There actually isn’t a lot to say about Checking In, the premiere episode of season five of anthology series American Horror Story. Correction: There isn’t a lot of positive things to say about Checking In. Absurdly grotesque, convoluted in plot and yet to provide us with any kind of likeable character other than Wes Bentley, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s newest incarnation is, very simply put, silly. Silly in nature and pointless in presence.
wes bentley in american horror story: hotel
Ouch, yes, I went there. It genuinely feels as though co-creators Murphy and Falchuk have run out of any kind of original idea and have taken odd components from seasons past and thrown them all into Hotel. The violence of Asylum and the strange characters of Freakshow with the location-based claustrophobia of Murder House. The difference being that those elements in those seasons worked. Currently, they aren’t working here. The first episode generally needs to be the stand out and that just currently isn’t the case. Members of the AHS fan canon will likely be enthused by this first installment, those who have been teetering on the border of abandoning the series will probably do so now.
Sarah Paulson is on form yet again as another complex character and seeing Lady GaGa as an actress is a real treat. Kathy Bates used to be a firm favourite but three seasons since her inauguration into the world of ‘Horror Story she has just become stranger and less compelling. The gripping enigma, and engaging characters of times past are long gone, and now the FX show that was once a television phenomenon has become an uncomfortable watch that focuses on unnecessary and seemingly unexplained events. Underdeveloped and cliched, Hotel needs to find a way out of the dark hole it’s so sadly started in.
The problem with this weeks episode of the new AHS series Freak show, was it bordered so far on the surreal that it was hard to take the majority of it seriously. The only moments of real interest, and in fact sorrow, came in the final half when a cruel injustice saw Meep wrongfully imprisoned and killed. Apart from these moving moments, which saw AHS at it’s best, Massacres and Matinees fell short, and is up there as one of the weakest episodes to date. Another problem with Wednesday nights episode, is it was so boring that it leaves you with little inspiration to wonder what will happen in next weeks installment; disappointment is certainly the right word here. Monsters Among Us looked hopeful, giving the audience just enough insight about the protagonists that we were intrigued to see what’s to come, but little about the clown antagonist and his past to add the horror element the show is so obviously famous for. This unique series, like every season there has been, is the most out-there yet, and perhaps not in the fascinating way it first seemed.
This weeks offering welcomed new characters, que Angela Bassett (the shining star of Coven) playing hermaphrodite Desiree, and newbie Michael Chiklis as ‘strongman’ (and murderer) Don Teledo, Desiree’s frightening, and clearly unforgiving husband. These two provided some of the only interesting scenes, as they made themselves firmly at home in the camp, despite the reservations of Jimmy and his bearded mother (there’s a history there). If Freak show can restore itself in the episodes to come, this could prove to be one of the best yet, but if it continues to follow a formula that feels all to familiar, what are meant as shocks and twists could just become the same old. Next weeks preview looks to step things up, and lets hope so, because if AHS gives us more of the same, ratings could see a dip.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this weeks episode, leave a comment to share your insight!
Chiklis, Laing and Peters in American Horror Story Freak Show