Candy fills the shelves and the streets are lined with freshly carved pumpkins; signs that Halloween is near. Another indicator is an overwhelming amount of TV shows featuring a special Halloween episode. Some are corny, some terrible, and others fantastic; the latter is always true for American Horror Story. The already terrifying show takes the concept, runs with it, and creates a truly captivating episode.
Hazel Evers is an interesting character to say the least. She’s James Patrick Marsh’s right hand man and is always obsessed with getting out the bloody stains in the sheets. This episode we were treated to her back story. Years ago while trick-or-treating, her son Albert dressed as a Ghost, was abducted and taken to a farm by Gordon Northcock, a real-life serial killer from the 1920’s. The abductions were known as the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders in which young boys were taken, kept for days, and eventually murdered. Hazel tells of the incident, saying only one thing was left from the boy; a bloody sheet that was his Halloween Costume. She is now stuck in Hotel Cortez trying desperately to clean the blood out of the sheets haunted by Albert’s death and blaming herself for the boy’s murder.
John is back to drinking, and it isn’t going well for him. He has been invited to Marsh’s annual Halloween dinner party along with a terrifying group of characters. There’s Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe returns), Jeffrey Dahmer, Ramirez, the masked Zodiac, and killer clown John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch plays Gacy, throwing a little nod to his killer clown character in AHS: Freak Show). All imfamous, all terrible, and all in awe of James Patrick Marsh. They look to him like a ringleader, a mentor, a master at his “craft.” Absinthe is on the menu as well as a terrible experience for our favorite detective. He witnesses moments such as Dahmer getting a little too friendly with a victim, drilling into his head and transforming him into a “zombie.” Sally later comes in with a fresh victim she had recently doped up. With knives in hand, the room of monstrous criminals repeatedly stab the man as John screams and struggles to break free. Sally rescues John, telling him it was all a hallucination and not to worry. In Hotel Cortez it’s difficult not to worry as truth and hallucinations seem one and the same.
A parent’s heartbreak seemed to be the feature of this episode as Dr. Alex Lowe takes Holden to Hotel Cortez in search for his “other mommy.” Alex is greeted by the fabulous Elizabeth who seems incredibly understanding and willing to offer up any explanation possible. Elizabeth explains that what Holden has is similar to a virus, it’s incurable and irreversible. She offers Alex eternal life in return for her undying loyalty. Alex storms out disgusted and distraught only to return later in the episode willing and ready. She mentions not being able to lose her son again. Has she forgotten about her daughter? John certainly can’t take care of her; he’s half mad already. There is a serious problem with the parents on this show that dearly needs looking into.
Jam packed with real-life serial killers, this episode offered an interesting perspective. The viewers already knew Marsh is a terrible maniac, but if such terrible people look to him in awe, what more is he capable of?