American Horror Story: Hotel, “Room Service,” (5.5) - TV Review


AHS room

November 4th, 2015, 10PM, FX

On AHS, every day is usually Halloween, but within the show’s timeframe that particular day continues to drag along. Newly-minted vampiress Alex is busy dealing with her recent transformation and struggling with her craving for blood, new heightened senses and her duties as a doctor. She experiments on herself, then decides to apply an ‘unconventional’ treatment to save her dying measles patient (gee, I wonder what that treatment is…) to initially miraculous, then mixed and completely disastrous results. Meanwhile, Donovan takes his mother to see Ramona Royale to further his plan to take the Countess down, deciding to use Iris as a Trojan horse to get closer to the woman. Iris, herself meanwhile, starts adapting to life as a vampire with help from Liz Taylor, and an extremely hipsterish, rude and Halloween-hating couple shows up at the hotel and makes the mistake of testing Iris’ patience. Meanwhile, John deals with a grilling from his superior, who rightfully starts to suspect he’s losing his mind – and Sally finally maybe gets to nail her man. Plus: Liz Taylor origin story!

We’re five episodes in, so it’s time for the show to attempt to shift about our allegiances as it tries to obscure its eventual ending. In those toggled about loyalties much is lost and yet improved – and much of those improvements seem to circle around the question of how eager a character is to suck down some blood.

To wit: Murphy has made the previously easy to sympathize with Alex completely unrootworthy in his choice to make her a vampiress; she’s chosen the life, essentially, of one of her children over the other, her fixed obsession with Holden warping and damaging any chance Scarlet has for an actual life. She also shouldn’t be so stupid as to actually believe that spreading her virus along to dying children is somehow not going to backfire on her and not result in a whole lot more deaths and/or little murderous vampires that will be linked right back to her – at least that pays off in the best moment of horror and twisted humor this season’s given us since the pilot when Alex’s measles patient turns his classroom into ground zero for a vampire uprising (The second best moment comes from Iris’ finally snapping and killing an uber-annoying hipster couple who’ve descended on the hotel for Halloween; their deaths are so richly deserved that they are apt to make the audience stand up and cheer). That’s contrasted with a surprisingly tender series of scenes between Liz and Iris where they discuss metamorphosis and the transition to vampire from human form that provide a sense of actual warmth the show has lacked since it started. That segues into Liz’s backstory, which is also surprisingly well written – until The Countess shows up as some kind of extension of Lady Gaga’s public persona to save him from his repression with a pep talk and some throat-slitting. In any other show, Elizabeth’s dance between behaving like a librated sexually positive guardian of children and coldly amoral murderess who kidnaps people to use as living blood banks and is plotting to murder a hotelier would be considered complexity; here it’s just an example of Murphy’s poor forethought. Iris’ plotline is just plain odd, mostly because she pushed Sally to her death and has been seen participating in the disposal and death of several guests before this – why she would be hesitant to take the final step and kill to feed is beyond me. Ramona remains one of the show’s most interesting characters but it’s impossible not to cringe when Murphy has her deliver lines like ‘she’s been turnt!’ with a head-bob. And John’s plotline – much less interesting since the show started to make it very obvious that he’s going to be the next March - goes into the This is Destiny death spiral as Sally bags her man.

“Room Service” is a marked improvement over what AHS has been producing this season – it’s actually suspenseful and touching, horrific and funny. There are over ten plotlines going on concurrently here and I doubt they’ll all be successfully solved before the end of the season, but at least this one makes the ride a generally fun one.

The Roundup

  • ”You’re so beautiful!” “Yeah, real waste, isn’t it?”
  • ”Where were you?! You didn’t answer my texts!” “….I almost died.”
  • ”Everyone just started pooping out kids!”
  • Liz Taylor can be seen reading “Candide” when Elizabeth confronts Iris about her new vampirism. The allegorical Age of Enlightenment-written novel is about an optimistic young man’s who’s slowly corrupted into cynicism by the cruelty around him. Who’s the show’s Candide? That’s up to you to decide.
  • ”Bitches want pate? Pate they shall have.”
  • Musical motif: Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes is heard.
  • ”You see everything when the world doesn’t see you.”
  • ”I’m not homophobic.” “I’m not gay.”
  • The ‘weird TV show’ Liz is watching is actually an episode of The Facts of Life.
  • Next Week: Ramona and Donovan put their plan to get revenge on the Countess into motion, Liz Taylor falls in love and we find out who’s been staying in Room 33 in, well, ‘Room 33’.
6.0 OKAY

One brilliant scene almost makes the show’s character’s stupidity worth slogging through. Almost.

  • OKAY 6.0

About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.