American Horror Story: Hotel recap: Flicker
A flashback to Old Hollywood, featuring Rudolph Valentino and F.W. Murnau.
Will Drake’s a busy man. He’s got fashion shows to host, parties to throw, art to create, and a wedding to plan. He can’t be bothered with the little details of the Hotel Cortez. When some construction workers complain about an inch of steel running the length of an entire floor, he throws up his hands: Knock it down. Inside, two construction workers get attacked by ghouls. But are they undead, viralized ghouls, or dead corridor-haunting ghouls? The construction workers will never know — unless they come back as ghosts, too. (Hey, maybe they can get together with the Danish girls!)
Meanwhile, Detective John Lowe has finally taken steps to heal himself. He’s checking in to a hospital. Why? Well, he’s had some professional setbacks, some personal setbacks. He’s very stressed out about this whole Ten Commandments Killer case, which is frequently one of the 700 most-important subplots this season. Lowe’s soon-to-be-ex-wife is proud of him for taking ownership of his mental health. The joke’s on her, though! John’s only checking into this particular hospital because that’s where the cops have posted the leading suspect in the Ten Commandments Killer case. No doubt he’s got one heck of a plan in place.
That can wait, though. Back at the Cortez, Gaga and Kathy Bates find the dead construction workers. This is the scene where Bates says, quote, “I couldn’t pick my butthole out of a lineup.” What a line! I would take a whole episode of American Horror Story that was just every member of the cast stepping into the spotlight on a darkened stage, clearing their throat, and intoning: “I couldn’t pick my butthole out of a lineup.” Paulson would kill that line. Wittrock would kill that line. Denis O’Hare? He would say that line, and Zombie Shakespeare would rise from his grave just to try and write something as good as that line.
Anyhow, this leads to a lengthy flashback: The Origin of the Countess. Back in 1925, Gaga was an actress on an old Hollywood sword n’ sandals n’ anachronistic flapper bodices epic. She played Slave Girl, or perhaps Harem Concubine. She met Rudolph Valentino: The Rudolph Valentino, the great lover of the silent screen, played here by Finn Wittrock, who is now required by law to have at least two different roles per season of American Horror Story.
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In his short life and long death, Valentino was dogged by rumors of homosexuality. On American Horror Story, no one is so easily defined. He invites Gaga home for a threesome with his wife, Natacha Rambova, played by Alexandra Daddario of True Detective and San Andreas fame. In real life, Valentino died young and Rambova died in her mid-60s in Pasadena. On American Horror Story, Valentino faked his death after a chance meeting with German director F.W. Murnau.
See, Murnau made Nosferatu, one of the great works of horror cinema. (He also made Sunrise, a much better movie which nobody ever talks about because it has no vampires.) Valentino explains how Murnau researched Nosferatu by going deep into the Carpathian Mountains, where he met a bunch of free-loving virus vampires who had wild forest sex all day. Murnau passes the virus to Valentino; Valentino passes it to Natacha; and they pass it to Gaga.
Just one problem: By the time they reappear, Gaga has been married. And what a husband she’s found: James Patrick March, the haunting mascot of our haunted hotel. Before March killed himself and his beloved maid, he married Gaga. (The irony was too delicious for him: A murderer, he saved her life when she was considering suicide.) In a fit of jealousy, he Cask of Amontillado‘d Rudy and Natacha, locking them up forever in his hotel.
NEXT: Detective Lowe puts his plan in place
Well, not forever. They’re free. They feed upon Marcy, the continuity-stitching realtor from Murder House. Poor Marcy: I assumed she’d be an undying mascot for American Horror Story. But maybe her spirit will haunt future editions. (If they sent the Hotel Cortez into space, would the ghosts follow?) Yes: On American Horror Story, actual silent film megastar Rudolph Valentino is still alive, and he’s setting off with his wife on a mission to reclaim everything they lost in their long years of imprisonment.
The last time we see them, they’re leaving the Hotel. Will Gaga try to find them? (She seems legitimately shocked about their imprisonment — and we’re meant to understand that Valentino was the true love of her life.) Or is there some darker plot in place? There are already a plague of vampire children loose on the streets of Los Angeles. What happens when a faded Hollywood star hits the streets looking for a second chance?
At the hospital, Detective Lowe puts his devious plan in place.
Detective Lowe’s Plan for Sneaking Into the Locked Part of the Hospital:
PART ONE: Fake stomach pain.
PART TWO: Knock out the security guard.
The plan can’t fail! It doesn’t! Inside the lockdown, he finds a little girl named Wren. She spins a strange, unsettling story. She was there, for all the murders; she killed the security guard in the Church. She talks about her daddy, a horror of a man who long threatened to make her his lover once she came of age. She was rescued — by Gaga, another blond child, granted eternal freedom and eternal servitude.
So, who is the killer? Wren doesn’t say. When they escape, she tells John that they need to go back to the Hotel Cortez. “Will you kill him?” she asks. “If I have to,” says John. “I really like you,” Wren tells him, “I hate to see it end.” Then she says goodbye and runs into traffic.
So, wait, hold on a second: Is John the Ten Commandments Killer? Wren’s freaky response to him — the way she seemed to know him a little too well for this to be their first meeting — would seem to imply that something is a little off. Also, what other male character could it be, at this point? Ghosts like James Patrick March are trapped in the Cortez. Characters like Donovan and Will Drake are way off in a different narrative stratosphere. Actually, I guess it could be Will Drake — he’s been such a distant figure for most of this season, so a surprise-revelation death fetish isn’t out of the question.
But Wes Bentley has taken to playing John as such a maniac. And if he is the killer, that would explain why March and the dead serial killers took such an interest in him. And we know that John has a tendency to make bad blackout decisions when he’s had a few drinks.
What do you think, fellow viewers: Is John Lowe investigating himself? Deep down, aren’t we all?
American Horror Story
An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and a hotel.