Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel”
After the season high last episode, “American Horror Story” disappoints this week with an episode filled with predictable and confusing flashbacks. This season has struggled with maintaining interest in specific story arcs and characters. This episode definitely answers some of the major questions, but fails in regards to character development.
The main focus of this episode is John Lowe and his investigation of the so-called “Ten Commandments Killer.” This storyline has received a relatively minor amount of screen-time this season, with plot points being scattered throughout the previous episodes. Following the death of a key witness, John begins demanding answers about the killer from Liz Taylor. Sally volunteers to take John to room 64, where she claims that he will find answers. In the hotel room, John discovers a display case full of murderous souvenirs. Sally explains that Mr. March’s search for a successor led to John himself: “It’s you John.” This revelation was extremely predictable, especially after “Devil’s Night” where John was invited to Mr. March’s gathering of serial killers.
After Sally reveals to John that he is in fact the Ten Commandments Killer, he slowly and hazily begins remembering how he came to be the murderer. He decides to confess his crimes to Detective Hahn (Richard T. Jones). Flashbacks are used to help show John’s story beginning in 2010 when he first visited the Hotel Cortez. At the hotel bar, he meets Donovan, who introduces him to Mr. March and The Countess during their monthly meeting. Over the course of two days, March and John discuss law and morals over absinthe. Mr. March then involves The Countess by having her abduct John’s son, Holden; this kidnapping is the catalyst for John’s entire story this season. The loneliness John feels pushes him to find comfort at the hotel where becomes romantically involved with Sally; their relationship is more sexual than emotional.
John is also propelled into his first murder by Mr. March, and his first victim is a pedophilic hotel guest. After killing, John decides to commit suicide by hanging himself; however, this suicide attempt is abruptly halted by Mr. March. The flashbacks also show the beginnings of a rift in John and Alex’s marriage and the Lowe family as a whole. John learns that Alex once met for coffee with his partner, Detective Hahn. Sally instigates John to act against Hahn by referencing “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” In the present time, John’s memory of the past five years comes back to him and he brutally murders Hahn. John returns to the hotel where he presents Mr. March with a souvenir from his latest slaughter. The souvenir case is revealed to have room for two more mementos prompting March to tell John, “Death is your art.” Who will be the next two victims of the Ten Commandments Killer?
The latest episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel” was a definite step down from “Flicker” and truly highlights many of this season’s major weaknesses. Many of the more gripping storylines of previous episodes have seemingly been forgotten. The considerable reveal of this episode was rather lackluster, but did manage to connect many of the dots of John’s story. Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters both delivered strong performances as their respective characters. As the season draws to the end, the other characters will need to be further developed in order for the story to fully make sense. Be sure to tune in to “American Horror Story: Hotel” next Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.