I’m not really sure how I feel about the American Horror Story Hotel finale but I do know that it certainly did not meet my expectations. Out of the five seasons, I’d say this was probably my least favorite season and my least favorite finale and I think I would have gone in a completely different direction if I had been writing for this show. While there was some touching moments, this finale just felt really bizarre, even for American Horror Story. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of this series, I just think a lot of the stories this season were left open in the end. Not only that but there was a lot of characters that didn’t even need to be there in the first place. Addiction demon, anyone? Clearly, that was the most pointless inclusion as none of it was explained.
Liz Taylor and Sally were clearly the stars of the season and it was great to see them take center stage for most of the finale but I can’t help but feel a little empty after this. In fact, I’d suggest that my own ending that I came up with in my head as the finale rolled would have been much more satisfying. I’m not really sure why we had to go back to Devil’s Night for another serial killer soiree and I don’t think this paid off in the end. Further, this was very similar to what happened at the end of Murder House, with all of our ghosties remaining on the property to live out the rest of eternity. Except Queenie who, for some reason, was not a ghost even though she was murdered in the Hotel Cortez. I’m having trouble understanding why she wasn’t around, chillin’ with the rest of the ghosts.
For me, my favorite scene of the finale came when Liz Taylor made the decision to end her life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. It was a rather happy moment considering this is American Horror Story and I think having the Countess be the one to take her life was appropriate. That entire scene definitely deserves some recognition because it was phenomenal in every way. The rest of the episode…well, I still don’t know what to think of it all. Enjoy the review, fellow guests!
Our episode begins with Liz Taylor taking over the Hotel Cortez and I loved that they used Denis O’Hare for the narration. Once again, American Horror Story was not afraid to give us a glimpse into the future and I think this idea works well in order to wrap things up each season. Unfortunately, not everything was wrapped up this time around and it was difficult for me to accept. Liz Taylor’s opening monologue was great though and I think this opening line really sums up the finale perfectly: “We started with such high hopes. With all the previous owners being dead, the hotel was under new management…ours! We were determined to remake the Cortez in our own image. This would be no mere hotel, we had ambitions to be a family to the friendless, a comfort to those in the cold, a beehive of acceptance. It was supposed to be the perfect ending.” And he’s not wrong. It was supposed to be the perfect ending but this finale was certainly not perfect.
Liz and Iris are now running things and some randoms check in to check out the newly renovated rooms of the Hotel Cortez, now equipped with this baby:
Doesn’t it just make you wanna take a dump! Things don’t end well for our new guests once Sally arrives in their room, however. Sarah Paulson completely slayed it once again as she played not one, but TWO characters for the finale. Her dialogue was executed to perfection and she was once again able to send chills down my spine with this line:
You just knew these guests weren’t making it out of the Cortez alive and that was exactly what happened when Sally stabs one of them with her heroine-filled needle while Will Drake took care of the other guest, even though he’s totally new at this murder game. Obviously this is going to be a problem for the new management since the ghosts are murdering all of the guests which is definitely not going to increase their star rating. Luckily, Liz Taylor is ready to have a meeting.
And that is exactly what they do. All of the ghosties were back, including Marcy the Realtor, the Swedish Meatballs and the gay lumberjack but one notable character was missing, that being Queenie. I have no idea why they would kill her off in the Hotel Cortez and not bring her back as a ghost. This actually makes no sense considering everyone that died in the hotel is walking around murdering the guests. Seriously though, Queenie should have been there having been murdered in the hotel last week and I was a little disappointed at this rather big plot hole. My reaction:
Liz and Iris would appreciate it if the ghosts stopped murdering everyone but it looks like our ghosties are going to need some persuading. Enter Mr. March, who is surprisingly agreeable with Liz. Sally believes that Mr. March telling people to stop killing is like Colonel Sanders telling people to stop eating chicken but Mr. March is not familiar with her military friend and his fondness for poultry. Such a great line. So Mr. March makes the decision to have his ghosties stop murdering the guests now that he has passed his killing torch to John.
