In its premiere, American Horror Story: Hotel went for the jugular, serving up everything from a blood-soaked foursome to an eyeless monster with a drill-bit dildo. But did it deliver shock and awe or shock and “eh”? Read on, then we’ll discuss.
TOURIST TRAP | As “Checking In” began, two comely Swedish girls — unimpressed by the retro-fabulousness of the Hotel Cortez — were trying to get their money back from bespectacled front desk clerk Iris (Kathy Bates) so that they could stay somewhere else. But, informed that a refund was as unlikely as cell phone reception, the girls gave in and headed upstairs. Big mistake. They’d scarcely put their suitcases down when they discovered that the stench in the room was coming from the epically messed-up fellow who emerged from their stitched-up mattress. And, believe it or not, it only got worse for the duo from there. While waiting for the police in room 64 — which Iris said was never rented out — one of the girls was fed upon by the creepy towheaded children who stalk the halls. Later, the pill-popping blondes were stripped down to their undies and restrained so that Iris could force-feed them a nightmare milkshake designed to purify their blood before The Countess (Lady Gaga — more on her later) rang the dinner bell. Before Iris could complete the procedure, however, in came Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson), itching for a fight. When she and Iris were done hissing at one another, Sally was left alone with the girls and let one go. Mind you, she didn’t get far. In the lobby, she ran smack into The Countess, who casually slit her throat. “This can never happen again,” she told Iris. Well, duh.
SEVEN, PART 2? | Meanwhile, good guy cop John Lowe (Wes Bentley) was hot on the trail of The Ten Commandments Killer, whose latest victims were adulterers. (The woman was impaled; the man, still alive, had had his eyes and tongue removed, and his Johnson glued, um, into his mistress.) After the detective got a call from the maniac, saying that he was going to be performing an encore in room 64 of the Hotel Cortez, Iris checked fair-haired junkie Gabriel (Max Greenfield) into just that room. “I’ve got dibs on this one,” Sally told Iris. “I haven’t seen one that sweet in a while.” Of course, he didn’t stay “sweet” for long. As soon as he’d shot up, he was raped by The Addiction Demon and his stainless steel strap-on. “The more you scream,” Sally told Gabriel, “the more he likes it.” She could make it stop, though. All Gabriel had to do was say that he loved her, which, naturally, he did. Shortly thereafter, John arrived at the Cortez. (Iris’ priceless reaction to the handsome guy? “Woof.”) Showing the cop to room 64, sweet transvestite Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) spotted pain in John’s eyes. “You’ve lost something,” Liz suggested, “and now you’re frozen in time.” In fact, John and his pediatrician wife, Alex (Chloe Sevigny), had lost their son, Holden, who several years earlier was abducted from a carousel ride at a carnival and was now (unbeknownst to the Lowes) living among The Countess’ children of the damned. And what do ya know? Though John found room 64 empty — he shoulda looked under the bed! — he did manage to catch a glimpse of Holden.
LOVE AT FIRST BITE | At the (unbeating) heart of the Cortez is The Countess, first encountered in all her glamtastic glory on a date night with her boy toy, Iris’ son, Donovan (Matt Bomer). After picking up a couple at a graveyard screening of Nosferatu, the lovers retired to the Cortez for a fourgy that left their bedmates more than merely dead tired. What about the blood? “Call housekeeping,” The Countess advised Donovan. Despite appearances, it wasn’t all fun and games for the vamps. Near the episode’s end, Murder House Realtor Marcy (Christine Estabrook) surprised Iris and Liz by introducing them to the Cortez’s new owner, designer Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson), and his son, Lachlan. In turn, Will and Lachlan got a surprise when they found a naked Donovan asleep in his — now their? — suite. Naturally, the blood-sucker was as upset about this turn of events as Iris and Liz. But The Countess didn’t seem worried. She sweet-talked the New Yorker and showed his son her brood’s secret — and beyond enviable! — playroom. (Though if Lachlan is ever to fit in, he’s gonna need a serious bleach job.)
MOTEL HELL | Maybe more than anyone, Iris was fearful that Will would throw everyone out of the Cortez. Though Donovan wasn’t in the least interested in his mother, she was eager to see him on a daily basis, and in a flashback, we saw why: In 1994, she’d been desperate to save the handsome junkie. Unfortunately, getting a fix with Sally in room 64 had left him in, shall we say, bad shape. In retaliation, Iris had pushed Sally out a window to her death. (Temporary as that may be on this show… ) When Iris returned to room 64, The Countess was sitting with Donovan and unable to overlook the fact that he had “a jawline for days.” (And we all know how that attraction turned out… ) Finally, after John’s dinner with daughter Scarlett was interrupted by a “Help!” text from Alex, he hightailed it to the site of what he thought was his wife’s house call, only to learn that he’d actually been lured there by The Ten Commandments Killer, who’d struck again (leaving two gents with their innards hanging out). Fearing that the psycho would further involve his family, the detective decided to move out, prompting Alex to admit that she would be glad he was gone. Not because she blamed him for Holden’s disappearance but because he reminded her so much of their son. So, as “Checking In” concluded, John relocated, not only to the Cortez but to room 64.
So, what did you think of the premiere? Hit the comments!