Friday, October 30, 2015

American Horror Story, Season 5, Episode 4: Devil's Night

It’s apparently Devil’s Night at the hotel which means some new guests – including Richard Ramirez (his third visit after dying in 2013), greeted by Liz who is quite impressed. They’re both sad that Manson can’t join them

He’ also been left people to murder in his room with James helping

He had a pentacle on his hand. Yes, it’s the damn Night Stalker.
Detective John is all sad panda because his daughter Scarlet isn’t coming to see him on Hallowe’en. Also he has a whole lot of blood pouring down the wall as you do.

With blood to clean we have to catch up with the merry cleaning lady Miss Hazel Evers and a flashback to 1925, Hallowe’en and the kidnapping of her child.

When John comes to ask her why there’s blood pouring down the walls she claims it comes from her going “a little mad” on the anniversary of her son’s kidnapping and murder. She breaks down, blaming herself for losing him – of course John empathises a lot with that having lost his own son. She asks him to have a drink with her to help comfort her as she tells her story and her guilt. The body was dissolved in quick lime so, like John, she never knew what really happened to her son. She also gets manic and rather scary when discussing preparations for the party.

John goes on to work and reseaches Hazel’s story – and learns it happened in the 20s – and he has pictures of her in the 20s looking no older than she is now.

He returns to the hotel and the bar and has decided Alex is right – he isn’t an alcoholic, just a control freak. Liz approves – “control is an illusion.” We have another guest of the party join him – Aileen Wuornos. Liz tells her that John’s a “special guest” and, presumably, off limits. John thinks she’s in a hallowe’en costume and with that they debate her crimes (and her ongoing claim of self-defence). John goes to his room with Aileen to have sex (Liz puts in “you’re too drunk to know how ugly that woman is.” Because when going to bed with a serial killer, her appearance is really what matters, right?)

John ends up knocked out and tied to a chair trying to convince Aileen she’s not really Aileen Wuornos. She welcomes him to Devil’s Night. He manages to get free and cuff her in the bathroom. Only to find all her ID says she is actually Aileen Wuornos.

John runs to front desk to call the other cops but Liz stops him, saying Aileen will have vanished and “Mr. Marsh” is protective of his Devil’s Night party. Letting John know James March is around – and what Devil’s Night is all about. And John has been invited to the party. When he goes back to his room Aileen is gone. But he does have a suit left out for him.

To the party where Aileen makes her apologies. At the party is also John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer. James is also present running the whole affair. John keeps wondering at all these dead people walking around while James chides him for discounting the obvious evidence that the normal rules of reality don’t quite apply to his hotel.

Everyone makes their introductions – and another figure joins them with a hood on his head (though Ramirez tells him the fun starts after he is caught – also that he shouldn’t give himself his own serial killer name). Introductions all round and John again insists they’re all dead. They hail James as the “master” and a mentor to all of them and how he advised them all – each of them arrived at the hotel at some point. He lectures them on not hiding their evidence sufficiently.

The party continues with back stories, dancing and a random murder (John is cuffed to a chair and even when he manages to shoot he realises you can’t actually kill the dead). For “desert” Sally brings in a man she found on the street (which buys her a year of being left alone – I guess it’s how she survives the hotel) they stab the man together and John passes out

John wakes up in his room with Sally, all confused – and Sally tells him the Absinthe made him hallucinate. With him gone the party continues

Dr. Alex found Holden last episode and rather than him eating her, she brought him home – glossing over his low body temperature. She is frantic, manic and nervous (all excellently done) – which only gets worse when Holden eats the dog. And he wants his other mummy.

Alex takes him back to the hotel and follows him down to his coffin to bed. The Countess greets Alex and explains why she took Holden – claiming she was saving him from “neglect.” She adds that Holden has a “blood disease” – which grants eternal life. Alex waves a gun around but the Countess offers her the chance to also be a vampire and forever with her son. Alex decides to run for the police – and run into Tristan who punches her. But the Countess lets her go – Alex won’t go to the police and risk her “one true love”.

Tristan is, unshockingly, jealous.

Alex comes back and the Countess transforms her, which involves kissing bleeding and drinking said blood.

Taking real world serial killers and using them for fun and games is incredibly tasteless and a terrible appropriation of the experiences of their victims and their families (several of which are still alive – it’s not like we’re dragging out Jack the Ripper here). I would say it’s in shockingly bad taste – but it’s hardly shocking for this show. After all, American Horror Story is the show that skated around playing with Anne Frank. Drag up some damn fictional serial killers if you must, not ones whose crimes are within living memory.

Despite my misgivings, you have to be impressed by Lily Rabe’s performance – because that was damn impressive.

I'm curious as to the selection of serial killers - the vast majority of serial killers in the US have been straight, white men - but they rustle up 2 gay men, 1 latino man and a bisexual/lesbian? I'm all for more representation in most fields, but having depicted serial killers largely come from marginalised groups when they really don't? Not so much. Also I'm not entirely sure about Aileen being included here since her MO was rather different from these serial killers - though they did have her insist on self-defence

I also wonder why John was invited – his presence implies his own involvement in killing

While this doesn’t seem to advance much meta, I do give a pass for Hallowe’en and Christmas episodes-  these episodes in any show tend to be deviations from the norm.