After 12 long weeks, we’ve finally checked out of the Hotel Cortez, with the hotel looking very different to how we entered it. I’m not sure what I expected from the Hotel finale, but it certainly surprised me: an ending that left most characters with a happy ending, and an episode that had you reaching for tissues more often than gasping in horor. With that in mind, let’s recap American Horror Story: Hotel for the last time, shall we?
Iris and Liz have taken over the hotel, and liquidated some of the Countess’ art pieces for money to transform the Cortez. They want the hotel to be a Five Star hotel; they’ve given it new paint, have free wifi, and even one of those fancy japanese toilets. When the hotel critics arrive, they like everything they see as well… that is until they’re dead of course. Sally is unsurprisingly the culprit, and has lured Will Drake into her web of murder. Liz and Iris call a meeting with the ghosts, because enough is enough! Most of the ghosts are pretty chill, as the only people murdering anyone are Sally and Will. They refuse to give up their livelihood, until James Patrick March makes an appearance and delivers some surprisingly good logic. If people keep going missing at the hotel, then the hotel will be shut down and they’ll all be sent to hell. But March has a plan: in 2026 the building will be 100 years old, making it an historical landmark and no one will be able to tear it down. But alas it’s only 2016, so everyone will have to behave themselves to keep the hotel running for the next 10 years.
Then begins the happy endings. Sally’s abandonment issues have only been worse since John left, but now that the Cortez has free wifi, Iris solves all of Sally’s mental issues with an iphone. Hurray! Loaded with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and every social media platform that you could want, Sally finds herself with hundreds of followers and never alone again. Let’s all be honest: this ending for Sally was more than a little ridiculous. Will Drake is also a difficult one to deal with. With his company dying because he would never let anyone else assist with his designs, Liz develops an idea. Drake will continue to design, whilst Liz will be the new face of the brand and act on his behalf. Liz takes to the role swimmingly, and the mystery surrounding Drake only adds to the popularity of his fashion. They hold uber-exclusive fashion shows at the Cortez; no phones and no cameras, meaning that this mystery only continues to grow. He might be dead, but Will Drake is still one of the top names in the fashion industry.
Whilst Liz is loving her new role, she’s lost without Tristan. Dennis O’Hare absolutely nailed the role of Liz Taylor throughout Hotel, and this was more than obvious in the finale (aka Dennis O’Hare show). Iris surprises Liz with the arrival of Billie Dean Howard, a psychic whom we first met in season 1’s Murder House. She’s since gotten her own Lifetime show, and was excited to check out the hotel which has a few spirits about. Billie is able to contact Tristan, but alas he won’t talk to Liz. Whilst this is heartbreaking, Donovan’s spirit also reaches out in the moment to finally tell Iris that he loves her (and can smell blueberry pancakes. Pancakes and Matt Bomer? I am so there).
But Liz manages to find a way to move on without Tristan. She finally gets to have a place in her son’s life, and is there when her granddaughter is born. Liz has everything she ever wanted (albeit Tristan)… so of course she becomes the first woman to get prostate cancer. Not wanting to risk dying in a hospital, Liz makes the decision to have the ghosts kill her so that she can still live on with her Cortez family. The ghosts are about to release Liz from her illness when an unexpected visitor shows up: The Countess. This death is about rebirth and transitioning, and the Countess was there when she first helped Liz transform from a man into the woman she was supposed to be. Therefore it was only fitting that she be the one to cut Liz’s throat, and rebirth her into the spirit world. Tristan is there waiting for Liz; he didn’t want to talk to her before because Liz still had so much living to do. With that, the two of them are reunited and live happily ever after.
Since her first eye-opening visit, we see that Billie Dean Howard has become a regular visit to the Cortez some years later, filming Halloween specials there every year. Whilst Iris initially thought it would be good publicity, she now just wants to get rid of the nusiance. This is because the Cortez has become a place for regular people to seek out the supernatural, or as Iris put it, ‘freaks and weirdos who want to be ploughed by ghosts.’ Therefore the Hotel is full on Halloween 2022, also known as Devil’s Night. We see John stroll in; where has he been? With the world knowing John’s identity as the Ten Commandments Killer (we’re unsure how that happened), Billie has been trying to communicate with his spirit for years. He decides this is the time to tell her, and opens up on his life once he finished the killings. With his identity out, the entire Lowe family was on the run. John needed to feed Alex and Holden, but he didn’t want to kill anyone who didn’t deserve it. This meant that they often had to drink dog’s blood, which is apparently awful, and put strains on the family. Moving back to the Cortez and a city with more unsavoury victims, John is out hunting one night when he gets caught by police and is killed metres from the Hotel. Alas, his spirit will not restlessly roam the halls like so many others.
However, just like March’s other protegees, Lowe can return one night a year on Devil’s Night. This year, he decides to invite Billie along with him. Oh that stupid, naive woman. She quickly recognises the murderous spirits, but believes se is protected by the white light. Yeah, she soon learns that that isn’t true. With some absinthe down the hatch, it seems as though the serial killers are going to make Billie their human sacrifice. Alas, they just wanted to scare her into leaving the hotel alone. Whilst they’re spirits and can’t enforce this outside of the Hotel, Ramona shows up to ensure her that she’ll hunt Billie down if she so much as speaks the words ‘Hotel Cortez’ to anyone. With that Billie flees, and we realise that the Countess didn’t kill Ramona after all. Good times. I didn’t love these connections to past AHS seasons on Hotel; they seemed quite forced to me. And bringing Queenie on just to kill her was just plain rude.
John heads to spend the rest of his hours with his ageless wife and son, and quite aged daughter. We’re told that Scarlett was sent to the Thatcher School along with Lachlan, where they can both pretend that they’re normal kids. She comes to the Cortez every Halloween so that the family can spend some time together whilst John is still there (except that Alex and Holden were asleep, so they clearly don’t care about John *that* much). With everyone together with their loved ones, we’re left wondering: where’s the Countess? We find her down at the bar, chatting to a handsome supernatural obsessed guy who could suspiciously be mistaken for Matt Bomer or Finn Wittrock. “You have a jawline for days,” she purrs, as the episode draws to an end. I just feel bad for Donovan; she used that line on everyone buddy, sorry.
With that, American Horror Story: Hotel is complete. This episode definitely felt like a rush to tie up all the loose ends and plot holes, but we’re still left with unanswered questions. Why was the Countess ever called the Countess? What happened to her demon-child baby Bartholomew? How did the Addiction Demon come to be and how does March control it? What do Alex and Holden do with their lives? These are just a few of the many questions left unanswered, but after watching previous seasons, Hotel did a better job at wrapping up storylines than most. I personally rank the seasons in this order: Asylum, Murder House, Hotel, Coven and Freakshow (if you’ve read my recaps of Freakshow then you know I thought it was a complete atrocity).
Thank you for continuing to read along to my rambling thoughts about AHS. As always, I’d love to hear theories about gaping plotlines from Hotel or the upcoming season six in the comments section. But for now, thank you for checking in to the Hotel Cortez with me. I hope you enjoyed your stay.