There is so much to say regarding the second episode of American Horror Story Hotel, with the introduction of Evan Peters’ twisted and sadistic character Mr. March (a spectacular job from the AHS veteran) and the narcissistic addict Tristan, there was plenty of jaw dropping moments to gush over. Before the new additions occurred, the second episode of AHS Hotel begins with the emotionally broken Sally, who is stitching Gabriel into a hotel mattress similarly to the horrific person from the premiere. Her attention shifts when she overhears constant screams from the captive tourist in the basement calling for help. We also see that these vampire-like children feed from the girl, until she ultimately dies at the hands of the Countess’ brood. Iris, Liz Taylor, and the housekeeper Miss Evers all commence the clean up crew which entails dumping the body in a chute and disposing of any bloody evidence. Iris has more involvement in the ongoings than we initially thought, as she takes blood from the children in an IV for the Countess and Donovan. She delivers the drink to their suite and he manages to evade seeing her, blaming even his previous addictions on his desire to distance himself from Iris. She prompts Donovan to get ready for an exclusive hunt at an art gathering, but he desires to stay homebound and enjoy a political drama on Netflix. The Countess has a much larger thirst for life and displays that she is fully capable of standing alone; it becomes apparent that she will soon tire of Donovan’s companionship.
Alex, a doctor and wife of detective Lowe, makes a house call for a sick child who has come down with the measles. She begins to lecture the mother, and a minor child vaccination PSA ensues, but this also stems from her desire to do anything to protect their own child whom she can’t get back. She appears as a very hardened character, but you can tell she isn’t capable of truly finding healthy ways to express her emotions. Unfortunately for her, I don’t see her becoming a fan favorite character for now. At the Cortez, John awakens to slight subtle noises in his room, before catching a brief glimpse at the drill bit demon that is responsible for most every evil act we’ve seen thus far. The visions of ghosts don’t end there, noticing a dingy couple having sex in his shower, and Holden running away from him once again down the hallways all the way to the bar above the lobby in the hotel. Sally sits at the bar manned by Liz Taylor, and it’s revealed that John is sober and refuses the notion of alcohol. Sally orders him a ginger-ale (nice choice) and she begins to allude to some of her hardships while smoking her cigarette. John begins to open up about his own demons, and explains that just days before his son was taken he witnessed a graphic and brutal scene of a man who accidentally killed his family. He felt shaken and disappeared from the family of his own for a couple days, and when he returned he took them on the trip where ultimately Holden was taken. John chokes up and Sally tries to overstep a few physical/marital boundaries that swiftly sent him back to his room alone.
At the station, John receives a package from the hotel and instantly alerts a bomb squad of a potential threat. When they actually open up the package, they find a bloody award statue, proving the killer plans on toying with the detective for awhile. Will Drake holds a party/fashion show at the Cortez where we are also introduced to Claudia, a glamorous fashionista and employee for Vogue, (played by Naomi Campbell). Will’s daughter is dropped off by an officer and the father and daughter are invited to stay by Will and the smitten Claudia. Sally hopes to enter the show and is stopped after she screams she is a resident at the Cortez, and leaves after making a scene. Before leaving she makes eye contact with John’s daughter and stares for a moment, guaranteeing they will interact soon. The fashion show begins and the Countess and Donovan make their dramatic entrance in full couture. John and the Countess also notice each other, and Donovan points out that there is definitely a type of man she prefers. (She doesn’t have bad taste, that’s for sure!) Claudia tells John that things will spice up soon because Will has booked the troubled addict model known as Tristan Duffy (played by the marvelous Finn Wittrock). We see Tristan backstage crushing up pills before snorting them with a rolled up bill, and a bad attitude. I’m already invested in Wittrock’s dedication to his role, (he’s continuing to prove why he’s a great cast member for the horror anthology series.)
Tristan hits the runway and casually walks, groping and kissing men and women in the audience which leads to an altercation during the high profile show. Tristan spots a piece of glass and picks it up to attack the man, and an intense gaze with the Countess stops him in his tracks. He leaves the stage without making a bigger scene, and the Countess appears to be enticed by his rage. Will finds Tristan backstage and tells him to pull himself together, but he uses the broken glass to cut his own face open and end his modeling career for good. In the meantime, Will’s son and John’s daughter sneak away from the show, with him leading her to the place the children reside – glass like coffins – and she notices her missing brother. The following scenes show the young girl’s memories of their family with her brother present, and the heartbreak she regularly deals with. Tristan next breaks into the suite of the Countess looking for drugs, and is nearly killed by Donovan until she arrives just in time to save his life. Tristan takes the elevator to escape, and a brief power outage leaves him in a dark mysterious hallway that looks completely ghostly. The (ex) model finds a leftover sandwich outside of a room and proceeds to eat it (that’s both gross and ballsy Tristan!) and only finds bugs in between the bread… Listerine is needed to say the least.
When he discovers an open room with a supply of drugs in reach, he is met by James March (hooray Evan Peters!) who refers to the substance as Bolivian marching powder. He undoubtedly isn’t from this era. March states that he’s discovered something more gratifying than all drugs and extensive wealth – without clarifying his initial suggestion. He tells Tristan they are the same deep down, and whistles which brings the housekeeper in with a bound up woman. March insists he use his gun to kill the woman, and Tristan refuses – so March executes her in cold blood on his own account. The graphic scene sends Tristan back to the elevator (bad… bad luck so far man.) When he gets to the next stop, the Countess pulls him from the elevator doors and kisses the still confused Tristan. John’s daughter manages to sneak away from her family and finds the hotel to look once again for her brother Holden. She follows him back to the gaming room and he asks what took her so long to discover him. Scarlett realizes he hasn’t aged since being taken and when she asks him to come home, he claims to already be there. She tries to take a picture of her sibling for evidence, but he quickly leans in towards her neck like he was about to feed. Scarlett runs out in fear, and is suddenly stopped by hypodermic Sally. Of course to make matters worse, Sally laughs diabolically and forces all of her teeth to fall out of her mouth to frighten the child. Scarlett only gained momentum with her efforts in running away, and I can’t say I blame the young girl. My initial theory is that Sally is actually trying to save her from the trouble that lies within the Cortez, but maybe she’s just cruel. I suppose we’ll find out eventually!
