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.

American Horror Story Hotel: Checking In

Last night was the season premiere of American Horror Story : Hotel. This time its based in, (where else), a hotel. The creators really pulled out all the stops in the freaky department and…

I LOVED IT!

This season has a great new/old cast with Kathy Bates,  Sarah Paulson, Lady Gaga, Angela Bassett and  Matt Bomer (WOO!), This episode introduces the characters, some basic plot points and ideas. Hopefully the show can keep this momentum for twelve more episodes. The show has a habit of losing my interest about halfway through the season, not that that keeps me from watching it.

And the music! Augh! Absolutely gorgeous music tonight, including my all time favorite, Hotel California by The Eagles, a little on the nose but very appropriate. There’s some Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus in there too, along with Petula Clark’s Downtown, but the capital song heard when Lady Gaga enters the scene is Tear You Apart by She Wants Revenge.

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The director has definitely been watching lots of Kubrick’s The Shining, so if you’re not a fan of long dollying camera moves, centering and overhead shots, small children standing around in the hallway, and boldly patterned hotel rugs, then this is not your show.This is what The Shining would have been if Kubrick had been an acidhead.

The Hotel Cortez, itself, is absolutely gorgeous. I just loved looking at it, my eyes circling around the screen, finding all of its wonderful details, including an ancient cigarette machine in the corner, the Art Deco light fixtures, the furniture. Its a visually rich set. As for the denizens of the hotel, they’re just as compelling to watch.

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The first person we meet is Kathy Bates character, Iris, the hotel manager. She has a more prosaic reason for being there then just minding the store .My favorite character is the gender-bending bartender, Liz Taylor, played by Denis O’Hare. I loved every moment of that actor’s screen time.Matt Bomer plays Donovan, who spends his time having blood orgies with the owner of Hotel Cortez, The Countess, played by Lady Gaga. There’s Will Drake a a fashion designer who wants to buy the hotel, Sarah Paulson’s character is Hypodermic Sally, one of the hotel regulars. I think she may be dead. In fact, its probable that more than a few of the characters are dead or dead-ish. Sally owns a pet something, that’s more or less human, and wrapped in latex.

There are all kinds of graphic shenanigans going on at the hotel. It’s a fairly cheap hotel, ,depsite its beauty. Theres a lot of screams, gasps and moaning from behind closed doors, as you wander the dimly lit halls. From time to time, you see little blond children, who may or may not be ghosts. People get sewn into mattresses, alive, patrons get raped by latex covered monsters as they die from drug overdoses, and strangers unknowingly get seduced into orgies with vampires, who rip their throats out.

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This show is not for people with delicate sensibilities. if you are easily triggered or certain things offend you, you might want to avoid it, as its pretty graphic. There’s sex, nudity, violence, and lots and lots of blood.

The Countess and Donovan are something like vampires, although its probably more complicated. Iris is Donovan’s mother, who followed him to the hotel twenty years ago, when he got lured in by Sally. Sally is complicated. She is not a ghost but she is not alive, in the traditional sense of the term. We watch her fall from a hotel window that’s several stories and land on her face. She breaks but she survives, so what is she?

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There’s secret rooms where tiny blonde children play video games during the day and hunt down the hotel patrons at night. Iris forces people to take health drinks before sacrificing them to The Countess and there’s the detective, John Lowe, played by Wes Bentley, who lost his  very young son at an amusement park,  and whose family is still dealing with the loss. He comes to the hotel because a serial killer,styled somewhat like a cross between The Red Dragon and that guy from the movie Seven, has baited him into the hotel.

So we’ve got all the basic character and plot threads for what I hope is a good season. Later, Angela Basset portrays a music star, and  former lover to The Countess, who comes to the hotel to get revenge on her and I’m very looking forward to that. Hopefully the show can carry this momentum through to the end. I hope it keeps making standout musical choices, too.