And this is where I really thought the writers could have done something absolutely bat shit crazy with the finale but sadly it was not meant to be. Mr. March says it best, “This is our home. Frankly, it’s the only one we’ve got. None of us know what is waiting for us beyond this place if it no longer stands. Perhaps without these walls to protect us, we would all be forced to move on and face the judgment of our maker.” You’re such a tease, Mr. March. And this quote from March fits in perfectly with what I would have thought to be the perfect ending.
Mr. March wants the killing to stop so the Hotel Cortez can become a historical landmark in 2026 but Sally is having none of this and wants to continue her killing spree. She also says something interesting, “who gives a shit if they tear this place down and send us all straight to hell. It can’t be any worse.” Now, here are my thoughts on what the writers should have done. We know that some kind of Hell exists after watching Coven so what I was hoping for after watching this scene was that Billie Dean Howard would come in and perform some kind of exorcism on all of the ghosts at the Cortez, essentially sending them all to Hell, just like Sally suggested. Billie Dean even says at one point that she is protected by the white light of spirit to keep herself protected. The final scene could (and should) have been all of our ghosties in hell with a cameo from Misty Day who would still be dissecting those frogs. I just feel like this would have been a much more perfect and fitting ending, especially if you consider the fact that Murder House ended in a similar fashion, with all of the ghosts remaining on the property. Admit it, this would have been way cooler than the ending we received.
Of course, things didn’t go down this way and Sally, who still wants to murder the shit out of everyone who enters the Hotel, is eventually threatened by Mr. March with the Addiction Demon that we literally learned NOTHING about. Disappointed is an understatement.
I really didn’t see any point in introducing us to the Addiction Demon without ever getting an explanation about why it was in the hotel in the first place and where it came from and, let’s be honest here, having this entity in the hotel did nothing for the overall story except provide a little shock value. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to throw a glass against the wall:
After the meeting, Sally and Iris have a chat that practically had me in tears because of Sarah Paulson’s performance. Iris acknowledges the fact that Sally was in love with John only to have him turn his back on her after all she had done for him. Iris knows how that feels and so do I. Luckily, Iris provides an interesting solution for Sally and all it took was free Wi-Fi and a brand new smartphone.
So Sally took to the interwebs like a fish to water and became an instant online celebrity. It was such a bizarre way to close out her story but you couldn’t help but smile as she basked in sublime adoration from her new fans. Being numb to the world finally lost its appeal and Sally was reborn, finally throwing away the drugs that she had become so fond of.
As much as I would have preferred seeing all of our ghosts end up in Hell, it was also great to see Sally finally move on and become the star she always wanted to be with Peter Murphy’s Cut You Up playing in the background. Go get ’em Sally!
You Are To Die For
We also caught up with Will Drake, who’s a bit upset over his failing business. Liz comes up with a plan that would allow him to continue running his company from behind the walls of the Hotel Cortez. And really, was there anyone more appropriate to run his company than Liz! I’m not really sure why we had to explore Will’s story in more detail considering the fact that hes been missing in action ever since his death but I guess it all made sense given that Liz was there to help him find his purpose again.
So Big Willie puts Liz in charge of his company while he designs behind the scenes. It really was a match made in heaven with both of them working their sorcery. They end up using the ghosties for their fashion shows and their new deco eventually became all the rage with the public.
I should take a minute to praise the fuck out of Denis O’Hare because this was his season of American Horror Story. Liz Taylor has easily been the best character of Hotel, and quite possibly one of the best characters on the series. Her story was heartbreaking in every way and if this didn’t give you the feels then you are probably a ghost. He’s still missing Tristan, his one true love, and no success is ever going to change that.
Iris ends up arranging a meeting with a returning character, the one and only Billie Dean Howard, who can communicate with the dead. It’s been a while since we last saw Billie Dean but she now has her own reality show on Lifetime where she helps the bereaved communicate with their dearly departed loved ones. And that is exactly what she does for Liz by trying to contact Tristan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go as planned because Tristan doesn’t want to talk. At this point, I feel terrible for Liz who believes that love kills a lot more than hate. She’s not wrong either and I’ve always believed that the people who have the most love to give are always the ones who get hurt the most. Poor Liz 🙁
But Billie Dean also makes contact with Donovan, much to Iris’s surprise. Billie Dean tells us that Donovan is somewhere very beautiful, where it’s always Saturday morning and it smells like pancakes. This is a place where I want to be and so should you (unless you don’t like pancakes).
