American Horror Story: Hotel – 5×02: ‘Chutes and Ladders’

Prioritizing your midterms instead of American Horror Story: Hotel? Blasphemy.  But I’ll be kind and give you the deets.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 11.22.24 AMLast night’s episode clocked in at 102 minutes, and in that time, a lot of crazy things happened.  More backstories were explored, fresh details were given about the enigmatic Countess Elizabeth, and the history of the Hotel Cortez was revealed.  Let’s start at the beginning.

The episode opens with Hypodermic Sally sewing Gabriel (the drug addict who was raped by that demon-monster-creature) into a mattress.  In the grand tradition of victim blaming, she tells him that what happened to him was his “own damn fault” for trying to cheat death.  Interesting condemnation from someone who was pushed out of a window and was, presumably, resurrected by the Countess.

Sally’s non-hypodermic needlework is interrupted by the screams of the surviving Swedish tourist, which are traveling through the vents.  In a rage, she goes downstairs to where Iris and the Countess are keeping her, to find that three of the vampire children are drinking her blood.  Suddenly, her screams stop, and one of the kids complains that she tastes gross.  “That’s because she’s dead,” Iris explains. She and Liz Taylor dump the body down a chute, which leads to a large chamber, in which a few other dead and decaying bodies are being stored.

More of John Lowe’s personal history is revealed over a drink with Sally at the hotel’s bar.  Or rather, a glass of ginger ale because Jack Torrance John is a recovering alcoholic.  He tells her that a few years ago, he investigated a mass homicide-suicide.  At first glance, it seemed that a father had gone crazy and poisoned his family before shooting himself.  Upon further investigation though, John figured out that the father had left a generator on to keep his children warm, and he came home from work to discover that everyone in the house had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Stricken with grief, he blew his brains out.  This particular case got under John’s skin to the point where he went on a two-day bender.  When he came home, he tried to make it up to his wife and kids by taking them to the beach.  It was on that family outing that his son, Holden, disappeared.

New York designer Will Drake throws a huge, lavish party-slash-fashion show in the hotel.  Sally isn’t on the guest list and made a scene, screaming about how she lives in the hotel.  To be fair, you can’t kick someone out of their residence for the sake of fashion.  Countess Elizabeth and Donovan attend the show, and Elizabeth finds herself quite intrigued with one of the models: Tristan.  He’s an arrogant, coked up, wannabe actor who is fed up with the world of modeling.  He even makes a deep cut in his face so he won’t have to walk the runway again. Also during the show, Will’s son, Lachlan, takes Scarlett (who’s at the hotel visiting her dad) away from the party to show her a secret pool room.  In this room, the vampire children slumber in glass coffins.  Scarlett immediately recognizes Holden as one of the baby vamps.

Meanwhile, Tristan makes his way to the Countess’ room (which she shares with Donovan), and starts to rummage through her belongings, looking for more cocaine.  Donovan attacks him and is about to tear his throat out, when Elizabeth stops him.  She cuts her own wrist and spills her blood into Tristan’s mouth, infecting him with the vampire “virus.”

Elizabeth and Tristan have some rough hot tub sex, and afterwards, she tells him the details of his new condition.  Not only does he look like a 24 year old again, he will look like this for eternity because he is now immortal.  Ish.  He can still be killed, so he has to be smart.  He should avoid drinking from dead, sick, or drugged up people, and he should stay out of the sun.  The sun won’t kill vampires, but it will deplete their energy.  Donovan walks in the room and is angry to the find the two together.  Elizabeth dumps him and kicks him out of the hotel.  “It isn’t who you kill or who you screw,” she explains, “It’s the heartbreaks.  The bigger, the better.”

A day or so later, Scarlett, unbeknownst to her parents, takes a bus back to the hotel.  She wants to bring Holden home.  She finds him in the kids’ room, where the vampire children not only occupy themselves with candy and video games, they regularly donate their blood to Elizabeth– in the episode, we see Iris operating a makeshift blood drive.  Anyway, Scarlett is confused as to why Holden hasn’t aged, and is dismayed when he refuses to go with her.  He now considers the Hotel Cortez home.  Scarlett returns home empty handed to her parents, who have put out an Amber Alert and are answering questions from John’s police friends.  Alex and John are relieved that she’s safe, but fear that their daughter is losing her mind when she tells them about Holden.  They think he’s dead.  A selfie that Scarlett took with Holden shows only her with a blurred yellow smudge.

After receiving a mysterious package from the Hotel Cortez, John demands that Iris tell him the hotel’s history.  She does– on the condition that John drinks with her.  He refuses and opts for ginger ale again, but she gives him the hotel’s sordid origin anyway.  The Hotel Cortez was designed and built by the nouveau riche James March (played by Evan Peters), who included secret passageways, chutes, tunnels, and hidden rooms in the blueprints.  He designed the hotel to fit his very specific interest of torturing and murdering people.  According to Iris, he killed about three people a week, or more if he was on a bender.  March held two things in contempt: human life and religion.  During an anti-theist tirade before shooting a man in the head, he vowed to kill God.  March also had two main women in his life.  His wife, who loved to watch the tortures and murders, and his maid, Miss Evers.  After his wife left him, Miss Evers stuck around, passionate about cleaning up March’s messes.  She was especially adept at getting bloodstains out of linens, claiming “love” as her stain-fighting secret (side note: Coca-Cola is actually excellent at getting bloodstains out of clothes and linens.).  When the police finally came to arrest March, he included Miss Evers in his final kill: a murder-suicide.  Miss Evers volunteered to have March kill her; he shot her before slitting his own throat.

Also during this episode: John figures out the link to the string of homicides he is investigating: they all correlate to the Ten Commandments.