American Horror Story Hotel: S5E1 “Checking In”

6.5 Overall Score
Story Line: 7/10
Characters: 7/10

Style | Soundtrack

Who Is Really The Centerpiece?

AHS H

I’d actually like to take the time to tip my hat to the playing of She Wants Revenge’s “Tear You Apart”. I had forgotten about this band up until then and it was a nice little touch. For me, American Horror Story: Freakshow lacked the original pizzazz that brought my love affair with the show in the first place. Perhaps it was all the singing numbers (although in moderation, they are pretty fun), but Freakshow was the first season that I felt the show regressed a little bit. Enter the Hotel Cortez where everybody has an addition and it’s caught within an art-deco setting within modern day LA. Every time we enter the hotel, it’s almost if we enter in a time machine. Lights are dim, the smell is probably less than desirable, and whose that creepy maid? This season started off with a conventional bang with some nods to The Shining with the shots down the hotel hallway and conventional no-no’s that horror fans should know. If there was no cell reception, why didn’t the girls go outside and call someone? One of the maddening things that you could be yelling at the screen.

Series creator Ryan Murphy who also directed the episode had stated that “the most disturbing scene” in AHS history was afoot this season which came to fruition with a faceless monster and a drill bit dildo. That along with the murder that was discovered by Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) shows that our “murderer” this season has a knack for killing their victims in an explicit, sexual manner. The whole mystery that surrounds room 64 will reveal itself in due time, but the hotel is mired with guilt and regret. Iris (Kathy Bates) who works at the hotel is there to be closer to her son Donovan (Matt Bomer), but with the flashback, is he actually alive? Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) fell to her death with a push from Iris out the window and these two will probably be joined at the hip. There is conjoined guilt here that latches onto the three characters that may have to right itself before anyone can be set free.

This is the first season without AHS mainstay, Jessica Lange which I’m sure we all miss given her delightful and unforgettable characters with the first four seasons. Lady Gaga as The Countess seems to be right at home within the American Horror Story universe. Her character seems extremely natural as if she is The Countess in her down time. One of the things I almost feared is because Lady Gaga is such a strong personality, would that overshadow everyone else? I’m willing to give this more episodes to see how this plays out as well as the ancient blood virus. The foursome scene played out almost like a True Blood episode, but instead of fangs, The Countess and Donovan have matching claws. It’ll be interesting to see how the vampire mystique is changed within the AHS universe.

The episode has a lot of set pieces and cogs like the seasons before it that are interconnected. Notably sent in the same vicinity of Season 1’s “Murder House” (with a guest spot from the Murder House realtor), this is a place with it’s own deep, dark secrets. Knowing that, I wondered if the hotel is also a microcosm of that story as well. The foundation isn’t necessarily set in stone, but I’m sure we all have some questions going into this season. The 10 Commandments killer will be causing havoc throughout the season, but is that in conjunction with The Countess? In the candy and video game haven that The Countess has within The Hotel Cortez, who took Holden and how do these kids get brainwashed? Why doesn’t the hotel get some damn wifi? With as many moving parts that there are, we are to hope that we get a central figure that shapes this season to be style and substance.

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Author: Murjani Rawls View all posts by
Journalist, Self-published author of five books, podcast host, and photographer since 2014, Murjani Rawls has been stretching the capabilities of his creativity and passions, Rawls has as a portfolio spanning through many mediums including music, television, movies, and more. Operating out of the New York area, Rawls has photographed over 200+ artists spanning many genres, written over 700 articles ranging displaying his passionate aspirations to keep evolving as his years in media continue.

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