TV Show Review

TV Review: AMERICAN HORROR STORY: Season 5, Episode 6: Room 33 [FX]

Denis O'Hare American Horror Story Room 33

FX‘s American Horror Story Room 33 TV Show Review. American Horror Story: Season 5, Episode 6: Room 33 taught us the true price you pay when you stay at Hotel Cortez. Several characters also learned the true price of falling in love in The Countess’ (Lady Gaga) house… essentially, you don’t or there is hell to pay. Alex (Chloe Sevigny), Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) and Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) each demonstrated what love can do to a person in this hotel.

So, John (Wes Bentley) discovered the sleeping chamber and passed out when he saw his wife and child, Holden (Lennon Henry) sleeping peacefully in a coffin. How did Alex deal with it? Alex told John he was having a psychotic break. That was so wrong. Alex, desperate to stay with her son rather than with her living family, devised a way to drive John mad in order to force him to leave the hotel. I am struggling to get behind Alex on this,  but then I must remember that Alex cares little for John and Scarlett (Shree Crooks). Her purpose is Holden, always was, always will be. She would do anything to be with him, give up her life, drive her husband insane, abandon her daughter to be in service as a nurse maid to The Countess’ children for the rest of her days just to be with Holden.

Bentley plays his particular madness beautifully because John never really goes mad. He thought he saw his son, but maybe not. He thought he saw the coffins, but Liz Taylor and Alex got rid of them, so maybe not. He even thought he had a threesome with the two Swedish girls from the pilot episode, but that was arranged as a hoax by his wife, so maybe not. He finally checked out of Hotel Cortez only to discharge his weapon beside his daughter at home because he thought he saw a “monster”.  We know he is not crazy, and John only seemed completely out of his mind in Room 33, but Bentley played John’s madness with manic lucidity while everyone else seemed appropriately crazy in their nonchalance. It was Hotel Cortez: the madhouse. Mrs. Evers (Mare Winningham), oh Mrs. Evers, was throwing out one-liners, she really sold it with my favorite line: “This much blood will take three washings. The sheets will lose their thick pile.” I was creeped out and cracking up at the same time. In fact, this whole episode was filled with fantastic one-liners thanks to the brilliant writing of John J. Gray.

Ramona and Donovan (Matt Bomer) walked into the hotel on a mission to kill The Countess’ vampire children. Donovan chickened out and went up to The Countess’ suite to wallow while Ramona discovered the sleeping chamber had been emptied. Iris (Kathy Bates) was ready to help with the multiple homicide toting a butcher knife. Ramona was not too shaken by the missed opportunity, because she knew where The Countess’ true love was… Room 33. Iris gave Ramona the key.

Room 33 holds The Countess’ extraordinary baby boy. The episode began with a flashback to the 1920’s when The Countess visited a very special doctor, saying she was 3 weeks pregnant but showing a belly that looked 8 months along. The assisting nurse noticed that The Countess’ core temp was 75 degrees, but the doctor brushed it off. He extracted the baby “successfully” – more like the baby leaped out of the womb and attacked the neck of the assisting nurse drinking her to death……. yeah, that happened! That is what lives in Room 33, Bartholomew. Bartholomew, still and infant, evaded Ramona and stowed away in John’s suitcase. John unwittingly carried Bartholomew home and unleashed him while his daughter was there. That is what John shot at. John did see a monster. See! Not crazy!

Now, the story of Tristan (Finn Wittrock) and Liz was age old and still powerful. They were truly in love, you could feel it. They also knew their love was a betrayal to the one who made them. The Countess warned Tristan at the very beginning to “never fall in love” and she told Liz clearly “I don’t share.” We saw how The Countess used Tristan, commanded Tristan to sleep with Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) even though he did not want to do it. Liz gave Tristan books, encouraged him to read, and in return, Tristan saw Liz the way Liz wanted to be seen, “thank you for seeing the girl.” It was beautiful and brave how the two of them declared their love to The Countess begging for her blessing. Well, Liz begged, Tristan accused. Tristan told The Countess he knew her “love” was worthless. Yeah, they were brave up until the moment The Countess slit Tristan’s throat. So cold. Now, Liz has a reason for hating The Countess along with Ramona, Iris (although I do not quite understand Iris’ hate because The Countess actually saved Donovan), and Donovan too (although I think Donovan just misses her). The point is they all loved somebody and meeting The Countess ruined or killed that love.

There was some serious attention to horror detail in Room 33. I am thinking of especially the sequences involving Bartholomew. His view was a blurred and hurried tracking shot from the floor, from under a bush, from the womb! Every shot was sneaky, and the creepy sensation that came from this creature possibly attacking Scarlett while she ate popcorn on the couch…I was shaking my head and shouting NO at the screen. People were opening doors with long knives glinting in moonlight. There were people talking murder in shadow and whispers. There was less CGI spectacle and more organic horror devices used in this episode. I really enjoyed Room 33. This episode reminded me of the greatness of the first season.

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About the author


I am ...a lover of all things film ...a published poet with a law degree from Howard University School of Law ...a D.C. native, who frequents local and international film festivals ...a self-professed couch potato who can usually be caught watching anything produced by Joss and Jed Whedon. My favorite TV shows include the Buffy & Angel Series, Sons of Anarchy, Oz, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and The Shield. Still, I am open to everything on TV and Netflix, which is doing big things.

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