Alright guys, as promised here’s my review and synopsis of the season premiere of American Horror Story: Hotel with the episode, “Checking In”. I think the best way to go about discussing the premiere is simply by introducing the characters who we had the pleasure of meeting tonight and outlining their role so far in the hotel. There were a lot of things that I liked and of course things that I didn’t care for, so let’s get to it:
Agie & Vandela: “Checking In” starts with the arrival of two twenty-something German girls who are in California to vacation at Universal Studios. However, as soon as they walk into the Cortez they instantly get the creeps and are put off by the fact that it’s farther away than expected to all of their vacation destinations. They ask Iris (Kathy Bates) if they could have a refund on their deposit to which she responds with a firm “no”. The girls are forced to stay in the hotel for the night but unfortunately they won’t even make it until then. In their hotel room Vandela and Agie discover a rotten smell which one of them describes as being like a “dead animal”. The girls realize that the smell is coming from the mattress and once they pull back the blankets they find crude stitching going all the way down the middle. They rip it open with scissors and out pops a badly blistered man with white eyes and horse teeth who is contorting and writhing in a most disturbing manner. A complaint to Iris gets the girls a new room and some questionable cleansing methods…
Iris (Kathy Bates): Fan favorite, Kathy Bates, returns this season as Iris, the hotel manager. With a short and brisk attitude we learn that Iris is a pro at covering up all of the dirty secrets of the Cortez. She also has an eye on the handsome John Lowe (Wes Bentley) which comes from the beautiful line she mutters upon meeting him, “woof”. Iris is the mother to the lover of The Countess (Lady Gaga). Her son’s name is Donovan (Matt Bomer) and thanks to a flashback we find out that he was a heroin addict who enjoyed shooting up with Sally (Sarah Paulson). After some stealthy detective work from Iris, she tracks down her doped up son and supplier in a room of the Cortez. Her son appears to be dead or near death and Sally begins to exit the premises only to be followed by Iris and pushed out of a window, falling to her demise. Iris then returns to the room where her son lies to find The Countess lounging beside him on the bed, preparing to turn him and his staggering good looks.
We learn in the premiere that not only is Iris a murderer but she’s also in charge of keeping the blood of the victims who fall to The Countess nice and clean. After Agie and Vandela get a new room from Iris (Room 64) things go all bad. One of the girls is found by the other lying on the bathroom floor with a sweet blonde child cowering over her with a blood soaked mouth. They end up in a chamber trapped in individual metal cages where Iris condemns them for the prescription pills she found in their luggage. She then tries to force the girls to drink a smoothie concocted from oysters, chicken liver, kidneys, and white wine to clean their blood for the consumption of The Countess. What a lady!
Sally (Sarah Paulson): One of my AHS all star favorites has to be Miss Paulson so I was very pleased to hear that she was coming back as a primary player in the Cortez, Sally. Because we know that Iris pushed her out of a window but she’s still somehow alive, I’m assuming that she’s a vampire as well. Sally is a heroin addict who has a soft spot for the captured girls, Vandela and Agie. She releases Vandela and unfortunately she falls right into the clutches of The Countess. In an extremely off putting scene where a doped up young man gets anally raped by a man yielding a spiraled pointed dildo who had latex-like skin, Sally appears. “The more you scream the more he likes it” she warns the stranger. I get the feeling that she has never had anyone in her life that truly loved her considering she begged the victim to “say ‘I love you Sally’ and it will all go away”.
The Countess (Lady Gaga) & Donovan (Matt Bomer): In “Checking In” we are introduced to Donovan and The Countess after a close up on a sign that says “Why aren’t we having sex right now?” The couple is preparing for a night on the town by applying makeup, snorting cocaine, and dressing to the nines. They go to a movie playing at a park where they attract the attention of a young couple. The first major scene to show off Lady Gaga’s acting chops ends up being a full on orgy turned blood bath after her and Donovan slit their throats with their rings with sharp talons attached. The scene closes with the couple lying in the blood of their victims and Donovan says “it’s not the getting ready, it’s the cleaning up” to which The Countess replies, “call housekeeping”. SASSY! I, for one, did not care for that scene at all but that’s just me. We learn that The Countess also has a brood of beautiful blonde haired children whom she’s kidnapped and turned. One of her “children” will definitely be playing an important role in the show, which leads me to discussing his father, John Lowe.
John Lowe (Wes Bentley): John Lowe is a father, husband (to wife, Alex, played by Chloe Sevigny), and detective. He has a daughter named Scarlett and had a young son named Holden. We follow John onto some of the gruesome crime scenes he’s investigating, which I’m assuming are linked to the Ten Commandments Killer. He is a dedicated father though, as we can see when he reads Little Women with his daughter via FaceTime. As he reads to Scarlett he gets a phone call and tells his assistant to take a message. Once he calls the number back we hear a man’s voice on the phone saying that he will be at the Cortez hotel and will kill again. He makes his way over to the hotel and is directed to Room 64 in which he ends up falling asleep and has a vision of his son, Holden, who was kidnapped in 2010. We see a flashback to this moment when the family was at a carnival and John took his son to ride the carousel. He gets Holden safely onto a horse and takes a phone call but when he returns, his boy is no longer there.
A lot of curious incidents happened to John in tonight’s episode like when his sushi dinner with Scarlett was interrupted by a text from his wife’s phone giving an address and saying she needs help. He rushes to the house with Scarlett in the car and leaves her there, telling a cop to keep an eye on her. He ends up in the pitch black home with his daughter following him shortly after. John approaches a man dressed all in black with what appears to be a top hat on his head but then he hears Scarlett scream. He finds her in a room with men hanging from their bed posts with their intestines hanging out of their stomachs. Yum! Due to Alex’s fear that whomever has been contacting her husband will harm their daughter, they both agree that he should go away for a while and the episode ends with John checking into the Cortez in Room 64.
Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare): Known for his weird as hell characters on AHS, Denis O’Hare returns as cross dresser, Liz Taylor. He pops up everywhere in the hotel – the hallways, behind the front desk, ect. I’m confident that he knows a lot of the hotel’s dark secrets so I’ll be looking forward to the further development of this character!
Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson): Will Drake is a fashion designer from New York who arrives at the Cortez with his young son and the intention to buy the hotel. His son is befriended by The Countess who asks him if she can show him something he might enjoy. She leads him to a hallway with a trap door that opens into a futuristic room filled with wall length Tetris boards and candy dispensers all being used by her brood of bloodsucking children.
So there you have it, the lowdown on the characters introduced to us on the season premiere of American Horror Story: Hotel. The episode “Checking In” brought us a unique cast of dwellers in the Cortez and an interesting story line so I can’t wait to see what next week’s episode will be like! How did everyone feel about the season premiere? Who loved Lady Gaga’s AHS debut? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah