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TV Recap – American Horror Story: Hotel ‘Checking In’

5 min read

Ah it’s my favourite time of year: the fall premiere season, when our favourite shows return and we decide which new shows are worth our time. American Horror Story has been given somewhat of a reboot this year, with an A-list cast gracing the screen and Lady Gaga in the lead role. So without further ado, let’s dive into what happened when we checked into the Hotel Cortez this week.

Two young Swedish backpackers check into the Hotel Cortez in Downtown Los Angeles, and despite their reseverations about the ‘retro’ look, they decide to stay the night. They do this even after a bald man/creature crawls out of their sewn up matress, so you know, life choices. One of the girls awakes at 2am to find her friend being fed upon by little blonde children with blood dripping from their mouths. Well, we already knew they weren’t going to last.

We cut from this to detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley), who’s investigating a rather gruesome murder that had many reaching for the  remote to avert their eyes. We watch as he looks over the case notes to another murder he’s currently investigating, and then simultaneously reads Little Women to his daughter via Facetime. Just when it seems like Lowe’s got it pretty good, he gets a phone call: the killer says he’s going to claim another victim in room 64 of Hotel Cortez.

Coincidentally, a guest just checked into that room. Wannabe rock star and junkie Max Greenfield decided that this was the perfect place to stop to shoot up some heroin (anybody else weirded out by Greenfield looking so tragic as opposed to his role on New Girl?). And 25 minutes in, this is where AHS pulled out one of its most shocking scenes in a long time. Greenfield gets murder-raped by a skinless man wearing a drillbit dildo strap-on, whilst Sally (Sarah Paulson) screams at him to “tell me you love me!” With the scene so drawn out and shown from various angles, many viewers quickly turned off their televisions in disgust.


Detective Lowe arrives at the Hotel Cortez and is led to room 64, where the is nobody to be found. Lowe lies down on the bed for a bit of a nap,and fails to notice Greenfield’s corpse beneath the bed. Or is it a corpse? We see Greenfield wake up gasping for breath; this is not unlike Season 1’s murder house, where the dead inhabitats of the house were stuck in a trapped afterlife. Lowe wakes up and sees one of the little blonde children, whom he seems to recognise. He chases him down the hall but the boy has disappeared.

We then get to the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Lady Gaga makes her appearance as The Countess, a kind of vampiress who desires sex and blood, alongside boytoy Matt Bomer. The two are undoubtedly the most beautiful couple to  ever grace a television screen and the music montage of the pair getting ready is divine. Gaga really embodies all the themes of AHS, and it’s evident to see that this season has more than likely been largely influenced by her own personality.

The pair head to Cinespia, an outdoor-projected film at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Here they flirt with another couple, before taking them back to the Hotel Cortez for a wild sexual adventure. Well it is a fun orgy, until Bomer and Gaga slit open their throats and drink their blood in orgasmic bliss. The Countess gets what The Countess wants.

Whilst Gaga and Bomer worry about the clean up on their once white sheets (who’s idea was that?), we find out what happened to our Swedish tourists from the introduction. They’ve been caged up, and hotel receptionist Iris (Kathy Bates) makes them a tasty smoothie to flush their system. She refers to the fact that it’ll make them taste better, meaning that the girls are likely prey for Gaga. Sally shows up and it’s clear that these women have history; Iris labels Sally as “the beginning and end of all my suffering.” Sally convinces Iris to leave and to her let her take care of the tourists, which was apparently a bad idea because she let’s one of them go. The poor girl almost makes it to the entrance before The Countess stops her and slits her throat.

American Horror Story Hotel

Detective Lowe was having quality time with his daughter before receiving a mysterious “help me” message from his wife. He races to the address she sent, only to get there and find out it was a set up by the killer. Two young men are found dead with their intestines hanging out. There is clearly someone out to get Lowe and isn’t afraid to leave bodies in their wake. With this in mind, Lowe decides to move out of home to keep his wide and daughter safe. His wife says that she isn’t upset to see him go, and a flashback reveals why. Back in 2010 Lowe put Holden on a carousel at the Santa Monica Pier and turned his back for a second. When he turned back Holden was gone and no where to be found. With the killer presumably after Lowe he decides to move into the Hotel Cortez. Is this a logical idea? Probably not.

Someone else just moving into the hotel is Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) and his son Lachlan, who have actually bought the Cortez. This seems to be all part of The Countess’ plan, and she takes Lachlan to a secret kids room filled with candy and video games (guess the candy does work, huh). There she introduces Lachlan to one of the creepy little blond kids, and addresses him as Holden. Oh my gosh, it is Lowe’s son! Whaaaaaat. How did this happen? We are yet to find out.

One thing we did find out though was how some of the residents ended up in the Cortez. In 1994, we see Bomer in a flannelette shirt entering the Cortez for the first time with Sally, and they head upstairs to shoot some heroin. Iris hurries after them (turns out she’s Bomer’s mother), but finds her son looking decidely dead. She pushes Sally out of a window about ten stories high and heads back to grieve, where she finds Gaga admiring her son’s magnificent jawline. Does Gaga own Bomer’s soul?

So that was the first episode of AHS:Hotel, and it paid homage to a variety of horror films. I felt it was a little disjointed at times, but feel like the potential is there (despite the scenes added for shock value only). It feels like we were introduced to so many characters in this first episode, yet there are many more to come. Is 12 episodes enough to answer all our questions about the mysterious Hotel Cortez? Only time will tell.