American Horror Story "Flicker" Review: You Oughta Be in Pictures!

American Horror Story S05E07: "Flicker"

By the time Rudolph "Finn Wittrock Again" Valentino told his immortal origin story in the medium of old-timey silent film, I was tempted to catalog "Flicker" as a fun standalone hour of backstory, something American Horror Story does exceptionally well. Then I realized the episode was essentially showing us the bare-bones theme of the whole season like a corpse dunked in an acid bath: the cost of fame. I mean, storywise, the episode was mainly filling in the blanks, but also managed extra credit with an ode to this season's setting of Los Angeles! A place that values youth and where plenty of people spend entire lifetimes trying to be remembered. It's a victory lap to embed this city's character within the metaphor of immortal bloodsuckers.

That's why I hate this show.

No just kidding, I was only being dramatic. I love it very much. I guess what I'm trying to say is that at one point I thought the episode was just going to be ho-hum, but then found myself applauding it as a damn fine time. Like, there were also classic scares involving aloof construction workers who discovered secret parts of the hotel and encountered zombie vampire screen legends.

More on the walled-off folks discovered during Drake's renovation later (he was "getting his anus waxed and bleached" when the vambies escaped btw, thanks Iris). Let's chat about the story of Detective John Lowe growing his own crazy-eyes.

So Detective John Lowe is basically the Ten Commandments Killer. Case closed. Either that, or the show is trying to make us believe real hard that he is in order to break out one heck of a surprise. For now though, my money's on Lowe who checked himself into a moderate mental health facility this episode.

His behavior had become increasingly inappropriate in terms of coming into the precinct while on administrative leave and attacking his only friend on the force, Detective Andrew Hahn.

But it was also kind of a clever ruse on his part because during the office tussle he caught a glimpse of where the suspect was being held. His goal: beat up a guard and gain access to the room where the suspect was being held. Only in the designated room was the third little girl from the hotel, Wren. She explained how she was being held for questioning and had been there for all the murders, even helping with them. Lowe thought he was on to something.

She and John shared a tete-a-tete, involving language that made it kind of seem that John could've been the killer. Like, he compared her to Scarlett and admitted feeling guilty about how his daughter might've felt responsible for Lowe's antics. The whole time Wren felt like a figment of his imagination, or his conscience. She spoke to him in a familiar tone for instance.

Eventually he convinced her to take him to the home of the killer and she was like okay sure follow me.

So yeah I'm convinced it's him just because it feels good to decide on a feeling even if it's wrong.

While Lowe wrestled with his pig-tailed demons, the mystery of who the heck those dang vambies were needed solving. Mainly, like, who were they? The answer could be found in the official origin story of former stage extra, The Countess.

Next: Party at Rudy's house!

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Dec 17, 2015
100% agree with Kalel32688 Versatile can't even describe my delight in watching them every season change and morph into these AHS characters. The accent and fast talking of MARCH. Just brilliant.
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Nov 24, 2015
One of the things I like most about AHS is the versatility of its actors; it's truly amazing.

Finn Wittrock's performance as Valentino was awesome, and I loved Alexandra Daddario's performance as Natacha Rambova; someone PLEASE cast her in a lead role next season!

Oh, and let's hope this isn't the last time we'll see Rudy and Nat.
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Nov 23, 2015
So now we know who the first love is and why Countess picked Tristan (don't care I loved that dolt) did March make any notice of this likeness when they first met?

So 10 commandment killer is either Lowe or some psychologically damaged Scarlett for the sake of a twist.

But one thing I want to know before this season is over is what the hell that demon of addiction is. Seriously if it's just some manifestation of addiction it's used sparingly. Is someone really in that suit with the drilldo or what?
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Nov 28, 2015
I guess it could also explain why she killed Tristan - maybe it reminded her of when her great love left her.

I wonder what the deal is with the baby. Was she pregnant when they made her a vampire? Who's the father March or Valentino?

