American Horror Story Hotel: 05×12, “Be Our Guest” Finale Review/Recap

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courtesy of hollywoodtake.com

The fifth season of American Horror Story has officially concluded and the episode – like most AHS finales, was mostly spent giving us an indication of the endgame for residents of the Cortez. With the Countess officially joining the ranks of the trapped spirits, Liz and Iris maintain the day-to-day operations of the hotel with attempted renovations to rebrand the Cortez. Unfortunately for the pair, the spirits remain restless and kill off any guests who are brave enough to check-in. Liz decides it’s time to call a meeting of paranormal entities to end the murders once and for all, for the benefit of keeping the hotel open. The deceased group includes the Swedish tourists, Sally, Miss Evers, Woo, Marcy, Mr. March, and Tristan’s Grindr hookup/victim all eventually coming to an agreement to cease killing guests to preserve their home. (Needing to reach 2026 to become a historical landmark)

Liz and Iris try their best to accommodate the residing spirits, treating them as “long term” residents with growing perks (like alcohol and wifi!) Iris shares some of this with Sally who once again feels empty and alone, but when Iris provides her with an IPhone – things start to look a little brighter. What followed was possibly one of my favorite sequences of the season, showcasing Sally embrace the wonders of social media. With the opportunity to connect to people all over, she began to fill that void she had previously felt – and accumulating a mass following of people who enjoyed Sally for who she is. (Including posts that documented her general hatred for people, and photos of her trademark lipstick or heroin needles.) Sally finds that she doesn’t need to numb herself with drugs anymore, a major step-up for the struggling addict. Meanwhile, Liz comes up with the idea to be the face of Will’s failing fashion house with the designer providing material from the Cortez.

Liz quickly becomes a ball buster in the boardroom and encourages the creative spark that Will needs to reinvigorate his fashion line and succeed. It was heavily influenced by Art Deco like the Cortez, and the hotel even held fashion shows with the spirits used for modeling. (Sally can Werk!) regardless of the success Liz managed to find late in life, she felt incomplete without having Tristan, her one true love. Iris begins to see that crucial piece missing from Liz, and enlists the help of Billie Dean, a now famous TV psychic. (for those of you who need a refresher, this is Sarah Paulson’s character from season 1 who predicted Tate’s son would end the world.) After a little spirit fishing, Tristan tells the psychic he doesn’t want to speak with Liz – but Donovan chimes in to tell his mother that he has found peace and finally gives her his love. Liz goes on to rebuild a relationship with his son and a new family she hadn’t ever felt, but over time develops prostate cancer that spreads to her spine. Liz asks the spirits (that she officially calls family) to end her life for another rebirth, and keep them together forever – so their love for Liz is perfectly shown in this particular moment. Before anyone can make a move, the Countess makes her appearance in the doorway, marking the first encounter between her and Liz since the Countesses death. Liz admits that she had missed her presence, and the Countess shares that Liz was always her fondest creation in a sweet scene between complex characters. The Countess is the one to end Liz’s life and transition to the next phase where she finally finds the opportunity to reunite with Tristan. He tells her that he has always loved her and only kept a distance so Liz could finish living out all the things she still had to achieve, but now they can finally spend eternity together in happiness. (Oh, sweet love.

On Devils Night in 2022, we see that people have flocked to the Cortez because of Billie Dean’s televised specials (with one episode referencing “Mr. Woo doesn’t pay for…” You know the rest.) Iris explains that she isn’t fond of the new crowd, but John Lowe makes his return to the Cortez and states he likes the livelihood of the hotel. After years of Billie attempting to communicate with John (now the infamous 10 commandments killer) he finally makes his presence known to the psychic and provides a few answers to fill the time gap. His family is shown to live on the run for quite some time, until returning to the Cortez as their new home. Scarlet was sent away to school (and because she’s the only actual human) but the other three stayed present in the hotel until John was shot and killed just outside of the premises – making it impossible for his spirit to live on with the others. Billie asks what the importance of October 30th is, and he coyly says he will show her if she ditches the camera crew.

