American Horror Story: Checking In
October 8, 2015 7:21 AM - Season 5, Episode 1 - Subscribe

American Horror Story is back, this time in Los Angeles at the Hotel California Cortez! There's a detective who's looking for his lost son, there's a man in a bed, there's a pair of things that seem like vampires but may or may not be, there's a host of creepy lost children, there's a lady who loves heroin and her drill bit accented friend! There's Lady Gaga! Oh, and there's the carpet from The Shining... remember that! The first episode has everyone checking in (get it?), and introduces our primary players...

Kathy Bates is Iris, the prudish desk clerk who is trapped in the hotel because of her love for her son, Donovan (Matt Bomer), who died of an overdose 20 years ago, but still can't seem to leave.

Lady Gaga is Elizabeth, who has claimed Donovan for her own, and seems to enjoy feasting on the blood of others.

Wes Bentley is our cliched uber-profiler detective, who lost his son 10 years ago, and has been drawn to the hotel through some strange connection (and a wife that's kicked him out of the house). His wife, Alex, is played by Chloe Sevingy.

Sarah Paulson is Sally, a seemingly ageless figure who seems to get off on drawing heroin addicts to the hotel, and then getting them to overdose. Donovan was one of her victims.

Cheyenne Jackson is Will Drake, a New York art luminaire who has recently come into possession of the hotel. He and his son, uh, Lochland, have probably bitten off more than they can chew with the Cortez.

Dennis O'Hare plays the other desk clerk, Liz - bald and beautiful. Although not much is known about them yet.

Not yet featured, although coming up in later episodes, are Evan Peters and Angela Bassett to round out the main cast.

Reviews aren't great so far, "...Murphy and Falchuk have no interest in writing “normal,” whatever that is. They’re here to deliver spectacle." (Boston Herald), "The overall picture is just a little too busy, too dense. The first episode of Hotel--the only one available to critics--is so busy trying to set up its divergent cast of characters it ends up being confusing and exhausting." (Philadelphia Inquirer), "The new AHS is, alas, mostly an exercise in style. Its flimsy plot, at least this early in its game, is something left over from a bad Ross Macdonald novel." (Yahoo TV)
posted by codacorolla (16 comments total)
You see, this program has something that a show like Scream Queens wouldn't begin to understand or even recognize.

And that thing is a SENSE of STYLE!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:37 AM on October 8, 2015

I loved the first episode. The discordant camerawork and timelines are doing atmosphere wonderfully. The only thing that felt off to me was the Gaga/Bomer foursome.

Sarah Paulson's makeup and wardrobe are completely aping Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner. I was also getting a very Twin Peaks vibe from the detective.
posted by bfranklin at 8:05 AM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like it too, actually. I agree with both points about Paulson's costume and the Twin Peaks vibe (a lot of stuff felt like an attempt at Lynch overall, honestly). Also, Ryan Murphy really has a type, doesn't he?
posted by codacorolla at 9:01 AM on October 8, 2015

While watching the sequence where Lady Gaga and her guy seduce the couple and bring them back to their hotel room, I thought at least they decided not to use Bauhaus and make it too obvious that they were deliberately ripping off the opening from The Hunger. Then not much later in another scene we hear Bela Lugosi's Dead. What the hell?!
posted by cazoo at 9:20 AM on October 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I will stick around for the turbans.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:37 AM on October 8, 2015

Cheyenne Jackson is just.... well..... I think I just blushed!!!!
posted by pearlybob at 9:45 AM on October 8, 2015

You know, since it was going to be nearly impossible to make a haunted hotel series without accidentally referencing The Shining, I think it was a damn smart decision to lampshade it with all the intentional references.

Seems to me there's going to be some Elizabeth Bathory deal going on, what with all the ageless folks hanging around. And how cool was the Cinespia scene?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:01 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Cortez is clearly evocative of The Shining, but the spectral kids in their Willy Wonka-esque palace reminded me so much of the Christmasland scenario from Joe Hill's NOS4A2 novel that...uh...well, I hope he chose to be flattered. Beyond those two antecedents, yeah, there's some Lynch, some Blade Runner, some Seven, some Hostel, and let's not forget a fair amount of Season 1. Frankly, I fucking loved it, and I think those critics are morons. There's still plenty of time for Hotel to become a total hot mess of halfass subplots and red herrings and random junk, but this is probably the most self-assured and tightly-paced season premiere of the show. I am excited.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:38 PM on October 8, 2015 [7 favorites]

This show has always been vulgar, but that was some real next-level trash.
posted by painquale at 4:03 AM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

This may be where I check out. The 7-style murders already put me off, but the death-by-anal-rape-with-a-sharp-metal-object scene was just inexcusable. And there was absolutely no light anywhere -- usually there's at least one sympathetic character. In this case, the only sympathetic main character (the detective) was completely wooden and remote. I've always had objections to certain moments and elements of this show, but I've generally been won over by a sense of heart and campy fun behind it all. There was way too little heart in this one, and way too much meanness. And I'd had such high hopes given the inclusion of LA lore, Lady Gaga, the return of Kathy Bates, etc. But this left a seriously sour taste in my mouth. Bummer.
posted by treepour at 9:33 PM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

Is it just me or was the realtor selling the hotel the same realtor who was selling the Murder House in season 1? She has some epically bad luck, if it was.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:54 AM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes, it was her. Supposedly, characters from all previous seasons will be showing up this season.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:59 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I read Emma Roberts hinted she'd be back in a small role. I presume she would be Madison, though dead or alive (or, like...a vampire? somehow? or whatever?) would I guess be determined by where Hotel falls in the show's overall timeline.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:47 AM on October 10, 2015

I've got a theory:

-Either Chloë Sevigny's character is cheating on her husband (possibly related to her inability to get over the loss of her son), and will wind up in the sights of the serial killer...

...or, she is the killer, and there was some sort of earlier act of infidelity on the part of her husband, which she connects to the loss of her son, and now she's taking it out on random philanderers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:19 AM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was left fairly cold by this. The rape scene...on top of being really ugly and unnec. I thought was merely a metaphor for heroin made hideously concrete. While sex has been a consistent element of has, this is the first time I regarded it as rabidly anti-sex from the very first episode.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:39 PM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I gave zero fucks about any of the characters and storylines in this, so it just played out as a bunch of awful things strung together. I'll probably give it a go again further down the road, but I won't be waiting patiently for each new ep like usual. They shit the bed and I'm just not feeling it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:01 PM on October 24, 2015

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