“American Horror Story: Hotel” has officially arrived on FX, and as it turns out, it is every bit as weird and unpredictable as you would have expected. This series one episode in feels like everything you would expect and then some from a Ryan Murphy production. We started to get to know the Hotel Cortez, and some of how these characters ended up working there.
We feel like for now, our hero of the story is John Lowe (Wes Bentley), a man determined to solve a string of murders and also some of the mysteries of this Los Angeles locale. He’s got his work cut out for him. The owner in the Countess (Lady Gaga) has a blood ailment that causes her to crave the stuff, and she’s infected her lover Donovan (Matt Bomer) to go along with it. Donovan’s mother Iris (Kathy Bates) works at the Hotel to look after him, and also takes part in some of the nefarious events that go on there. Namely, she is rather excellent at preparing the blood of certain victims for her son.
One of the major twists of the premiere, though, is that the Countess may no longer fashion herself an owner. She’s got a buyer in Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson), a prestigious fashion designer who obviously has plenty of money. We’re not entirely sure why he’d want it, but he is there nonetheless.
Some other notable characters for the premiere include Sally (Sarah Paulson), a certifiably insane woman who seems to have her way with many hotel residents (and also seemed to be shoved out the window in a flashback to many years earlier), the bar manager Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare), and Lowe’s family, who are all still in the process of healing after some grisly events from their past.
It is a good think that we seem to have a clear vantage point in Lowe’s to enter this world, and that helps to at least ground this show in some reality … and it needs it. From blood-sucking sex scenes to violent throat-cuttings, this show is nuts. Some of it exaggerated for no real reason, and there are moments where it is distracting.
With that said, we will say that while Gaga makes a big impression in the premiere, Bates continues to be the show’s best performer. Iris is not an over-the-top character by any means, but you start to empathize with her as more and more information comes out.
We will say that, for now, “Hotel” has the potential to be better than either “Coven” or “Freak Show,” which were the past two seasons. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a little bit of time for us to figure that out. We’ll say that for now, we at least like the set, the characters, and the general aesthetic of the hotel. Grade: B+.
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