Of course being inquisitive and intrigued with the paranormal, Billie follows John to room 64 and realizes that a dinner parts of serial killers spirits is about to take place. (Devil’s Night 2.0) Billie becomes overwhelmed by the malevolent spirits and ends up forced into a chair at the table nobody wants to join. They threaten her to stop publicizing the Cortez (it’s ruins their fun surely) and the murders are reinforced by a very much alive Ramona, which is enough to leave the psychic in fear and agreement before fleeing the Cortez once and for all. John returns to his own room where we see a grown up Scarlet sitting next to her mother and brother (fast asleep) and he lays in the bed holding his daughters hand until he disappears for another year. (Scarlet is surprisingly sweet to her family after the hell they put her through, but at least they all get the occasional chance to be together.) the last scene shows a glamorous as ever Countess sitting at a table in the bar listening to a soft jazz song playing in the background. She spots a man she is drawn to, and follows him to the bar telling him his Halloween plans are about to change – and repeating her seductive murder ploy by informing the young man he has a jawline for days.

Overall Grade:

The finale had a lot of directions it could have headed, but they kept things emotional – to happy in the closing chapter of AHS Hotel. It felt like a fulfilling way to leave some of my favorite characters with great performers by Lady Gaga, Sarah Paulson, Denis O’Hare, and Evan Peters. I definitely didn’t expect a safer conclusion, but enjoyed it for the sake of the characters’ happiness. AHS Hotel’s final episode receives a ‘B+‘ and left me wondering just what could come next in the interweaving horror story.

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-Liz Taylor was given enough time to shine and solidify herself as the character we root for the most. Seeing her reunite with Tristan was the happy ending she deserved.

-I’m glad their was resolution between the Countess and Liz, as well as happy to see her haunting the Cortez in her elaborate wardrobe. I’ll miss my favorite century-old femme fatale, and I’m thankful that Lady Gaga granted us with her wonderful acting presence.

-I expected a larger connection to indicate a future season that tied things together after subtle hints, but nothing stood out as a prominent season six theme.

-It’s been extremely fun covering AHS Hotel, a story I’ve been anticipating since season two – and the payout was certainly a gratifying experience. See you next year for more In-depth coverage of AHS!

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American Horror Story Hotel: 05×11, Battle Royale (Review/Recap)

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TV.com

It’s been a long break AHS fans, but we’re back and ready for action after the climactic cliffhanger of Iris and Liz Taylor going in guns blazing against the Countess and Donovan. In the aftermath we learn that multiple shots were fired injuring both, but Donovan covered her – taking most of the bullets himself. An injured and bleeding Countess disappears in the chaos, and Iris is horrified that he was caught in the crossfire. He pleads with his mother to drag him outside of the hotel and end his life so he can pass on, escaping the Cortez for good. Iris and Liz manage to fulfill his wish, and another character is added to the growing death toll of AHS. 

The Countess is next seen screaming in agony as Sally pulls the bullets from her body (very intensely acted by Lady Gaga) and Sally explains that the Countess is all she has left at the Cortez. Sally opens up to the Countess about people who were “good to her” in the past – two musicians who saw the best in the lost soul. At the brink of their relationship (the 3 of them) they checked into the Cortez and began to shoot up in the midst of a passion filled threesome. The extremely twisted side of Sally appeared, and in an attempt to keep them close – very close… She sewed the three of them together by their skin. Unfortunately for the other two, they didn’t make it through the sadistic act and died, leaving her stuck in between them for 5 days. After the second day, the commandments killer came to her and began the demented/torture filled relationship between the pair until she tore herself free. Sally then begs the Countess for help to bring back John, and that the relationship between them is crucial (which the Countess points out isn’t the best timing). 