It does all seem to point to Lowe being the killer, but if that's true then who called him in episode 1 just before he read the bedtime story to his daughter?
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Dec 03, 2015
Remember that we're dealing with the 'Our vampires are different' trope here. She's not really a vampire but infected with a virus that gives her vampire like traits. Sterility doesn't seem to be a side-effect of it since technically they are dead or the undead but have longevity. So it seems as if her baby was born infected hence it could survive the abortion attempt. My question is why did she attempt to have one, why was she instantly attracted to it once it was delivered if she wanted to be rid of it? Or did she and that was the only way that it could be?
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Dec 03, 2015
Good point.
Yeah that u-turn was rather strange.
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Nov 27, 2015
Same, because if we don't get an actual explination behind that, the only reason for it to be in the show was for shock value.
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Dec 03, 2015
Yeah. I would hate for that to be the case.
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Nov 22, 2015
John is on some Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ish.
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Nov 21, 2015
Can someone please clarify for me what Wren said when she quoted her father - "He said I was going to be his little ..." What did she say there?? (at 30:57). I can't for the life of me figure it out/hear it correctly! Much thanks in advance!
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Nov 22, 2015
Pretty sure he said little lady.
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Nov 22, 2015
Little woman? Basically, he was planning to rape her when she went through puberty. He was a disgusting monster.
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Nov 22, 2015
Wow. Vile human being. AHS never ceases to amaze me! Thanks for the reply!
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Nov 20, 2015
Really don't understand the need to cast Finn Wittrock as both Tristan and Valentino - was it to explain why The Countess wanted Tristan so much? because he looked like her true love? because it just confused me even more so


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Nov 20, 2015
Yes, that's how I took it. Plus Finn is a great actor so I was glad he wasn't "gone".
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Nov 20, 2015
Finn is NOT a great actor - he was one of the (MANY) reasons last season sucked, Tristan was an awful character and his performance as Valentino is laughable
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Nov 20, 2015
Last season sucked because it just sucked. Blame Ryan and the writers. Messy plot and they killed the most intriguing character/story - Twisty. (And I fucking hate clowns lol)
Oh and I almost forgot... all of the singing BS.
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Dec 17, 2015
I thought the worst season was Coven until Circus. The main mousy lead actress I could not stand. Everyone else was pretty awesome as usual. The entire Jessica Lange Life on Mars song, for the opening is what actually caught my attention and gave me chills up my spine. After that, I really lost interest on Big Top Circus. Not because of the actors, but because the story line was so weak.
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Nov 20, 2015
Oh like i said, last season had MANY problems and Finn wittrock was one of them - i agree about the fact that killing Twisty was a problem for the season
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Nov 20, 2015

What?
At 30:57

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Nov 22, 2015
Lady
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Nov 22, 2015
Ah, thank you.
As linsameyer said, that's quite disturbing and to be expected.
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Nov 22, 2015
Wow. Disturbing! However, this is AHS so ... yeah. Thanks for replying!
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Nov 21, 2015
Have you found an answer for this yet? I have been wondering, as well!
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Nov 20, 2015
in episode 1 the movie that the Countess and Donovan watched was nosferatu
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Nov 20, 2015
It was a great episode.
I thoroughly enjoyed the back story and was happy to see Finn Wittrock again. He was very handsome in his new role!
I don't care for the whole Countess love story though. I don't care about her heart break and so on nothing will make me hate her less.
Annnnd what March did was insane, locking them up, letting the two of them starve to "death". He's such a sicko BUT Evan Peters is amazing. And I've been complaining about how little we have seen him in this season so I was loving it.
He's just brilliant isn't he? Yassssss.
Okay the whole John storyline was confusing as hell, I know it's meant to be, because we don't have all the answers yet and so on but wtf is going on? We all think John is the killer, at least they are definitely trying to make it seem that way. The obsession he has with the case, the fact that he chose to stay at the Cortez, he was invited to Marchs seriel killer dinner, he passes out a lot, loses time, the fact that he hasn't died yet, when it seems like every single person who stays at the hotel dies horribly, the vampire girl was very open and friendly with him, even though he was just some strange guy who came into her room and started asking her questions. I mean it all points to him.
(For a second there when John walked into the room I thought it was Scarlett standing there and I was like oh shittt Scarlett is the killer ?! Buttttt no it was just some random vampire girl from Holden's friend group).
Why would this vampire girl be running around killing people with seriel killer John? And why wouldn't she just tell him, hey dude wake the hell up, it's you! And if it's not him, why didn't she tell him who it was before running in front of a bus? Sooooo many questions. I hope he isn't the killer because I would rather be surprised but at the same time I don't want the killer to be some new character we haven't seen yet because then like who cares?

