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Recap: American Horror Story: Hotel - Chutes and Ladders

AHS Hotel poster

@lcfremont recaps...


Since we’re dealing with Ryan Murphy and not Milton Bradley, the chutes and ladders in question involve the kind that make it easier to dispose of dead bodies within a spooky, old hotel. That’s right Evan Peters fans, the character of James March, inspired by H.H. Holmes, makes his debut in this episode. But you’ll have to wait until the very end of this nearly two hour episode.

Second episode in and already another speech from Alex about vaccinating children and this is making me wonder how this all ties into the hotel. The Countess does say that it’s a virus that keeps her young. Perhaps Alex will channel good ol’ Dr. Arden from Asylum and conjure up some sort of vaccination? Or maybe Murphy is just using television as a platform to preach his personal religion. Either one is totally possible.

While Alex is explaining to rich moms that they shouldn’t believe the medical advice that comes from C level movie stars, her husband John is being treated to some overt nods to The Shining, both in the bathroom and in the hallways, of the Hotel Cortez. Outside of the hands of Bryan Fuller, I wanted to be irritated by a Kubrick homage, but the inclusion of a very Don't Look Now vibe going on while John tried to chase Holden down won me over.

As we learned last episode, Scarlett is the kind of kid who just can’t seem to stay where she’s supposed to and this leads to her finding her brother. Holden is unimpressed and only asks what took her so long. Scarlett takes a picture with him and returns home to her mother with the news that Holden is still alive. Of course, John and Alex don’t believe her and I’m sure this will all work out somehow.

Our delightfully quiet and well behaved vampire children are actually a very complex system of blood filtration for the Countess. These little towheads feed on cookies, candy, juice and people. Their blood is then put through a wacky Willy Wonka type machine and presented in a crystal decanter. Very posh. In fact, the Countess has an unquenchable thirst for all things posh and exciting and Donovan’s suggestion that they stay in and binge watch House of Cards rather than attend a gala pretty much signed his eviction notice.
Claudia, otherwise known as Naomi Campbell, is introduced and is quickly taken down a few notches by the always fierce Elizabeth Taylor. Ms. Taylor is teaching the people from Vogue how to Vogue and then quickly informs Claudia that, “Skinny jeans are out, fringe is in and ponchos are forever. Make a note of it.” Thank you, Elizabeth Taylor!

Let’s keep this fabulous energy going and present another music video moment, shall we? This time it comes in the version of a runway show put on by the hotel’s newest inhabitant, Will Drake. Starring Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock), this show is an orgy of all things 80’s, all the way down to feathers falling from the ceiling and a seriously bad mullet worn by the drugged out Tristan. Tristan causes a scene on the runway and also captures the attention of the Countess. See you later, Donovan; someone full of rage and a lot more interesting has just come along and, apparently, he’s staring in a Lars Von Trier movie next year. I can’t tell if that was a compliment or a swipe at Von Trier, but either way, I enjoyed it.

AHS Hotel Image


As Tristan explores the hotel, it looks as though he is about to meet the Addiction Demon, but instead, he is greeted by Mr. James March. March, played with an odd accent by Peters, is the man who built Hotel Cortez and he has a very specific kind of addiction. I’ll just let Iris tell you.

“If you want to know what this place is about, you have to know about the man who built it. James Patrick March put every atom of evil in his being into building this hotel. March was a self made man; oil, coal, but he was new money, shunned by the elite of east coast society. So, he came west, to a land where pedigree meant little if you had a lot of dough. Here, he would build a monument of excess and opulence where he could satisfy his own peculiar appetites.”

It appears that these appetites provided the inspiration for Hostel, American Psycho and A Serbian Film. There is some seriously wicked stuff happening in this hotel and soon enough the police catch on to what he’s doing. According to Iris, it’s because he got sloppy and, yes, he did leave one of his monogrammed handkerchiefs on one of the many dead bodies that he disposed of, but he also arranged those dead bodies into the letters H and C inside of an Art Deco style border made with the hotel’s bibles. He used dead bodies and bibles to recreate the logo of his hotel. That’s not sloppy. That’s boasting. Anyway, when the cops come to arrest him, he and Miss Evers, his laundress and most loyal employee, have a strangely sweet conversation about which order they should die in. Of course, she wishes Mr. March would go first so she could wash the sheets, but there is no time and they agree that he will shoot her and then he will slit his own throat.

Oh yeah. The Not Se7en storyline continues with the Not John Doe committing crimes based on The Ten Commandments. Everything about this is tired, but Bentley sells it as well as one could hope for.

Just before kicking Donovan out, the Countess explains that it’s not the virus that makes them who they are, but the heartbreaks: the bigger, the better. Well, Donovan has just been dealt a pretty big one and I seriously doubt this will be the last we see of him. I’m definitely interested to see how he deals with his rage and heartache.

How are you feeling about this new season? Tell me on Twitter!

Sidenotes:

Currently throwing out all of my skinny jeans…..

Ulysses and Moby Dick have both been featured so far in the show. Significance?

Am I the only one who felt like Peters was doing an impersonation of Calvin Candie in Django Unchained?

There was a glimpse of blonde hair with Mr. March. Was the Countess his wife? I think so.

And that’s why you might want to think twice about randomly hooking up with people you meet on phone apps.

Craving some history on H.H. Holmes? http://www.biography.com/people/hh-holmes-307622

Lisa Fremont

Article first published at The Horror Honeys. Lisa is the TV Honey

Twitter: @lcfremont

Images: Screencrush.com & IMDb

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