American Horror Story

American Horror Story Hotel 5×01- Checking In

"Woof, you're a sight for sore eyes."

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Let’s play an American Horror Story recap:
Murder House was good.
Asylum was fantastic.
Coven was pretty great.
and Freak Show was unwatchable.

Where will Hotel fall when all is said and done? I’m hoping it will be one of the show’s all time greats and at least redeem the anthology series after a horrendous fourth season. Hotel’s setting holds a lot of potential, but it’s going to have to work extra hard to tap into it and not disappoint.

The biggest flaw that’s plagued AHS since the beginning is a lack of narrative direction. Seasons alway start out promisingly enough, but they eventually end up meandering aimlessly without focus. Sadly, this premiere doesn’t instil the greatest confidence as it resorts to dumping in a multitude of characters and storylines without a clear center. It doesn’t help that a bunch of these characters look creepily similar (maybe that’s the point?). Why else would you cast Wes Bentley, Matt Bomer, Cheyenne Jackson, Finn Witrock, and Max Greenfield in the same show? It’s confusing just keeping track.

The biggest question on everybody’s lips leading up to this premiere was certainly Lady Gaga. Would the iconic popster prove to be a suitable replacement for Jessica Lange who finally left the show after four seasons? Sadly the premiere doesn’t give us the chance to decide for ourselves as Mother Monster barely gets a few lines of dialogue. Perhaps Ryan Murphy discovered she can’t act? Whatever the reason, she at least LOOKS the part – her icy demeanour and stoic glares fit perfectly within the show’s demented world. I’m guessing Murphy is going for the vampire angle (without the fangs), and it’s certainly fun to watch her and Matt Bomer sleep with and then slaughter a poor horny couple. There’s also an added dose of mystery with The Countess (that would be Gaga) running candy-and-video-game-central for ghost children (Hello John’s son!). Yup, the show is still as bizarre as ever.

Finally, can we please discuss that utterly horrifying and disgusting rape scene? Sure the new wax-skin rapist killer is immensely creepy (RubberMan and Twisty the clown are nowhere near as scary in retrospect), but his PROLONGED assault on Gabriel felt very exploitative and unnecessary. What exactly did it add to the story? Would Murphy have approved such a sequence if it was a woman being violated for such a lengthy sequence? Sometimes, shock factor just isn’t worth it, and I think they crossed the line here.

Frightful Bits

– How nasty was that creature that came out of the sewn-up bed in the teaser? Yuck.

– As always, the credits sequence is absolutely NASTY. Never watching it again (but props for creativity of course).

– Seriously that crime scene with the impaled sex couple and the guy still alive was beyond unsettling.

– So this season Denis O’Hare is a cross-dresser called Liz Taylor? AND he wears a cape? Priceless.

– I can’t wait to see what Angela Bassett is up to this year. She was the MVP in Coven but a pointless addition to Freak Show. 

– It’s cool to see Sarah Paulson playing evil for once. From what I could gather, she’s probably a ghost still haunting the hotel after being killed by Iris who was protecting her son Donavaon (now with the Countess) after his overdose.

– Did that gruesome foursome remind anyone else of Gone Girl with all that blood spraying everywhere?

– Poor Swedish girls being fattened up for The Countess. Kathy Bates is obviously relishing the role after last year’s downer of a performance.

– Yup, the realtor from season one played by Christine Estabrook made an appearance here. As Ryan Murphy mentioned, the seasons will all be connected by the time the show eventually comes to an end.

– How perfect was the use of “Hotel California” in the episode’s final sequence? In fact, maybe it was a bit TOO literal and heavy-handed.

– Is 64 the only room in the hotel?

– So Cheyenne Jackson plays the new owner of Hotel Cortez. And with Detective John Lowe moving in to the hotel…this is not going to end well.

– I wish the script was wittier. I remember Coven was hilarious, but this barely had any memorable lines (as you can see below).

Spooky Slurs

The Countess: And you didn’t feel like going out tonight.
Donovan: It’s not the getting ready, it’s the clean up.
The Countess: Call housekeeping.

Iris: You’re polluting your bodies with all that sh1t. You dumb Swedish meatballs.

Conclusion
Another year, another twisted offering from American Horror Story. This wasn’t the greatest season premiere, but there’s enough potential to make this an intriguing opener.

Nad Rating
B

3 comments

  1. Just watched the premiere on OnDemand. It interested me enough to want to know what happens next. But I agree with you about that rape scene being exploitative. What I consider to be one of the plaguing flaws of the show is its use of shocks for shock's sake, to push how much it can get away with on television. Sons of Anarchy suffered from the same flaw which ruined much of the show in its later seasons, especially Season 7.

    I knew that was the same realtor from Season 1 the moment I saw her. But I have mixed feelings about the seasons being connected. Though it's nice to see some familiar faces, I prefer the seasons were separate and united only by the tone of the show.

    I think Iris made a deal with the Countess to save her son's life in exchange of being of service to her.

    BTW the new owner of the hotel is Will Drake. Wes Bentley is the actor who plays Detective John Lowe.

  2. You know what I loved about this? The second half. It's weird, I know, because I feel like people who watch and love AHS usually watch for the crazy, wicked, insane stuff. For some reason, the first half didn't do for me (that rape scene almost made me want to quit) but when “normal” stuff started happening, like developing that cop's family story and all, I became hooked.

    I know that's a very uncommon opinion, but that's what made me like this! I hope the craziness will win me over soon (Gaga was very mediocre here).

    And yeah, what's up with all the male characters looking alike?? Coincidence?

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