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

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.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.