[For American Horror Story – Hotel “The Ten Commandments Killer” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
The Ten Commandments Killer John closes in on the Ten Commandments Killer; Sally’s arrangement with March is revealed.
“The Ten Commandments Killer” reveals John Lowe’s innermost secrets, not just to us but also to Lowe. He finally knows why he’s drawn to the Hotel Cortez, the identity of the Ten Commandments Killer, and even his purpose in life. What more could a boozin’ blue-eyed dreamboat want? Anything but these three things.. if you’re John Lowe.
After the little girl, Wren, dies in the street John runs back to the Hotel Cortez and demands to know where the Ten Commandments Killer is. He’s in the hotel, John says and they’ve all been hiding and protecting him. Sally says she’ll take John to the killer and walks him to room 64, John’s room. Uh oh, we had a feeling… There are answers waiting on the other side of the door, she explains. In fact, room 64 used to be James March’s office space and it was right here where he died.
Sally says John will find what he’s looking for behind the armoire. He pushes the armoire away from the wall to find a door that opens into an eerie blue-lit room full of body parts encased in glass: the hand of a thief for thou shalt not steal and so on. A commandment is engraved on the appropriate plaque on the base of each glass vessel. Sally says March had been waiting for his successor and then finally found him… in John. Lowe’s been doing all the Ten Commandment killings in his boozy blackouts. He picked up where March left off ninety years ago. That’s why he was invited to the serial killer dinner on Halloween. Sally says, “It’s always been you,” and comforts the dazed John with a rocking hug as the truth sinks into his murderous mind. He’s been hunting himself all along.
Being the self destructive type, John can’t wait to confess. He runs to the morgue where his boss stands over Wren’s body. Lowe suddenly remembers everything and it turns out he’s been going to the Hotel Cortez for five years, not just the few weeks we knew about. He was drinking back then and sought a martini at midnight the first time he went to the Hotel. Sally sat near him at the bar but it was Donovan who hit on him first. John isn’t feeling friendly, though… or frisky. Then Donovan tells him he can get truly blasted upstairs and the bar is about to declare last call. Next we see The Countess and March eating a dinner thus interrupted by Donovan and John Lowe at their door. March rages because it’s his one night a month with the beloved Countess. Donovan explains that Lowe had a wretched day and needs to drink himself silly.
Do life and death have no meaning anymore to John? March asks. Lowe replies that being a homicide detective he knows more than anyone that life and death are the ONLY thing that have any meaning. March’s eyes light up as he recognizes a kindred spirit and he releases The Countess and Donovan so they can go bone the night away. He’s intrigued by Lowe and gives him Absinthe. John drinks heavily while March tells him he sees his jet black rage-filled aura. It’s dangerous to keep all that inside because it’ll give him cancer. And anyway, March senses that John’s having trouble keeping it in check. Lowe admits this is true – he feels his own righteous sense of justice, especially at work. If only he was judge jury and executioner. Later that night March tells The Countess John has “once in a generation rage” and he’s finally found the man worthy to continue his work. If she helps capture John for the task March will give her one of the Lowe children. Because The Countess adores impossibly blonde children, it’s a perfect trade.
Remembering it to his boss now Lowe admits that he’s been going to the Hotel Cortez regularly and living a double life. Because time was different at the Hotel he could easily get away with it. Being with James March it was as if no time passed at all. They would talk for hours and March showed him all the wonders of the Cortez, like his trophy room with dead people’s heads right beside the animals. At first Lowe was a bit judgmental about such gore but his frustrations about societal injustices at work sent him back to March again and again. It started to seem to Lowe that he must do the job of justice himself – as March did, playing judge, jury, and executioner. It was like a dream come true for John – get out his rage and finally finding justice all in one bloody package. On his first murderous venture John hunts a guy March claimed a pedophile even though there’s no evidence other than concocted pics and stories. John beats the guy to death and then attempts to hang himself in the stranger’s bathroom but fails because Sally was there. Turns out Sally was always there – in John’s arms.
Sally and John have been having a torrid affair all these five years. Her character is a perfect, if a bit blatant, representative for addiction. About her John says she’s a bottomless pit of need and that when he’s with her, he’s someone else. But he keeps going back to her anyway. Sounds like she’s pretty addictive. Lowe couldn’t kill himself because Sally called March to come save John from his own suicide. March was mad at her for not cutting John down herself. He reminds her that she owes him. They have an arrangement where he protects Sally from a vicious demon, the drill bit maggot looking thing, and in return she does March’s bidding. Apparently Sally conjured this Addiction Demon and it has to feed so she needs March to feed it for her or she’ll be consumed.
John wraps up his confession to his boss with the story of how March advises John that he’s found his true purpose in life, killing and venting his rage – thus using his pain to make the world a cleaner place. Then he shares his Ten Commandments Project with John and tells him to finish the work he couldn’t. When Lowe says he might get caught March tells him to make himself lead detective on the case so he can’t get nailed. John’s boss still doesn’t believe the confession at this point but Lowe doesn’t care, he’s too caught up in the rush of his rage and storytelling. John stabs his boss and says it’s because he was coveting his wife.. one of the Ten Commandments, yes. But when it comes to John actually discerning his boss’s feelings for Alex, this was probably just a guess, at best. It’s all wrapped up nicely for John’s murderous mind, though. He returns to the Hotel Cortez now fully aware of who he is and his purpose in life – a man who is finally whole in this way can’t be stopped from his mission.
This episode revealed a lot about John and Sally, alive and dead versions of twisted addictions. Connected as if they are stuck in a vice made entirely of the other person – locked in it. Instead of halting the narrative, though, these revelations throw us forward into the unknown terror of tomorrow. Now that John is aware how will that change his story? He can’t kill Alex now because she’s got The Countess’s vampire virus. Will he get caught? Or will John die and be eternally stuck in the Hotel Cortez forever like Sally? March always has him do the Ten Commandment murders offsite from the Hotel Cortez. What’s behind that? American Horror Story – Hotel has been consistent and clear in delivering the answers to past questions, so we’ll find out soon. March tells John that death is his art and Lowe has only two killings left to complete the Ten Commandment masterpiece. So, what then for John and March – a showdown? It’s not as if two serial killers are going to share and play nice when the job’s done. March has the advantage of experience but John’s actually alive. It’s a tough fight to call. One thing’s for certain, though, conflict is inevitable at the Hotel Cortez and it’s gonna be to the death.