Spoiler Warning for this week’s SEASON FINALE of “American Horror Story: Hotel”
Vampires, ghosts, serial-killers and demons are just some of the insane and disturbing residents of this season of “American Horror Story.” After several uneven episodes, the season finally began to pick up near the end. The finale had many things going for it; unfortunately the end result was more or less unsatisfying. Rather than providing closure to the main characters, only a few receive proper conclusions.
The quote above can be used as a brief synopsis for the entire season as death lingers around every corner of the hotel. Following the death of The Countess, Liz and Iris decide to take the Hotel Cortez over and turn it into a more high-class and welcoming establishment. Rooms are upgraded and Wi-Fi is finally offered to the guests, but there is one small problem. The ghosts are killing many of the guests, therefore giving the hotel a damaging public view. A meeting is called by Iris and Liz as a way to persuade the ghosts to stop murdering the guests. Sally shares the fact that she and Will Drake are the only two that are killing as everyone else is caught up in the luxuries of eternal life. Sally and Will argue that killing makes them feel more alive and has no real consequences. Iris and Liz counter their argument by referring to Will’s failing business and the possible effects that may be felt by the hotel; Will owns the hotel which may be sold. Mr. March appears and backs Liz and Iris to which Sally protests; Mr. March threatens to bring the addiction demon back upon Sally if she doesn’t obey his orders. The group meeting scenes between ghosts were a major highlight of this episode and help to showcase the everlasting effect that some characters have.
Fortunately, one of the characters that received necessary closure was Liz. Iris and Liz decide to help Will and Sally get over their killing addictions by providing distractions. Iris presents Sally with an iPhone to help connect her to the world, even though she cannot leave the hotel premises. A humorous montage shows Sally quickly becoming addicted to the world of social media while walking away from her old demons. She develops a worldwide fan base and finally begins to feel alive again. Sally’s new found love of social media seems like a clever metaphor from the writers to show society’s addiction to the Internet; social media makes ordinary people ghosts to the world. Meanwhile, Liz helps Will regain control of his dying fashion business empire. Will gives her control to make executive decisions within the company in order to boost public awareness and awe. By using mystique and exclusivity, Liz and Will are able to restart the dying brand and turn it into a worldwide phenomenon, therefore saving the hotel.
Iris senses that Liz is not fully content with the new overall feeling of joy and decides to invite someone to help out. Hardcore fans of the series will remember Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson’s first role in the series) from season one, “Murder House.” Billie Dean is an incredibly gifted and respected psychic medium who is brought to the hotel in order to contact Liz’s deceased lover, Tristan Duffy. Billie Dean notes that she can hear the voices of countless spirits and finally manages to speak with Tristan, however, he does not wish to communicate with Liz. Instead, Donovan’s spirit reaches out to Iris and provides comforting words to her from a happier place. Liz shares that she is happy for Iris, but declares to Billie Dean, “Love kills a lot more than hate.”
Sometime later, Liz is present to see the birth of her granddaughter. However, the unpredictability of life presents itself to Liz in the form of prostate cancer. Rather than slowly succumbing to the disease, Liz decides to gather her ghost friends for one final murder. Each ghost is given a weapon to kill Liz with, but The Countess steps in at the last moment and declares that she wants to be present to “help (her) transition, one last time.” The Countess slits Liz’s throat, allowing for her to return moments later as a ghost. This scene was oddly touching and definitely highlights the acting talents of Denis O’Hare, who portrayed this season’s standout character, Liz. After she returns as a ghost, Liz is reunited with Tristan and the two embrace.
The final act of the episode is both confusing and lackluster. A time-jump to Devil’s Night in October 2022 reveals that Billie Dean has turned the Hotel Cortez into a major tourist destination for paranormal aficionados. The hotel has become famous as a hotbed of ghostly activities, namely the murderous “Ten Commandments Killer” John Lowe. The Lowe family (minus Scarlett, who is sent away to boarding school, because her family just does not care about her at all) move into the hotel, however John has been killed by the police. He did not, however, die on the hotel property, therefore he can only visit on Devil’s Night. Billie Dean begins taping her television show from John’s former room in the hopes that she will be able to interview him. John’s ghost arrives and shares his story, then invites her to Mr. March’s annual Devil’s Night feast where she meets history’s infamous serial killers. The killers gather and threaten Billie Dean (with the help of Ramona Royale, who is a vampire and can leave the hotel) to abstain from speaking about the ghosts of the Hotel Cortez anymore. Finally, John returns and reconnects with his family, including a grownup Scarlett. The episode ends with The Countess seducing a man in the bar by telling him, “You have a jawline for days.”
The episode started off exceptionally strong, but tapered off as the end drew near. Rather than providing closure for the many main characters, Billie Dean Howard received much of the final screen time. Being that “American Horror Story” is an anthology series, the season finale should fully wrap each storyline as the next season will not be a continuation of the previous. In terms of acting and dialogue, however, this episode should be commended. Overall, this season has been my least favorite so far. There were plenty of high points, but it always felt like some element was missing. What mysteries will Season Six hold? “American Horror Story” will return this October on FX.