Later that evening the girl makes her way back home, and police swarm her house with her parents terrified that she’s been taken by the psychopath stalking John. Scarlett tells them that she went on her own and that she wanted to prove that Holden had actually been at the Cortez. They don’t believe her claim, and John reacts the strongest which is unfortunate because he has seen Holden on multiple occasions, and she is angered by the lack of trust from her parents. John looks at the picture she took as proof and the blurred image of Holden should be enough to provide truth to her story, but John doesn’t exactly know what to think. The Countess and Tristan lay across her enormous bed and he takes in the youthful glow to his skin (he’s now a vampire as well) and she explains the rules. When he asks if stakes or typical vampire tropes are essential, she claims that if they avoid sunlight as long as possible (it drains vitality) and maintain feeding, they can thrive as these creatures with longevity. They can actually die from anything that would normally kill one, with the Countess stating “bitch please, of course they can.” Slay Gaga! She also explains that they don’t have fangs, they rely on cutting (which explains the stylish gloves.) Before concluding the rules, the Countess tells him that he can never fall in love with anyone but her – she’s basically calling dibs. Tristan begins to ask questions of all the things she’s experienced since the early 1900’s, and she dotes on the 70’s as her favorite era and her identity as the “disco queen.” The discussion is cut short when Donovan arrives to the room and kicks him out for a moment with the Countess. He expresses resentment for her turning him, and she reminds the jealous vampire lover that before her – he was a crumbling junkie. He claims to love her while she smokes in front of the dim pink lights of a neon sign, and the Countess tells him it’s the heartbreak that makes them not the virus, (which she apparently knows better than anyone.) In a final attempt to seek answers about this sudden shift, she tells him that turning Tristan surpassed Donovan’s vampiric birth as one of the most erotic moments of her life. The dramatic tension, lighting, perfect acting, and music, makes this one of my favorite scenes so far in AHS Hotel.
John, now completely baffled by everything around him, seeks answers from Iris who aggress to give clarity on the hotel in exchange for a drink. Iris tells him that before he can understand, he needs to know about the man who built the building – James March. The elite man had the Art Deco themed building created in 1925 to fulfill his murderous desires. The hotel was to be filled with secret hallways, mysterious rooms, unknown chutes, all to cater to his evil plans which involved murder and sexual assault – sometimes intertwined… March was an obviously wicked man who repeatedly tortured and killed numerous men and women in true brutality. This is already turning into Peters’ darkest role in five seasons of AHS, as well as one of his best and most memorable performances to date. Miss Evers, the cleaning lady, was in love with Mr. March and always agreed to cover his murder spree for the satisfaction of his presence. Before one victim’s death, the man informed the psychotic murderer that as long as God exists, he’ll never find peace. This statement infuriates the hotel owner, and he declares he will kill God himself (and Peters’ screams at Miss Evers to remove every bible in a well executed scene). He also had a wife who enjoyed the murders of the original owner, (whom we are led to believe is actually the Countess) and she was rumored to have turned him in. When authorities arrived to his hotel, he chooses a knife and gun – offering his loyal assistant the option of which way she wants to die. She asks if she can be his last victim, and offers a smile, nervous gasp, and final brief smirk, when March fires the gun and kills Miss Evers. Mr. March uses the blade in his hand to slit his own throat before the police can burst through his office to arrest him. John applauds Iris and her storytelling, not believing her tale of the original owner, and when he tries to leave… she states that the rooms he’s staying in (room 64) was the office of the horrendous killer.
John decides to further look into the claims made by Iris and finds a common denominator with the murder weapon and similarities to the 1920’s murderer with graphic crimes and ties to biblical commandments – does this mean we have a copycat killer? Or is it just the ghost of Mr. March wreaking havoc as the 10 commandments killer? Tristan uses a hook-up app at the hotel to find a bearded hipster for a sexual encounter (and meal.) They begin to kiss in the elevator, and he takes him back to a room with the Countess. He is thrown off initially, but his concerns aren’t heard because he is killed by Tristan rather quickly. He begins to feed on his blood, and states “just ‘cause I’m sucking on a dude doesn’t mean I’m gay.” The Countess is aroused by his new hunger and they begin to hook up in the middle of the bloody scene. The Countess loves her troubled men, and I love to see all of the chaos that stems from it!
Overall Grade: Evan Peters introduction gave true elements of horror in the second episode of AHS Hotel, and the extensive concept of the vampirism made this a crucial episode to help expand on the plot of the series. My grade for the episode would be an ‘A-’
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Evan Peters gave an award winning performance as the deranged sociopath and homicidal lunatic James March. If this is a hint at what’s to come for the young actor, his role will be one of the strongest in AHS Hotel
-The Countess managed to win me over even more this episode! We begin to see the pain that resides within Gaga’s character, and her range gave her more creative room to portray aspects of the character we hadn’t seen at first glance.
-Finn Wittrock is back in full glory. The standout from Freak Show returned in this week’s episode as the rebellious model with a thirst for the next high. Wittrock has already begun to pull his weight, and claimed a spot as one of my new favorites in the hotel.
-The overall film noir feel for AHS Hotel sings to my heart! Mixing horror with one of the most marvelous genres of cinematic storytelling is a sure formula for notoriety.