Saturday, November 14, 2015

American Horror Story 5x06 "Room 33" (Lose Your Compass) [Contributor: Melanie]

"Room 33"
Original Airdate: November 11, 2015

Even though I could fill pages at this point with all the ways American Horror Story: Hotel is shamelessly watering down The Shining and putting on FX, I’m instead going to focus on something they’re doing somewhat right so far: gender identity and fluid sexuality. Though not all parts of it were done completely inoffensively, overall there’s an interesting dialogue going on this season about gender identity and fluid sexuality in many characters. Specifically, this week, the focus was on Liz Taylor.

She begins a secret relationship with Tristian who says over and over that he’s “not gay.” Which was extremely annoying the first 80 times we heard it in previous episodes. Liz points out, however, that she is a heterosexual woman, despite what gender her birth assigned. Tristian agrees and they go about their day. And while it was a small scene, it was actually quite poignant. Liz notes that Tristian is the first person to ever love her as a woman and acknowledges how important that is to her. It’s not nearly enough to cover the spectrum of gender identity and all the issues people face everyday with it, but it was a surprisingly good moment for this show.

The other thing that’s interesting is the portrayal of sexual identity. Will Drake is introduced and self-identified as gay. However, after Elizabeth seduces him the first time, she insists that’s not true. While that scene was a little problematic, this week Drake points out that he is attracted to women romantically, but sometimes has trouble following that up with a physical attraction. While not much more is commented on it, it does spark up an interesting conversation that hopefully is re-introduced on later in the season: sexuality, like gender, can be a fluid concept in many people. Again, it was a short scene while the show moved along, but hopefully it was a good start and not something that’s going to make me bang my head against a wall later.

And now, onto the episode...

The episode opens with Elizabeth laying eyes on the Murder House in 1926. She meets with Dr. Montgomery about getting an abortion. Though her pregnancy shows signs of being in the third trimester, she claims to only be three weeks pregnant. During the procedure, they find issues with her vital signs but ignore them. The doctor removes the still living baby boy, which attacks and kills the nurse.

At the hotel, Lowe wakes up to Holden in the bed next to him. He chases him down the hall to the glass coffins where he finds Alex sleeping in one before he passes out. Duffy and Liz Taylor continue their affair. They talk and Liz notes that “you can’t shut down what part of yourself without shutting down the whole thing” and embraces the freedom her identity gives her, which Duffy responds to positively. Meanwhile, the Countess is having a similar time with Drake. When he has “performance issues,” she calls Duffy up to the room. He is reluctant to participate but concedes.

Alex gets up and asks for Liz Taylor’s help at the front desk to deal with Lowe (who now knows about her and Holden). They work together to hide the coffins while Lowe is out on painkillers. When Lowe wakes, Alex convinces him she found him lying in the hallway outside the room and that he called her because he was seeing things. Elsewhere, the Countess enters room 33 where a baby is sleeping in a bassinet. She says goodbye to the baby and promises she’ll return with enough money to “never have to leave (him) again.”

Donovan and Ramona enter the hotel to murder Elizabeth’s children in the basement. They both note to each other that they’re not over their affections for her and Ramona goes on without him due to his reluctance. She meets with Iris and they find an empty pool. She tells Iris to find the children and kill them while she goes to room 33 to destroy what she believes is the last thing that would give the Countess a reason to live. Donovan enters their old suite where the Swedish women appear asking for help to find the exit. He tells them they can’t leave the hotel now that they’re dead with no purpose. He tells them the hotel makes you “lose your compass” and tells them about a former guest who killed herself in the Cortez and was likewise trapped in the hotel until she found her purpose in terrorizing hotel guests.

In room 33, Ramona calls out for Bartholomew and attacks him. Liz Taylor finds the door open and insists they need to find him before the Countess returns. He meets with Ramona who reveals Bartholomew got out. Liz asks her to leave so she can avoid drama. Ramona insists Liz and Duffy run away because Elizabeth will not be sympathetic, though Liz disagrees. Alex finds the Swedish girls while looking for Bartholomew, who had previously seduced and killed a hotel guest.  They lament that they have not found their purpose yet. Alex suggests instead of trying to kill guests they “break their minds” and sends them to Lowe.

Elsewhere, Lowe shows up at a crime scene, unwanted, to find two more victims. This time the connection is “thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.” They are uninterested in his help, however, and send him home. Lowe gets drunk in the hotel hallway where Liz Taylor finds him. Liz offers help and leaves when she is rebuffed. The Swedes arrive and begin to seduce him and their intercourse turns bloody and violent. Lowe runs into the lobby to seek help from Liz. They return to the room and find the girls on their way out. March appears and congratulates him for “finally checking into the Hotel Cortez.” Lowe screams and attempts to clean himself up before packing his things (which Bartholomew stows away in) and returning home with Scarlet. She reveals her mother has been distant for days and Lowe promises Scarlet he won’t leave, though she is unimpressed. Lowe tries to comfort a crying Scarlet who spots blood on his laundry, revealing his “hallucination” was real. He goes downstairs, this time with a loaded gun, suspicious. He finds Bartholomew, who has gotten out of his bag, downstairs and shoots at him. Scarlet screams and demands he stay away from her.

Elizabeth and Drake return to the hotel. He goes to bed and Elizabeth notes Liz is anxious as she can hear her heart beat. She tells Elizabeth she’s fallen in love with Duffy and she tells him she does not share, then offers to let her have him when she’s done. Elizabeth offers they talk to Duffy about what he wants. At the house, Scarlet has called for help. Alex and the police decide to send Scarlet to her grandparents. After Lowe storms off inside, Alex finds Bartholomew wounded outside the house. Duffy arrives in Liz’s room to her and Elizabeth waiting. The Countess pours them a drink and says Duffy betrayed her. He counters that she gets off on torturing her lovers and Liz asks (in repayment for her service) that she be allowed to have just one of her lovers. Elizabeth consents before killing Duffy. She goes to room 33 and finds Alex with a hurt Bartholomew. Alex says he lost some blood but he will be fine. She says it was repayment for Elizabeth saving her son.

What did you all think of this week's American Horror Story: Hotel? Let us know in the comments below.


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