American Horror Story: Hotel Episode 5 Recap: Room Service

Photo: Courtesy of FX.
Episode 5 was all about self-empowerment by any means possible. Indirect murder, double murder, middle school mass murder, ditching your family to career-bartend for a vampire — you name it, you’re goddamn right you’re allowed to do it because congrats on being You.

New blood cult member Dr. Alex (Chloë Sevigny, rocking a Big Love updo and a 75.5°F body temperature) doesn’t need to sport-kill at work, having transformed the hospital’s blood bank into her personal candy factory. High on the good stuff, she decides to “turn” her dying measles patient, Max, via her own supercharged blood, effectively saving his life. Can you blame her? She’s a vaccinator! It’s her calling! Maybe Dr. Alex assumes Max will naturally take on the placid and cherubic nature of her little-old-man son, Holden, and the other sugared-up bloodlets at the Hotel Cortez.

Dr. Alex is dead wrong. Young Max swiftly murders first his clueless parents (there goes the anti-vax movement) and then — whoops — the entire staff at his middle school. The over-the-top bloodshed is compounded by the fact that all the kids are wearing cute Halloween costumes. Is this supposed to be edgy? It’s brutal. I never thought I’d say this, but can we go back to the serial killer dinner party now?

“Drink! It’ll make you feel awesome,” Max promises his infected classmates, and suddenly the Children of the Candy Corn are swarming a kindly administrator and splattering his innards across the grubby school floor like it’s a Jackson Pollock canvas. So, all those emerging artists are ancient little blood monsters now. I have a sinking feeling that whatever happens at Vampire Academy might not affect the larger plot of the show, but it could just be a random virus.

Back at the hotel — her new prison for life — Dr. Alex agrees to serve as governess to the bloodlets in exchange for the privilege of sharing face time with Holden and couture gowns with Lady Gaga. Now she’ll get to stroke the chilly mask of her formerly vibrant son in their shared swimming pool, sleeping. Forever.

Alex isn’t the only one finding her true place in this world thanks to the ancient blood virus. Emboldened by Liz Taylor’s motivational speech — the gist of which is “don’t be a drag, just be a queen, Kathy Bates” — hotel manager Iris triumphantly reclaims her life from the after-death by murdering a pair of infuriating hipster caricatures (Darren Criss and Jessica Lu) with a wine opener. Not even the sturdy kind, mind you. Just a common corkscrew. So fierce! Goodbye invisible old lady — hello, strident woman on the verge of killing every hotel guest from here on out. At least the highfalutin cat food-eaters can rest in peace as the “influencers” who drove her to the edge.

Where did Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) get the gumption to dress as the turbaned Queen of Sgt. Pepper’s and tell his new BFF Iris to “scorch the damn earth before you”? Why, the Countess, of course. That giver of life forces, drinker of decanted blood, and absorber of scenery forever and ever, amen. I love how the ‘80s tunes and/or video game sound effects start pumping hard core whenever Lady Gaga needs to speak. It makes me want to pound Bloody Marys and buy gloves online, which I find very empowering. She’s magic, I tell you.

Anyway, in 1984, the Countess spotted Topeka sales rep Nick Prior on a chance business trip to the Cortez, then followed the secret cross-dresser to his room because she could smell her blood. Yes, Lady Gaga can use her vampiric sense to suss out one’s true gender identity, no matter what boring outfit “he” was wearing in the lobby. The gist of the Countess’ close-talking spiel is that Liz Taylor was born this way and just needed a little push to get on the right track as a smokey-eyed superstar.

“We have two selves,” the Countess purrs to her new protégé during the flashback. “The one the world needs us to be — compliant — and the shadow. Ignore it, and life is forever suffering.” That’s why Liz Taylor remains to this day in the shadows/as the shadow, pouring blood and triple sec into martini glasses and wholeheartedly approving of murder as long as it’s committed in a thrilling state of self-empowerment.

Next week: The recently fired Detective Wes Bentley’s psychotic break will intensify. Is he really fucking Hypodermic Sally or is she just fucking with him? Surely both!
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