Episode 2, "Chutes and Ladders" is definitely not as jaw dropping as the tantalizing 1st, but rather delves deeper into the characters and begins to establish Hotel Cortez as a complex and independent character itself.
Taking another few notes from Kubrick’s The Shining, Det. John Lowe parallels Jack Nicholson’s character with an emotional exchange with Sally (who has sewn up Gabriel into a mattress,) tells him about a guilt ridden father who ends up killing himself. After having his daughter sees her missing brother in the hotel and him telling her that he’s basically a vampiric ghoul who lives in the hotel with the Countess, Lowe is to the breaking point of his own fear and guilt.
The Countess also finds a new boy toy in Finn Wittrock’s Tristan, who was modeling for Will Drake’s fashion show, but has grown bored by it. Having turned him and explained their “virus,” which sounds an awful look like vampirism, Donovan walks in on the two post coitus and is devastated. In trying to win her affections back, Donovan seems pathetic and weak, and The Countess tells him that the heartbreaks make them…Whatever that will turn out to mean, I guess we will see.
The majority of the epsiode revolves around a flashback of Hotel Cortez, as told by Iris to Lowe. We’re introduced to the Mr. James March, a nouveau-riche socialite who built Hotel Cortez as a snub to the Eastern pedigrees who ostracized him. Mr. March turns out to be a super demented dude who has an issue with religion (and by the end of the episode, Lowe thinks Mr. March is the 10 Commandment Killer) and seems to mirror the historical serial killer H. H. Holmes with his bizarre murder/puzzle house. Throughout the flashbacks we see Mr. March bricking people into walls as his wife (who we assume is The Countess) brutally slashing women as he has sex with them, dissolving bodies in a tub of chemicals, and then dismembering bodies and leaving them in a field. We also learn that Room 64, that Lowe is currently residing in used to be Mr. March’s office. Another character we are also further introduced to is Ms. Evers (Mare Winningham) who is Mr. March’s dutiful and loyal maid. She says she can get any stain out of the linens for Mr. March because her secret ingredient is ‘love.’ That’s not discussed too much, but we see that Ms. Evers is quite infatuated with Mr. March and even proudly dies by his hand at the end of the episode.
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