Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel”
Mysteries are unraveled and questions are answered in the latest episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel.” The story finally becomes clearer while the creepy factor skyrockets. “Flicker” is by far the best episode of the season thus far and sets the stage for a promising rest of the season.
The episode begins as Will Drake is overseeing renovations of the hotel. A pair of construction workers discover a peculiar plate of metal blocking off a section of the hotel. Will orders the metal plate to be removed and the two workers begin venturing through the darkened hallways that were previously inaccessible. Suddenly, the workers are attacked by two vampires dressed in retro-styled clothing. Iris and The Countess soon begin investigating the unusual scene; Iris notes that she has never seen The Countess so frightened before. Prior to this episode, The Countess was seen as essentially flawless and untouchable; however, this episode proves that idea wrong.
The narrative switches to Hollywood in 1925 where The Countess works as an actress in the still up-and-coming film industry. On a movie set, she meets and becomes romantically involved with famed Italian actor Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock). The choice of Wittrock to portray Valentino is rather odd as the actor’s other character, Tristan Duffy, was killed off in last week’s episode. Could Tristan Duffy be a descendant of Rudolph Valentino? While confusing, the storyline regarding Valentino is one of the most intriguing aspects of this season. Valentino and his wife, Natacha (Alexandra Daddario) introduce The Countess to the ways of the Hollywood elite.
One night, The Countess ends up at a party hosted by Mr. March to celebrate the grand opening of the Hotel Cortez. At this party, abrupt news of Valentino’s death is broken to the party-goers. The shocking news sends The Countess into a depressed state leading to suicide attempt which is quickly stopped by Mr. March. The morbidity of Mr. March attracts The Countess into a loveless marriage and she encourages him to murder the wealthy rather than the poor. Watching Mr. March’s murders proves to be only but a mere distraction, as The Countess still mourns Valentino. Following his death, she begins leaving roses daily at his grave, becoming notorious as “The Lady in Black.” Natacha appears and delivers some shocking news: Valentino did not actually die.
Through flashbacks, the real story of Valentino’s “demise” is revealed. The death was faked with the use of a stunt double and Valentino was infected with the “vampire virus” causing him to be immortal. The virus is traced back to F.W. Murnau (director of “Nosferatu”), who discovered the virus in a Carpathian tribe. Murnau infected Valentino so that he would live on forever, even if the film industry did not. Valentino and Natacha persuade The Countess to join their immortal selves and travel the world together. She accepts, but Mr. March overhears their plan and takes action. He kidnaps the couple and seals them in a small section of the hotel for eternity, or so he thought. The Countess is completely unaware of what Mr. March did to her two lovers until he reveals it at their monthly meeting together. Both Lady Gaga and Evan Peters gave remarkable performances as their respective characters and truly demonstrated a complex dynamic. In the present time, Valentino and Natacha are freed and set out to explore and feast on the new world, but not before feeding on a group of male strippers and “Murder House” real estate agent Marcy. What does the future hold for these two characters now that they are free?
The other storyline of this episode revolves around John and his tireless investigation of “The Ten Commandments Killer.” John uncovers the identity of a key suspect in the investigation and checks himself into the same mental hospital there the suspect is being held. After unprofessionally snooping and assaulting a security guard, John makes his way into the suspect’s room and discovers a young girl who has been protecting the still unknown killer. John manages to persuade the young girl to help in the investigation by leading him to the killer. The two escape the hospital, but the girl appears to have a change of heart and runs right into the path of a speeding bus. Why was the girl protecting the killer?
“Flicker” serves as an incredibly important transition episode for this season of “American Horror Story.” With some of the mysteries out of the way, the story can now progress more fluidly. While the vampire virus should have been explained earlier, the wait was most definitely worth it. Hopefully, the remaining episodes of the season will stay on track and continue with this level of quality. Be sure to tune in to “American Horror Story: Hotel” next Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.