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‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Recap ‘Devil’s Night’

Historically, AHS has really delivered the goods for Halloween and this episode was no different. Jam-packed with intense action and character revelations, “Devil’s Night” served as a catalyst for what could be the season’s most interesting story lines.

In this episode John finds out why resident Ghost Maid Hazel is so fixated on cleaning those sheets. Turns out that Hazel once had a son whom she lost on one fateful Halloween afternoon back in 1925. Dressed in a sheet that Hazel haphazardly poked eye holes into to make a ghost costume, the son vanishes into thin air never to be seen again.

In recounting her story, Hazel is able to tap into John’s pain. How interesting that these two characters share this type of history. Hazel is essentially John’s mirror image; the only difference is that they’re both on opposite ends of the life/death spectrum.

It’s also an unexpected connection that gives insight into what John’s really doing at the Cortez. Hazel’s existence at the hotel is her repentance for being an inattentive mother. She cleans sheet after sheet hoping to finally wash her hands of her son’s blood, just the way John chases the end-game in the Ten Commandments killer case with a fervor that he was lacking after Holden went missing. In essence, they’re both making up for lost time and effort, except it’s way too late in Hazel’s case.

Speaking of Holden—Alex manages to sneak him back home for a quick check-up. She steps away for moment to fetch the kid some juice, only to be utterly shocked when she finds him feeding on the dog’s blood.

What a coincidence that Hazel’s story of poor parenting is followed up by Alex’s lack of insight into her child’s health condition, right? Add to this the fact that Alex is now caring for a boy whose mother failed to get him vaccinated and it seems like this world is full of terrible parents. Lucky thing The Countess is able to step in to take care of business. Whew. What a relief.

Meanwhile, John receives a special invitation to join Mr. March for a special dinner. What he doesn’t know is that some of the country’s most infamous serial killers will also be joining. Richard Ramirez kicks things off, only to be joined later by the likes of John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Aileen Wuornos.

Lily Rabe returns this season as the startlingly aggressive Aileen Wuornos. While Rabe delivers a highly affected performance, something in it just slightly misses the mark. Here’s what she gets right: the look, the voice, the mannerisms. What she gets wrong? The truth of the character. The performance is pure camp—disingenuous, messy, and in no way truthful to the essence of the unstable woman who existed before it. But I suppose that’s the point. It’s American Horror Story (the campiest show on earth) after all.

John Carroll Lynch springs up again as John Wayne Gacy and, dare I say, he delivers a chilling performance that’s on par with last season’s Twisty the Clown. Honestly, I still can’t shake Twisty from my memory, so seeing Lynch in this similarly twisted role was a welcome reprieve.

One wonders what these portrayals would mean to the real families affected by the crimes these killers committed. The only saving grace in the entire sequence is John Lowe, but he’s practically out cold and unable to make the horror stop. But that’s AHS for you. Happy Halloween!

Towards the end of the episode, Alex pays The Countess a visit and it’s no surprise that she chooses to be infected. We knew this was coming last week when Alex waxed poetic about her other worldly love for Holden. They were meant to be.

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Tara Martinez

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Tara Martinez is a New York-based writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.