American Horror Story Round Table: Checking Into the Hotel Cortez

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If you're still capable of sleeping in a bed after watching American Horror Story Season 5 Episode 1, much less a hotel room, we salute you.

I personally will forever be haunted by the opening credits and the thought that some decaying creature might spring up through my mattress. (And we thought we were safe if we just kept our limbs from dangling over the edge...)

We're done "Checking In" over here at the TV Fanatic Round Table, and we're ready to break down the American Horror Story: Hotel premiere!

Join Paul Dailly, Amanda Steinmetz, Caralynn Lippo, and Miranda Wicker by adding your answers to the following questions into the comments below!

American Horror Story Round Table - depreciated -

Is Holden alive or is he a ghost? 

Paul: I think he's alive. That would be a big twist, right?

Amanda: I didn't get the sense that he was dead, but you never know! 

Caralynn: I think he's alive, too, but in some kind of creepy vampire state like the other children. He's definitely in some kind of weird stasis that's keeping him unaging, though.

Miranda: I'm going with some sort of suspended aging for the kids on the series. Maybe not dead, but maybe not exactly alive. Maybe they're just aging really, really slowly under Elizabeth's care.

What did you think of Lady Gaga's performance? 

Paul: I really enjoyed her. She wasn't over exposed. They used her sparingly and it worked really well. I honestly thought she'd be the highlight of the series, but she isn't. 

Amanda: I agree that it was smart to not throw to much Gaga at us in the premiere. I also don't want her to turn into the centerpiece that Ryan Murphy made Jessica Lange. I thought her acting was okay. Her dialogue was a bit stiff, but maybe it will grow on me.

Caralynn: Paul hit the nail on the head there -- she was used sparingly enough that her inclusion didn't feel like a gimmick. That was a really smart choice on Ryan Murphy & Co.'s behalf. I really enjoyed what I saw of her and she creeped me out a lot. I started to really hate how Jessica Lange became this stock figure that everyone else just sort of rotated around. The beauty of the show is its large ensemble cast, hopefully they have more of that this season -- the premiere indicates that they're on the right track.

Miranda: I was pleasantly surprised. As an artist, she's always pushing the envelope and has developed an air of mystery, so she was able to carry that into this role. Will she be able to maintain that for the duration of the season? We'll see.

On A scale of 1-10, how much did you miss Jessica Lange? 

Paul: 4. I can't help but feel like the role of Elizabeth was initially written for Lange in the hopes that they could sway her into staying, but I'm excited at the direction without her. 

Amanda: 2. I don't really miss her. I think she's fabulous, but the show wasn't supposed to be the Jessica Lange show.  

Caralynn: 5. I miss her and would have loved to see her try out a not-centerpiece role (maybe something like Lily Rabe does? A really intriguing drop-in character who just pops in to stir up trouble but isn't part of the main cast?) But I'm loving Gaga right now, so I have no complaints there. I actually don't at all feel like the character of Elizabeth was written for Lange, but that might be because I read somewhere that Gaga asked Ryan Murphy to specifically write her in as a villainess, so I'm pretty sure the character was created just for Gaga. I also think Gaga's Elizabeth is immortal, so it would have been odd to have an older woman portray an unaging vampire-esque character.

Miranda: We still had Sarah Paulson (who was AMAZING, as always) so I was pretty set. I'll give it about a 2 for missing Jessica Lange. I don't feel like the premiere, or the series, will suffer without her at its center.

Will Iris ever be nice to anyone? 

Paul: Yes. I think she'll grow into a nicer character before the season is over. That's if she makes it to the end. 

Amanda: Possibly. I'm curious to see what happened after she found the Countess with her son in that flashback. Is Iris stuck in the hotel? 

Caralynn: Iris seemed more sad/pitiable than mean to me -- I think maybe because her love for her son really shone through, and clearly his death (?) or whatever that was shook her up and changed her as a person, leading her to shove Sally out the window.

Miranda: I think Iris will be nice to the children and we'll eventually get to see that. She, like them, is a trapped soul, tethered to the hotel by other people.

Was John stupid to leave his family? 

Paul: Yes! I didn't quite understand this. Surely the killer would still go after his family because it would hurt him either way, so there was no logic in his decision. There must be a reason he was drawn to the hotel. 

Amanda: This didn't make any sense to me. It will be easier for the killer to go after his family if he's not there to protect him. However, I suspect there is something pulling John to the Hotel Cortez. 

Caralynn: What a moron. I hope that there's some explanation about the psychic powers of Elizabeth or the hotel overcoming John's reasoning and pulling him in, because otherwise he's just a grade A moron and it'll be hard to sympathize with anything bad happening to him.

Miranda: I'm undecided. Clearly something about the hotel drew him to it, and he did think he saw his son there. I'm not sure why he thinks leaving his wife and daughter alone will somehow protect them since the killer isn't actually after him OR his family directly. I don't know. It's weird. (Live, Matt Bomer! Live!)

Grade the premiere!

Paul: B+. It was the best opener since Asylum. 

Amanda: I agree with Paul, B+. The look of the show is beautiful, and I loved the music selections, but I'm always nervous about the storylines going off the rails.

Caralynn: A-. I liked it a lot -- it wasn't perfect but it was visually stunning (as AHS typically is), and I think on its own (separate from the AHS universe) it was an excellent example of a pilot episode in that it unveiled the major plot points in interesting ways but still left us asking questions/wanting more at the end. SO good.

Miranda: I'm giving it a straight A just for the creepy factor. Like I said in the opening, those credits freaked me out. I'm confused and intrigued as to where this season will go and am definitely along for the ride. I just hope it doesn't, as someone said earlier, go completely off the rails in typical AHS fashion.

Check out American Horror Story Season 5 Episode 2 Wednesday night at 10/9c on FX! And don't forget you can watch American Horror Story online right here!

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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