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Recap: AHS Hotel - Devil's Night

AHS Hotel poster

@lcfremont recaps...

AHS super fans know that the Halloween episode is never one to miss and the Hotel Halloween episode promised to be quite the dinner party. As Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker if you’re nasty, checks in with Liz Taylor, the tone is set for a night of murderous debauchery. Choosing to employ is usual M.O. rather than use a key to his room, Ramirez does what he does best and it is the greeting he receives from Mr. March while a woman screams in terror that smacks of poor taste, but more on that later.

Scarlett conveniently decides to stay out of everyone’s hair which leaves John’s schedule wide open and available to do two things: swap sad stories with the laundress and go to the Devil’s Night dinner. Upon waking to blood running down the wall, John immediately goes upstairs to see where it’s coming from and he is greeted by Hazel Evers, the laundress.

In 1925 Hazel lost sight of her son Albert and the poor boy ended up in the hands of a real life child killer. Her son’s body was never found and she was given the sheet he had been wearing as a costume when he was abducted. Do the math, kids. John did and now he is really uncertain of how he could have possibly had a conversation with a woman who lost her son 85 years ago.

Meanwhile, Alex has brought Holden home rather unceremoniously. With a basal temperature of 75.5, Holden is thirsty and he doesn’t want juice. No, he wants the dog that conveniently appeared in the house. What do you do when you find your son eating the family pet and complaining that he wants to go back to his mommy? You go back to the hotel he has been staying at to see his glass coffin that resides at the bottom of an empty, white swimming pool. You know, just like your daughter Scarlett described to you.

The Countess and Alex have a strange conversation wherein the Countess gives herself, what she clearly thinks to be, a valid reason for stealing children. She saves them from parents who don’t pay enough attention to them. She claims that she opens her heart to them and they come willingly and Alex responds by taking a pistol out of her handbag which is comical for multiple reasons. Mainly, because it’s just completely unbelievable that she could use the damn thing, but also because Alex looks like a thrift store junkie sitting across from the Countess in her Old Hollywood glamour and the whole scene plays out like a B level noir film and not in a good way. The Countess then offers to give Alex the virus in return for her undying loyalty. Although, initially, Alex refuses, we all know she’ll be back because Holden is the great love of her life and there’s nothing she won’t do to be with him. Color me bored with the idea of Alex being a vampire. The woman who yells at everyone for not vaccinating their children has just willingly imbibed an ancient, incurable virus? Whatev.

Detective John Logan pays Liz Taylor a visit at the hotel bar and decides to indulge in a double martini. If you’ll remember, Alex told John that he’s not an alcoholic, but a control freak. Liz agrees saying that control is an allusion to which John replies, “Tonight I surrender to the allusion.” … and cue Aileen Wournos entering the bar while dancing to a Natalie Merchant song.

We’ve been hearing about this cameo forever and Lilly Rabe certainly delivered a fine performance as Aileen Wournos. I especially loved her tick of flipping that dirty mullet back like she was at a metal show. More than anything, though, I’m impressed with her chutzpah to tackle a role that was already done to perfection by someone else. Charlize Theron won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Wournos in Monster and, in all fairness, Rabe gave Theron a damn good run for her money, but I digress. John thinks that this is a Halloween costume and the two get into a strange debate. John tells Aileen that the men she killed had no prior records or history of assault. Aileen says, “I don’t know their history. I only know who they were on that day. I only knew them on that one day and on that one day, they were who they were.” This argument proves troublesome because it kind of feels as though an excuse is being made for Aileen and her actions. This is problematic because the entire Devil’s Night dinner ends up feeling like a fucked up love letter to serial killers.