I wonder how Liz is doing:( :( :( :(
And like what is going on with the vampire kids from that school? Is there not a vampire epidemic going on right now? Or was that just for fun and we aren't going to go back to that story line ever.
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Nov 19, 2015
It would have been a good episode if it wasn't Gaga's flat, indifferent and untalented "Botox acting." Countess' origins was actually an interesting story, with a touch of poetry! I loved the direction and the camera angles! Very good job! As for the rest... I'd rather not get into it for many of you will hate me... loll

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d' Antonguolla ??? LoLL That caught me by surprise! I won't complain for as long as Wittrock is back!

Peters was great! He's great even when acting on a weak script! His role needs more air time!

It was another visually indulging episode, but just that!
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Nov 23, 2015
Catching up on the episode and at the Countess origin story. Gaga was great last episode and the one before that but she faltered in the monologue flashback within a flashback. The way that she acts and speaks as a starstruck naive young thing is too different than the monologue as she recounts why she chose to marry. The personality change is too sudden. I mean okay one moment she's that young woman who was no more than an extra not really classy or anything then in between she's acting like the Countess which we don't know about until the monologue which she delivers as that young extra again to 'I feel nothing'. It's too inconsistent. I can almost believe that in the months between the 'death' of her true love and her love for material things she changed but it's not really showing it and barely telling it. And it comes off as flat.

Then later it got a bit better when she had to interact with Evans. Or perhaps his portrayal of March just makes everything better? Naw I wish to give her some credit because at times she can be great but those times are few and far between. She has the potential, we can see it, the directors just didn't demand it from her. Perhaps she just can't pull off that graceful regal coldness that she needs to be 95% of the time it just comes off as stiff.

Her undead lovers pulls it off beautifully. Hmm...I wonder if that says anything, that regardless the Countess is nothing more than an extra that could never quiet cut it to be among the gods she loved. I think I'll go with that, that'll make it easier.
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Nov 28, 2015
I get what you mean about it being a big leap from lovestruck starlet to 'Lady Macbeth' especially since she wasn't a vampire when she first married March, but I think this is the fault of the writers rather than Gaga.
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Dec 03, 2015
Very true. That jumped around too much, there were very few hints to lead to things. Like March being interested in Countess in the first place, have him catch eyes with her or look at her during the party (I can't remember if they did or didn't now because it was so quickly followed by the death announcement).
Show her closing herself off rather than just saying she wanted to be consumed by March's darkness or whatever during rough sex. Seriously the sex has become too gratuitous even for this show.
I've gone from 'Hehe, butts." To "Oh we're going to pause the story for sex again." Is this an addiction or just here for the hell of it now? I've seen less threesomes in a porn search.
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Nov 20, 2015
I'm watching it right now... but I admit I'm only half watching because Gag's "acting" is SO distracting. She literally just said a line like, "whadidheWAnt from you?" I'm desperately trying to get into the story, but I just can't. I get angry every time she opens her mouth to speak. I may just shut it off and read the recap!
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Nov 19, 2015
Gaga was fine for a new-ish actor - didn't take away from the ep at all for me.
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Dec 17, 2015
Gaga is doing a fantastic job!
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Nov 19, 2015
Just to explain myself, I believe that Gaga is a good stage performer; not to my liking - but I give her that, she's good on stage!

Acting!? meeeeh... it's unknown territory to her! She doesn't have it even by a long shot! No, I wasn't expecting her to be Lange's equal replacement or something. No I wasn't expecting her to be surprisingly good or something. I just wanted her to be decent but she's not even close to that!

The fact is that the camera loves her! She "writes" well on screen, but everything stops there!

If AHS: Hotel, was a silent movie, Gaga would have been an exceptional choise!

I don't hate her (why would I?) but I strongly believe she's the worst choice ever for AHS - especially after Lange!
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Nov 19, 2015
this episode was a check point that turned that show from good to EPIC!
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Nov 19, 2015
"Like, that's what makes our time on Earth pretty important—it's finite."

Well, yeah, but that's what finite mortals are going to say, aren't they?

I don't recall Connor and Duncan MacLeod tossing themselves on train tracks to get decapitated. And the Kurgan seemed to be having a grand ole time.
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Nov 19, 2015
So... was Wren supposed to be hit by the truck, or disappear as it went past her? Even the animated gif on page 1 doesn't make it clear.
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Nov 19, 2015
I absolutely love the new characters/vampires - Natacha Rambova and Rudolph Valentino, they work really well together! They might be my new favorites :))

Is it just me, or is Johns story getting a little....boring...every time he comes on screen (which was a lot this episode) i keep hoping that a more interesting character will join him to make things interesting and or fun. Can we kill him yet?
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Nov 19, 2015
Every time Evan Peters shows up, he owns the screen. We need more! And great to see The Countess through the ages (LOL'd at 80s Countess's hair). And of course, more butt nudity. (Jessica Lange missed a great opportunity this season....)

