The season finale of “American Horror Story: Hotel” came and went. Drawing up conclusions with a few cross-season tie-ins, it had some amazing scenes but overall lacked one important aspect of Ryan Murphy’s tumultuous franchise: horror.
We return to the hotel for the final time with, surprise, another voiceover by Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) as she is getting her throat slit. The next half of the episode sets out to show what happened up to the point of her death. The episode flashes back to about a year earlier as Liz and Iris (Kathy Bates) take over the hotel as the new owners. Together, they redid the Hotel Cortez with the Countess’ (Lady Gaga) money in an attempt to make a highly rated hotel. Liz and Iris check in a couple that is in awe at their chic, upscale, newly renovated room, and in comes Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson), acting in her usual depressed demeanor. She frightens them with her sudden presence and erratic demeanor. Sally then stabs the male guest in the chest with one of her needles. As he is on the floor overdosing, his female companion runs down the hallway in a panic only to be killed by Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). Unfortunately for Iris and Liz, these guest killings have been happening a lot by the disgruntled ghosts. Fed up with their murderous activity, Liz is ready for a sit-down with the ghosts.
Many ghosts of the hotel meet with Iris and Liz at the hotel bar. They ask the ghosts to stop killing the guests. As the ghosts laugh at their request, Iris and Liz continue to plead their case that they need more business and want to actually be a reputable hotel. Will gets upset by Iris’ hypocrisy because she is a vampire. Sally and Will present a problem: They don’t want to stop killing. Mr. March (Evan Peters) then arrives at the meeting and, agreeing with Iris and Liz, says he is done with killing. He believes that the hotel needs to be preserved for all the ghosts to remain, as opposed to it being torn down and them not knowing what will happen to their fate. Will presumes that because he paid for the hotel, Iris and Liz can’t be evicted. As it turns out, however, since his disappearance from the fashion world, his clothing line has been doing badly, and Mr. March means to save the hotel. His plan of action is to wait — the hotel can become preserved as a historical landmark only if it has stood for 100 years. Mr. March states that the 100th year will be 2026. But until then, the hotel must operate normally, so the killing needs to stop. Sally still refuses, but Mr. March threatens her with the addiction demon.
Iris comes to a sulking Sally with a gift, hoping to cheer her up — an iPhone. Sally, a woman who died in the ‘90s and craved companionship, never knew the wonders that the Internet could provide. Her iPhone is fully stocked with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This way, Sally can stay connected to the world, live on the Internet and never be alone again. Sally soon embraces this and is a natural at everything she posts. She finds happiness, and soon she doesn’t feel a need to shoot up anymore.
Once Sally’s issues are resolved, Liz deals with Will’s. Liz helps Will revive his fashion line and gets his creative juices flowing. Because Will can’t leave the hotel, he has Liz as the new face for his line. She goes to meetings for him and makes the public appearances. They then have a fashion show at the Cortez, where all the ghosts and Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) modeled.
Everything seemed to be going well for the hotel and everyone in it. Yet Liz misses Tristan (Finn Wittrock). So, Iris takes Liz to a psychic, Billie Dean Howard (also played by Sarah Paulson), who is from the first season of “American Horror Story: Murder House.” Billie Dean contacts Tristan and asks if he has anything to say to Liz, and Tristan says “no.” This breaks Liz’s heart, for she thinks that he blames her for his death. Then Donovan speaks to Billie Dean, and he tells her to tell Iris that he loves her.
Things seem to turn around for Liz — her son and his wife welcome a baby girl, Isabel. But happiness shatters for her again when she tells Ramona about her prostate cancer diagnosis. It’s so far advanced that Liz gathers everyone at the hotel together and asks them all to kill her. She wants to die in the hotel; she has grown to consider everyone her family. But in comes the Countess. Liz and the Countess rekindle their friendship, which was broken when the Countess killed Tristan. Liz wanted to then give the Countess the honor of killing her because the Countess helped create Liz into the woman she was. Once dead, Tristan comes to Liz proclaiming how he always loved her and didn’t want to bog down her life by his dead presence constantly holding her back.
It’s Devil’s Night once again in 2022 and John Lowe (Wes Bentley) comes back to the hotel. As it turns out, he is now dead and only comes to the hotel once a year on Devil’s Night. Billie Dean contacts him on this night for her paranormal show. She asks him about what happened to him after his Ten Commandment killings, and he tells her. There’s a flashback to a few years ago, when John and his family were on the run because John was a wanted serial killer. He was having a hard time providing blood for his family because he didn’t believe in killing people who didn’t deserve to die. With being on the run taking its toll on the family, the family then moves back to where it will be welcomed — the Hotel Cortez. The police catch John one night after a kill; they shoot him down as he desperately tries to make his way to die in the hotel. He dies just a few feet short. John can only come back to the hotel on Devil’s Night.
John then takes an intrigued Billie Dean to a familiar set of serial killers, the ones seen from the Halloween episode. There is is Mr. March, John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch), Jeffrey Dahmer (Seth Gabel), Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe), Richard Ramirez (Anthony Ruivivar) and The Zodiac. The group shackles Billie Dean to a chair and threatens to kill her on the condition that she stop filming and writing about the hotel. In comes Ramona, backing up the ghost’s threat. Billie runs out of the hotel. After the night’s excitement, John goes to see his family. Alex (Chloe Sevigny) and Holden (Lennon Henry) are sleeping and Scarlett, all grown up, is there too. John crawls into bed and is together with his whole family for the rest of the night. Then, at the hotel bar, the Countess spots her next brunette boy toy as she seductively closes out the season.
After what was a long and somewhat exhausting ride at times, this chapter finally comes to a close. The season started off strong with a lot of potential and a seemingly interesting detective storyline. Then the season began to relish in its art deco set and took too much of an aesthetic stance as it channeled Old Hollywood both in cinematic direction, writing and costume. The show then was focused maybe too much on the visuals, with a fashion designer and stylish vampire as characters. An exploration or some backstory into the mind of what made John Lowe truly a killer would’ve been an insightful look into horror. But instead he became a throw-away storyline. Also, a deeper look into addiction instead of just a glossed-over nod to it would’ve given the season more substance instead of it being merely forgetful. Overall, this season kindly left each character with a completed storyline, and it was also comforting to see — before the season checked out — that everyone got a somewhat happy ending.
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