American Horror Story Season 5 Episode 1 Review: Checking In

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Are you gaga for Gaga? 

American Horror Story Season 5 Episode 1 threw us straight into the crazy world of the Cortez Hotel and it brought us a swarm of colorful characters.

Considering the mess that American Horror Story Season 4 was, this was a marked improvement and Lady Gaga was a huge part of why. Unlike Jessica Lange, Gaga wasn't thrown down our throat. She wasn't in much of the premiere at all and it made me want to see her even more. 

Detective John Lowe - American Horror Story

From the first scene with the Swedish girls pissing off Iris, it was evident us at home were for a wilder ride than them. The opening was your standard fare from what we've seen on the show before. It had all the jarring camera angles you've come to expect from this show. 

The style was very similar to Murder House and that's not a bad thing. It was interesting that they used ghosts again and referenced how they were stuck in their place of death. Why do ghosts always have to terrorize humans? Wouldn't it be good if they could just chill forever and watch some Netflix? That'd be the ultimate afterlife.

I was really impressed at just how much story they managed to fit into this opening episode. Sure, they had a lot to set up, but I'm glad they've reserved some of the other big characters for future episodes. The series in the past has tried to do too much in the opener, but this one was just right. 

John is a particularly engaging character. He's being stalked by a mysterious killer, so what does he do? He moves into room 64. The room in which he's receiving calls from a crazed killer who is promising to kill people in the room. Don't even get me started on that scene with Schmidt from New Girl getting raped by sex crazed monster. What in hell was that? 

I can see the pain in your eyes. Very familiar. You've lost something and now you're frozen in time. Can't go forward. Can't go back.


John's back story is pretty interesting too. His son, Holden, disappeared a few years back and that's why he's been dedicating his life to his job. If he stops, he thinks about things too much and that's what Dennis O'Hare's Liz pointed out to him. There has to be a reason he knows there is some conflict in this dude's life, right?

If we're to believe the room Elizabeth took Loughlin too, then Holden is very much alive and she has him in that darn room. Speaking of Elizabeth, she is a cold-blooded killer along with Donovan. They're a cannibalistic duo. I couldn't believe what was going on after that foursome turned into a twosome. Yes, the show is known for being weird, but that was just a bit out there. 

Loughlin: People aren't supposed to live in hotels.
Elizabeth: Well, maybe this place is special.

There are pretty much hundreds of questions that are up in the air, but the show has me hooked so far. I never ever thought that Gaga would be a worthy successor to Jessica Lange, but she is. I can't help but feel like the role of Elizabeth was written for Lange if she so wanted to sign up though. 

"Checking in" was a solid opener. It had everything you'd expect from this crazy show and more. Let's hope the show has a more consistent run this time round. 

  • Is Elizabeth the original owner, or is she just the manager? I can't seem to figure this one out. She could be lying to Iris and everyone else. Also, why does she have this crazy hold over everyone?
  • The return of Marcy wasn't as good as I expected it to be. I hope she pops back up and causes some drama. 
  • The kids haunting everyone were freaking creepy. They really need to see a hair stylist as I think that was their scariest feature. 
  • Straight off the bat, Will is the weak link. Yes, he's the new owner, but don't expect him to stick around very long. He'll get his kid and run, or die. Probably die. 
  • Remind me never to stay Room Number 64. 

There we have it, fanatics. Did you enjoy this new chapter in the FX hit? Did Lady Gaga surpass your expectations? What do you expect to happen in the coming weeks? Hit the comments below and look out for our Round Table!

Note: American Horror Story Season 5 Episode 2 air Wednesday October 17 at 10/9c on FX.

Checking In Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (67 Votes)

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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