In the American Horror Story: Hotel recap, the identity of The Ten Commandments killer is revealed in a trip down memory lane….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
For the past seven episodes, American Horror Story: Hotel has teased in one form or fashion a series of murders that have been taking place in Los Angeles that are patterned after the ten commandments from the bible.
Detective John Lowe was the original detective on the case and he dubbed the suspect ‘The Ten Commandments Killer’ based on his/her pattern of taking out victims whose activities suggest they were violating the code of the bible in one way or another.
Fast forward to Wednesday night’s episode and the killer was finally revealed….
It’s John Lowe
Yep, the detective who moved into the Hotel Cortez at the start of the season to investigate the murders was actually the person behind it this entire time. It’s not like we didn’t warn you he was the killer weeks ago!
But how was he driven to the point where murder was his best option? Or better yet how was he driven to the point where ritualistic murder was his best option?
Let’s recap the latest episode of American Horror Story: Hotel titled ‘The Ten Commandments Killer’ to find out….
The Killer Inside
Following the events from the last episode where spooky blonde girl Wren tossed herself in front of a moving car after telling John that the Ten Commandments Killer was at the Hotel Cortez, the former detective made a bee line back to his pseudo home away from home to get some much needed answers.
When he arrived, John demanded Liz Taylor tell him what he wanted to know but Sally is the person who finally offers to give him the answers he so desperately wants. She quietly takes him upstairs to Room 64 — the same room he’s been staying in ever since coming to the Hotel Cortez. This is the same room that was once the office for the hotel’s owner and creator — James Patrick March. He actually died in that room as well at 2:25am — the same time when the clock goes funky and John slips from sleep to an awake state and back again.
Sally reveals a hidden room behind the armoire with a door bearing the initials JPM and inside are 10 trophy style glass cases and seven of them are filled. These are the trophies the Ten Commandments killer kept over the years.
It started in 1926 with murder of a thief — thou shalt not steal. The second was a group of migrant workers doing labor on Sundays with their teeth yanked from their heads — remember the Sabbath. From there the murders stopped for 90 years until someone new picked up where James Patrick March left off.
John: “No serial killer has a 90 year lull”
Sally: “If it’s taken him this long to find a successor. Someone to complete his work”
The next series of murders were more familiar — Martin Gamboa, the cheating husband who was glued into his lover before his eyes and tongue were plucked out, the two children who had their hearts cut out after they killed their parents for money, the gossip mongers who had their tongues nailed to the desk, the televangelist who was gutted.
John is so confused because these trophies were kept in his room — the room he’s been sleeping in for weeks. How did he get in there undetected?
“Nobody let him in. He had a key”
As John stares back at the glass cases and the grisly body parts decorating the trophy room it all starts to make sense. John can’t quite handle what he’s got running through his head, but Sally lets him know the awful truth.
“It’s you, John. It’s always been you.”
How did John become the Ten Commandments Killer? It all started five years ago.
Rat in a Cage
Following the revelation that he’s the killer, John rushes the morgue where he finds his former partner Andy Hahn standing over Wren’s dead body. John tries to confess to being the killer, but Andy doesn’t buy it so he’s forced to explain in graphic detail how he went from a homicide detective to a detective committing homicide.
Five years ago after a brutal murder scene was discovered, John went out drinking and when one bar closed, he just moved to the next one where he could continue drinking. Eventually he ran out of spots, but at that moment John happened across the glowing neon lights burning in the night sky — Hotel Cortez.
He went inside and started slamming down martinis but just as Sally started to pay attention to the new man who walked into the hotel, Donovan also noticed a lost soul in need of solace and he decided to offer him the chance to attend a special after party where the drinks flow all night long.
Upstairs, March and the Countess are enjoying their monthly dinner together when Donovan arrives with John in tow. March is furious that anyone would dare interrupt his one night with his wife, but once he starts to talk to John, he realizes this is an effort worth his while.
