American Horror Story: Hotel – Chutes and Ladders Review

Vampires are forever young in the latest episode of American Horror Story. Here's our review...

American Horror Story Season 5 Episode 2

This American Horror Story review contains spoilers, in fact this whole episode was one big fat spoiler so if you weren’t able to stay up until 11:40PM (and really, I don’t blame you, what’s up with the extra long running time? It makes sense for the premiere but the second episode?) I’d avoid social media until you get a chance to watch it.

Episode two answers most of the questions brought up in the premiere and frankly I didn’t expect to see them answered so soon. To start with, yes Lady Gaga’s Countess and Matt Bomer’s Donovan are meant to be actual Vampires. Ditto it would seem for the creepy children who we get to see sleeping in glass coffins. The Countess explains that the vampirism is a virus, one that allows you to stay young forever which is how she could have been born in 1904 but still look 29. When asked why she doesn’t have fangs, she simply states “We don’t bite, we cut.” Finn Wittrock makes his first appearance as the whiny fashion model that the Countess is explaining all of this to. Wittrock’s Tristan Duffy with his crushed pill snorting and face cutting,might be more of an insufferable douche than the character he played last season, Dandy Mott which is quite an accomplishment. It’s a pity that he get’s turned into a vampire, he really doesn’t deserve it.

We find out that Sarah Paulson, and Mare Winningham are ghosts, possibly beholden to the same rules as the ghosts in Murder House as they were both killed at the hotel and neither has been shown leaving it. We also get our first look at Evan Peters character for this season, James March (also a ghost) and he’s a doozy. March built the Hotel Cortez and much like Dr. Charles Montgomery from Murder House, he committed atrocities there that imbue the building with an evil that permeates every fiber of the structure. Especially room 64 which was his personal office, thus explaining why many of the strange goings on from episode 1 took place there.

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Evan Peters is great as usual and he really plays March-someone who apparently murdered three people a week at one point-with a mad glee. Thankfully Peters is still around because losing Lange was rough enough but if Evan also left the show it might not survive.

I briefly mentioned in my last review that the Ten Commandments was flashed on the screen during the opening. What I failed to mention and got called out on in the comments is that this, plus the murders that Wes Bentley’s Detective John Lowe have been investigating, gave the first episode a bit of a Se7en–or if you were born after 1995, Saw–vibe. Well I guess that the show’s writers thought that the connection was too subtle because this episode flatout confirms that the serial killer that Lowe is after is killing his victims based on the Ten Commandments making it indeed like the murders in Se7en which were based on the seven deadly sins. I’m going to call this homage because I’m feeling nice. 

Other mysteries were solved (yes that is John Lowe’s son at the Hotel) while more were created (why do the Countess and Donovan drink the blood of the Creepy kids after they drink the blood of the remaining Swede from the premiere? Is this a purifying process? They didn’t need it when they ate those rando goths last week) but we don’t want to turn this into a synopsis, that’s what IMDB is for. 

Like most of American Horror Story, the episode looks beautiful. The Hotel Cortez is shot in such a way that it looks glamorous when appropriate, but seedy and sinister at other times. I’m also happy to report that I found Lady Gaga’s performance much better than last episode.

All in all a decent episode. I was going to give it 3 out of 5 stars but I decided to add a star for Evan Peters’ John Waters moustache so 4 out 5 stars. 

Random thoughts about the episode:

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-The Countess mentions that her favorite time period was the late ‘70s and the hotels most prominent room is 64, is this a reference to Studio 64? Probably not. 

– Another sort of Shining connection, it’s revealed that Detective Lowe is an alcoholic, much like Jack Torrance. Unlike Torrance, Lowe refuses to drink the alcohol offered to him by a ghost. Good for him, ghost alcohol only leads to trouble. 

– The return of Drill-Dick! Sadly, only as a hallucination…or was it?

-Chloe Sevigny’s doctor does house calls, in 2015?

-Chloe Sevigny’s doctor sounds off against anti vaxxers, one of the writers must really hate the measles.

-So many great lines this episode:

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“Teaching the folks from Vogue how to Vogue”

“Bondage Really bores me”

“I was the disco queen…I still am”

“We were all vampires then”

“Look dude you’re hot but vag action is a deal breaker for me “

“Just because I’m sucking on a dude, doesn’t make me gay”

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-Doesn’t sleeping in glass coffins defeat the purpose of sleeping in something that blocks out the sunlight?


– Could the Countess be James March’s wife? That would explain how she owned the building.

– The episode is called Chutes and Ladders. I saw plenty of chutes but no ladders. Could just be because I’m tired. 


4 out of 5