At a later time, Sally informs the Countess that she’s lost so much blood from the wounds and a transfusion is required, but the only candidates are her children. She breaks down sobbing, saying she’d rather die (another emotionally charged moment) and the children tell her they want to help their “mother” which leads to two offering themselves. Liz takes care of Donovan’s remains by cremating him in the hotel furnace, and gives them to his grieving mother who struggles with a goodbye that sadly addresses their unrequited bond. The next time we see Iris she’s covered in ashes and insists that Miss Evers vacuums (and dumps) his remains. Very eerie folks… Meanwhile the Countess ingests the blood of her vampire offspring, which leaves her healthier and angrier than before. 

Liz and Iris decide their only remaining option is to free Ramona for help (risking their lives to save themselves) and find all the fallen corpses Ramona has fed from. Ramona isn’t too easily convinced of their claims for revenge, but comes around as opposed to her current predicament. When they return to the lobby, Queenie – YES from AHS Coven – awaits to check in. (Even referencing Cordelia Fox, this is so marvelous!) Iris and Liz decide she’s a good offering for Ramona, but her witchy premonitions tell her some bad mojo is in the air. Ramona strikes from behind the shower and is surprised to learn Queenie isn’t an easy victim, using her human voodoo doll status as a way of fighting back. Things are going in her favor until James March enters and stabs her through the chest, so Ramona then feeds from the now deceased witch. I’m still reeling that this crossover and death just hit the AHS world, but moving on for now… 

John is lured back to the Cortez by Sally (pulling strings) and she tells him that one kill is remaining and he will receive his family unharmed. Obviously John has tried to distance himself (but has he really?) however he’s instantly brought back into the fold. Iris and Liz offer Ramona a large selection of guns and knives to kill the Countess, but she says the witch’s blood in her system is enough to bring her some once and for all. The Countess waits in her room (still somewhat recovering and glamorous as ever) and seems unshaken by her presence. She tells Ramona she won’t be taken down without a fight, and they share a drink before anything drastic plays out. The Countess slides in and apologizes for her past sins, before offering her the hotel – because she claims to be feeling lost after a lifetime of (and most recently) anguish. She tells Ramona she’s ready to die but in actuality, she kills her and tries to flee the Cortez. Before she can escape, John waits outside the hotel and fires at her – ending her life after dozens of close calls and completing his role in the sketchy plot orchestrated by the demon/Mr. March. RIP to one of my favorite AHS villains; it’s not easy to see you go. 

Mr. March waits for his “queen” and the Countess enters, still foggy from her recent death. (Fair enough, right?) He tells his former bride that they are truly blessed to have each other’s company, and when he says he’s forgiven her for turning him in – but she denies it. Things get interesting as Miss Evers tearfully admits to her crime and did it so they could die together. She drops to the floor and voices her devout love, yet March is disgusted by her and “banishes” her from his presence. The Countess looks on as if she’s studying the display of emotion, but before Miss Evers leaves she makes sure to insult his wife once again. The couple sits alone and he makes a toast to an eternity of companionship as she emotionally takes a drink in the episode’s final moments – a well written, acted, and directed scene to a strong episode of AHS Hotel. 

Overall Grade:

After episode 10 was a major step forward, episode 11 exceeded my expectations and was one of the strongest episodes this season. A special mention of the performance from Lady Gaga is definitely needed, giving her some of her some of the most emotional scenes possible – while bringing her strong acting abilities to the character. The relationship between the Countess and Mr. March is a twisted and enjoyable plot to the ongoing series, and I’m consistently pleased to see the progression. The quality increased to the level of the first three episodes, and after settling into a comfort zone for the last few chapters, it earns an increased grade of an ‘A-

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-Though there has been continuity between seasons on a few occasions, this was the most prominent present-day crossover and it was necessary as well as shocking. I feel a major season of importance in the near future…

-If I had to guess what will tie things together between seasons for a future installment, I’d have to guess demons. The constant reference to demonic entities in Murder House, Asylum, Coven, and especially Hotel would make it a plausible plot for Ryan Murphy and company to expand on.