This was such a touching moment for Iris with Donovan finally saying that he loves his mom. And this is what this series does extremely well, it makes us FEEL for our characters that we’ve spent the season with and I was very happy to see Liz and Iris get the happy endings they deserved.
Things get immediately depressing again, however, when we find out that Liz is the first woman in the world to get prostate cancer. She doesn’t want to be turned into a vamp though and would much prefer to come back as a ghost so her family can continue to visit her after she dies. So Liz rounds up all of the spirits so they can murder her and she can once again be reborn. It was HANDS DOWN the best scene of the finale, summed up by one line from Liz: “You’re my family. I want to be with you forever.”
Of course you just knew The Countess was going to make an appearance and I don’t think they could have done this any better with The Ballad of Lucy Jordan playing in the background. Check out the track below:
Even with Liz and Iris trying to kill her, The Countess finally showed us her human side and I absolutely loved this reunion, especially when you consider the fact that it was the Countess who empowered Liz to become Liz. Simply beautiful stuff.
I was so very skeptical about Lady Gaga being on this show but she did a remarkable job of playing The Countess. She has a way of delivering her lines perfectly and this scene was no exception, it was stunningly perfect and easily the highlight of the finale. The Countess wanted to be there to help Liz transition one last time and, while it was sad that Liz had to die, it was the only way she was going to get her happy ending.
After her death, she is finally confronted by her long lost love Tristan and it was a moment that probably sent a lot of us into tears. Many of us will spend our whole lives trying to find that special someone who we share an emotional connection with. For Liz, it was Tristan and even though we didn’t get to see much of their relationship on screen, you could just feel the love between these two characters. Tristan explains to Liz that he had more living to do and didn’t want to get in the way which explains why he hadn’t been seen around the hotel since his death. And Liz sums up what true love is all about:
God, I hate being single. This is the stuff that tears are made from and Liz Taylor absolutely stole the show with her story. It was a beautiful ending for a beautiful person with a big heart and was one of the highlights of the entire season.
But enough of the lovey dovey stuff, it’s time for another serial killer soiree.
Highs and Lowes
I’m sure we were all wondering when John Lowe was going to show up and he finally does in the most random way possible. John and the whole 10 Commandments killer story was easily my least favorite of the season and I don’t think his ending did the finale any justice. As I mentioned earlier, I would have much preferred Billie Dean sending all of these ghosts straight to hell but it wasn’t meant to be and instead we had a repeat of Devil’s Night.
We flash forward to Devil’s Night in 2022 and Iris explains to Ramona that Billie Dean has been doing prime time specials at the Cortez, which has attracted freaks and weirdos to the hotel who want to be plowed by ghosts. Count me in!
And since this is Devil’s Night, John returns to the hotel for the annual serial killer dinner party. Billie Dean is trying to communicate with the 10 Commandments killer but John hasn’t bothered to communicate with her until tonight. So Billie Dean is back again to get an exclusive interview with John and this year he plans on finally talking to her. Interestingly, Sarah Paulson’s characters always seem to conduct interviews in the finale as you’ll remember Lana Winters and Cordelia both following the same paths in Asylum and Coven respectively. I’m not sure what this means exactly but as I have mentioned in some of my previous reviews, there may be a connection between all of the characters who are played by the same actor/actress.
We finally learn about John’s fate as well. His entire family is back together so they return home to the Hotel Cortez but the Lowes decide to send Scarlett to the Thacher School so she would have a shot at a normal life. Could this be a hint about next season’s setting? It’s certainly possible since the renowned boarding school was mentioned twice in the finale and also features Pegasus, the mythological winged horse, on its logo. Personally, I don’t like this idea at all but this might be a big clue to where we are headed for season six.
