of the hotel, because he was jealous. The Countess is appropriately horrified as she probably thought that Val and Natacha had left her. This explains her attitude towards the vampires she makes.

Natacha and Val leave the hotel, as Iris  watches and wonders who the Hell they are.

John and Wren escape the hospital. Wren, one of The Countess’ many vampire children, throws herself in front of a truck after telling John his killer is at the Hotel Cortez. So, I guess that conversation was important after all, as Wren confessed she was really tired of  “all of this”.

Tonight’s theme was very obviously “Love Hurts”!

American Horror Story: Room 33

Okay, tonight’s episode, I’m firmly convinced, was entirely pulled out of the writer’s butt. There’s all manner of things going on this particular episode that weren’t hinted at in any of the previous episodes.

Let’s start with:

We are dimly aware that something lived in room 33 of the hotel, so I’m not too put out at the idea that the creature living in that room turns out to be The Countess deformed vampire baby. At least we got a tiny heads- up with hints that something might be in that room. The Countess is shown giving birth to the baby, which like in the movie Its Alive, immediately kills and eats the nurse. Okay, that part was kind of gory, awesome.

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Later, the baby, Bartholomew, escapes from its room, when Ramona, intent on revenge by killing all of The Countess offspring, (in collusion with Iris), breaks in, and sets it free. Bart gets out of the hotel by stowing away in John’s suitcase, when John decides he can no longer stay at the hotel after nearing a nervous breakdown.

Okay, the reason John has a nervous breakdown is because  of the first two tourist girls, we saw in the pilot episode, who  are now ghosts roaming around the hotel. Donovan has told them that they can’t leave and that they now have to find a purpose. The two of them try murdering the hotel guests but that doesn’t seem to satisfy them. Alex, John’s wife, is very helpful. She tells them that gas-lighting the hotel guests is probably a lot more fun and that they should start with John. I’m guessing there’s definitely some divorce papers in their future. Well, anyway, John and the girls have a threesome during which they  cover him in blood of  their  murder victim. John, totally freaked out, runs naked out of his hotel room and encounters Liz Taylor in the lobby. Liz, more than used to the various shenanigans at the hotel, is completely unfazed at the sight of this naked man, covered in blood and  streaking through the halls, and she escorts him back to his room.

I’m not sure if that was meant to be funny but I laughed my ass off at that scene.

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Well, Bart gets out of the hotel, via John’s suitcase,  and makes his way to John’s home, where Scarlett chastises her Dad for being absent. When Bart gets loose in the house, John fires his gun at him, scaring the shit out of Scarlett, who then decides she needs to be somewhere her Dad is not. Bart escapes to the outdoors where Alex finds him, in the bushes,  and takes him back to the hotel. I forget why Alex was lurking outside her own home.

The Countess, still trying to get into Will Drake’s pants, had gone with him to Paris. She returns to find Alex cuddling the baby in room 33. Earlier, The Countess tried to get Tristan to help her have sex with Will, who is insistent that he is very gay, too gay to sleep with her. Tristan, of course, says he is not gay and won’t touch him, which is a surprise to me, because in an earlier episode he was all up in Will’s bidness, and we got some hot, man on man, action before The Countess interrupted. On the other hand, thiis the first backbone I’ve seen Tristan display.

The other thing that came out of left field was Liz Taylor’s relationship with The Countess’  Tristan. I guess none of us were paying attention because I totally did not see any of this coming. Liz tells Tristan they need to confess their great love (the greatest love ever), to the Countess, an idea I knew was a mistake the moment I heard it,  so yeah, the stupidity of the characters continues, unabated. Liz makes a very eloquent plea to be allowed to have Tristan because neither of them are in love with each other and this is LIz’ big chance to have a grand love of her own. But The Countess does not share, (she doesn’t do love either, or so she says), and she kills Tristan in front of Liz by cutting his throat. Yep! Saw it coming!

