Welcome to the Hotel Cortez. Centered in Los Angeles, where some guests check in, but they don’t check out. Ryan Murphy and company have promised a dark, scary season five for American Horror Story: Hotel. And quite frankly, nothing is scarier than creepy children running around a hotel, which AHS seems to be full of so far.

“Checking In” lays out the land of hotel, which is filled with drug addicts, creatures and employees who may or may not be dead. As strange things continue to happen in Room 64, the Countess feeds her hunger and greets the new hotel owner. Meanwhile, Detective John Lowe tries to track down a serial killer.

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What’s Up With Room 64?

Two female tourists seem disappointed as the Hotel Cortez doesn’t seem to live up to its website. After arguing with the desk clerk, Iris (Kathy Bates), they agree to stay just one night. As they make their way to their room, strange noises seem to be coming from the other rooms. Their room smells like a dead animal, and they realize it’s coming from the mattress. One girl, Vendela, rips it open and a creepy creature pops out.

Despite telling the girls that no other rooms were available, Iris brings them to room 64 anyway. One of the girls falls asleep and later wakes up to an alarm set at 2:25 a.m., to find two creepy children sucking the blood of Vendela.

A few days later, or so it seems, a junkie, Gabriel (Max Greenfield), asks for a room. Iris sends him to room 64, where he proceeds to get high. As he’s fading in and out of consciousness, he sees a figure in plastic with a corkscrew dildo who then proceeds to rape him. In walks Sally (Sarah Paulsen), the resident hotel junkie. She tells him to say “I love you, Sally” to save himself. He does and the figure disappears, but it seems that Gabriel has expired, or has he?

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Tracking a Killer

Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) is trying to track down a killer who seems to be taunting him. Lowe is also battling demons of his own, as five years earlier his son Holden disappeared from the Santa Monica pier. His relationship with his wife seems to be strained as a result. So, Lowe throws himself into his work. This serial killer has Lowe stumped with each crime scene more gruesome than the next. And this serial killer has Lowe’s number, literally, as he calls him before each crime.

First, the killer sends Lowe on a wild goose chase to the Hotel Cortez, room 64. Nothing is in there, save for the body of Gabriel under the bed that Lowe takes a nap in. When Lowe awakens at 2:25 a.m. (the same time the female tourist was woken up), a child is standing by his bed. It looks like Holden, so he follows the child through the hotel, but he loses him.

Next, the killer texts Lowe from his wife’s phone to a real crime scene: a home in the middle of the woods, with two bodies hanging from the ceiling with their intestines spilling out. This time, though, Lowe’s daughter stumbles upon the bodies.

The incidents and the stalking killer force Lowe to leave his family for a while to keep them safe. And where does he go? He checks into the Cortez, of course. In room 64.

New Ownership

Back at the hotel, things are business as usual, as the few guests who trickle in seem to become a treat for the Countess (Lady Gaga) and her suitor Donovan (Matt Bomer). At first, the pair head out for the night, where they lure a couple of unsuspecting, horny, victims back to their penthouse for a little foursome fun. The residents end up killing couple, drink their blood and have weird sex next to the corpses.

In the ballroom, Iris is preparing the female tourists to present them to “her.” We can only assume that “her” is the Countess, as Iris worries that their blood is tainted from drugs and needs to be cleansed. Sally walks in during the cleansing, and they argue, with Iris blaming Sally for being stuck at the hotel for all these years. She leaves Sally to do the dirty work, as she goes back to the desk. Sally lets one of the girls go, but she doesn’t get far when the Countess kills her in the lobby.

Things start to go awry though, when a realtor shows the Cortez to its new owner, Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) and his son. Iris and Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare), another hotel worker, worry they will have no where to go. Meanwhile, the realtor doesn’t seem to care and brings the new owner up to the penthouse, where they meet the Countess and Donovan. The Countess doesn’t seem fazed in the slightest, while Donovan freaks out. After introductions, the Countess sends Donovan to bring Drake to see a piece of art, while she shows Drake’s son a special part of the hotel. And that part is a secret room behind a wall in a hallway, filled with video games, candy and, yes, creepy blond children, including Holden.

In a flashback to 1994, it’s revealed that Iris is Donovan’s mother. Donovan, a junkie, heads to room 64 with Sally and gets high. Iris follows them and is furious, worried that her boy will die. Pissed off, she leaves Donovan in the room for a minute and pushes Sally out the window of the hotel. When she returns, the Countess is purring over Donovan’s body.

Case of Deja Vu?

Who is dead? Who is alive? Will American Horror Story go back to its roots from season one? Could Sally, Iris and the hotel workers really all be dead? I guess if no one goes outside the hotel, they’d have to be right? And the plastic man with the corkscrew dildo is reminiscent of the leather man from season one too.

But what about the Countess and Donovan? What’s her obsession with children?

So far, the episode seems promising, with lots of hidden meanings, and things you may not catch the first time around. (Did anyone catch those 10 Commandments in the credits?) If it really is going back to season one, which is my favorite, then let’s hope it stays good all the way through and doesn’t peter out.

American Horror Story: Hotel airs Wednesdays at 10pm on FX.

(Image courtesy of FX)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV