TV Review: American Horror Story Hotel (Season 5, Episode 8)


THE SCOOP: As John Lowe works closer to catching the Ten Commandments Killer, a sick and sordid relationship between he and James March is revealed.


THE SKINNY: Ah, it's good to be back! After a holiday hiatus that left the Hotel Cortez vacant for a week, we now return to trace the murderous moves of the "Ten Commandments Killer." The strand finds dogged John Lowe on the trail of the sub-titular mass-murder, the one who's been indiscriminantly slaughtering Los Angelinos (RIP San Bernardino). He uses the tip given by Wren just before getting flattened by a truck and heads back to the Hotel for answers. Upon confronting Liz Taylor, Hypo Sally appears and the two give John a key to the room they know the killer has been hiding in. Upon arrival though, it's a sick trophy case reenactment of what we've seen all along: biblically excised body parts splayed about in glass encasements - eyes, tongues, entrails, teeth, vocal chords, the works. John buckles, but soon hits the deck when Sally slowly reveals it is he, John Lowe, that has been the Ten Commandments Killer this whole time. I tell ya, there's few things creepier than seeing Wes Bentley's darkly lit blood-spackled face reflected in a mirror!

But could he really be the so called killer? It seems that, as we flashback to 2010, Lowe once stumbled into the Cortez, already in the midst of his killing spree, angry and ready to drink. Donovan invites him to a party upstairs, where Lowe finds James March dining with The Countess. Talk about instant sparks. March spots a death-black aura surrounding Lowe, boots The Countess out of the room and proceeds to bond with the embattled detective...to the tune of a two-day absinthe bender! As they get to know each other, it becomes clear March is simply trying to indoctrinate Lowe as one of his serial-slaughtering acolytes...one with even more promise than Dahmer, Gacy and others he's recruited in the past. But really, how much credence can we lend this? After-all, March is merely a 30s cartoonish phantom only able to materialize inside the purgatorial province that is the Hotel Cortez. We then cut back to 2015, where all this is being conveyed via confession to his partner Detective Hahn. But you know well and good it isn't just his own guts John's intent on spilling!

In fact, we see Lowe still very much in contact with March while inside the hotel. Feeling down and in much need of solace after the loss of his boy Holden, Lowe is murderously motivated when March gives him a little pep-talk, steering him to a room in the hotel harboring a known pedophile. Lowe ups and bludgeons the sucker in the head with a blunt instrument, raining a torrent of blood over his own face in the process. He feels elated. Detective Hahn ain't buying the confession, however. He's not willing to believe that John is, in fact, James March's successor as the Ten Commandments Killer. So, needing further convincing, Lowe jabs a knife plum in Hahn's abdomen, stabbing him a second time in the gut once fallen to the floor. March all but creams his shorts, deeming John's work splendid high-art. Lowe assures him there's still two more biblical laws over which to commit barbarous penance. March grins in sinister delight. Who will their next victims be, and what ancient mode of killing will they succumb to?

All worthy queries, no? You know what, I dug this episode quite a bit for how concentrated and focused it was on the one storyline it devoted itself to. Aside from learning the bombshell news that Lowe is indeed the Ten Commandments Killer (itself not all that surprising), or that Hypo Sally is in fact a dusty-crusty-hooker-junky-ghost, I thought the show did a nice job of keeping all the flashbacks and jump-forwards easy enough to follow. Again, since this stint featured one major storyline with only a few of the characters we've come to know this season (mainly John, Sally and March), it's easier to keep the narrative from being a jumbled mess. As shocking as the revelations were this week, they were presented clearly and with the right amount of carnage to keep the entertainment value intact. I particularly got a kick out of the pedophile victim squirrely spouting, "I'm just a man who likes to write about movies on the internet." Funny shite! The one thing I do wonder though is, how will John's murderous mores be reconciled with his wife's vampiric metamorphosis? Or his son's purgatorial stupor? Will they somehow be the last two victims on John's biblical hit-list? That'd be pretty f*cking bonkers if so. That said, we still have a good five weeks or so to figure out who and how many of the ghastly Cortez tenants will make it out alive...or dead!

KILL OF THE WEEK: No major characters died this week, but the closest person on the show to resemble any sort of sanity was John's partner, Detective Hahn. That John so coldly killed his onetime partner, stabbing him with body shots, was pretty damn gnarly.

BLOOD & GORE: Bashed open skull. Excised tongue and eyeballs. Ripped out vocal chords. Disemboweled spleen. A rack of pulled out teeth. Bloody bludgeoning with blunt instrument. Abdomen stab.

WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: Why would John confess to Hahn knowing he was only moments from killing him? Try to clear his consciousness? Common courtesy? I have no idea, other than to frame the entire episode around a flashback narrative. WTF indeed!

MOST BIZARRE SCENE: Since he's basically tossing back a bunch of spirits with a bunch of spirits, I'd say that Lowe partying with March and Sally back in 2010 constitutes the most bizarre. Sheesh!

Extra Tidbit: Did you think Lowe was the killer?
Source: AITH



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