Forget the UGG boots, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and flannels — I know it’s fall when the season premieres of my favorite shows start popping up again, and that means it’s time to stock up on the tissues. The season of ugly sobbing and excessive hyperventilation is upon us, my friends, and no other show can get us into that creepy, soul-sucking, Halloween mindset like "American Horror Story."
First, I think it's funny that the season premiere of "American Horror Story: Hotel" was sponsored by Patron Tequila, because that’s exactly what it took to get me to sleep through the night after this episode. Let’s dive in:
One thing I really love about this episode was the nods the show gave to all the LA stereotypes. My personal favorite was the scene with two blonde tourists who were really amped about going to Universal Studios — only to be told by their cab driver that their hotel isn’t anywhere near the city attractions. Bummer. But they decide to check in anyways because Kathy Bates’ character — no longer a bearded freak (Freak Show) or an immortal racist (Coven) — told them no refunds. This is Iris, big glasses and all sass.
By the way, did I forget to mention how fabulous the new set is? It’s a classic structure that both intrigues and scares, captured with a fish-eye lens. The set is all high ceilings and hallways. Ryan Murphy did a great job directing, reaching back to The Shining and using some of those disorienting maze shots, making us viewers feel as though we were losing our minds.
After Iris led Tourist No. 1 and Tourist No. 2 to their room and told them that there is no cell service — red flag numero uno — she left them to settle in, which is hard to do when your room smells like Grandma’s feet on a hot August day. They quickly found the source of the stank: a bloody monster sewn into their mattress, who looked like he’d partied a little too hard the night before.
Don’t worry buddy, we’ve all been there.
Meanwhile, we were introduced to yet another familiar face: Wes Bentley, otherwise known as this season’s John Lowe. Representing the classic detective look, he is logical, stoic and a family man. Currently, he’s investigating a pretty graphic murder case where a naked woman with a spear through her chest and hands nailed to a bedpost is found sitting on top of a seriously distressed man … We’ll let you watch to see all this gore for yourself. In a scene that closely resembles one from David Fincher’s "Seven," Lowe got a call from the murderer, who says he’s going to make another kill at Hotel Cortez. Looks like this detective has his hands full.
And for some dark humor in this sultry and bloody episode, "New Girl’s" Max Greenfield makes an appearance, but not as his cheeky Schmidt-self. This time around he’s a sassy drug addict named Gabriel, and because of his saucy mouth, Iris decided to give him the eerie room 64, which is apparently where people go when they piss off Kathy Bates. And she definitely got her revenge when Sarah Paulson, now a supernatural druggie named Sally, takes over.
This season of "AHS" is dealing a lot with addiction, and this year, it comes in the form of a no-faced monster strutting around in his birthday suit. Evan Peters, is that you? Basically, it looks like this season is going to be one big PSA about the side effects of drugs. Hugs not drugs, people.
We were finally introduced to Lady Gaga’s character, the Countess, late in the premiere, and her first scene, with Matt Bomer’s character Donovan, is worth the wait. It may have no dialogue, but doesn’t need it. The two headed to a classic LA drive-in, plucked a couple from the crowd and just like that they head back to their place to have a casual foursome. Normal stuff.
The majority of the episode focused a lot on the backstory of some characters. There’s a bit on Iris, who only came to the hotel because she was following her son, Donovan. We get a bit on Lowe and his wife, played by Chloe Sevigny, who lost their kid at a carnival back in 2010. Although we briefly see that their missing kid, Holden, is actually living at the hotel, held up in a small room that features video games and a plethora of candy — in other words, nerd heaven.
And for a dramatic finish, the last few minutes ended with The Eagles’ "Hotel California" playing in the background, and the daredevil Lowe wound up in the hotel, in room 64 nonetheless. Godspeed, my friend. This episode was packed with tons of little seeds that are no doubt going to grow as the season progresses. I love that the show is dealing with addiction of all kinds and the glamorization of sins.
I’m definitely checked in, and I think I’ll stay for a while.
Last minute questions to ponder:
- Do we miss Jessica Lange? (The answer is yes)
- Where the hell is Evan Peters?
- Will Lowe get his son back?
- How did Sally manage to survive that 100,000 story fall?