‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ recap 5×05: ‘Room Service’

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The second Halloween episode of “American Horror Story” leaves the serial killers of last episode behind and welcomes the virtues of change, dressing up and the mass invasion of vampires.

The episode starts off with Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny). Straight after she’s been turned, Alex is back at work and checking up on a patient who has the measles. The patient, Max, is on the verge of death, and Alex does what she believes will save him — gives him her blood. Needless to say, he is turned and makes a complete recovery from the measles.

The scene then cuts to Donovan (Matt Bomer) with his newly turned mother, Iris (Kathy Bates). He takes her to see Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett). Donovan tells Ramona that Iris is the key they need to get close to the Countess (Lady Gaga) for their revenge. As it turns out, it looks like Donovan’s reasons for saving his mother weren’t entirely out of love.

Iris stumbles back into the Hotel Cortez after seeing Ramona. She is disheveled and sickly looking, not taking well to her transition. She finds solace and bonds while talking to Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) as he gives her blood to make her feel better. He tells her how she needs to feed and stop resisting her change. She talks about her sorrows in life — how she is always overlooked and never given a second thought, and now she has an eternity to feel the pain that life has caused her.

What should be a happy homecoming for Max after his hospital stay, turns into a bloodbath as Max drinks his parents’ blood. Once done, he leaves home in his pirate costume to catch the bus for school. At the middle school, the episode takes a sinister turn. Max and his classmate, Madeline, start talking about his stay in the hospital. It seems that they are more than friends because they start kissing, Max bites her and then himself for Madeline to drink his blood. Mayhem ensues and Max kills his teacher and turns everyone in his class. The school goes on lockdown when the principle is also found dead. A SWAT team then comes to the school and “saves” the survivors of the massacre. Max and his classmates tell the officers that a masked shooter attacked the school and the newly turned kids then get to go back home to their parents.

John Lowe (Wes Bentley) enters his boss’ office in hysterics, because of  last week’s episode when he had dinner with a bunch of serial killers. He tells his story and requests that arrests are made of those whom he thinks were people dressed up in costumes resembling the infamous killers. His boss thinks John has been too mentally incapable to focus on his job, so John gets fired.

 

An entitled, cliched Silver Lake hipster couple checks into the hotel and treats Iris terribly. Iris becomes incredibly fed up with the couple and their requests. She receives another pep talk from Liz Taylor. Liz Taylor goes into her back-story. She was originally Nick from Topeka, Kansas, and Nick was married to a woman out of convenience. She was unhappy until she took one work trip to Los Angeles. Nick stayed at the Hotel Cortez and was finally able to embrace her transgender identity. She was in her room when the Countess appeared to her and gave Nick a makeover, encouraged her to not be ashamed of who she truly is and renamed her Liz Taylor. Hence, Liz Taylor has worked at the Hotel Cortez since and has never come back home.

This revelation about Liz Taylor’s personal history brings her and Iris closer together. Iris then gets the strength to go into the couple’s room and kill both of them, unleashing newfound strength in Iris and a transition into a new beginning.

Then John Lowe wakes up in bed with Sally (Sarah Paulson). Unable to remember how she ended up in his bed, Sally tells John that they had sex. Not willing to accept this, he shuns Sally. Alex Lowe on the other hand, becomes the new governess of the vampire children. She ends a bloody episode in sweet embrace with her son as they both sleep together in a glass coffin.

Rather than plot, this week focused on character development. It showed transformation, both physical and internal: Liz Taylor finally embracing her identity, Iris becoming a stronger woman, Max becoming a vampire that massacres adults and the continuation of John’s downward spiral. The characters’ evolution in this episode and the eternity of the vampire is a clever juxtaposition that possibly allows for exploration in further episodes.

 

Contact Jeanette Zhukov at [email protected].