This is the same mistake The Countess made with Ramona, that has Ramona coming up in her rearview, right now. I wouldn’t be surprised, if at some point, Iris, Donovan, Ramona and Liz,  team up to take her ass out. Although, knowing how this show works, the writer will probably forget all about this angle, the same way the writer has forgotten about the Child-Vampire plague he just released into the NY suburbs. Will we see a resolution to that, I wonder?

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Tristan is gone, more or less. He will probably become a ghost in the hotel too, unable to leave and trying to find a purpose. How much do you wanna bet he’ll fall into March’s murderous intentions? Or not. He could just haunt Liz, which would be awesomely tragic for her.

So this episode was all about everyone’s great love and the things they’ll do to keep it. Alex is willing to drive her husband insane, so he won’t find out about Holden and her. The Countess seems to very much love Bartholomew, and is willing to hitch her wagon to a man who is not attracted to her and who she doesn’t love, which is bad enough, but she also makes a habit of depriving other people of their great love. Iris, Ramona and Donovan are all about the revenge, having lost their great loves to The Countess’ complete lack of empathy. Except in the case of Alex. Alex is about the only person she seems to sympathize with, and not just because she stole Alex’s child.

There were a lot of great lines and scenes in this episode. Liz offering Oscar Wilde books to Tristan. The admonishment to never drink the water on the fifth floor, by Donovan, because one of the hotel guests haunts that floor, after she slit her wrists  in a bathtub, and the bonding scene between Ramona and Liz.

I like how the show gives its female characters plenty of background and time to talk among themselves and not always about men. In fact, the cast is almost entirely women  and I like that they  are shown supporting each other and having each other’s back. Liz and Iris, Ramona and Iris, and even Alex and The Countess. Liz Taylor is still my all-time favorite . She gets all the best lines and some of the best scenes, too.

I think my greatest hope for Liz, is for her to be killed in the hotel, so she can spend eternity with Tristan.

American Horror Story : Room Service

Okay, this is the point in  the season when things start to get worse and some direction begins to emerge. Up to this moment, we’ve had characters making one bad decision after another, but now all those decisions start to bear fruit. (Maybe. I stopped trying to predict what these writers would do a long time ago.)

I know John Lowe should never have chosen to stay at the Hotel Cortez, Donovan should never have chosen to turn his mother, Alex should never have been vamped, and I’m pretty sure there will be some repercussions for The Countess and her new boy toy. We’ve had enough of James March and Co. Let’s see what fresh Hell all these other characters are getting up to on Devil’s Night.

Alex starts a vampire plague at an elementary school. This is, I guess, how things start to go horribly wrong. While these other characters are all in the hotel, making their little personal life choices, some real shit is about to go down. Alex, having been  turned by The Countess, goes to her job as a pediatrician and turns a terminally ill boy. He goes on to kill his mother before heading off to school, where he turns one of his classmates, kills his teacher, turns the entire class, and urges them to eat the staff, but not before the staff can call the police for help.

The police arrive and usher all the infected children out of the building and  into the loving arms of the parents who will all be dead, by the next episode.

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See, this is what I mean by the Countess not being the brightest penny in the wrapper. She’s just turning people into vampires, willy-nilly, , essentially creating more competition, and not having any control over how her “Gets” are behaving themselves. Once her blood-children are out of her presence, she doesn’t have any idea what they’re doing or who they’re turning.She gave no thought to the idea that Alex has access to lots of sick children and when Alex made her choice, all she thought about was being with Holden. I’m holding both of these dill weeds responsible for the apocalypse that’s’ about to befall NY.

Oh, alright! In Alex’s defense she was out of her mind with hunger and not thinking straight, although that’s mitigated by the fact she wasn’t thinking straight when she wasn’t sick.

Donovan, the little schemer, takes his sick mother to see Ramona. The he and Ramona  hatch a plan  to use Iris to get close to the Countess .Iris, once again gets no say in this.(Gob forbid anyone ask her what she wants.) I’ve developed an actual liking for this character, now that I’ve been provided with some of her backstory. Yes, Donovan hated her, but Donovan has his own issues and is probably more than a little biased. We only ever got to see Iris through his eyes. Now that we can hear Iris’ assessment of herself, she turns out to be a lot more sympathetic as a character. Although. my sympathy for all these characters is mitigated by the thought that they are all murderers.

