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Spoilers for the season finale of American Horror Story: Hotel are below.
With an episode that mirrors the garish and eye-popping season premiere, American Horror Story: Hotel delivered a guided finale that evoked emotions over shocks. And in bringing back a past character, it hit a well-balanced mixture of creepy camp and…whatever a Lifetime paranormal reality TV show is. It was a surprisingly solid landing for a scattered set of episodes.
Despite being as much of a catty murderer as everyone else, Denis O’Hare’s Liz Taylor had the strongest "normal TV" kind of character arc of anyone on here. To me, that is. In any case, “Be Our Guest” devoted a segment of the episode to Liz’s point of view, as we learned what the fate of the Hotel Cortez became. After an effective flash-forward, she and Iris turned the hotel into something resembling classy, and accomplished a mission of making the ghosties in the hotel work as a non-murderous team. Everything worked out, sort of, and though Liz didn’t find love, she and her son reconnected and became a family. And then came the cancer diagnosis. Violins!
Rather than deal with that shit on the long-term, Liz wants to die at the hotel at the hands of her brethren, which is when the Golden Globe-winning Lady Gaga makes her entrance and it’s all sweet, and wait…wait a minute, American Horror Story: Hotel! What are these things that you’re making me feel right now? I think it was sorrow. But then Finn Wittrock’s Tristan Duffy emerged and eternal true love happened. Heartwarmth! It was good that the episode was told in fragments, to allow the big scenes to breathe, particularly when they involve ghost romance.
And speaking of big scenes, the episode’s second major highlight included the return of Season 1's psychic Billie Dean Howard, whose cable series had definitely never taken her somewhere quite like the Cortez before. In a sequence that would have worked really well as a short film, exclusive from the rest of the season, Howard gets the invite to Mr. March's Devil's Night murderer's row of serial killers, featuring the return of Lily Rabe as Aileen Wuornos. The whole shebang was handled well, from the initial interview with John to her being drugged and threatened by Ramona. Kudos to Wes Bentley finally being allowed to just go into creepster mode, having a laugh with some of the world's worst.
Amusing as it was to see Sally's angst and drug addictions get replaced by tech-friendliness and social media addiction, it feels like a weird resolution to the character's dark-as-night narrative throughout the season. Maybe that was the point. I also don't know how I feel about Donovan's ghost telling Iris that it's always a pancake-heavy Saturday morning where he's at now. Good for him, I guess. I could use a pancake right now.
So congratulations, American Horror Story: Hotel, for bowing out by giving us everything that the franchise does well. And now we begin talking about what will happen in Season 6. Let us know what you guys thought.
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