Hotel may very well be the most anticipated season of American Horror Story yet and the season premiere did not disappoint. Opening with the usual foreigners who comes to Hollywood with the unfortunate notion that everything is really glamorous and you can spot a celebrity on every corner, we get a glorious eyeful of this season’s main set. The Hotel Cortez is a horror loving interior designers dream Architectural Digest spread. The Art Deco of Old Hollywood has married a historic New Orleans hotel and merged with an opulent vampire film and it’s glorious. It’s so beautiful that I can’t even be irritated by that obvious carpet pattern, but if I see a kid riding a big wheel, I may rescind that feeling.
Kathy Bates plays Iris, the manager of this hotel, and she’s a no-funny-business kind of lady. After escorting these gorgeous tourists to their room, the girls are repulsed by a strange smell. Now, anyone who has seen Four Rooms or, you know, any of the show’s advertising, knows that there is an unfortunate inhabitant in the mattress. This was definitely a strange and gruesome sight with the promise of more to come, but I couldn’t help but wonder how they were breathing in there. No matter, because we shall move on to the dreaded Room 64 where our girls will be taken out by darling, little vampire children. So cute! I want a tiny vampire child that subsists on candy.
In what will be my first of many squee moments, Wes Bentley arrives on the scene of a crime that could only be cooked up by John Doe from Se7en. We’ve got a few of the deadly sins present in this room and Detective John Lowe (Bentley) breaks them all down for us Will Graham style. Seriously, do not commit adultery unless you’re ok with the possibility of being Gorilla Glued into your lover’s Hello Kitty while your eyes and tongue are removed. I make no bones about loving Wes Bentley and I’m really excited that he’s a main character this season.
It’s mildly off putting to see Schwartz of New Girl looking like a 90’s Boy Band reject, but it’s a whole other thing entirely to see him brutally raped by the Addiction Demon. Do not adjust your television set: you just saw a man get raped by a demon wearing a conical metal dildo. It was not alluded to or shown in the periphery. This rape was 100% visible in the mirror across from the bed and it was awful. Fans of Nip/Tuck are still scarred by The Carver raping Christian Troy years ago, but that was a fairy tale compared to what we saw on Hotel. Oh yeah. Sarah Paulson makes her debut in this scene as Sally, but it’s really hard to concentrate on anything besides the GUY BEING RAPED BY A DEMON. Kudos to Max Greenfield for his performance in this truly ugly scene.
Utilizing rape as a plot device is something that is all too common these day and while I understand what Murphy is going for here with the demon/rape analogy, it’s unnecessarily gratuitous. Murphy explains it away by telling EW, “He is a representation of that and what people go through fighting addiction,” explains Murphy. “It’s not done lightly or blithely. I think it’s very powerful and strong.” To each, their own.
Ooh! Did I just hear someone call for Liz Taylor? Well, you could have pushed me over with a feather when the brilliant Denis O’Hare made his debut. Cleopatra wishes she was as fierce as Liz Taylor in those towering heels. It appears that Ms. Taylor has a unique insight into people and it will be very fun to find out what her backstory is. I think we can all agree that Denis O’Hare always has the best characters on this show and his absence was a gaping hole in Asylum.
And here it is: the moment we have all been waiting for. The Gaga! Just like Catherine Denueve and David Bowie in The Hunger, The Gaga and Matt Bomer are a tragically beautiful couple who could only be introduced via a gorgeous music video. Really, it’s a crime how handsome Bomer is and that is why it’s totally believable that he could easily lure another gorgeous couple home with him for an impromptu orgy. Come on, who wouldn’t go home with these two? I’ve never been ashamed to admit to being excited by hot guys covered in blood and anyone who doesn’t find the female body beautiful is straight up cray-cray. This orgy was simply gorgeous and a perfect way to introduce The Countess and Donovan.
Did someone ask for backstory on Detective Lowe? Well, here it is. He and his wife, Alex, (Chloe Sevigny) suffer from the heartache of having their son, Holden, abducted from a fair. After seeing the super awesome room that the vampire children live in, one can only assume that Holden was lured away from his family by candy and, really, who can blame him? Conveniently, Alex needs a break from her husband because he is a constant reminder of Holden, so he goes to stay at the Hotel Cortez. Shall we take bets on how many episodes until John realizes that it wasn’t a hallucination when he saw his son in Room 64 when the clock turned over to 2:25?
Remember when I said Iris was no nonsense? Well, she’s got our tourists chained up and she’s about to feed them a decidedly unappetizing concoction of foods that are full of nourishment while she also lectures them on abusing drugs and alcohol. So, it’s no surprise when we learn that her backstory involves following her son (Bomer) to the hotel only to be too late to save him from a drug overdose courtesy of Sally. Like any good, protective mother, Iris pushes Sally out of a window to her death. We also learn that they feed people in order to make them more palatable to The Countess. Paging Dr. Lecter.
When Detective Lowe is lured into a mansion, he is greeted by a shadowy figure wearing a trench coat and hat. This visual is straight out of Se7en and it was so distracting that I didn’t even care about the two eviscerated bodies hanging from the ceiling. Also ,why don’t kids listen to their parents anymore? I would have never left that cop car. Scarlett, perhaps next time you’ll listen to your father when he tell you to stay put.
Hooray for Marcy from Murder House! In fact, the entire introduction of Will Drake ( Cheyenne Jackson) and his son was a wonderful throwback moment to that season. Drake is a fashion designer who is non plussed by the curious nature of the hotel and it’s inhabitants. This bodes very well and I’m excited to see what kind of trouble Will and The Countess get into together.
I have a tendency to give Mr. Murphy a hard time because I expect a lot from him after falling in love with Nip/Tuck so many moons ago, but he really delivered some exceptionally gorgeous camera work on this episode. Outside of his inability to not consistently borrow from other films and television, he does always give us entertainment that is impossible to ignore or debate about at length. AHS Hotel’s first episode more than delivered on the promises of it’s teasers and I am excited to check in and see what else happens. Can I stay in Room 64 with Detective Lowe?
In fairness, a hotel located within 10 miles is “close”, but in L.A. 10 miles is ten days of your life on the freeway.
I really love The Gaga’s Michael Jackson Vampire glove.
2:25 in Room 64. What do you think the importance is of these numbers?
Murder victim’s occupation: Oscar blogger. No, no thinly veiled jabs there.
He reads Little Women to his daughter? Swoon, honey, swoon.
Yes, I did rewind to see Mr. Bomer’s bootie again. You didn’t?
What’s in Room 33?!
“Hotel California”? Really? Ugh.
I know it’s only been one episode, but this season seems to deserve a book detailing all of the costume and set design. Please.
Moments of “homage”:
The Lost Boys