Last night's American Horror Story Season 5 conjured up elements of The Walking Dead. While jam-packed, the events of Hotel Cortez don't seem any further than last week thanks to a confusing cycle of storylines. Episode 5 leaves us asking, someone call "Room Service"?
Last night's American Horror Story Episode 5 took a Walking Dead turn as it unleashed a horde of flesh eating vampire children, each of whom was successively "infected" by the immortality virus, on unsuspecting adults. And what ensued was nothing short of all-out massacre. If only the pace of the rest of last's night's 47-minute episode could keep up. The problem with this week's Episode 5, aside from not stripping Hotel down to the studs as promised, was the mismanagement of its increasingly complex and spiraling storylines that are hard to keep up with when only about one scene per episode is devoted to either of them.
Wes Bentley's Detective John Lowe, for example, flashes across the screen a couple times and alludes to Mr. March, the Ten Commandments killer and the events of last week's Episode 4, "Devil's Night," and nothing more is heard about either for the rest of the night, leaving it to a week from now for us to crawl a little bit further along that arc. Needless to say, the entire season as a whole suffers from a problem of pace, as it suggests rapid action, blood lust and so much hyperbolic murder it becomes anesthetizing to the point of minutiae. Meanwhile each of the about eight storylines, sideplots and character arcs inches forward about a parsec per week.
Episode 5 also marks the prolongation of creator Ryan Murphy's war against hipster culture. Whenever it comes time for extra-narrative blood letting, Murphy's shows exhibit a penchant for targeting the most smarmy, flat caricatures of youth culture to the point that you're almost surprised so much blood can come from cardboard. And that's not a sin reserved for AHS, as we've seen the same disregard for the hip week after week in his slasher-comedy Scream Queens, which could partly account for its negligible TV status. The most interesting moments last night come when we zoom in micro-detail on some of the periphery characters who've been criminally under-appreciated against Lady Gaga's more-or-less flat Countess.
None more so than Denis O'Hare's Liz Taylor, who finally got her time to speak in her own voice after forming part of the Cortez's gaudy wall paper all season long. Apart from the predictable blood shed, the few minutes of Episode 5 devoted to Taylor's back story allowed O'Hare to reassume his thespian chops and prove why he's such an indispensable member of the AHS troupe, Mother Monster's guest role notwithstanding. Same goes for Evan Peters's Mr. March, whose tense storyline was untouched in yet another week of Murphy and co.'s narrative juggling act. Are you happy with the quality of "Room Service"?