In 'Devil's Night', the fourth episode of FX's American Horror Story: Hotel, America's most notorious serial killers meet at the Hotel Cortez just in time for Halloween for their annual dinner - which John Lowe is also invited to. Meanwhile, Alex confronts the Countess about her son, who she brings home only to find him attacking the family dog and feasting on it's blood.
We open the episode entering the now familiar lobby of the Cortez over the shoulder of a shadowy figure, revealed to be Richard Ramirez, serial killer dubbed 'the night stalker'. Liz Taylor nervously greets him, leading to his room where 'the master has left some treats on his pillow'. These treats turn out to be victims for him to kill, and he does so using the base of a bedside lamp, before chasing the second victim straight into the arms of Mr. March, who greets Ramirez. This opening scene sets the atmosphere for the episode perfectly - a surreal, Lewis Carroll-esque trip into the impossible with a twist of the horrific.
John wakes up with a call from his daughter, who wants to stay at her aunt's rather than stay with John for Halloween weekend. In episode 1, this would have destroyed him, but at this point, he's more interested in the giant blood stain pooling on his ceiling and dripping down the wall. In a panic, he rushes upstairs and finds Miss. Hazel Evers (Mare Winningham) washing the sheets from Ramirez' killings the night before. For the first time we take a look at her backstory. It is revealed that her son was kidnapped in the 1920s by a mass serial killer of children, and killed, with nothing remaining of him but a bloody sheet of cloth. I never even suspected there was a deeper representation behind Miss. Evers, especially after we saw her in March's flashback in 'Chutes and Ladders', but it was an appropriate and moving scene, if a little camp and scatty. For one of the first moments thus far, Lowe opens his feelings up to the maid, finally realising he has found someone who truly understands how he feels; that his son going missing was his fault and his alone. Wes Bentley does an exceptional job in the scenes of his exchanges with Miss. Evers, understated but appropriate. He has the exceptional quality that only a few actors have of being able to portray one emotion in their delivery of lines, but another entirely in his physicality and expressions.
Alex arrives home with Holden, and examines him. She knows he is different (his temperature is very low, he doesn't like sunlight, he doesn't recognise her as his mother anymore). Offering to get him some juice, she heads to the kitchen where she breaks down, spilling the juice all over the counter. When she finally returns, she sees Holden on the floor, having attacked the dogs throat and feasted on it's blood. 'I don't feel good,' he says as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. For a child actor, he really is quite excellent, and especially up against Chloe Sevigny who, to me, is the best actor in this season. She has created an interesting and layered character who is just desperately trying to survive and exist. Following Holden's orders, she takes him back to the Hotel, where she decides to do some investigating of her own. Heading down to the drained pool room where Holden climbs back into his coffin to rest, she encounters The Countess. 'You must have a lot of questions... I have answers,' she enigmatically teases Alex. Thus begins an incredible one on one scene between Gaga and Chloe that is arguably one of the most tense thus far, showing how and why the Countess took Holden - she feared he was to be neglected and had little to no future. We also discover that there is no cure for the haemophilliac virus that the Countess and her children are suffering (or not) from is incurable. When Alex threatens to get authorities involved, Tristan comes in and knocks her to the ground, questioning the Countess when she asks him to free her, 'wait, you're banging her too?' Possibly one of the most comedic exchanges so far.
HQ SCREEN CAPTURES - EPISODE 4 - 'DEVIL'S NIGHT'
In the bar, John caves in and orders a double martini from Liz Taylor - who, by the way, continues to be another of my favourite characters. To a drum beat recalling a nu-disco meets rock beat, in strolls the iconic Aileen Wuornos, the serial killer with 7 mens lives to her name. The way in which Lily Rabe is able to change her entire self for whatever the role calls for is truly like watching an artist at work. The dynamic between the two characters is similar between that of John and Sally, except Aileen truly has no good intentions in seducing John. She simply leads the drunk cop back to her room, and with a flick of her hair and a smack of a bottle, ties him up to a chair and tries to shoot him. John locks Aileen to pipes in the bathroom as she restrains and shouts 'pussy boy!' This is probably my least favourite Lily Rabe character, but only because Misty Day and Mary Eunice were so great. I really hope Aileen sticks around for a few more episodes this season, and at least long enough to meet Sally, because that would be quite the meeting.
Heading down to the lobby, he discovers he is invited to the Devil's Night dinner event - despite not being a killer like the other guests. Upon receiving the gold envelope, he enters room 64 and finds a texedo laid outwith a note 'knock 'em dead tonight, Liz'. As if my love for Liz Taylor couldn't get any bigger, as well as Denis' portrayal of the character. I want a whole episode of his backstory alá Freakshow's Orphan showing Pepper's backstory. Very quickly, John finds himself toasting absinthe at a table of dead killers: Mr. James March, Aileen, Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer as well as the Zodiac Killer. March begins to explain that he has given masterclasses to all of these individuals on killing - and that he has watched John and sees that has has 'blinded [himself] to all but what [his] eyes can see.' Could this be a clue that John is indeed the Ten Commandments Killer, under some sort of influence? The dinner party of surreality continues with Dahmer drilling into the brain of an innocent man, while the others make a sacrifice that 'bonds' them together by stabbing another innocent individual that Sally dragged in off the street and drugged up to his eyeballs. It's a very effective scene, even if it does appear to be very redundant and is mostly focused on Evan Peter's tragic portrayal of March with his terrible transatlantic accent. Sally finds John unconcious on the floor, having believed he hallucinated the entire dinner, yet as he leaves, we see flashes of the party still occuring, leaving it unclear whether or not everything we saw, happened.
In the final throes of the episode, we watch Alex return to the Cortez, to beg the Countess for the chance to spend eternity with her son, refusing to lose her boy again. In a sensual and yet entirely fraternal scene, the Countess and Alex bond in the closest way, as she turns to mother to the sound of a monologue spoken majestically by Gaga, with incredible gravitas. We close the episode with the now turned mother laying in the lap of the Countess, eyes opened wide and mouth bloodied. I can't tell you the glee I feel that Chloe now has the opportunity to show yet another side of Alex, and possibly use her ancient blood virus for the good of mankind rather than simply sucking the blood of Swedish tourists - and what this may mean for the Countess.
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Overall, this episode is another great addition to this series, and while the dinner party itself seemed a little extra at times, it was a necessary extra as it gave us a huge clue as to the identity of the Ten Commandments Killer, as well as a stellar performance for Lily Rabe. I'm highly anticipating next week's installement which will touch upon the cliffhanger of Iris and Donovan, as well as Ramona's return into the Countess' life.
Check back next week to see what we thought of 'Room Service', airing November 4th at 10pm on FX.