Interesting for the Countess that Tristan was (supposedly) a near-look-alike for Valentino. Alexandra Daddario looked amazing as Natacha. I also loved that they tied the stories of these screen legends, and Mernau & Nosferatu!

As for Detective Lowe, he seems to be sort of the "everyman" that threads through all these interesting stories and characters. If he turns out to be the XC killer, it's just icing on the cake.
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Nov 21, 2015
I found it hard to recognize Daddario. Twenties styles on her just didn't work for me.


Evan Peters is the MVP of this season. Probably even better than his work in season 1 as Tate.
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Nov 20, 2015
You wanted to see Jessica Lange naked?
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Nov 22, 2015
Lol!
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Nov 22, 2015
Knotty pine!
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Nov 19, 2015
Evan Peters is masterful indeed - a true high point of this - and every season - of American Horror Story.
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Nov 19, 2015
God, Lady Gaga's eyebrows looked hella weird in certain scenes in this episode.. I know the "drawn on eyebrows" were a thing, but in certain scenes they were way too high above her natural eyebrows and looked silly.

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Nov 21, 2015
She looks great in certain scenes and then almost like a completely different person in others. Sort of like her public persona. I honestly find her odd looking in the present with that bizarre eye makeup but much better looking in the 1920s scenes.
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Nov 19, 2015
LoLL... so true! I laughed a lot with her eyebrows, for her wanna-acting is so pathetic!!! Cheers to Gaga's doodle-brows!
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Nov 19, 2015
Well, the Countess did say that Tristan reminded her of a past love, "one even more beautiful" than him. So I wasn't too surprised to find Wittrock playing her first love...what was surprising is that he was trapped in the hotel all this time with his wife lol.
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Nov 19, 2015
I love when American Horror Story does these flashback episodes! Brilliantly done yet again and they even included real life people!

My only complaint was with the explanation regarding the virus. That was pretty dumb...like really, it came from a bunch of feral, sex-addicted mountain vamps from Transylvania? They should have come up with a better explanation then that! I mean, I might be dead but I'm not stupid! :)

If anyone is interested, check out my photo recap/review here, lots of screen caps and gifs: http://mikeydislikesit.com/american-horror-story-hotel-flicker-review/

Also, this made me laugh:

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Nov 21, 2015
I'm a little wierded out by the fact that Valentino's wife was around in real life until the 1960s. If it was just Valentino who died mysteriously in the 20s then it would be easier to accept as part of the storyline. But other than that, bravo AHS! Well done! Outsmarting and surprising the audience again! I like what they did.
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Nov 21, 2015
Ya, this really was one of the best episodes of the season so far. :)
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Nov 19, 2015
I agree with the explanation, who would of thought that you could make feral, sex-addicted mountain vamps from Transylvaniavery uninteresting and basic.
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Nov 19, 2015
Another excellent episode from an excellent season. I loved the reveal behind the steel wall leading to the hall with no rooms - well, almost none - and who was trapped there for soooo long - and by who. Wow. I almost didn't notice there was no Sarah Paulson in this ep... almost. Still - so great! Can't wait to see what happens next. 9/10.
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Nov 20, 2015
So this episode was 'excellent' but the shows i watch are trash? OK love - it was average at best - GaGa get's worse as she goes along, Evan Peters' accent is laughable (how is everyone praising him this season? it is a joke right?), it had some cool moments (the creepy little girl and the vampire scenes) but it was an average episode

