American Horror Story: Hotel Episode 8 Recap: 10 Commandments

Photo: Courtesy of FX.
This week, we learned the beautiful story of how a purposeful dead man turned a delusional living man into a serial killer because he just felt like it, okay? And because this unclean world needs purification, the law has nothing to do with justice, the abyss gets lonely when too few American Beauty stars swim around in it at a time, etc. Whimsical stuff. (Anything can sound whimsical in a Brahmin accent one picks up from one’s professor in the early 1900s.)

To Detective John Lowe’s great horror (or is it delight? Who can ever tell through the gorgeous dead-blue eyes of Wes Bentley?), he realizes he’s the one who’s taken over James March’s murderous master plan. That’s right: John Lowe is the Ten Commandments Killer. Any conscious viewer could have told him this about seven episodes ago, but he’s just figuring it out N-O-W.

The memories wash over this poor, lost soul like a stream of blood over Lady Gaga’s left breast as Lowe narrates a powerful bromance novel about the double life he’s been leading under March’s spell for the past five years. “His voice was a like a sliver of silk thread, a thin strand that would wrap around my head before burrowing inside of me with his ideas,” he whispers with zero shame. I’d tell him to take it down a notch, but this was the most riveting line in the episode. Plus, I’m nowhere near ready to die yet. We’ve got weeks to go before this guy sleeps.
Photo: Courtesy of FX.
March knows Lowe is trouble when he walks in — most people’s auras are mystical and vague, but John Lowe’s is “black, black as the ace of spades.” He’s a dominant: a man who’d be willing to do bad to do good. “He is the one!” March gleefully tells the Countess (whose aura is decidedly “sparkles, sparkles on the face of blades” according to imaginary scripture) as he begs her to help nudge Lowe into the darkest places in his heart, so that he’ll hate the whole world and everything in it. He shows her a photo of creepy little Holden, and it’s love at first sight. She can feel his platelets on the tip of her dagger-tongue already. So that’s why the Countess kidnapped Lowe’s blonde bombshell of a son from the beach in 2010: Her dead husband needed her to catalyze a black-aura’ed man’s descent into darkness. It makes perfect sense.

The murderer-in-training starts out light, killing a pedophile movie blogger who probably had it coming anyway with that job title. Lowe gets such a charge out of beating him to death with an Oscar that he tries to hang himself in the bathroom. Not to be upstaged, Hypodermic Sally appears in the corner, chewing her latest cigarette along with the scenery. They’ve been screwing, you see, and she doesn’t want to lose him even though he never recognizes her. March is furious. How dare she cut his brotégé off from the edge? The Addiction Demon flashes beside Sally to remind us that he, too, is an attention whore, and then they all high five and continue to ruin John Lowe’s life.

“Finish my work, John,” March salivates while showing him the Ten Commandments trophy case he began way back in 1926. “Make it your own.” Oh, and while you’re at it, go ahead and make yourself the lead detective on the case, so you can bag all the evidence and transfer it to this glass kingdom of organs and not remember anything because the Hotel Cortez is like a blur tool for your mind!

It’s all coming back to him now, as Lowe and his cop buddy Andy hover over little Wren’s corpse in the morgue. (Fabulous morgue by the way — its slight seafoam tint reminded me of Nip/Tuck.) Lowe realizes he’s been drinking his life away at the Hotel Cortez’s carpeted lounge for the past five years. Killing people who disobey the Ten Commandments. Conducting a double life. Seeing two women: Chloë Sevigny with her sadness and berets vs. Hypodermic Sally with her sadness and crimped hair. That suspect in a bowler hat at one of the crime scenes? “It was me! I was seeing myself manifested as James March!” But Andy doesn’t believe a word of it. “Look, I know you feel responsible, but you’re not a killer.” Um, how dare he challenge a man who’s just admitted he’s been blind to his own actions for years? Furthermore, how dare he have coffee with Dr. Alex? Lowe stabs his one friend in the whole mad world in the gut, then the heart. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, Andy. It’s one of the Ten Commandments.” Oh, snap, detective! Way to lower the tally of non-dead, non-vampire, non-killer characters on this show to a measly one. (Your move, Liz Taylor.)

Finally, John Lowe has achieved clarity. He bounds into the Hotel Cortez with Andy’s most covetous organ leaking blood from a paper bag. “I know who I am, Iris,” he announces to a relieved Kathy Bates as proudly as a 5-year-old. “I’ve been coming here five years.” Now he’ll commit two more murders to finish off the Ten Commandments art installation with a flourish. Who will be the next to go? Is there anyone left? (Look out, Liz Taylor.)

Next week: The Countess will marry new gay hotelier Will Drake and suck the lifeblood out of his bank account…unless Ramona Royale and Donovan kill her first! Everyone dies; death becomes life. The end.

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