We lived in the Murder House. We escaped the Asylum. We protected the Coven. We attended the Freak Show. Now, it’s time to check into the Hotel. I’m sure you’ve seen those lines plastered all over the internet by now, but it’s got us excited because it means American Horror Story is finally back. While it seems like the series has been getting progressively worse with each new season, after watching the premiere episode of Hotel, I have hope that things are going to start looking up from now on.
Going into “Checking In,” one of the things I was most worried about was the addition of Lady Gaga to the cast. Sure, the show’s always been a star-studded affair featuring the likes of Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Adam Levine–just to name a few–but throwing the star into the mix seemed like a desperate attempt to reel in the viewers. Thankfully, however, the quirky singer shined as the Countess in the season premiere, serving up a performance that was equal parts chilling, alluring, and disturbing.
Gaga wasn’t the only one to turn in an impressive performance this week. Although Jessica Lange will be sorely missed this season, AHS alumni Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, and Denis O’Hare all excelled in their respective roles. Also, Wes Bentley, another returning cast member, was intriguing as John Lowe, a homicide detective with family issues and one of the hotel’s newest residents.
For the most part, the episode was over the top, insisting that the audience suspend their disbelief from the very moment a monster popped out of a mattress. Yes, it really happened, and surprisingly, no it wasn’t the most disturbing thing to occur in the episode. There was another scene in particular, featuring The New Girl’s Max Greenfield, that almost made me cover my eyes. After checking in at the Cortez to get high, Gabriel’s (Greenfield) trip and life were violently ended by a demented demon with a drill-do. It was the only scene in the episode I really had an issue with, which is saying a lot because the first appearance of The Countess (Gaga) and Donovan (Bomer) was pretty graphic.
With the Countess and her lover luring victims back to the home for group sex, feasting on fresh blood, and occasionally abducting children and adding them to their own little vampire army, it’s Detective Lowe who keeps things somewhat grounded. Sure, his investigations involve looking into crimes committed by a twisted serial killer who just so happens to have it out for him, but his broken marriage with his wife (Chloë Sevigny) as a result of their son Holden’ tragic kidnapping, brings a different flavor to the show. When things get out of hand after the murderer hacks his wife’s phone and lures him to the next crime scene, John decides to keep his family safe by moving into the hotel–where his son resides without the family’s knowledge.
While it would have been nice to keep John disconnected from the hotel, having him move into the infamous room 64 puts him in the heart of the horrific action, and one step closer to finding out the truth about what happened to Holden. I’m still not convinced he’s the good guy he’s presented as, which excites me. There’s something about him that screams secret sociopath, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was revealed as the mysterious murderer.
Iris (played by Bates) is another character bound to the hotel for personal reasons. Towards the end of the episode, we discovered that the reason she resides there and “feeds” the penthouse Vampires is because Donovan is actually her son. He became a permanent resident 20 years prior, following a heroin-fueled visit to the Cortez with fellow junkie Sally (Paulson). After finding her son dead of an overdose, Iris pushed Sally out an open window, officially tying her to the property as well.
On top of having a homicide detective living in the hotel, the Countess and Donovan will now have to deal with the Cortez’s new owner Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) and his son Lachlan (Lyric Lennon) who plan on kicking the bloodthirsty lovers out of the penthouse. The rest of the “freaks” are at risk of being homeless, but if the devious look in Gaga’s eyes means anything, we’re sure she has something up her bejeweled, throat slitting sleeve.
AHS all-star Evan Peters was notably missing from the first episode, but considering how great all of his characters were in past seasons, I can’t wait until his first appearance. It’s hard to tell which direction this season is headed, but if the season premiere was any indication, it looks like we’re in for a a treat.
What was your favorite moment from the episode? Are you going to continue watching? Let us know in the comments below.
Image Credit: Fox