[For American Horror Story – Hotel “Be Our Guest” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Be Our Guest Iris and Liz oversee a new era; John and Alex struggle to adapt to life outside the hotel.
If you’re into American Horror Story Hotel for the sex you may find this season finale, “Be Our Guest” disappointing – because there isn’t any – and there’s only a tidbit of violence, comparatively. But when it comes to thematic resonance, symbolism, and tying up loose ends, this baby delivers with only one glaring exception. Also, don’t get too attached to the FX summary because we learn virtually nothing about John and Alex’s adaptation to life outside the hotel other than that it was a colossal failure and they returned soon after leaving. Gaga and Angela Basset make brief appearances in the finale but these vignettes are penetrating shots of glamour and poignance that make a lasting impact in this season’s final bit of glorious hotel madness.
We open on Liz and Iris, the new hotel management duo, as they attempt to mold a glamorous luxury destination out of this ghost-ridden fleabag. A year has passed since the last episode and they’ve liquidated The Countess’s art collection to pay for redecorating and even installed fancy Japanese toilets. Unfortunately, there’s an intrinsic glitch in their plan – they’ll never get rid of the murderous ghosts. So, though they welcome two hotel website reviewers for a grand Hotel Cortez reopening – they can’t ever get those coveted four gold stars. Sally and Will Drake make sure of it when they get all stab-happy and ruin the whole shebang, killing the reviewers before they even have a chance to sit down on the new furniture. Liz and Iris shake their heads in disgust at the cleanup that awaits and their hopeless situation. The Cortez will never get any stars at this rate! The duo call a meeting of the Cortez ghosts and Liz ding-ding-dings the side of a martini glass, calling it to order.
They ask the ghosts to stop killing the guests so they can make the hotel a luxury “destination” but Sally and Will say no. Hell no, in fact, murder is just too much fun. Then James March enters to give an inspiring soliloquy about how this is their HOME they’ve got to stop killing so it can become a historical landmark. But really, it’s probably just that he’s stopped killing and handed over the murder king crown to John Lowe. So, why should these minor league ghosts get to have all the fun? Iris and Liz say they have to become a destination because they can’t survive without the money that would make them. Drake’s is drying up now that he’s dead and not designing anymore. Sally gets pissy, saying the hell that awaits if they burn down the Cortez would be all the same as living there is now. She leaves the meeting to pout in her room but Iris follows and tells Sally she knows of a more permanent fix than going to hell – something with a real future. Iris advises her to become a literal ghost in the machine. She hands Sally a smartphone loaded up with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – the whole shebang and explains that she can create a whole new world for herself. Suddenly Sally’s inspired – she’s an artist after all. Soon Sally has a rabid online audience seeking her every tweet, photo, and video. Finally, the artist that’s been dying to be acknowledged inside Sally has a rapt audience. She becomes so popular and validated as SallyThatGurl online Sally throws away her needles and smack. Her online identity made Sally into somebody she can face in the mirror sober. After all who needs rehab when you’ve got fanboys and followers feeding your ego 24/7?
Meanwhile Will Drake lives the complete opposite lifestyle just down the hall. He hides from his adoring public and gets drunk all the time. Liz sent his son to a fancy boarding school and keeps tabs on the business; which, though not thriving, gets by on its fragrance and accessory lines. Ironically, his fans think he’s in rehab so Will could easily continue to create fashion from the Cortez and nobody would be the wiser. His biz could thrive again rather than just survive if only he’d participate in it again. Liz offers to help him do this and Drake seems truly intrigued, inspired even at the prospect. It makes sense, Liz was a salesman in her former life and bleeds Dior in this one. Who’s better equipped for a revitalization of a fashion brand? So, in the next scene Liz attends a Will Drake corporate board meeting and takes over the business helm while Will designs a whole new season of amazing Drake magic from his lair of mystery and thus they became eminently successful as a fashion team. Even still… loads of success on this fabulous fashion venture doesn’t make Liz happy. Then she realizes nothing really can or ever will because she still misses her beloved Tristan.
So, Iris hires a famous TV psychic, played by Sarah Paulson, named Billie Dean to find Tristan’s spirit. The trio do a calling out to him in Liz’s room where Tristan died at the razor-tipped fingers of The Countess. Billie Dean reaches what seems to be Tristan but he has no message and then Liz says it’s because she’s the reason Tristan’s dead – weeping. The psychic tells Liz to be strong and then suddenly starts to get messages from the manly spirit in the room. He smells pancakes, she says and watches Saturday morning cartoons. Um, that’s not Tristan, bitch. It’s Donovan and he’s there to tell Iris he loves her. Billie tells Iris not to worry and that Donovan is speaking to her from a beautiful place far from the Hotel Cortez. So, Liz never does get to speak to Tristan through Billie but in a following scene we see her become a grandmother as she attends the birth of her son’s new daughter, which makes her happy. Liz gets to leave behind her own legacy now.
