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If you didn't like the last "AHS: Hotel" episode because it was an extended flashback sequence, you're probably really going to hate this one. Not only is it an extended flashback sequence, it's focused on one of the least interesting characters in the show. (On the plus side, a lot of dots are connected, even if they're some we already figured out.)

Let's spend some more time on John's emotional trauma, said no one ever. Upset that Wren, his only real lead in the Ten Commandments case, has thrown herself into traffic, John Lowe stomps back to the Hotel Cortez, where he confronts a teary Liz Taylor – still mourning her dead boyfriend but sporting flawless eyeliner – at the front desk. He demands to know where the Ten Commandments Killer is, insisting that he knows the hotel is protecting the murderer because his dead teen vampire friend told him so. John goes so far as to get physically threatening with Liz, who says she'll kill him in his sleep if he ever even touches her again. (Yesssss, girl! Save us all from this human disaster! Please!)

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Their brewing fist fight is diffused by the sudden arrival of Hypodermic Sally, who offers to take John to where the Ten Commandments killer is hiding. She's got tears rolling down her face, because Sally seems to stoically cry a lot for no reason, and Liz gives them a gun just "in case they find what they're looking for."

Who is the Ten Commandments Killer? Sally takes John to Room 64, which as we all know, is his own old hotel room. She explains that it used to be James March's office and says that he'll find his answers behind the room's massive armoire. This is, of course, where the secret room filled with body parts in jars is hidden, and they're all the various pieces that have gone missing from the Ten Commandments Killer's victims over the years. Gross.

Sally quickly recaps how they all died, as John interjects dumb comments questioning how the killer snuck body parts in his room while he was still staying there, wondering who gave a murderer a key to his room, that kind of thing. Sally just looks at him like she can't believe he is actually this dumb, because of course John is the stupid killer, and we all guessed this weeks ago.

So it's John's turn for a flashback this week. John goes to the morgue, where he runs into his Partner Whose Name I Can Never Remember and decides the best thing he can do is confess to all his Ten Commandment-style murdering ways. His partner doesn't believe him, what with John looking completely disheveled and crazy, so John decides to convince him by telling him a story. Which, on "AHS: Hotel," means it's time for a flashback.

Turns out that this isn't John's first trip to the Hotel Cortez. After a particularly bad case in 2010, he ended up going to the hotel bar for a few drinks. He got drunk and met Liz, Sally and Donovan, who invites him to an after-hours party upstairs, which turns out to just be the two of them crashing the Countess and March's monthly dinner together.

Donovan introduces everyone, the Countess flirts, and John gets super existential about how life and death have no meaning. Worst party guest ever. March is intrigued, because he is a psychopath, and kicks everyone else out so he and John can bond. And by "bond" I mean "spend two days getting blackout drunk while March monologues aimlessly about dark auras and rage." Good times! He finally decides that John's the perfect candidate to be his serial killer protégé.

Welcome to John's double life. March encourages the Countess to kidnap Holden so that John can reach his full dark potential, and it works. After Holden is taken, John starts living two different lives. He's at home with Alex, but is also sneaking out to the Cortez all the time to drink and bond with March, none of which he remembers and most of which I wish I could forget. They have irritating dinners where they discuss the law and justice and how "the system" fails everyone. They are basically every irritating person you ever met in a philosophy class.

Anyway, somehow it's suddenly 2015, and I suppose we should be grateful we didn't have to watch FIVE YEARS of that same conversation on loop. It's Holden's birthday and John is drunk ranting about how justice is perverted daily by the world generally and isn't real. Wow, please just get on with the murdering already if it means you SHUT UP. March tells John the story of a hotel guest who turned out to be a pedophile, and John goes and beats him to death with an Oscar.

Why does Sally like this guy? In other flashback news, John and Sally have been lovers for quite some time. John doesn't know anything about her or where she came from, but says that they understood each other, which is, I guess, supposed to be romantic. More romance: Sally watches as John tries to kill himself after his first murder, and clearly plans to let him die.

Unfortunately for her, March shows up in time to save him and is furious. He insists that John's not hers yet (i.e. dead/a ghost) and says that if she wants him to hold up his end of their deal she's got to do what he says. The Addiction Demon that rapes people to death suddenly appears out of nowhere, and March says that this gross monster has to feed on something, and if its not on others it'll be on her. (So March is the one feeding guests to the Addiction Demon? How? John has like five different addictions -- how have they kept it from raping him to death all this time?)

Sally's nervous that John's going to die out in the real world and therefore not be trapped with her in the hotel forever. (Romance!) March tells her she needs someone who can move in the real world. So Sally goes to see Wren and tells her that no matter what, she has to protect John. Why Wren agrees is unclear, but let's go with it.

Crazy John levels up. While Sally's helping John clean up after his first murder, she explains that the Cortez "doesn't let people take anything with them" so that's why he can't remember Sally and his life there once he's gone. Or the murdering, apparently. This makes no sense. Is the hotel sentient? Is the Countess magic? But, whatever.

March appears out of nowhere to give John a pep talk about how he's imposing order on society through his actions. Ugh, how many times do we need to see his "MURDER, YAY" speech? After what feels like another 20 years, he finally explains his "Ten Commandments" project and tells John to finish his work, in memory of Holden. He says if John makes himself lead detective on the case, he can ensure he won't get caught.

Meanwhile, John's partner, who has been listening to this long and repetitive story, is naturally skeptical about his friend's murderous claims. The joke's definitely on him, though, because once he's done talking, John stabs him in the stomach, crazily saying something about coveting thy neighbor's wife. Turns out he thinks his partner was way too chummy with Alex and therefore deserved to die.

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John heads back to the hotel and meets Iris at the front desk. He informs her that he remembers everything and knows who he is now. She's openly relieved about it – she says it was basically a HUGE pain trying to keep straight who he was at any moment and what he knew. She urges him to just leave the hotel behind, since he's one of the few people who can voluntarily do so, but he just takes his paper sack of body parts up to the murder vault. Yuck.

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John tells March he's finally found clarity, and vows to kill two more people and complete the Ten Commandments project. It's just too bad that the most annoying people on the show are already dead. (Maybe he can kill Will Drake?)

Odds and Ends:

  • Many, many viewers guessed weeks ago that the Ten Commandments Killer was most likely John. That may have taken some of the fun out of this reveal because this episode felt like it dragged on and on for no real reason.
  • Am I the only one with some weird immunity to John as a character? No matter how much “Hotel” beats me over the head with his suffering and man pain, I can’t muster much sympathy. He’s exhaustingly self-righteous, whether he’s solving crimes or committing them.
  • There IS still a random pack of roving, bloodthirsty vampire children out there, right?
  • Think I ask this every week, but why did Angela Bassett even agree to do this season? She’s never in it.
  • Is Iris’ storyline over now that she’s self-actualized? Is Kathy Bates going to get anything else to do?
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