The 13th Floor

Five Things About AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL, Episode 502 — “Chutes and Ladders”

Rather than just recapping the most recent episode of AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL, each week we are going to break it down into the most interesting, weird, delightful, and mind-boggling bits. Today, we look at last the second episode “Chutes and Ladders.”

(If you missed last week’s edition, be sure to check out Five Things We Love About AHS: HOTEL, Episode 501!)

1. Lengthy episode

Last night’s episode was one hour, forty-two minutes long (including commercials). The episode could have easily been a traditional hour if we got rid of the first forty-two minutes. All we see are scenes that go nowhere or wrap up allegedly loose ends from last week. Did we really need to see Alex yell at a Westside mom for not vaccinating her kids? An important topic, yes, but not exactly the proper forum, especially since it was apropos of nothing. Elizabeth goes to an art exhibit alone, and while she looks stunning, it is pure set dressing. Nothing actually happens at the museum.


2. H.H. Holmes

HOTEL’s hotel was built by James Patrick March in 1925. After hearing his story, he is clearly a vaguely fictionalized version of H.H. Holmes, whom many consider to be America’s first serial killer. Holmes came to Chicago ahead of the 1893 World’s Fair, and built his “murder castle,” a huge hotel and retail space that was built like a labyrinth. Using dozens of contractors so no one had a a full idea of what the castle consisted of, Holmes had his hotel built with staircases that went nowhere, hallways built at odd angles that dead-ended, air-tight vaults, secret chutes that dropped to the basement, fire-proof rooms equipped with blowtorches, and rooms fitted with gas lines. Unlike March, who killed himself in HOTEL, Holmes was eventually captured and was put on trial. Though only nine murders were confirmed, estimates put the body count anywhere between 27 and 200 dead.


3. Bianca Jagger

Elizabeth describes her favorite time in history as the late 1970s, when she was a disco queen. In the show, she is seen riding into a disco on the back of a white horse. This is clearly taken from real life. In 1977, Bianca Jagger, then-wife of Mick Jagger, famously rode a white stallion in Studio 54, the most glamorous and notorious disco of the era. It was long rumored that Jagger rode the stallion down 54th street into the disco, but she is adamant that the club owner, Steve Rubell, had the horse in the club “as a lark” and she thought she would take it on a ride around the dance floor.


4. Evan Peters as James March

There is something too delicate about Evan Peters to properly play a Jay Gatsby-style character. He just doesn’t have the gravitas that I want in that type of character. Plus his voice takes on an affectation that is supposed to mimic popular vocalizations of the time; unfortunately, on Peters, it just sounds awkward.

5. Recovering alcoholic

John is revealed to be a recovering alcoholic. Seems like an unnecessary trope. I fully expect him to go Jack Torrance by the season’s end.