-Lady Gaga has truly proven to be a stunning actress. The highs and lows she has brought to her character have been a marvel to watch unfold in AHS Hotel.

-The Countess survived against the odds for as long as she could, but her demise was certain from her past relationships. At least we have ghost Countess to wander the halls?

-Evan Peters continues to kill it this season (figuratively speaking) and I look forward to every moment he appears. His ending scene in this episode in addition to his crossover scene were two superb moments of AHS Hotel.

-Random sidenote, I’m still desperately hoping for a possibility to see Madison Montgomery return to the shared universe. She’s already proven that death can’t stop the misbehaved starlet from wreaking havoc.

 

American Horror Story Hotel: 05×10, She Gets Revenge (Review/Recap)

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Last weeks AHS: Hotel focused on the Countesses thirst for revenge, and this weeks episode was titled “she gets revenge” so you can imagine things come to a very climactic scene that could leave a major loss in the Cortez with someone achieving their coveted payback in an unexpected way. It starts out with Liz Taylor’s perspective of residents that check-in to the Cortez. One elderly couple appears, both completely immersed in love and celebrating their 60th anniversary. Having nearly succumbed to cancer within her, the couple decides to get a room where the two jointly commit suicide – something Liz has seen before at the hotel with many losses. Liz and Iris come across the remains, and Liz contemplates using one of their guns to end her own life before the Countess can, but Iris convinces her otherwise. Liz explains to Iris that her only unfinished business is with her son whom she hasn’t seen in years, so she tells her friend to tie up the remaining loose ends of her life and they can both collectively commit suicide afterwards. The pair doesn’t feel like they have much to live for and their plan begins to pick up steam when Ms. Evers makes the phone call to Liz’s son, but although he is reluctant he eventually agrees after 30 years apart. The housekeeper shares her sentiments on the issue and generally associates Liz as a gay parent, general labeling them as embarrassing, criminal, or even frightening, which surely causes Liz more anxiety to see her son so many years later. 

John continues to gather trophies from his reign as the 10 commandments killer, with his most recent victims coming from a church where he massacred three innocent people. “One more and you’ll be free” Sally explains to John to remind him the goal is within sight. A double trouble encounter takes place between the Countess and Natasha while Valentino is confronted elsewhere by a jealous Donovan. Natasha tells the Countess she should have killed her while she had the chance, but the blonde bombshell whips out a gun and shoots a knife wielding Natasha saying, “Who’s the little mouse now?” Donovan (still privately confronting Valentino) also shares the same idea and pulls a gun on Valentino before repeatedly shooting him over the love he has for the Countess. Drama is sure to ensue very soon…

Mr. March conducts his psychotic murderous hobby in the basement of the Cortez, by burning an unhelpful contractor. His pupil and new/old buddy John interrupts to ask for Mr. March to share the location of his wife (as she’s going through her own major transitions.) The two discuss Scarlet and their parenting (or lack of!) and Alex says the Countess insists the infected children are dealt with before she ends Alex and Holden’s life on her own accord. Liz is seen at the bar, and is notified her son is making her way to redeem drink vouchers they left as a more conspicuous way to discover more about him from a distance. The tall, well dressed man approaches for a drink and conversations begin to flow, with him opening up about his life and their bond is fairly instantaneous. He shares that he grew up without a father, and he says despite the absence he left, he’s there to build a bridge between them possibly. Liz feels more nervous than ever to divulge her identity, and the scene concludes with her shaken after he exits the bar.  

Alex finds the children and is attacked by a small (yet very evil) child with a knife, but John is quick to her defense. The children who want help are forcefully entrapped by the others, and one slowly dies from refusing to feed right before their eyes. Take this as a warning vampire children of the world – that’s why you should take the advice of your vampiric elders! The police question the Countess about the whereabouts of her husband, pretending to be the grieving wife, until Will in spirit form makes a dramatic entrance to confuse the cops and have them leave. She tells him she did plan on claiming his fortune as the legal guardian to his only child, saying that she doesn’t kill children – but will turn him into one of her kind. Alex brings the children (instilled with fear and self preservation) to the Cortez, and locks them inside of a sealed off floor where Will’s body is rotting and Ramona is covered in blood and very hungry.  