Richard Ramirez, Aileen Wournos, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacey and the Zodiac killer have all gathered for Mr. March’s Devil’s Night dinner. It’s mentioned earlier in the episode that Charles Manson can’t make it to the party because he’s still alive. One has to wonder why they chose the Zodiac killer seeing as how he doesn’t speak. Surely, they could have used one of the other widely known serial killers since that seems to be the only mandate. Son of Sam is a household name. Where was his invitation? Or Ted Bundy? Every lady loves a handsome gentleman who is willing to give her a lift in his VW bug. Anyway…

AHS hotel image

John enters the dinner party to hear John Wayne Gacey giving Richard Ramirez home improvement tips for properly hiding bodies and there are some truly hilarious lines during this dinner. When Zodiac enters, Ramirez telling him, “Giving yourself your own nickname, it’s not cool dude. It’s not cool.” is hilarious and spot on. After Gacey explains in his polite, mid west accent that, “Just because you got 30 bodies buried in your crawl space, don’t meant you can’t have a really terrific rec room and be a respectable business man.” John goes on to tell Zodiac, “They never caught you but I assume you’d be dead by now. Dickheads like you don’t just retire from being assholes.” and his deadpan delivery of this line is laugh out loud hilarious. After being served a salad, Jeffery says that he doesn’t eat salad and Aileen helpfully adds, “Jeffery likes dark meat!” The point I’m trying to make here, is that I did appreciate the humor in this Devil’s Night dinner, but then I lost my sense of humor somewhere around the introduction of the amuse bouche.

Basically, all of the serial killers tell John that Mr. March is the reason that they all became so prolific. A self described Mt. Rushmore of murder, March delights in taking serial killers under his wing and showing them the ropes. March is the master of murder and he loves to help other murderers get away with as many kills as possible. What begins as a surreal dinner party quickly devolves into a crass celebration of serial killers. There is an undeniable morbid fascination surrounding serial killers and, indeed, it was reading Helter Skelter at a young age that has me unashamed to be intrigued by them, but it is a very fine line between fascination and celebration and AHS crossed that line with “Devi’s Night.” As Jeffery Dammer, played to perfection by Seth Gable, toys with his amuse bouche (a scantily clad young man) all of the dead serial killers are dancing around to the Cowboy Junkies like a bunch of wacked out hippies and it just feels dirty. Family members and loved ones of the victims of these serial killers wake up and go to work every day just like the rest of us, but we aren’t subjected to seeing our loved one’s killer be treated like a celebrity. I realize that this was all supposed to be a fun and sinister moment of dark comedy, but sometimes dark comedy is just a thinly veiled code word for poor taste. Conveniently, John is told that the entire dinner was simply a hallucination, but what if your brother was one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims and you were watching this episode? It wouldn’t be funny, clever or amusing at all. Sorry to be a party pooper, but sometimes it behooves us to behave with tact.

Perhaps it’s our voracious appetite for a truly amazing Halloween episode that made Murphy and team feel compelled to push the envelope. Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive, but either way, this particular Halloween episode did little to add to the overall story of Hotel and seemed to serve as a stand alone, throw away episode. Alex, Holden and the Countess could have easily been tacked onto another episode; especially seeing as how this was the only bit of story that had anything to do with the rest of the show. Take out the serial killers and what are you left with? Very little. The Halloween episodes in every prior season all had something a little special to them, but they also wove into the overall plot and the fact that the same can’t be said for Hotel is more than mildly disappointing. In what has been an awesome season so far, it’s a shame that an hour was wasted on poor taste

I realize that not every fan shares this sentiment. What were your feelings about this episode? Tell me via Twitter.

Sidenotes:

I LOVED seeing another Southland alum on my television. Anthony Ruivivar killed it as Ramirez.

Liz Taylor is reading Karl Marx?

They sure do love to say “Jesus H. Christ” on AHS.

The tragic mother/son theme is strong this season. Like, Tim Burton and his daddy issues in every single movie strong.

Seth Gable did almost as good of a job portraying Dahmer as Jeremy Renner did. Seriously fantastic work.

Song choices were strange this episode. Really strange.

Lisa Fremont

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

Twitter: @lcfremont

Images: IMDb & Variety.com

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