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American Horror Story: Hotel “Flicker” 

American Horror Story: Hotel “Flicker”
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

The Countess is an icy, selfish woman who has caused a great deal of pain to those around her. On the latest installment of American Horror Story: Hotel, titled “Flicker,” we got to see the real woman behind the mask.

This was by far one of my favorite episodes this season. I won’t lie and say it’s been great. Far too often, the episodes try to cram in as much plot and as many characters as they can muster. This episode took a tighter approach to the narrative structure. We were able to focus on The Countess’ backstory, as well as see John Lowe make contact with a vampiric child in a mental hospital.

Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

Getting into the Countess’ backstory was something I’ve been waiting for the show to explore. She been a fairly detached figure, someone will little to no emotion unless it was lust or anger. Who was this woman and how did she become such a monstrous creature. Side note: I say monstrous mainly because of her hideously evil act of killing Liz Taylor’s only chance at happiness with Tristan. End side note.

Elizabeth was a young woman waiting to get her big moment on the silver screen. When invited to dinner by movie god Rudolph Valentino, she is brought into a strange, sexual semi-threesome with his wife, Natacha Rambova.

After hearing news of Valentino’s death, Elizabeth marries Hotel Cortez owner, James March. Never truly loving March, Elizabeth visits Valentino’s grave every day, until she encounters Natacha and Valentino, who faked his death. Valentino shares his tale of encountering the German director, F.W. Murnau, who shared his blood virus with him.

After infecting Natacha, Valentino asks to share his gift with Elizabeth. She doesn’t hesitate to spend eternity with her true love. Unfortunately, March listens close by and does not take kindly to what he hears. He has his goons take Valentino and Natacha and trap them within a secret hallway in the hotel where they spend the next 90 years.

This leads us to the present as Will Drake begins construction. When the workers open the sealed brick wall, Valentino and Natacha are finally able to feed. Meanwhile, the Countess has her monthly dinner with March, who’s all too eager to be in her company. In a moment of honesty, March reveals the fate he gave to Valentino and Natacha. The news shakes the Countess to her core. Just as she’s uncovering the truth, Valentino and Natacha (now restored to their youthful selves) leave the hotel.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled with this section of the episode’s narrative. I was pleasantly surprised to see Lady Gaga bring a wide-eyed naiveté to her initial dinner with Valentino. She was allowed to play the Countess as a woman with an internal life she rarely lets the outside world see. However, she also displayed that she’s capable of spinning the truth.

She told Valentino that she only married March because she thought he was dead. This is true, but she was certainly not a victim when it came to March’s insanity. The depiction of their wedding night was forceful and rough, but she also relished in his darkness and took it on as her own. She was an equal participant, finding enjoyment in both the pleasure and the pain.

The Countess was also accepting of her husband’s murderous tendencies, urging him to pick people in the higher classes so she could have their jewelry and money. She even went as far to tell March she wanted to watch. This is not a woman forced into a life with a madman. She willingly chose her course in order to be surrounded by beautiful things.

One of my favorite characters this season has been March. Evan Peters keeps a permanent deviant smile on his face, and it’s brilliant to watch. While his giant eyes and ridiculously over the top accent make him comical, there’s never a moment you forget the monster that lies beneath.

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FX
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FX

Then we have John Lowe, who has been one of my least favorite characters. His seemingly endless denial and/or cluelessness is infuriating. He managed to get himself in the same hospital as the main suspect in the murders he’s been investigating. However, when he comes face to face with a child (whom we can tell right away is one of the Countess’ vampire children), he still seems to not hear a damn word she’s saying. She goes on and on about feeding and not growing up. It’s like John is actively trying to keep his head buried in the sand.

Even after he breaks the two of them out, he’s still only concerned with finding the killer, not realizing the answers to his son’s disappearance and wife’s change are directly related to the Hotel Cortez where the girl wants to take him. It ends up being a fruitless jailbreak when the girl runs in front of a bus. She would rather end her life than be in her never-ending childlike prison.

We need John to get his act together soon. I don’t want to keep watching someone who’s supposed to be a detective ignoring the obvious signs around him. Again, it still wouldn’t be a very good twist if he ended up being the killer. Sadly, I can’t help but think this is the direction we are heading in.

Thoughts and Questions

  • Where is Liz Taylor? After putting an end to her shot at love with Tristan, wouldn’t you think she would get the hell away from the Countess and the hotel?
  • While we’re on the subject of Tristan, is the purpose of having Finn Wittrock play both Tristan and Valentino to showcase that the Countess clearly has a type of man she’s attracted to? Or will there be a verbal explanation for why both characters are played by the same actor?
  • Marcy the realtor from hell is no more! I’m sure there will be a special seat for her at the dinner table next to Satan.

American Horror Story: Hotel airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.

Check out a sneak peek of the next installment titled “The Ten Commandments Killer.”

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