The creeps have arrived and are "Checking In" to the debut episode of American Horror Story Season 5, Hotel. Lady Gaga and the rest of the cast moved in stylishly, which begs the question: have you checked in yet?
Welcome to the Hotel, where we all love Hypodermic Sally! Our first introduction to American Horror Story Season 5 comes in the form of two starry-eyed Swedish tourists with an appetite for Wifi and Universal Studios. But they soon discover not all complaints can be aired over Yelp and their fate is soon dispatched when they get relocated to Hotel Cortez's infamous Room 64. In case you aren't already familiar, take this first look inside Season 5's Hotel before reading on. Hotel Cortez itself is a burgundy-draped labyrinth of stucco corridors and anonymous pain whose "old timers have been here since the dawn of time." Denis O'Hare's Liz Taylor appears to be referring to a hovel of immortal cherubim in funeral dress who infest the hallways and mark the Cortez's accidental residents for blood sacrifice. Behind it all hovers the Queen of Hotel Cortez, Countess Elizabeth herself, played by a coy Lady Gaga, who, with the help of beau Donovan, regularly indulges her fetish for foursomes and hemoglobin, in a first-round performance that makes us wish she would return for American Horror Story Season 6.
LAPD homicide detective John Lowe gets caught up in Hotel's internal functioning after following a tip from what appears to be the perpetrator of a string of glamorously gory murders that are inscrutably wound up in the Ten Commandments. A man has his eyes and tongue gouged out alive while having an affair with another married woman; a junkie is anally penetrated by a leotard costume with a cone auger for a phallus. If any of this reminds you of David Fincher's Seven it's because huge horror influences resonate throughout the episode, among them Nosferatu, Village of the Damned and of course Rocky Horror Picture Show. During a rare night alone with his daughter, Lowe gets a distress call from his doctor wife, begging him to "Help me!!" But when he shows up at the address with his daughter in the backseat, he finds an empty mansion and a man in silhouette and top hat. When the detective gives chase, he hears his daughter's screams and, catching up, finds her face to face with two men hung from bed posts and gouged at the abdomen in another crime scene of the Ten Commandments Killer.
Back in the Hotel, things are starting to fall apart as the new owner, New York fashion designer Will Drake, abruptly moves in, derailing the Hotel's streamlined efficiency as far as staff and long-time residents are concerned. While Will Drake receives a personal tour from the Countess' grudging boyfriend Donovan, Elizabeth herself shows Drake's son Lachlan through the hotel's hidden compartments and play things. The rugrats that terrorize the Hotel's hapless guests live in a white den behind the walls: droopy eyed with wall-to-wall Tetris and endless gumball machines served from fine glass dispensers. Among the suited imps is Holden, detective Lowe's missing son who disappeared from a fair grounds five years earlier whose face Lowe's daughter and wife tell him they can see throughout the episode. In order to come to terms with the trauma the Ten Commandments Killer has inflicted and distance his family from the potential threat he's under, Lowe moves into the Hotel in the very suit 64, which, in the words of Kathy Bates' Iris is "the beginning and the end of all my suffering." In this same room 20 years earlier, Iris found her son Donovan overdosing on bad smack supplied by Hypodermic Sally, and where, thanks to the blood serum supplied by the Countess, who immediately took an interest in her boy "with a jaw line for days," all three are kept alive and irredeemably dependent. Don't worry if things are already getting a bit strange, we've only just begun "Checking In." What did you think of the Season 5 premiere?