‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Recap 5×08: Ten Ghoul Commandments

The two best stares in the biz: Wes Bentley and Evan Peters in American Horror Story: Hotel. (FX)

The two best stares in the biz: Wes Bentley and Evan Peters in American Horror Story: Hotel. (FX)

Well, I’m not too big to admit when I’m wrong: despite my previous assessment and all evidence to the contrary, I announced last week that the 10 Commandment Killer on AMFSNYAPCTNLAHS was not, in fact, John Lowe.  Instead, based on the information gleamed from Wren (not Red, although that made a nice little callback to Lowe’s daughter, Scarlett)  at the looney bin, I assumed that James Marsh had committed the murders himself, using Wren as his vessel in order to shed blood outside the Hotel Cortez.

A few days after I published recap, I got an email from a man named Dan (last name redacted to protect the AHS superfan community):

SubjectAHS Killer is obviously J. Lowe! You even mentioned Fight Club and Tyler Durden!

Body: You mention Tyler Durden while referring to Lowe’s daughter, but then go on to say it is probably March who is the killer???  What!
Wren – “Will you kill him?”
J. Lowe – “If I have too”
Wren – “I really like you. I’d hate to see it end”

Lowe is clearly detective by day, killer by night (ala Fight Club) and he even has a look alike daughter sidekick helping him. Don’t forget him at the dinner table with all the killers in ‘Devil’s Night’.

He does meet March early on, and March takes a liking to John…  Maybe even using him as his puppet? Who knows with this show, but if anything is obvious after meeting Wren, it is that John is the Killer.

“It never fails to surprise me that people take time out of their day to argue about the ridiculously nonsensical plot twists of American Horror Story,” I thought, right before hitting reply to argue about this ridiculously nonsensical plot:

Subject: Re: AHS Killer is obviously J. Lowe! You even mentioned Fight Club and Tyler Durden!

Body: I think he’s been taken over by the spirit of March, but clearly that girl was talking about another man and not Lowe.
Sent from INSIDE THE HOUSE 👻📞

(Just for reference, that’s my normal email sig for everything, not just for fans of supernatural Ryan Murphy shows.)

So, to Dan and anyone else who obviously saw through last week’s red herring: you got me! All those obvious bread crumbs strewn throughout this season that seemed to point to Lowe being the 10 Commandment Killer were a little too obvious: the blackouts, the nods toward alcoholism and barely controlled rage issues, the grief over his missing son, Wes Bentley’s total lack of affect and blank stare (as creepy now as it was 16 years ago when it was first introduced in American Beauty), this season’s blatant rip-offs homages to David Fincher’s ouevre…it just didn’t pass the smell test. After all, how often has American Horror Story zigged after teasing up a season-long zag? Kit Walker was never Bloody Face. Larry Harvey didn’t set fire to his own house while his wife and children slept inside. Zoe Benson, Misty Day, Madison Montgomery, Queenie and Nan didn’t have a Supreme between the lot of them. And don’t get me started on that cop-out of Twisty the Clown. I can be forgiven for assuming that this John Lowe theory–which was raised with as much as subtlety as an Oscar statuette to the skull–would turn out to be another McGuffin.

And I wasn’t completely wrong: James March was the brains behind the Ten Commandment killings, though they kind of wasted the fact that he’s a ghost and had him merely get Lowe drunk enough to be susceptible to his idea of frontier justice. March also used his connection with the Countess to abduct Lowe’s son and send him fully down the path of unhinged murder detective.

Still, the timeline doesn’t make all that much sense: in true AHS style, the writers seem to have come to the conclusion that Lowe was the killer only after having written the first couple of episodes, meaning that half this week’s flashbacks-within-flashbacks (framed around Lowe confessing his sins to former partner Detective Hahn) involved a lot of backtracking to explain the following inconsistencies:

A) Why Lowe didn’t remember ever being at the Hotel Cortez before this case, although he apparently had been spending weeks at a time there since 2010 with no one being the wiser. (Answer: Because he was drunk.)

B) Why Lowe wouldn’t have noticed his missing son was chilling in the same hotel where he met up with his Murder Bestie. (Answer: Because he was drunk?)

C) How Lowe managed to forget about all those murders he committed even AFTER he stopped drinking. (Answer: Ummm….)

D) When, exactly, the Cortez gang– Sally, Marsh, the Countess, Iris and Liz Taylor– all had a meeting to get on the same page about re-introducing themselves to Lowe when he officially checked in to the hotel, despite the fact that he’s had a long-standing relationship with all of them for over half a decade. (Answer: ¿¿¿¿¿)

E) What Marsh–a sociopath who got off on torturing people–would stand to gain from an elaborate plot to convince a detective to kill people based on an M.O. that was ascribed to Marsh erroneously by the police after his death: Marsh certainly killed and tortured a lot of innocent people for no reason whatsoever while he was alive; the 10 Commandment murders were more of a “fuck you” to his religious father than any sort of biblical vigilantism. (Answer: Personal peccadillo?)

It also seems terribly inconvienent for Lowe to not remember half his life over the last five years…where, exactly, did he think those rope burns around his neck came from when he woke up from his fugue state? And are you really trying to tell me that no one–not Alex, or Hahn, or any of the LAPD for that matter–thought to follow the obviously unstable Lowe to see where he was spending all his time? Or that Lowe himself wouldn’t question his blackouts and total lack of alibi to account for his own whereabouts the nights of the murders?

Oh well. American Horror Story, as the title implied, is a show that requires some willing suspension of disbelief. Let’s just hope they don’t require the same leaps of logic to explain the OJ Simpson case in the upcoming American Crime Story. Because I’m willing to forgive a lot of faulty logic when its coming from Marsh doing his bestNick Charles impression; I’ll be less forgiving if I’m asked to swallow the same B.S. from Kato Kaelin.

‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Recap 5×08: Ten Ghoul Commandments