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An ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Refresher: What The Heck Is Going On And What Will Happen Next?

We’re now just over halfway through this season’s American Horror Story: Hotel, which is shaping up to be quite the season. There’s vampires! And ghosts! And serial killers! Oh my! And amazingly, Ryan Murphy hasn’t managed to bungle the big picture yet like he’s done in past seasons. So with the show on hiatus this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, we thought this would be a good place to examine how the season has progressed and speculate on the groundwork that’s being laid for the latter half of the season. I’ve recruited Uproxx’s other resident American Horror Story enthusiast Jaime Frevele to join me in a spirited discussion of what’s happened and what’s to come.

So Detective John Lowe is definitely the 10 Commandments Killer, right?

Stacey Ritzen: If John Lowe is not the 10 Commandments Killer, then Ryan Murphy is doing some serious trolling. So far, every clue points to him. The delusions, the blackouts, and the fact that for some reason the “killer” has only been in communication with him? In last week’s episode, “Flicker,” Lowe meets a little girl named Wren in the psych ward who was turned by the Countess, and who claims to be the serial killer’s accomplice. After he breaks her out, Wren promises to take him to the killer, who she says lives in the Hotel Cortez.

When Wren asks if John will kill the serial killer, he tells her “if I have to.” She then responds, “I really like you. I hate to see it end” before throwing herself in front of a speeding truck. Also, John was invited to a party for serial killers. If he is in fact the killer, this is not the most subtle of ambiguities.

Jamie Frevele: Ooooo, I had not thought about this at all. Because I live in the moment/don’t pay close enough attention. But what would make this even creepier is if he ended up being responsible for the death of his own son. Because Ryan Murphy needs to give us more reasons to both hate and feel sorry for him!

SR: Well Holden is not technically dead yet, he just has the “ancient blood disease” or whatever. But responsible for the connection to the Countess and/or the Hotel Cortez? Maybe. Viewer theories have speculated that it’s Alex that’s related to the countess with her fair skin and hair (a theory now rendered null), but could it be John that’s the tie in? Or maybe both?

JF: We could also find out that John could have been someone else in the past, the way Tristan Duffy ended up being “reincarnated” as Rudolph Valentino. Or vice versa, since Rudy came first. Maybe John will come face-to-face with his doppelganger, or just straight up return to being someone we haven’t met yet who turns out to be the killer. It could work with the whole “facing his own demons” thing because he’s essentially at war with himself and the truth could truly kill him.

SR: Interesting theory. This could be some real The Dark Half sh*t going on here.

Who is the father of that creepy baby?

JF: Will there be some sort of tie-in to Freak Show because we’ve seen this baby is a “freak”? Is that okay to say or are the college kids going to have a problem with that?

SR: It’s doubtful that there will be a tie-in, since I can’t see the Countess letting her precious go slumming around in some Florida freak show. So that leaves James March, who would be the most obvious baby daddy, Valentino somehow before he got trapped, or someone else? Or maybe it’s James Marsh’s ghost who knocked her up, since we’ve previously seen in Murder House that ghosts can in fact impregnate people and those babies don’t turn out so great.

JF: And is the baby deformed because of the blood disease? And did the father also have the blood disease, or was he clean and a mortal? What I’m asking is if this baby is the Half-Blood Prince.

I think March is the obvious choice, but I don’t like going with obvious choices. So I’m going to go with John Lowe because I think he’s going to turn out to be someone from the past.

What is Sally’s unfinished business with James March?

SR: In the above teaser for next week’s episode, Sally (Sarah Paulson) says to James March, “We have unfinished business together.” It then cuts to John standing on a toilet with a noose around his neck and a few seconds later it goes back to March who yells back “HE’S NOT YOURS.” As we’ve previously seen, Sally is drawn to John’s addictive personality, whereas March may be grooming him as a serial killer.

JF: I just love how she’s always crying. That’s a really interesting character trait for someone so screwed up and angry. March must have killed or at least been responsible for killing someone close to Sally, probably in retaliation for something we don’t know about yet. Maybe one of the children staying there is important to her; maybe not her biological child, but a kid she had a connection with, like the girl in The Crow. But it probably has something to do with a dude.