Alex and John sleep together again, hoping to postpone their divorce and perhaps reconcile because John seems like a new man… (Yeah, more murderous.) Alex leaves to check on their absent children, and Sally appears to John claiming she’s been used by him as nothing more than a casual sex partner to express his dark side. John being the wavering man that he is, begins to hook up with Sally immediately after a little persuasion (didn’t take much.) She doesn’t actually get the chance to sleep with him, but there is still a clear sense of sexual tension between the pair. Liz prepares to end her life with Iris and leave things unspoken between her and her son, but finds out he’s sitting at the bar hoping to speak with Liz. Before she can share her truth, he admits he’s known who she was the entire time. There is animosity stemming from the absence of a father, but the open minded man tells Liz, “There’s room for another woman in my life.” With a smile that unexpectedly brings her more joy than we’ve seen so far. This is surely one of the best scenes this season for giving Liz better character development, and a touching scene involving a conflict that represents a real-life struggle for people of all walks of life.

Donovan and the Countess share a romantic dinner, and she enlists his help on cleaning up problems – but he reveals that he’s killed Valentino, and when the Countess finds his body she lets out an emotionally devastating sob over the loss her former lover. Liz locates Iris who has prepared the largest supply of firearms in the Cortez, with a stellar tribute video she’s created for herself. (The video includes the song “I hope you dance” with rainbows, mountainsides, and kittens in the background.) Liz however feels reinvigorated by her new relationship with her son, and thankfully convinces Iris that her life has so much more to offer – suggesting a different approach to their plans. Alex and John decide on leaving the Cortez (for good) and take Holden from his playroom, leaving a reunited and happy family (minus Scarlett, but she’s the next stop one would hope) and Sally doesn’t let them leave without screaming at John from a balcony that she will kill him herself. It doesn’t stop their departure, but it’s doubtful that things end there for the unconventional family.

Donovan is seen in the suite the Countess resides in, dancing to “Hotline Bling” but the Countess returns with tears in her eyes and anger in her heart. She tells him she’s surprised he didn’t flee while he could, and tells him how long she spent seeking out Valentino after years of depression. The Countess says she tried to recreate his image in him and others, but yells that he’ll never be the man Valentino was. Donovan says that he knows she’ll kill him, and he accepts it as her closest act of love – which creates a soft spot him to the Countess. The moment takes a turn when Liz and Iris storm the suite armed with guns and send a barrage of ammunition at the infected creatures to “Hotline Bling” (I. Love. This.) Of course the episode ends on a huge cliffhanger with the fate of the Countess and Donovan current ambiguous, but when AHS returns in January you can guarantee there will be a few storylines to resolve…

Overall Grade:

American Horror Story Hotel has taken a different approach from season before, and I have appreciated the creative choices for the eclectic characters the franchise is famous for. This particular episode was strongly fueled by the marvelous and captivating Liz Taylor, the Countess, and Iris’s amazing farewell video. The episode managed to add some comedic moments alongside the character growth for fan favorites – so AHS Hotel receives a ‘B+’ for a strong installment and a smart cliffhanger for the brief AHS hiatus.

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-I never expected Liz Taylor to experience such growth in the begging of the series, but she’s quickly become one of the most memorable characters in AHS Hotel so far.

-The Countess didn’t get the revenge I expected, instead she received some rather upsetting news and a possible death that suggests being the Countess is no easy job.

-The introduction of Liz’s son was a heartfelt moment to AHS, which didn’t go unnoticed for its importance.

-Ramona needs to change up her strategy the next time she comes for the Countess… I’d say being sealed off in an unknown floor with no television is reason enough to really re-strategize.