American Horror Story: Hotel Review – “Flicker”
John checks into a mental institution under false pretenses. The Countess discovers something from her past hidden within the Hotel Cortez.
November 18, 2015
Lady Gaga as The Countess
Kathy Bates as Iris
Sarah Paulson as Sally
Evan Peters as James Patrick March
Wes Bently as John Lowe
Matt Bomer as Donovan
Chloe Sevigny as Alex Lowe
Denis O'Hare as Liz Taylor
Cheyenne Jackson as Will Drake
Angela Bassett as Ramona Royale
Special Guest Stars:
Finn Wittrock as Rudolph Valentino
Mare Winningham as Hazel Evers
Christine Estabrook as Marcy
Alexandra Daddario as Natacha Rambova
David Barrera as Dr. Kaplan
It seems like the writers of American Horror Story might actually be listening to criticism as far as there being too many storylines in each season. With the introduction of two new characters, they have managed to make sure they pull it back to not only The Countess’s origin story, but also the James Patrick March storyline.
While this episode was a fairly large step backwards in terms of story, it was a massive step forward in other areas.
First off, let’s get John’s story out of the way. He begins the episode checking himself into a crappy mental hospital. I was pleasantly surprised, thinking to myself: ‘Wow! A character who thinks they are crazy is actually seeking help instead of spiraling out of control.’ You tricked me, John! Turns out, he just wants to talk to a patient there who possibly witnessed the Ten Commandments Killer. He gets into the high security ward, discovers one of The Countess’s children, and she claims she will take him to the killer. Outside, she asks him if he will kill The Ten Commandments Killer, when John replies in the affirmative she says she likes John too much, then jumps in front of a bus.
Well that scene mixed with the previews for next week in which John asks if the killer is in a hotel room, and Sally responds: ‘There are answers in this room,” all pretty much proves John is the killer. The next episode is also titled: “The Ten Commandments Killer” so it looks like we will have a little resolution on that front.
Now as far as The Countess’s origin storyline goes. I wasn’t enthralled. Will Drake is finally renovating the Cortez. His contractors discover a one inch steel plate hidden behind a brick wall. Drake tells them to take it out. Unfortunately for the contractors, there are starving vampires on the other side. We then learn that in 1925 The Countess was a silent film extra who began a relationship with the movie star Rudolph Valentino (played as a dual role by Finn Wittrock) and his wife, Natacha.
While at a party at the Hotel Cortez The Countess gets word that Rudolph has died. The Countess fueled by grief tries to kill herself, but James Patrick March stops her. The two marry and The Countess learns of JPM’s murderous hobbies, but she seems down with it.
The Countess, after visiting Rudolph’s grave, discovers that he faked his death and he and Natacha have been hiding out. F.W. Murnau, the director of Nosferatu, found Rudolph on a train. Turns out, Murnau is a vampire too, it’s what inspired him to make Nosferatu. He changes Rudolph, Rudolph changes Natacha, and finally he changes The Countess. The three plan to run away together forever. Unfortunately, JPM is eavesdropping and decides to take a little inspiration from Poe and bricks them up in a secret hallway in the Cortez; poor, poor Gaga is left alone on the train platform with eternal life.
Jump forward to today, Rudolph and Natacha aren’t happy about their 90-year imprisonment. They eat Marcy, the realtor from Murder House, but let’s face it, Marcy had that shit coming. Then they eat a trio of homoerotic aussie’s before strutting out into the changed world.
As far as progress goes, this episode didn’t do too much to advance the plot. We did get that small confirmation that John is the capital-K-Killer, and we learned how The Countess found her immortality, but that’s about it. It does explain why The Countess felt such a connection with Tristan Duffy and why she would kill him rather than be left by him again. Rudolph and Tristan are total doppelgängers. Tristan falling in love with Liz Taylor just brought up the first time her heart was broken. Until now, JPM never told her what he had done, she just assumed they left her.
While it wasn’t the best episode this season, Lady Gaga completely made it a worthy hour. Every week I am more and more impressed by her skills as an actress. What felt like pure stunt casting at the beginning of the season has morphed into a breakthrough role for Gaga. With this episode she has officially been able to display her ability to disappear into a role. She has been so one-note as The Countess, but perhaps that is just because of who The Countess is and her age. She has become jaded to the world around her, she knows the only thing important to her now is money. This flashback showed that she actually was a person with emotions. She is capable of love. There is also the line when Iris looks up at her after discovering the dead construction workers: “I’ve never seen you scared before.” It’s subtle, but it’s there. You can actually see the fear The Countess is unable to hide.
I really wasn’t sold on Lady Gaga as an actress at the beginning of this season. I thought Lady Gaga was too big of a character herself to be seen as anything but Lady Gaga. Now I stand corrected. I think this could really be the beginning of a decent acting career for her.
Gaga just keeps getting better.
Finn Wittrock returns from the grave, only as a new character.
The Ten Commandments Killer plot line seems to be moving towards it's endgame.
Entire episode feels like it could have been 15 minutes and presented the same amount of information.