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Iris goes back to the hotel and tries to avoid being detected as a vampire by the Countess but Liz Taylor knows right away what’s happened to her. Now I know why I love this character so much, after Liz Taylor gives her  backstory. The Countess did two good things. She hired  Liz to help run the hotel, after encouraging her to embrace her true self as transgender. Its fun watching Liz and Iris  bonding. Liz tells Iris her story, only after Iris admits she was scared of broaching the subject, and insulting her. Liz tells her she can’t hurt her feelings, because she’s been insulted by people who made it their life’s work. It occurs to me that Liz is right. She would be well used to people trying to hurt her. Liz can handle herself just fine.

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John Lowe gets fired after his night out, after raving about people pretending to be famous killers, in his boss’s office. Later he wakes to find Sally in his bed. She plays the spurned lover, when he tells her to get out. her face is always dripping lots of tears. That’s just weird. You’d think her tear ducts would’ve locked up by now, and refused to produce anymore.

After two pretentious young guests keep giving Iris hell, Liz encourages Irisnot  to take any more of their shit, embrace her inner bitch and let loose. Liz does for Iris ,what the Countess once did for her. Iris, after realizing her unique position, takes Liz’ advice and kills them both. I was kind of rooting for her too.I don’t often cheer for the violent deaths of innocent people but I really, really hate the rude, and those two guests were written to be professional assholes.

Alex is reunited with Holden.The Countess hires her as the children’s nanny. Can I just roll my eyes harder and harder at Alex’s dumb ass. One of the least sympathetic characters in the show and that’s a remarkable feat when you consider how highly oblivious of everything John is.

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If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get to see the vampire apocalypse The Strain should have been.

Okay I was half right. Things have started to get worse but I have no idea where the writers will take this. For all we know they might just as soon forget all about the vampire plague that happened at the school, in favor of making us watch the Countess have have sex with Ramona.

Who knows?

AHS : Hotel – Mommy

Last night’s episode focused a little less on spectacle and a little more on story, which included backstories on the new players at the hotel, how the Countess lost her money and some interesting developments between Iris and her son Donovan, with the theme being Motherhood.

But we start off with Tristan’s dumb-butt cozening up to the ghost?, revenant?, shade? well, whatever James March is, and agreeing to kill Will Drake, the new owner of the Hotel Cortez. March wants him dead because Will wants to rearrange the design of his “Murder House”, and he can’t have that. As in The Nancy Collins, Sonja Blue books, the hotel is designed, I think, to be a kind of ghost trap. It’s the reason Hypodermic Sally can’t leave. I find that all hotels have this maze like quality to them, since all the hallways and doors look alike, and it’s very easy to believe that you might be trapped into wandering the halls forever, unable to find your room, or the exit. Ghosts, not being the brightest of creatures, would definitely have trouble with a hotel that’s actually meant to be confusing.

Tristan, who as I said last week, is not very careful, is a fan of murder (and this is why), agrees to kill Drake and almost succeeds after we  get the pleasure of witnessing some hot, male on male action,(Will is a stunningly lovely man), which is a lot less hot when one of the men is a complete moron, (I think we know who I’m talking about), but The Countess puts a stop to that. She has plans for Drake that do not include murdering him, just yet.

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Next we’re on to Alex, John Lowe’s wife, and her long suffering over the death of her baby/soulmate, Holden. There’s a long backstory on this. It’s mostly annoying because she goes on and on about how she didn’t even want kids and then she got pregnant and Holden became the end all, and be all, of her entire human existence, blah, blah, blah. I don’t want to seem heartless, but she is quite possibly the most boring, trite character in the show. There’s nothing wrong with the motherly bond with her child but this could have been better written. It feels like the person, who wrote it,  heard of the “Motherly Bond” mostly through  hearsay. I didn’t give one flying frack about her woes and tribulations, regarding the loss of her son, but feel I should have, so now I  feel guilty because I didn’t. I listened to her backstory because its something that is important later in the episode..

