The second episode of American Horror Story: Hotel, 'Chutes and Ladders,' did not disappoint; we found out where Gabriel is, saw some more blood-spattered Gaga sex, and finally met Evan Peters's character. Here's a quick recap vid of episode 2:
In case you're wondering, there's so much about James Patrick March and his connection to real life serial killer H.H. Holmes, I've given that topic its own article -- check it out here.
Let's take a look at some of the more subtle things from this week's AHS: Hotel episode that you may have missed...
1. Lips as red as blood
In this episode, we've seen more and more of the striking similarities between American Horror Story: Hotel and its major style influence, Harry Kümel's erotic vampire movie The Daughters of Darkness. Otherwise known as Les Levres Rouges (the red lips), Kümel's 1971 Belgian horror featured a beautiful Countess named Elizabeth (played by Delphine Seyrig, pictured above with Gaga) who lived in a fabulous hotel, drinking the blood of her beautiful young conquests.
It really is an exquisite, breathtakingly-stylish piece of horror cinema, and a must for fans of this season of American Horror Story...
2. A dead child's book
A fleeting shot of a dead kid from one of John Lowe's past cases shows the little girl gripping a copy of Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The book is significant to AHS: Hotel for so many reasons. Firstly, it seems appropriate for American Horror Story to feature one of the greatest Great American Novels, but there's so much more...
The driving symbolism of Moby Dick is a man who has lost a vital part of himself -- for Ahab, it's a leg, for John Lowe, it's his child -- and is now consumed with the thought of vengeance at any price.
The symbolism of 'chasing the great white beast' is certainly fitting for a show about so many people addicted to drugs, chasing an impossible, painful goal, whatever the cost. All characters in AHS: Hotel could do well to heed the warning that Ahab receives, to give up his obsession:
"There would be great glory in killing him... but, hark ye, he's best let alone; don't you think so, Captain?"
3. Fear Itself
As Tristan (Finn Wittrock's newly-introduced character) walks through the hotel, desperate for more cocaine, a snippet of something on the radio drifts through the hallway. What he hears is a short excerpt from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1933 Inaugural Address, which you can listen to above.
The speech is a pretty good fit for a show called American Horror Story, speaking as it does of:
"the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror."
4. Pillow Talk with The Countess
When Elizabeth (Lady Gaga) reminisces to Tristan (Finn Wittrock) about her glory days as a sexy Disco vampire in the late '70s, you could be forgiven for not knowing who she's name-dropping when she mentions:
"Andy, Keith, Robert."
These are all influential figures from the underground art and party scenes from the '70s/'80s: Andy Warhol and artist Keith Haring.
'Robert' is boundary-breaking photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who was very close friends with Patti Smith. Smith is mentioned in this episode by Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson), who boasts that Patti Smith loved her poetry.
5. The Commandments
The similarities to David Fincher's Se7en grow stronger and stronger as detective John Lowe receives a mysterious parcel from a killer with strong feelings about religion. Lowe works out that the killings are based on the ten commandments and obligingly walks us through the ones that have already happened...
Thou Shalt Not Steal
Attributed to James March in the '20s, a thief is murdered with his hand cut off; the traditional biblical punishment for theft.
Thou Shalt Respect the Sabbath
March's mass grave he makes after he becomes enraged with a religious victim.
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
Now we're in the present day, and the impaled couple are the work of a new, copycat killer (well, Mr. March is still functioning but the more modern M.O. of the killer -- he hacks phones, something I can't imagine '20s dandy Mr. March doing -- suggests a different, more modern perpetrator).
Thou Shalt Not Worship False Idols
Martin Gamboa was a blogger for real life company and sister project of Variety, Golden Derby, before his ignominious demise left him with a rectal cavity full of minuscule gold fragments.
Honor Thy Father and Mother
A pair of twins suspected of killing their parents are swiftly dispatched...
So, the commandments we have to look forward to now are: No graven images or likenesses, Do not take the LORD's name in vain, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet... any ideas for some gory Commandment-themed deaths?
In case you were wondering about the musical choices in this week's episode, I've created a Spotify playlist for every song featured. I'll be adding to it every week as the series goes on.