Television

American Horror Story - Hotel: Season 5, Episode 6 - "Room 33"

Leyla Hamedi

In another stalled mid-season episode, we find out what makes the Countess tick and why motherhood is so damn difficult despite all the modern amenities of back-alley abortions, vampirism, and nannies.


American Horror Story: Hotel

Airtime: Wednesdays, 10pm
Cast: Matt Bomer, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Lady Gaga, Chloe Sevigny, Wes Bentley
Subtitle: Season 5, Episode 6 - "Room 33"
Network: FX
Amazon

It’s rumored that all these seemingly disparate seasons of American Horror Story will eventually connect, despite their differences in time and location. Beyond the joy of killing (possible overarching title? "Mastering the Art of Violent Murder"), there really isn't too much the seasons have in common beyond the actors, but it's always a nice little "in" moment when the current show tips a hat to a previous plot line. This week's episode opens with the Countess (Lady Gaga) heading to the first season's murder house in 1926, where a chloroform-addicted doctor agrees to illegally operate on her mysterious womb creature, which, at three weeks gestation, looks full term. The Countess can't possibly have a real baby and lo, unto a vampire a demon child is born. A thirst for killing is apparently genetic, as the wee little monster destroys the nurse (Jill Alexander) that brought him into this world instead of it working the other way around, much to mama monster's delight.

Well. Mother, tell your children not to look my way because this devil spawn (whom we don't actually see until the end of the episode) is a squirmy pink monster with a cleft palate and possessed black eyes who can't age and is the mysterious resident of the eponymous Room 33. Baby Bartholomew manages to have himself a little adventure throughout the course of the episode but more importantly, exists as another example of just how strong is a mother's love for her child. A face only a mother could love isn’t an expression in this case. That being said, even vampire moms have their limits; if you're an ungrateful ingrate, then off with your head.

Which leads us to more love. Love, Karen Carpenter, birds chirping; love is in the air for Liz Taylor (Denis O'Hare) and Tristan (Finn Wittrock), the dopey model-turned-vampire with whom the Countess replaced Donovan. While neither Liz nor Tristan are gay, love has no genitalia that can't be navigated, and they shyly step up to confess their love to each other with the Countess as witness and blesser of the union. Then she kills Tristan, because of course she does. Betrayal tastes like burned meat, and who wants that taste in their mouth? Despite his loyalty to her and how she symbolically gave him life, it's pretty clear Liz is not going to have any trouble double-crossing his ma and joining Ramona (Angela Bassett) and company as they try to bring her down. Choke on that bitter, bitter mother's milk.

Speaking of Ramona, she and Donovan (Matt Bomer), who’s getting really great at his Bryan Ferry "Slave to Love" sad dog eyes impression, can't find the vampbabies and then let Bartholomew escape. In the Greek tragedy that is his life, Detective Lowe (Wes Bentley) has a threesome with the dead Swedish women from the first episode, who are pushed to torment him by his very own wife. The sex quota in American Horror Story: Hotelhad been dropping, but no worries: this episode delivers a lot of waxed bums and tight physiques. The poor Swedish girls just want a ride to the Fast and Furious premiere, but are stuck in Hotel Cortez for eternity and thus need a purpose beyond killing the idiots that continue to check in to the hotel. So Alex (Chloe Sevigny) sort of pushes them on to her husband so she can live her vampire life with her vampire son in peace. (Such a lovely place, such a lovely face.) Let's not forget that this particular mother of the year has a daughter who’s been alone for the past two days. There might be nothing like a mother's touch but goddamn, can she love you to death.

Meanwhile, Detective Lowe gets away from his orgy, which got bloody for aesthetic reasons, and heads home to his daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks) who, to reiterate, has been left alone for the last two days. Bartholomew hitchhikes in his suitcase and when he freaks out and tries to shoot it, the poor girl screams and runs away. Who wouldn’t? Her absent father is shooting ghosts in the kitchen. Luckily, her mother enters to soothe everyone and manage the situation. The mother that chose to be undead and be with one kid without flinching for a second; less Sophie's Choice and more Alex’s astoundingly idiotic, immediate decision.

Alex (Pandora) catches Bartholomew and returns him to his box, leaving Detective Lowe (Prometheus) to question is his sanity once more. Good sir, this is your mind we're talking about, not some misplaced car keys. Get. Help. How's that lame Commandments case the show keeps lamely trying to get us to remember going? Seems your daughter could use some honoring of thy father, but if she survives this childhood, really, she deserves all the prizes. Either way, baby demon is back home in room 33 (perhaps a reference to his diminutive size= five percent of the devil's 666?) and Alex has the Countess' eternal gratitude. "You saved my son," she weeps. "You saved mine," Alex responds. And that is why child emancipation laws exist. Just get out while you can, Scarlett. They've left the door open for you. Go and never look back.

Love is the theme here, but all those love songs and quotes you know by heart? Imagine them referring to mother-child relationships, and that feeling of squidgy discomfort is exactly the aim of American Horror Story: Hotel's familial relationships. Love hurts, love scars. Love wounds and marks, indeed, Nazareth. Sometimes quite literally.

5

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.