John Lowe is still investigating the Ten Commandments Killer case. This time the killer has murdered two people at a gossip rag and nailed their tongues to their desks to illustrate the theme, Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. In other words, they were liars. Like the killer from the movie Seven, he’s not just punishing, he’s preaching. Although, I mostly think he’s preaching to John.

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Sally’s last victim, who is alive or dead or something,(I’m still not sure what the Hell is going on in this hotel), wakes up in the mattress, in the room of Naomi Campbell’s character and, in a panic, cuts her throat. So now she’s a ghost and imprisoned in the hotel with all the other ghosts who can’t leave. I know she’s a ghost and that March is a ghost because we definitely watched these people die. The junkie is rushed to the hospital where John is called in. John tries to talk to him but all he can get out of the man before he dies, for real this time, I guess, is Sally’s name. I don’t think anyone knows Campbell’s character is dead, as she hasn’t been discovered and the junkie never said.

In a huff, John encounters Sally in the elevator of the hotel and threatens to arrest her too, but stops  when she starts feeling him up and then she vanishes, like a …well, like a ghost. He is so shaken by this that he spends the he rest of the episode looking shells-shocked,(or confused as he’s not the best actor, I can’t tell). When Alex comes to see him and serve him  the divorce papers, (she just decided this on a whim), he has some kind of panic attack. That’s understandable because this is the second person he’s tried to arrest at the hotel and both times his perps distracted him with stories about the hotel.

But my favorite part of the entire evening is the entrance of Ramona Royale, a former lover of The Countess. But first some backstory on Donovan, who is in an interesting dilemma. Having come to the hotel as a penniless junkie, being taken care of and housed at the hotel as the Countess boy-toy, he has now found himself in a bad way. After The Countess dumped him he has come to the sad revelation that he owns nothing, has nothing and is nothing. Without even the ability to drive, he goes trawling the dark corners of NY, to procure a meal from among the junkies and homeless, which is where he encounters Ramona, who is lying in wait for him when he attempts to prey on her.

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She kidnaps him, puts him in restraints, cleans his blood of impurities and questions him about The Countess. Her backstory is awesome! She used to be a Blaxploitation actress, from the 70s, like Pam Grier, but when luck, and the good roles, passed her up, The Countess came to her rescue and made her a vampire because she loved her movies. They spent nearly 20 years together. Now, I was expecting the same sort of story that happened to Donovan, but no, this one is slightly different. Ramona never claims to have loved Elizabeth, but she does claim to have loved one man, a rapper she met in the early 90s. This whole sequence from the 70s to the 90s is shot in the film and musical styles of those periods, which I greatly enjoyed. When Ramona decided to turn this “fine Black brotha” to the dark-side, Elizabeth objected to this betrayal, killed him and his entourage and then dumped her. People fall in and out of love so fast on this show, that you really have to pay attention.

This goes some way towards explaining Elizabeth’s shabby behavior to Donovan, though. He was the toy she picked up in her immediate grief over Ramona betraying her. So the situation isn’t as black and white as it would seem.Ramona explains that she wants revenge for Elizabeth killing her lover, by killing all those little children she turned into baby-vamps. As far as I’m concerned though, everybody’s wrong.

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Which complicates things some more because one of those baby-vamps is Holden, who Alex meets in one of the maze-like hallways of the hotel, after she puts John to bed, after his strange panic attack in the hotel lobby. I did  get concerned at this point because Holden  does recognize her as his Momma and it made me wonder if she was going to get turned into a vampire. He did try to feed off his sister, so Mommy is fair game, too.

Later, The Countess comes to Will Drake and tries to strike him up, too. Apparently, this is the episode in which an extremely pretty man gets sexually assaulted by various people, so there’s your spectacle. He keeps reminding her he’s gay but she doesn’t seem deterred by that and is insistent that they would be wonderful together. She later tells Tristan that this is all part of her plan to marry Drake and then kill him, so she can inherit his money. It turns out, she’s as broke as Donovan, after Bernie Madoff made off with her fortune, in the 90s. Yeah, she’s not the brightest bulb in the cupboard either. As I said last week, she’s a person who has too many stupid weaknesses to be giving in to them, and its a wonder she’s managed to live as long as she has.

