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TV Review: American Horror Story: Hotel (Season 5, Episode 3)

EPISODE: MOMMY

THE SCOOP: The Lowe family dynamic is reframed when Alex sees Holden inside the hotel. Meanwhile, Donovan gets kidnapped by a vengeful acquaintance of the Countess.

WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE, STOP READING HERE!

THE SKINNY: Following a sophomore slump of a second frame last week in "Chutes and Ladders," director Bradley Buecker offers a bit of reassuring nourishment from "Mommy," which opens with the pairing Zoolander wannabe Tristan with the infamous serial murderer James March, original owner of the Hotel Cortez. Strange bedfellows indeed! As the former takes a shine to the latter, the 30s twang-spitting hotelier confesses that the Cortez is equipped with a gallery of deathtraps and antiquated torture devices. He confides in Tristan that maybe these devices ought to be dusted off and put to some goddamned gory good use. Not so much in this episode does that happen however, mainly because Will Drake reappears to threaten Tristan's standing with the Countess. Turns out the conniving little vamp wants to bankrupt Drake and regain total control of the hotel. It seems The Countess was victimized by Bernie Madoff - hoodwinked for all she's worth - which has her eye out for a high-end upgrade. Seriously. Bitch is 110 years old and looking to trade up!

Back at the Lowe abode, the disappearance and ostensible death of their young son Holden - and subsequent specter of his seen by sister Scarlett - is starting to really wear on them, particularly mama Alex. So much so she even serves her hubby divorce papers, wanting to make a clean break away from it all. But when she sees Holden in the Hotel as well, the haunting mystery grabs a horrifying hold on her to no end. Some solid, grounded acting from Chloe Sevigny sets the tone for what's ultimately a more tonally reserved episode, at least for a good stretch. John Lowe tries to keep his mind off the past by investigating the string of barbarous slaughters spreading throughout L.A.

The latest, which leads him to conclude that the murderer is patterning his victims on those who've broken one of the ten commandments. We see a couple of dudes' tongues nailed to a desk, one excised, goopy red syrup beneath. The commandments killer then ties into the hotel, as John and Hypo Sally share an oddly lurid and arousing elevator ride where the busted-ass junkie makes reference to the biblical mandates. See, one of her twisted-gimp-sex-fiend-doper-slaves suddenly pops out of a piss-ridden mattress in one of the rooms and savagely slashes the shit out of Claudia, in effect ending Naomi Campbell's fecklessly glorified cameo. Sexy gal did die good though!

Elsewhere, poor baby Donovan is all pouty after being dumped by The Countess. He trades an overwrought soap-operatic exchange with Iris, who we learn is his mother. He spouts obscenities at her and she peels off some ham-handed tears, spewing dialogue that makes even the great Kathy Bates seem off her game. Not a highlight, to be sure. Bates does redeem herself however during a later scene with Paulson, as Sally readies Iris for a lethal injection of heroin. Mommy, per the title, just can't go on knowing her son hates her so.

As for Donovan, he heads out to MacArthur Park to shoot a little smack, and just as he blurrily advances on a stranded motorists, his ploy to kill her is foiled by a taser job. He's then stuffed in a trunk and taken to the lavish domicile of one Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett), who not only used to be a prominent blaxploitation actress in the vein of Pam Grier, but also The Countess' 15 year lover. After being jilted, and with revenge on the dome, Ramona thought it wise to strike The Countess where it hurts most. Her dick. Too bad she canned Donovan (who's actually more of a pussy really) a week ago. When old Dono returns back and gets a barroom lecture from Liz Taylor, he finds his mom's head swaddled in a plastic bag. The show ends with his attempt, successfully it seems, to revive his mommy by slitting his own vein and feeding flesh blood into her desiccated maw. What's family for!

After an inevitably underwhelming second chapter, "Mommy" found much sturdier ground on which to settle itself. Aside from a few overcooked acting moments and strained attempts at empathy, most of the weighty dramatic scenes here were given to the more seasoned actors in a way that truly let them shine. Paulson, Bates, Bassett, Sevigny, they all deliver some good stuff here. As for the visceral bits, I was glad to see them offer some unique bends and give us some sickening visuals that differ from the onslaught of gore we've seen, the kind that literally borders on overkill. Alas, while I liked this one slightly better than the last, I can't help but think about, for an episode called "Mommy", the glaring absence of Ms. Jessica Lange, the true undisputed matriarch of the entire American Horror Story series. This season does suffer so far without her, no doubt about it, but in the capable hands of such accomplished aforementioned actors, Hotel is a well occupied lot. You know, until it isn't!

KILL OF THE WEEK: I think we have to go with the only kill of the week. Claudia's. Sexy gal got sliced, diced, minced, rinsed and iced!

BLOOD & GORE:

  • Suicidally slit wrists, literal bloodbath.
  • Wooden stake through the heart.
  • Repeated knife stabbings, bedroom covered in gore, bloody bed sheets.
  • Tongue nailed to a desk, a coagulated pool of blood. Excised tongue.

MOST BIZARRE SCENE: Because of its hallucinatory nature, I'll go with the elevator scene between John and Sally. Not sure about you but I found Paulson trashily arousing as she more or less bribes Lowe into sexual favors in order to avoid the hoosegow. Chick's foul!

WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: I can't get over Gaga banging Madoff. WTF!

Extra Tidbit: Thoughts on Mommy?
Source: AITH

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