American Horror Story: Hotel Recap Episode 2 — Chutes & Ladders

In all its chic decrepit decadence, the Hotel Cortez is perfect for a high-fashion runway show. There’s Lady Gaga, oozing in the front row. You think she’s crying, but it’s just her immaculate eye makeup signaling the heartbreak ahead. Before nightfall (although the sun rarely makes an appearance anyway), a beautiful fauxhawk will transform into a copper-toned mullet. Because no single hairstyle gets to Netflix and chill with this Countess forever. Once applied, her lovers fade, mere dabs of gloss on the full red lip of eternal life.

Tonight’s lucky new man-mullet is Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock, a.k.a. manchild serial killer Dandy in Freak Show), whose coke-fueled runway performance fills the Countess with a rage-lust she hasn’t felt in hours and desperately needs. Luckily, Tristan is an easy target, having slashed his own face to avoid finishing the show.

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“I’m done with modeling,” he spurts out to new hotel owner Will Drake. So impulsive! Nothing can stop this guy. “Call the cops, man,” he later dares Donovan while strip-searching the penthouse for drugs. “I don’t give a s—. I’m coming out in a Lars Von Trier movie next year.” Tristan Duffy is so invincible he might not even need a mysterious vitality infusion from Lady Gaga. Yet there she is, hovering above, his angel in crossbones.


Indeed, the Countess’ bloodlust can go both ways. Once Tristan survives the hotel’s initiation process (just consider a Room 64 murder hallucination a quirky rite of passage), she intercepts him, slashes her forearm with one of her jeweled nail-daggers, and tips her life force into his mouth. It’s the PRECIOUS BLOOD VIRUS; the reason the Countess has been glowing since 1904 and looks merely sleepy instead of full-on vampiric to this day. Yes! Now Tristan too has perfect skin and a supercharged immune system. (Cue rough sex in the bathtub to celebrate the good news.) He gets to look 24 again, now and forever — if he’s smart. Sure, he’s allowed to go hunt down Kendall Jenner for blowing him off at Coachella; he just can’t do it recklessly. “Don’t get caught, and don’t fall in love,” the sleepytime vampire warned Tristan. “That’s the part you save for me.”

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“I can’t believe you turned him. He’s a stupid, trashy model,” Donovan fumed, scrambling in the back of his mind for a vacant room in which to finish binge-watching House of Cards. This is where I’d definitely come in handy on American Horror Story: Hotel. I’d simply pop open my laptop at the not-quite-the-bar-from-The Shining downstairs, settle in with a stiff cherry ginger ale from Denis O’Hare, and gladly suffer through Sally’s latest waxing on the heaven of a high before pretty boy arrives. I’m sure his mother Iris would love to see him, and by the time Donovan realized there’s no Wi-Fi in the slum of the lower levels, he’d be stuck with us. Plus, I’d try to tickle Wes Bentley (not in a weird way, maybe with feathers) until he had no choice but to turn that frown upside down. Everything would be perfect, and then I’d die.

But back to purgatory: Iris (Kathy Bates) spends a lovely afternoon telling Detective Lowe (Bentley) the history of this perfectly designed torture chamber of a hotel. There are random hidden passageways, doors to nowhere, and asbestos-lined walls (to muffle the screams) all over the place. The evil mastermind behind this maze, James Patrick March (Evan Peters), satisfied his own peculiar appetite by murdering everything he couldn’t drink.

This psychopath gleefully poured an average of three bludgeoned victims a week down a dusty death chute. Problem was, even millions more would never fill the void deep inside him. “Well, then I’m just going to have to kill God,” March concluded. “That is my message to the world.”

One fateful day in 1925 as cops pounded on some of the non-fake doors, March committed two final murders: eager-to-please maid Mrs. Evers and himself. It’s just as well; his wife wanted him out of the picture anyway. Much like little Holden Lowe on his sister Scarlet’s iPhone, March’s wife appears only as a vague blonde cloud of hair for a split second in the flashback. It could be the Countess — she’d have been 21 at the time — but that almost seems too easy.

Also too easy: life when you’re one of the Countess’ candy kids. Of course Holden couldn’t be lured home by his sister. Free video games and cookies for eternal life and all you have to do is donate blood? I’d choose the Wonkavision Emporium over Sad Vaccinationland in a heartbeat. The kids even get to sleep in fun glass coffins in an empty swimming pool, coffins which I first thought were bowling ball dispensers.


Back to Detective Wes Bentley. Shortly after receiving a blood-covered statue at the police station, he realizes the serial killer he’s tracking might be continuing where March left off. But instead of basing his work on the seven deadly sins, this guy is using the Ten Commandments. Whatever, dude. Gwyneth’s head in a box by episode 5 or GTFO.

All hail the late ’70s as reimagined for Lady Gaga!
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“I was a disco queen,” said the Countess, dreamily recalling her heyday.
Sadly, Cher was not impressed.
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