Donovan, confesses to Ramona that he was dumped by The Countess and Ramona releases him back into the wilds of NYC, where having no place to go, he goes back to the hotel, where he has a long argument with Iris about her about how she emotionally abused him as a child,she’s a selfish person, and how much he hates her. This conversation is enlightening because up til now, we’ve had no clue why he was shunning her. He was trying to commit suicide to get away from her. Fed up with his mother’s demands, tonight though,he tells her she should kill herself.

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Hurt by this statement, this is exactly what she proceeds to do, enlisting Sally (the woman she blames for killing her son) to help her off this mortal coil. Sally’s conversation with her is interesting because it gives us some backstory on their relationship. Apparently, Sally blames Iris for killing her and trapping her at the hotel and she admonishes Iris not to get trapped too, because she does not want to spend the next hundred years looking at her. Sally succeeds in killing Iris only to be interrupted by Donovan.

Donovan was in the lobby, boo-hooing over his lot in unlife to Liz Taylor, (who is not having that shit in her bar and gives him a stern what-for), realizes that he probably needs Iris and should make amends to her. He gets to the room just in time to resurrect Iris with his blood.

Yeah, that’s not good.

ETA:  Take note, during Sally’s seduction scene with John in the elevator, that her eyes are always wet. Every time I’ve seen her, in every scene, she appears to be crying, about to cry or has just cried. In the elevator scene, she is actually crying but it seems as if she doesn’t notice it. Creepy, no?

American Horror Story : Chutes and Ladders

Wow! I’ve got all kinds of feels about this episode, especially The Countess, so lets get started.

Right up front, we learn that its been Hypodermic Sally sewing her victims up in the hotel’s mattresses. These people are neither dead nor alive, I suspect. I’m pretty sure we saw her last victim die, after his rape by the faceless latex monster,  last week. Sally appears to resurrect him, before sewing him into one of the room’s mattresses. Why?

We learn that the little, pale-haired dickens from the first episode, are being fed blood from unwilling hotel guests. After which, they are decanted of their blood, which Iris (Kathy Bates) then  gives to The Countess. Apparently, she has been collecting, and vampirizing, these little children, for some time. I wonder if The Countess is a parallel to Elizabeth Bathory. Her name is Elizabeth but she claims to be only about a 100 years old. She could be lying about that, though.

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Iris tries to see her son, but Donovan is having none of that. The Countess wants to go hunting, but Donovan says he’d rather binge watch House of Cards, so she goes out alone and seems a little pissy that he didn’t want to come with her, which may explain what she does to him later. She’s wearing a brilliantly gorgeous red dress and this scene is very well shot. The creators are still emphasizing the beauty of the hotel but without as many overhead shots, it seems.

Will Drake, the man who is trying to buy the hotel, decides to host a fashion show and Naomi Campbell, as herself, sees John Lowe, (The Detective) and invites him and his daughter. Considering the kind of shit people get up to in the hotel, this is soooo not a good place for his daughter to be. Hypodermic Sally tries to crash the afterparty and is given the heave-ho by the bouncers, even though she lives right there, in the hotel.

At the fashion show, John’s daughter meets Will’s son and he shows her the hidden place where the vampire children sleep, in tiny glass coffins (because The Countess probably thinks that’s funny. She just uses blackout curtains and a bed.) The little girl comes face to face with John’s son, the little brother she was told had gone missing, several years ago. She has the presence of mind, when she meets him again later, to take a selfie with him.

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During the fashion show the badboy model, (Do they actually have these? I mean he’s cute but not enough to to have to put up with his bullcrap), played by Finn Wittrock, who also played Dandy last season. He meets the eyes of The Countess, who is immediately taken with his “rage”. Or as I would prefer to call it, “his dumb assholery”, because seriously! this guy has the brains of tapioca and a less attractive mullet than Eugene’s from The Walking Dead.