In the next scene Ms. Taylor tells Ramona and all the ghosts she’s just gotten some horrible news. She’s the only woman in the world with prostate cancer and will die soon. So, she insists that they need to kill her and take her out of this misery. But the ghosts love Liz and don’t want to kill her …until Sally explains that because it’s the Cortez she’ll be reborn and can be with them forever. They’re just about to do the deed when The Countess (heretofore hiding) interrupts and says Liz was always her fondest creation and she wants to help. Then The Countess does her signature razor fingernail throat slash just for Liz this time. The good news is that as soon as Liz dies she’s reunited with Tristan. He explains that he couldn’t get in the way of her continuing to live her life to the fullest so that was why he stayed silent with Billie but, of course, he loves Liz, like always.
Next we’re transported forth to 2022 and the psychic Billie Dean now frequently uses the Cortez to film her TV show and discover all sorts of spirits and ghost stories. Billie’s main objective revolves around John Lowe, the Ten Commandments Killer. She sees him as the ultimate ghost interview. Speaking of John, he shows up (a ghost now) just as Ramona and Iris discuss shutting down Billie Dean because they don’t want all the creepy guests her show attracts to the Cortez now that Drake’s designer legacy keeps then in business money-wise. When Lowe shows up they appeal to him for help with Billie and he’s happy to oblige. He offers her an on camera interview. Billie says she wants to set the record straight and asks if his family knew he was a serial killer. He doesn’t really answer and just says he let them down. The Billie asks if he killed his family. Although it appears that he didn’t, John says to stop talking about his family. Which is a powerful parallel to all the past convos he’s had with Sally, also played by Sarah Paulson. Then we see a brief flashback to Lowe’s family showing back up at the Cortez after sending Scarlet off to the same boarding school where Will Drake’s son went. While the three of them lived at the Cortez, John kept killing at night on the streets of LA to collect blood for his wife and son. Then late one night after one such murder and blood collection, John gets shot by police near the outside of the Cortez. He wants to crawl inside but doesn’t make it. In fact, the only reason he can be there talking to her that night is because it’s October 30th.
So, then Billie asks him about the significance of the date and he tells her it’s Devil’s Night and if she’s willing to go with him without the cameras he’ll show her what that means. John takes her hand. Thus the cameraman’s perspective shows it floating in the air as Billie leaves the room with the ghost of John Lowe. They walk down the screaming hallowed halls just the two of them and then he brings her to the notorious serial killer party where she’s greeted by John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer, then Aileen Wournos, and Richard Ramirez. John asks her if she’s scared and she says no because she just surrounds herself with the white light of spirit to protect her, to which John sarcastically says, “Sure thing, sweetheart,” but Billie’s serious. Then she recognizes James March and half passes out. John drugs her and the killers collectively tie her to a chair then threaten to kill her if she keeps doing TV specials, tweets and interviews about the hotel. She’s gotta shut her dang trap. Billie says even if she promised they can’t hold her to her word because they can’t leave the hotel. They’re trapped. Ha! But then Ramona shows up, not dead, and says she’ll wqtch over Billie’s skinny ass to keep her in line. Billie flees the hotel then in a terrified state, presumably never to return.
After this scene John goes back to his hotel room and Scarlet’s there for a visit, much older now and looking about college age. Lowe says he’s afraid to go asleep because once he closes his eyes she’ll be gone for another year. But Scarlet tells John it’s OK, he should rest and he does. Then we see The Countess courting a young hottie that reminds her of Valentino in the hotel bar. She looks better than ever in a royal blue dress slit down to kingdom come and sparkling silver gloves with razor nails on each fierce fingertip. She uses one to trace his perfect bone structure and purrs,”You’ve got a jawline for days,” speaking a truth that resonates not only in that moment but seems to echo eternal through the halls of the Hotel Cortez. We’re right back where we started. It’s the circle of life… and death.
Thus we say goodbye to the fabulous limited series American Horror Story – Hotel. This one was a fun and glamorous romp with an extra dose of bloody lust, nudity, and drugs. One might refer to it as rock n’ roll horror but really it should always be known as the Gaga season because she made all the difference. Her Golden Globe was well-earned and we loved every minute of her onscreen. In fact, there wasn’t much we would change about this season. Although, we never really found out much about that maggoty drill bit dick guy, which is pretty ironic because who would think a guy that violently screws people with his drill bit loins would turn out to be nothing but a big ol’ narrative tease?