Sarah Paulson as Sally, Wes Bentley as John Lowe.
Photo: Prashant Gupta/FX
John Lowe being the Ten Commandments Killer was a huge letdown — like when your mother would give you an orange after dinner and call it dessert — but the lack of that central mystery has left the rest of this season with a gaping void. Now that the season’s overarching question has been answered, just what story, exactly, is American Horror Story: Hotel trying to tell? How is it going to tie up all the little ragtag loose ends within the next three episodes?
There is one thing that unites this episode: It’s all about sons. Liz Taylor, John, and Iris reunite with their prodigal sons, but in very different ways. The hour starts with a sad old couple offing themselves in one of the rooms at the Cortez, which didn’t make much sense to me and will probably piss them off after they discover that they’re stuck for the rest of eternity in a tacky motel with only one star on TripAdvisor. That scene was dreadfully sad — especially because, at the end of it, Liz Taylor doesn’t pick up that poor old lady’s wig and put it back on her head.
Anyway, Liz and Iris decide to kill themselves because their true loves have been taken from them by the Countess, but want to do it together so they won’t die alone. They agree to take care of their unfinished business first, but doesn’t everyone who dies in the Cortez turn into a ghost? Why can’t they do this in a fleabag motel down the street? Before she dies, Liz wants to set things right with her son so her ghost won’t come back.
It turns out that Liz’s son is a lovely gentleman named Douglas, who lives in Colorado with his wife and looks like Lee Pace’s less hot older brother. They have a nice night together, talking about Douglas’s dreams and catching up on each other’s lives. Liz thinks that she can finally off herself … until her son arrives for a second night and decides that, even though Liz abandoned him, he wants her in his life. Thank God he watched Pedro Zamora on The Real World, because he is totally down with the trans-rights movement. (Even though Pedro wasn’t trans, I can see how a straight guy from Colorado wouldn’t quite understand the grey areas yet.)
That scene between the two of them, where Douglas tells Liz that “there is room in my life for another woman” is super sweet, as is everything between Liz and Iris. Can we nominate them for #TrueDetectiveSeason3? They’re especially amazing when they storm into the Countess’s penthouse with guns blazing like Estelle Getty in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, possibly killing both the Countess and Donovan.
As amazing as that scene is, though, it doesn’t make much sense. I can understand what Liz is doing. At the beginning of the episode, she says that the Countess is going to murder her, so she decides to kill herself instead. Now that she wants to live, she has to remove the Countess from the equation. But why does Iris want to kill Donovan? She finally accepts that he would never love her, sure, but wouldn’t that prevent her from murdering her child? Maybe she realized how sad that crazy cat lady tribute video for her three Instagram followers was and the truth turned her homicidal? We don’t seem to get enough development in their relationship to really understand why she wants to murder him. Although it sure looked cool, didn’t it?
The other reason this scene doesn’t make sense is because of what goes on between the Countess and Donovan. At the beginning of the episode, Donovan kills Valentino, drawing attention to the fact that they look alike even though Donovan has better cheekbones. We were all snickering about how all of Ryan Murphy’s boys look exactly the same and there was actually a reason behind it this whole time. Who knew?
Donovan murders Valentino to ruin the Countess’s happiness, just as the Countess murders Valentino’s wife, whatever her name was. Edith? I don’t know. Whatever. She’s inconsequential. Later, Donovan goes back to the Countess and gets back in her good graces. Just as she asks him to do her dirty work and remove Will Drake’s body from the hotel, though, he drops the stinging barb that he doesn’t care about her and he’s destroyed everything that she loved. He’s not going to be her lackey. He’s just going to dance to “Hotline Bling” and badly lip sync, like when Oprah used to have musical guests on and pretended she knew their lyrics.
So after all that, why does Donovan show up again and ask her to kill him? I still don’t quite understand his logic. He’s not tired of life or he doesn’t really want to die. He just thinks “dying is the only way that you’ll let me love you.” What does that even mean? That sounds like something a teenager would have written in his LiveJournal in 2004. Is this something only vampires and people who listen to too much Morrissey understand? I don’t know how your mind leaps from wanting to destroy a person’s happiness to wanting her to annihilate you so she can love you again.
While the culmination of Iris and Donovan’s story lines is unsatisfying, my favorite part about Liz’s narrative is that she finally introduces Miss Evers to OxyClean for being so nice to her. Liz also buys her a washing machine, and she gets so excited that she’ll never have to wring the sheets again. How is it that Miss Evers has been a ghost in that hotel for the better part of a century and no one has bothered to get her a washing machine? That is just cruel, considering her predilections.
The final son story is all about John Lowe. He gets his son back with the help of Chloë Sevigny, and he helps her deal with the measles children by locking them in the hallway vault with Ramona Royale. (As Julia Roberts would say, “Big mistake. Huge.”) They celebrate by wallowing about how they’re terrible parents because they abandoned their poor daughter Scarlett at her grandmother’s house and no one has even gone to check on her. At least they remember they have a daughter. Then, they boink and decide that they really want to be a family again. Scarlett is invited too. Maybe. If she’s good.
After Sally sees this all happen, she goes to John’s room and almost convinces him to have sex with her. How much sex does this John Lowe need? After I get off once, I can’t go a second round for at least a few hours, even if Rob Gronkowski showed up in a jock strap holding a bottle of whipped cream in one hand and two tabs of Cialis in the other.
Sally is mad that John wants to leave their destructive affair to recreate his family with Chloë Sevigny, even though Chloë has no idea that John is really a serial killer. It’s a hard choice. Sally does have those amazing gold icicle earrings that go down past her jaw, but Chloë was rocking that black lace Victoria dress that makes her look like she just escaped from Crimson Peak. Tough call. I think Sally’s earrings win by a hair.
When John says he’s leaving Sally, we get a flash of the addiction monster behind her. What’s going on with her? What’s her story? We know that Sally is addicted to love, but does she need to be loved to keep the monster off of her back? I wish we had more clues by now, because that could be the new mystery that plugs up the Ten Commandments Killer–sized hole in the middle of the season. John leaves with Chloë and their son to pick up Scarlett, who is sitting at her grandmother’s house and is pissed. I don’t blame her. American Horror Story has no time for daughters this year.