But yeah, now I’m really wondering who John really is and why Sally and March want him for their own. I think he’s got to be another person. Ever since Finn Wittrock showed up as Valentino, I can’t get this out of my head, that people come into this hotel as one person and come out as another, only to come back in.

Could James March be any more of a motherf*cker?

SR: Seriously, locking your wife’s vampire lovers away for all of eternity (or as close as it gets) to wither and starve but never die? That is some next-level scorned spouse sh*t, or “Connor at the end of season three of Angel” grade sociopathy. Will we ever find out why James March has such a bug up his butt?

JF: I saw someone describe him as doing a brilliant take on Johnny Depp’s Ed Wood performance. But I do feel like all of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck’s characters eventually reveal why they do the things they do, and March is due for an exposition. What was he doing right before he started killing people and how did he get the cockamamie idea to build a whole entire hotel so he could run a murder factory? As far as the Countess goes, we must be just about to find out why he got so offended. Clearly some screws loose, but what kinds of screws?

SR: You mean that he got offended that she planned to run away with other lovers? Well, whether or not he was ever really in love with the Countess, I think his sadistic streak coupled with his wealth and getting used to having whatever he wants was probably responsible. But that is a good point, we’ve gotten exposition on just about every other major character so far, hopefully March’s backstory will be revealed next.

JF: I kind of want to find out that he was really boring and put upon, but serial killers are generally too arrogant to be doormats.

What will become of Donovan and Ramona’s revenge plan?

JF: I cannot see this working out well for anyone. It’s AHS. This will backfire, someone innocent will end up in sh*tarific peril and it will last eternity for all parties involved.

SR: Is this still happening? So Ramona’s big plan was to kidnap and murder the Countess’ monster trash baby, only she overlooked the part of the plan that the monster trash baby is also terrifying. And she also did not succeed in locating and murdering her adopted vampire children, effectively failing on both planes of her two-pronged attack. Now that Valentino and Natacha are out and free, and both Finn Wittrock and Alexandra Daddario are only billed as guest stars, it makes sense that she would go after them next. That would be the perfect irony for the Countess to lose her only loves so soon after being reunited or nearly being reunited.

Rudolph Valentino, Natacha Rambova, and the real-life connections.

JF: This is the part of this season that fascinates me the most because I love real-life celebrity mysteries. But there’s also something to be said for Finn Wittrock playing the object of Lady Gaga’s characters’ affections in both the past and the present but with the roles reversed. And you can totally confess that you didn’t realize Rudolph and Natacha were real people.

SR: See, I’m not the film buff Jamie is and I had no idea Valentino and Natacha were real silent film stars. Ryan Murphy likes to use historical figures in his work to varying degrees of success, and now having read up on Valentino’s backstory this is probably the strongest and most well executed example so far. (Unrelated note to Ryan Murphy: Please make O.J. Simpson a vampire.)

JF: I love this so, so much because Valentino’s story is just absolutely sick when it comes to what happened after he died. Like, what if these women who killed themselves over his death found out that he was alive (though not exactly well) and were just stuck in a creepy hotel? Would their spirits flock over to the hotel? Though the woman who would become the Countess took care of that aspect of the story by almost jumping out the window, but still. She was not the only woman in love with Rudy. (Should be noted that Sally died jumping out of a window, so clearly the Cortez windows were installed specifically for suicides/murders.)

Let’s not forget about the classroom full of vampire children.

JF: Alex infected one kid to save him and now he’s taking his whole school with him. Which is ironic, because Alex was all about vaccinations in the beginning, wasn’t she? But between infectious children — possibly the most infectious organisms of all time — and Valentino and Rambova on the loose, what does this mean for the world? Also, lots and lots of children in this season.

SR: Oh right, the entire classroom full of murderous, blood-sucking children that was unleashed on the world three entire episodes ago. I imagine that might end up having some repercussions eventually. If the Countess finds out it was Alex, she’s definitely a goner.

Maybe by the time we catch up with Valentino and Rambova, they’ll have happened upon a world where vamps are running rampant.

JF: Maybe we should ask Jenny McCarthy her thoughts on this.

Does anyone care about what happens to Will Drake?

SR: LOL no.

JF: Yeah, who? I can’t keep all these jawlines straight.

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