After completing his trophy collection for Mr. March, John continued his killing spree in order to feed his family (since Holden and Alex are vamps now) and this ultimately leads to a confrontation with the police. I’m not quite sure why he pulled out his gun before running back to the hotel but this obviously didn’t help the situation and John is shot to death by the police before he can make it back onto the hotel property.
So it looks like John can only return on Devil’s Night, as was explained in the Devil’s Night episode earlier this season. John decides to take Billie Dean to their annual dinner party and it’s worth noting Billie Dean’s mention of the Murder House where she could hear the spirits in the walls like termites but it was nothing like the Cortez which is apparently like being at a rock concert of the dead.
Billie Dean is introduced to Gacy, Dahmer, Aileen Wuornos, Richard Ramirez and the Zodiac who have all returned for Devil’s Night as per their tradition. Unfortunately, this scene was more of a repeat to earlier in the season and I didn’t really care for Hotel to end this way. I would have much preferred to see Billie Dean work some kind of magic to send all of these murderers to hell but it wasn’t meant to be. Either way, let’s get this party started!
Billie Dean decides to stay for a drink of Absinthe and I had a bad feeling this was going to end badly for her. Fortunately, the sole purpose of bringing her to the party was to threaten her so she would never come back to the Cortez again. Billie Dean seems to think they can’t hold her to her word but she’s very wrong because Ms. Ramona Royale is still around running shittttt!
And unlike our ghosties, she can leave the hotel so it looks like Billie Dean better be keeping her mouth shut. To be honest, I was quite surprised they ended up letting her leave the Cortez but I’m quite relieved they didn’t kill off another character from a previous season. While having John die off the property and only be able to come back once a year on Devil’s Night was a neat and tidy way to connect things from earlier in the season, I just don’t think it was what I was hoping for. This show has not shown us any way of exterminating ghosts up to this point and I feel as though they missed a HUGE opportunity here.
And much like Murder House, the very final scene was a throwback to the premiere of Hotel with the Countess recycling her most famous line from the season. I actually didn’t mind this final scene, it was very appropriate, but overall the finale seemed to lack a certain something. For me, this ending was no different than Murder House and I really wish they would have went in a different direction for the final check out.
Episode Score: MIKEY DISLIKES IT
Be Our Guest was full of interesting moments and reveals but I just couldn’t bring myself to give this a like. I am a HUGE American Horror Story fan and I’m really trying not to be biased here but I was a bit disappointed with how all of this played out. While I loved how they wrapped things up with Sally, Liz and Iris, I really didn’t like the fact that they recycled the same scene from Devil’s Night. I was hoping for a massive ghost extermination led by Billie Dean instead.
Overall, Hotel was probably a success but I think I’d have to say that this was my least favorite season to date. It certainly had its moments and I loved the fact that we briefly got to go back to the murder house. But I was expecting more with these connections and unfortunately a lot of them made little to no sense. Bringing Queenie back for a cameo was great but it didn’t add anything to the plot especially considering she didn’t come back as a ghost. Further, Billie Dean’s inclusion was also rather pointless and, like Queenie, didn’t add much to the overall story.
While I was happy to see American Horror Story go back to its roots and provide us with a ton of dark horror, the story was simply not as strong as previous seasons. Don’t get me wrong…the characters, dialogue and acting were all superb throughout this season, I just simply didn’t like the direction the writers took with the plot. I just feel like they could have done a much better job with wrapping things up in a unique and original way. For me, Hotel was too much like Murder House and had almost an identical ending, with all of our ghosts living together as a happy family in the end. It’s something that I simply cannot look past.
So what did everyone think of the season finale of Hotel? Did it smell like pancakes on a Saturday morning? Or did it make you want to throw a glass against the wall? Let us know in the comments and be sure to vote for your favorite character from the season below. Also, with Hotel coming to an end, let the speculation begin as to where next season will be taking place. I’d be curious to hear any theories about where you think we’re headed and I’ve already started writing my own articles on potential settings, starting with AHS: Farmhouse so be sure to check it out if you’re interested. It’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to another season of American Horror Story. Sally might think kids are the best, but in reality, AHS fans are truly the best! Thanks for reading as always, fellow guests!