Watch the HTGAWM Winter Finale - now THAT WAS EXCELLENT and Viola Davis out acts EVERYONE in AHS
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Nov 19, 2015
Who cares about Lowe and the 10k story?
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Nov 21, 2015
He reminds me of Dr. Harmon (or whatever) from the first season. At first, Lowe/Harmon were the "main" character, or at least the audience focal point. But after a few eps, they get shuffled to the back (and with good reason) as they become hardly better than cardboard.
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Nov 19, 2015
I don't *not* care, but it is just a small side story compared to all else going on. Despite all Lowe's screen time, he is turning out to be a rather minor character in the grand scheme of things.
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Nov 19, 2015
agreed, every time he comes on screen i'm only thinking about all the other interesting characters, hoping they will swoop in and kill Lowe. But this is AHS, he will eventually serve a very important purpose.
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Nov 19, 2015
I suppose, if he does in fact turn out to be the ten commandments killer, then they could just have him go off on everybody and somehow steal the show. At this rate I'd prefer he turn out to be a red herring. They're just doing an awful job of distracting us from his possibly being the killer.
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Nov 19, 2015
Exactly.
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Nov 19, 2015
I, for one, got annoyed everytime his face popped up on my screen last night. I was really into the Countess/March backstory and his crap just felt tacked on.
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Nov 19, 2015
So true. It absolutely felt like that.
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Nov 19, 2015
It seems now to be the one weak part of the show. Every episode he's having a psychotic breakdown and everyone has rejected him allegedly for what appears to be no reason at all. Rinse, lather, repeat. His wife and kids have had way more interesting storylines.
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Nov 19, 2015
I don't really either, but next episode it looks like my theory of there being some sort of grudge match between March and the Countess seems to bring John's story into the larger story.
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Nov 19, 2015
I felt sorry for The Countess? Stellar episode. It's crazy how this show appeals to the surface as it sneaks into the soul.
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Nov 19, 2015
I think that is the roller coaster we are going to be on with her most of the season, I mean, remember we loved her with Liz one week and then the next she kills Tristan in front of him.

Like, she comes from a place we can understand, but she kind of is selfish and self involved, but she's not necessarily mean about it, and ultimately, she is a survivor.
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Nov 20, 2015
It was spectacular how Finn Wittrock portrayed Tristan, who explained The Countess just before his death, and then also her very sire. Then for Valentino to have actually been alive at the hotel the whole time? It really appeals to the complexity of a person's issues and how dealing with those issues is a lifelong effort of unlocking the right and wrong "rooms" within.

Or something, haha. =P
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Nov 20, 2015
I was really impressed with his Valentino that I almost wondered a few times if it was him (then the camera would catch him at a quarter angle and a nose prosthesis wasn't hiding him as well).
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Nov 19, 2015
And the text recap is up, as soon as it clears the cache.
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Nov 19, 2015
Anyone still not convinced that Lowe is the 10CK? Because I think it's pretty clear after that ending and all the dialogue between him and the little girl in the asylum. Of course this is AHS and you never know what kind of twist they could pull out in the final few episodes, but as of now, my money's on Lowe.
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Nov 19, 2015
I am fifty fifty on the issue. It was just that from one paragraph to the next it seemed like Wren was going to say something to the effect of I like you when you are like this to that there is legitimately someone else doing all of this (and I can't even imagine who else that would be)
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Nov 19, 2015
I felt the same way Kate, and if it IS someone besides John, I have no solid idea of who that would be.. I guess it could be Will Drake, we've never seen anything that firmly puts him in another place at the time these murders are committed (that I can remember anyway..) But the irony of The Countess ending up with another serial killer and not even knowing it would be interesting.
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Nov 19, 2015
Best episode of the season so far! I was absolutely thrilled by the tribute to Nosferatu! Beautifully done.
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Nov 19, 2015
Anyone else notice the Mosoleum place that The Countess visits in her flashback is the same as the one Lana goes to where Wendy is interned in season 2 Asylum!!!
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Nov 19, 2015
Well we got the answer of the Countess's type. I'm honestly impressed March held onto it this long.
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Nov 19, 2015
Are they ever gonna show the vampire kids that attacked the school a couple episodes back? That part was brilliant.
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Nov 21, 2015
God I hope not. Honestly, the amount of storylines this season has going on is out of control. It started out so simply but now you have vampire kids running around, 1920s vamps, everyone's a ghost or insane.. They need to rein everything back in.
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Nov 19, 2015
Poor Madchen Amick. They've got to continue that storyline. The number of carriers have probably at least tripled since then.
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Nov 19, 2015
I know, I hope that doesn't become the aliens of Asylum, where they just leave that out there. Maybe Rudy and Natasha go collect them to use them as mistakes to undercut the Countess.
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Nov 19, 2015
Ha yeah I can't imagine their parents are doing too well... I hope they pick it up again - would be a great way for the vamp virus to get exposed....
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