As “American Horror Story: Hotel” gains its footing, the fifth episode, “Room Service,” feels like a particularly ambitious one, length-wise.
In a mere 69 minutes, the budding seeds of a Ramona-Donovan alliance are planted, Iris adjusts to her new blood virus, backstory on Liz Taylor is finally revealed and a slight development is made between John Lowe and Sally.
Alex, to say the least, is not handling the blood virus well. Already a somewhat reckless character, as evidenced by her decision to turn at the hands of the Countess, Alex is faced with a child who is dying of measles because his mother didn’t get him vaccinated. After feasting on the hospital’s stash of blood, she injects the dying boy with the virus to save him.
At school, it blows up to new heights. The boy kills his teacher and infects his classmates with the virus, creating a truly “Children of the Corn”-esque scene where the children attack another faculty member.
Police arrive at the school later, only to find more murdered faculty members, but the children seem OK and eerily calm. They have all agreed to tell the same story to authorities, one of a masked murderer who ravaged their school. Unsurprisingly, the police buy it. After all, the real story is much less believable.
Moreover, we finally get the backstory of Liz Taylor. Once a married man with a wife and children, Liz’s life changed after finding Hotel Cortez. Alone, Liz would cross-dress, but desperately hid this fact from the business partners with whom she visited the hotel.
The Countess, however, finds Liz at her most vulnerable–a recurring theme for the Countess–and encourages Liz to embrace her other side. The Countess creates Liz Taylor, even to the extent of giving her the celebrity name.
Instead of inflicting Liz with the blood virus, the Countess simply employs her at Hotel Cortez, where Liz seems perfectly at home.
Iris, however, is still grappling with the effects of the virus. Two particularly horrible “influencers” become guests at the hotel and taunt the now-weak Iris with their disrespect. If only they knew how awful their timing was.
After enduring demands and belittlement from the couple, Iris caves and kills them. Instead of feeling remorse when they die, something those affected with the virus rarely seem to feel, Iris seems liberated.
“I never knew how to live until I died,” Iris tells Liz.
The episode was unusually low on John, but that is not to say he did not have his role. John is being questioned for the murder in “Devil’s Night,” and he is sticking with the truth: A group of deceased serial killers are the culprits.
The fact that John even tries this story is evidence of his deteriorating mental state.
After the development of the children, though, season five is becoming much bigger than Hotel Cortez, and that is the real horror.