The Beauty and the Beast parallel seems so obvious now: Denis O’Hare as Liz Taylor and Kathy Bates as Iris are totally Lumière the candlestick and Cogsworth the clock. They’re surrounded by death and sadness, desperate for more guests, and believe everyone deserves a chance to live and love, dammit! Go ahead, try the gray stuff. Is it delicious? Well, joke’s on you, asshole. It’s cat food.
Stricken by the notion that the Cortez might be getting poor reviews on one of those newfangled internet apps, Liz and Iris attempt to revamp the place just in time for Hotel’s finale. But not even 400-count Egyptian cotton sheets and magical, self-cleaning Japanese toilets can distract from the zero-star lowlight lurking in each upgraded suite: Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) drooling on the bed, super psyched to stab any and every new guest with a needle. Now that the Cortez suddenly wants to play along with the real world, this aggression will not stand. So, with the help of original owner James Patrick March, Lumière and Cogsworth establish a “stop killing the guests” policy for the hotel’s thriving community of the already brutally murdered: Marcy the realtor, the two Swedish waifs, tall gay lumberjack, the hipster couple who demanded grilled romaine that one time, friggin’ Sally. All the greats. There’s some actual banter at play as the living dead debate whether to kill or not to kill. I wish we’d been able to regularly check in on this fun ghost club throughout the season, instead of endlessly wondering what the fuck was going on! Only Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) and Sally have strong objections to their fearless leaders’ no-murder rule. Will just died recently, so according to Cortez logic, he’s never felt more alive. And Sally’s not gonna stop collecting souls until she finds her soul mate. Hmmm. How do you solve a problem like Hypodermic Sally? Why, launch her social media career, of course. This bitch and her janky possessions might be cold and stale, but throw a jazzy filter on that ish and suddenly the dead junkie becomes a glamorous recluse. That’s the power of Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, Liz becomes “the face” of Will Drake’s fashion line and even travels to meet her son’s wife and witness the birth of her granddaughter. Everyone’s thriving now. Ramona Royale kills it, fashion-wise, as the creature-iffic anchor to all the runway shows in the lobby. In Liz Taylor’s la-la-land of bloodstained art deco carpets, no cameras and zero press guarantee better word of mouth. It’s a world gone mad! Of course it could never last. Out of nowhere, Liz becomes the first woman to develop prostate cancer and promptly decides she’d rather die as she lived: surrounded by what she now considers her family in this creepy hotel. Enticed by an artful array of murder weapons, the fun ghost club eagerly agrees to kill Liz so she can be reborn as one of them. But not so fast! The door wills itself open, compelled by a deadly glob of shimmery eyeshadow, body bronzer, and black tulle. Slowly but surely, the sea of raised knives dutifully parts so that the one, the only Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie Golden Globe-winner Lady Gaga can do the honors. Her sparkly dagger-glove swipes left on Liz’s throat as she helps her fondest creation “transition…one last time.” Then, as ghost Liz lords over her own dead body smoking a fresh cig, ghost Tristan (Finn Wittrock) appears to assure her that he still loves her. Tristan's red-streaked mullet has never looked more staggeringly awful, but today is about Liz, so never mind. His absurd hair is beautiful. The rest of the finale is a hazardous blur as we flash-forward to 2022 and see the Hotel Cortez in all its basic cable glory. Sarah Paulson returns as her AHS season 1 character Billie Dean Howard, a Lifetime-famous medium with tons of amazing vintage dresses and a cloud of conditioned blonde hair (a far cry from Hypodermic Sally’s mane of crimped fried pasta). Billie Dean exploits the hotel for her own gain, drawing tons of weird murder-bait fans to the Cortez so they can witness its supernatural powers for themselves. Good thing the Devil’s Night Soiree Club is there to drill-bit her away from the premises for good. See, if the hotel can avoid shady ratings for four more years, it’ll turn 100 and become a historical landmark. Nothing will be able to tear it down and all the dead will able to…live? Together. Forever. And in a final “no one cares about you and they NEVER DID” eff you to Wes Bentley’s serial killer character, Detective John Lowe does not have the good fortune to die within the hotel’s walls. He’s resigned to visiting just once a year to attend Mr. March’s serial killer “rock star” dinner party, get tanked on absinthe, then very briefly cuddle with his family — well, the ones he loves, anyway: his wife and Holden, the little old man. Ever the castoff, their poor daughter Scarlett must take to the armchair and age normally. Downstairs, the hotel bar hums with longing from the “freaks and weirdos who want to get plowed by ghosts” as the Countess dreamily ashes into a martini glass. She saunters over to her final prey of the series, who’s sitting at the bar. He’s not quite a perfect cross between Finn Wittrock and Matt Bomer…but no one ever said the future was that bright. This knockoff will do. “You have a jawline for days,” coos the Countess. And it’ll go on like this for eternity: Lady Gaga will help countless young men make the transition, whether from human to vampire, man to woman, living to dead, or mere fan to little monster. As long as they’re trapped in her web of self-love, she’ll be happy. We will, too. Why not? It’s over now. Everyone is a sparkly queen, and we all share a purpose: NEVER. LET. THE DISCO VIBE. DIE. You have been warned. The end.