And the Countess isn’t much smarter, if she finds that sort of thing attractive enough to turn a man, as soon as she meets him. Naturally this does not sit well with the guy she’s already humping, Donovan, who is probably smarter than both her and Tristan combined. Donovan is at least capable of intropsection, of some kind. But not enough, because having been the center of her affections for about twenty years, it never occurred to him that she didn’t love him, and it should have.

John’s daughter comes home and tries to tell them about their son but, of course, they don’t believe her. I feel like she should have led with the picture, rather than simply screaming that he’s alive, but it doesn’t matter because the picture just shows a blurry face. I did suspect that might happen because all the lore states that vampires cannot be photographed.

And they are actually vampires, I guess, because during one of the unsexiest, sex scenes in television history, The Countess explains the rules and regulations, of whatever they are, to Tristan, before Donovan bursts in and tries to kill him.  They can be killed like ordinary people but she tells Tristan, if he is careful, he will be immortal. What do you wanna bet that Tristan isn’t careful? He doesn’t even look like he can successfully spell that word.

At one point, Tristan runs into Mr. March, in one of the rooms of the hotel, a wealthy, ascot wearing stereotype of a rich guy, from the thirties. March claims to  feel a kindred spirit with him. March is played by Evan Peters, the same actor who played Lobster Boy last season, with an affected American accent that’s very distracting. He tries to get Tristan to turn to the dark side but Tristan has just enough sense to run away.

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The Countess explains to Don that its best he not love anyone or anything too much, (naturally, she says this after he’s fallen in love with her, something she encouraged, in the first place). This is a philosophy she should have shared with him, when she turned him, rather than waiting until she replaced him with whatever Tristan is to her now.  This is a philosophy that is probably going to get her killed. She thinks she’s being careful by only turning people she probably thinks are dumber and weaker than her, (junkies like Donovan, and self destructive buttwipes like Tristan, who won’t last long enough to be a problem) and making sure they fall in love with her, except she has left a string of jilted ex- lovers behind her, and sooner or later, that is going to come back and  bite her on the ass, because even though they may have been weak when she found them, people grow up and some of them grow smart. Smarter than her, maybe.

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And just like that, Don is out on his ear. I think I can guess that the rest of this season is gong to be about ousting the Countess from her role, especially when Angela Bassett’s character, another ex-lover, shows up.

The hotel cleaning lady  is played by, of all people, Mare Winningham, who I’m absolutely  certain is dead, unless Iris is lying about her origins. While being served drinks by Liz Taylor, Iris tells John about the history of the hotel, when he attempts to arrest her for, heck if I know!…shenanigans, I guess.

The Hotel Cruz was created by Mr. James Patrick March, a serial killer, (styled after the Murder House creator named H.H. Holmes,) who killed several people and dumped their bodies down a special chute he had built, that led to the basement. When the police caught on to him, he took his own life after, shooting his happy enabler, the cleaning lady. This part of the show is incredibly graphic, so if you’re offended by gore, I’d suggest another show. Iris also tells him that March’s room number was 64, the room that John is in now. After this, John makes the connection between March and the Ten Commandments Killer, he’s currently hunting, and who has threatened his family.

The episode ends with The Countess and Tristan bleeding out some stranger he found online. I’m pretty sure I don’t like that they just killed some random gay guy from a dating app, and I hope this comes back to bite at least one of them on the ass.

<Sigh> We’re  probably going to have to look at Tristan’s stupid ass for the rest of the season, though. The two of them are a perfect example of why certain people should never be immortal. They’re the kind of people who are solely interested in the next spectacle, or grand gesture. They have little interest in improving themselves as people, are easily bored and tend to create unnecessary drama, when they are. Exactly the kind of shallow people I have little patience for in just this short, real  life. Donovan at least appears capable of love, and of entertaining himself without resorting to murder.  The Countess and her new toy, lack these skills. All that avoidable and unnecessary drama will eventually catch up to them, I hope.