Saturday, October 31, 2015

American Horror Story 5x04 "Devil's Night" (If You Called it Mischief Night, This Wouldn't Have Happened) [Contributor: Melanie)

"Devil's Night"
Original Airdate: October 28, 2015

So there are a few things to discuss about this week’s Hotel. One is a little less pleasant than the other, so let’s knock that out first: this episode was a little insensitive. James March is based on H.H. Holmes, considered America’s first serial killer, who built a hotel in Chicago for the purposes of committing multiple murders. Ryan Murphy’s refusal to acknowledge Holmes as a basis for March’s character is clunky, and it stands out even more given the events of this episode, where real serial killers all claimed to be disciples of March.

From a historical angle, I could understand using H.H. Holmes as a “founding” figure in terms of American serial killers, but the fact that James March is fictional makes it pretty distasteful. Further, this rewriting of history came off as fairly disrespectful to the victims of these serial killers and their families — especially when you show Jeffrey Dahmer actually killing another victim on screen as a gift from March. Nothing about it was fun, and it felt more like Murphy trying to show off as much as possible.

The other large discussion point with this episode, which is a little less socially and morally heavy, is how American Horror Story does their Halloween episodes. As someone with a year-long countdown to Halloween on their phone, it’s a very big deal to me, and Halloween episodes tend to be pretty high on my re-watch list. I prefer the shove-it-in-your-face, include-as-many-references-as-we-can style Halloween episodes. But AHS has generally always been subtle about theirs, which is understandable considering the whole series is a horror fest. But this episode specifically takes place on the night before Halloween (here called "Devil’s Night," though where I’m from we call it "Mischief Night") and focuses on the satanic connotations with the night before Halloween (which are all extremely fictitious), which makes it a little less fun. Overall I can’t complain too much about it as a Halloween episode except that it just wasn’t super interesting and kind of harped on a muted aspect of the Halloween tradition.

Now, on the with show...

The episode begins with a man checking into the hotel as a special guest of March’s (Anthony Ruivivar), claiming to have died in 1993. Liz Taylor welcomes him and directs him to an occupied room where he brutally murders a sleeping man before chasing the fleeing wife down the hall and right into March, who welcomes him before they head off to kill the wife. It turns out the man is Richard Ramirez, so that’s probably not great for the residents of the hotel.  

Lowe wakes up to a phone call from his daughter and offers to take her shopping for a Halloween costume but she rebuffs him. After hanging up, Lowe finds blood leaking through his ceiling. He goes to investigate and finds a maid, who’s busy scrubbing bloody sheets that she can’t seem to get clean. She flashes back to Halloween in the 1920s when her son was kidnapped while she was talking with a neighbor. She speaks with Lowe for a time, revealing her son was murdered, and Lowe seems to commiserate with her before she abruptly leaves.

Alex brings Holden home and notices his vitals don’t seem to make sense. While getting him juice, as he said he was “thirsty,” he attacks and kills the family dog, drinking its blood and claiming he wants his “mommy.” At work, Lowe is shocked to discover that the maid’s story of her lost son took place in the 20s, and considers that it could be connected to the serial killer he’s currently investigating. Alex returns Holden to the hotel where he climbs into his glass coffin. Then Elizabeth appears, ready to answer Alex’s questions: Holden has been infected with “an ancient virus,” and after repeating the explanation she gave Duffy a few episodes ago, she reveals that she takes children to protect them. She offers to turn Alex as well so she can be with her son, but Alex refuses.

At the hotel bar, Lowe considers the possibility that he’s not an alcoholic and orders a double martini. He encounters a woman he believes to be dressed up as Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe), and he quickly develops some intense alcohol goggles in her direction. They go up to her room where she ties him up and insists she is the real Aileen Wuornos. He fights back and handcuffs her to the sink, confirming from her drivers’ license she is, in fact, Wuornos. He goes to the lobby to use the phone, but finds it dead. He also discovers an invitation to join March’s dinner party, though it’s not really made clear why.

At the party, Lowe quickly runs into Wuornos, who apologizes for their previous altercation. Also present are Jeffrey Dahmer (Seth Gabel), John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch), Ramirez, and a masked Zodiac Killer. After a round of absinthe, it’s revealed the serial killers at the table were all protégés of March (again, insensitive) and they gather every year the night before Halloween to pay homage to him, referring to him as “the master.” They go back and forth reveling in pride over the murders they’ve committed, and then they produce a male victim, gifting him to Dahmer. In the midst of all of this, Sally reels in a man from outside who mistakes her for a drug dealer. After getting him high, she delivers him to March’s party as “dessert.” The killers all grab a knife and mercilessly stab the man to death.

Suddenly, we jump to Lowe waking up alone on the floor in an empty party room. Then Sally appears, cleverly asking Lowe if he’s been drinking. She tells him he hallucinated the whole event, then helps him up and back to his room, claiming to be his protector. The party carries on with March and his guests, while elsewhere in the hotel, Elizabeth turns Alex.

American Horror Story airs every Wednesday at 10 PM on FX. Check back here for more updates every week!


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