“Death is the only thing in life that has any meaning”
~ John Lowe
John’s words about death sound like poetry to March, who has been looking for a prodigy to carry on his work ever since he died some 90 years ago. He tried with Gacy and Ramirez and even Dahmer but none of them could ever truly follow his direction, but there was something about John Lowe that screamed homicidal maniac.
It was his aura — as black as the ace of spades — and that could only mean one of two things, both of which ended with John at the top of the list for March’s successors.
“Two schools of thought — one’s that you have a protective cloak around you. It allows you to focus on any task at hand regardless of the other’s judgment. The other is that you need to dominate and control the world around you. Bend it to your will. That is a man who is willing to do bad to do good.”
~ James Patrick March
March decides at that moment to begin mentoring John while helping him to understand the rage that lives inside of him and how to channel that in a useful way (for both of them). He taunts John about all the criminals who go free and how much he would like to dish out his own brand of justice. John still isn’t willing to cross the line but March knows if he could just give him one last push, he would finally have a successor to his murderous throne.
So one night after a lot of Absinthe and John barely conscious, March asks the Countess for one small favor to help him out in his endeavor to get his chosen prodigy on board to become the serial killer he’s always dreamed about. What if John lost one of his children? Would that push him over the edge? The Countess agrees to help and she ends up kidnapping John’s son Holden, which finally breaks his hold on reality and sends him spiraling towards the sociopathic rage he’s been fighting off for years.
Finally, after five years of hard work, March takes John to his trophy room where he shares with his protégé the fruits of his labor that started back in 1926 but ended when he died. Now he hopes John will take up the same cause under the guise of stopping criminals and sinners who are breaking the Ten Commandments. When John hears about Martin Gamboa, a man who was apparently involved in child pornography on the side, he finally had his victim in mind and justice would be served.
John paid him a visit one night under the disguise of some kind of Craigslist ad and ended up bludgeoning him to death with an Oscar award he was trying to hock for $5,000 (thou shalt not worship false idols). Remember, Martin Gamboa’s head was smashed in and his brain is now on display in the hidden trophy room. Justice was served and it felt good.
The Deal with Sally
During his days and nights spent at the Hotel Cortez, John was carrying on an affair with Sally that fed his salacious needs to go along with his murderous rage that was building up inside of him. John would still go home and pretend to be married to Alex but really his heart and soul belonged to the Hotel Cortez and his lust was only for Sally.
Their unconventional relationship hit the rocks when John finally committed his first murder and decided that he could no longer live with himself so he tossed a rope around his neck and tried to hang himself with Sally sitting on the bed just a few feet away. March discovered him in time and cut him loose before he could die and then he admonished Sally for not stopping it sooner.
He then reminded Sally about their deal — the addiction demon (the Se7en inspired, strap-on sperm monster we met in the first episode) who was conjured up when Sally and her kind first happened upon the hotel would truly be unleashed upon her. March has been keeping the demon at bay, protecting Sally from its wrath this entire time while feeding it other hapless victims from the hotel. But if Sally doesn’t start following his orders, he’ll stop protecting her and the demon will come for her instead and it won’t be pleasant.
In the Mouth of Madness
Once John finally embraced his true nature, he began killing at will taking out victim after victim and preaching his own sort of justice. There were times he wanted to get a little more personal — like when he heard that his partner Hahn had coffee with his wife Alex and he wanted to kill them both — thou shalt not commit adultery — but Sally convinced him that he would be the prime suspect so she led him to the cheating couple who frequented the Cortez and eventually ended up glued together with the guy’s tongue and eyes cut out.
John was also able to cover his own tracks thanks to March’s suggestion that he becomes the lead detective on his own case. Surely, John isn’t going to suddenly discover that he’s the real murderer after all.
After explaining all of this to Hahn, John picks up a knife from the coroner’s table and stabs his former partner in the gut. Hahn fell to the floor in disbelief as his stomach started gushing blood while he laid motionless on the ground.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, Andy. It’s one of the ten commandments. Admit what you’ve done and I’ll show you some mercy.”
~ John Lowe
Andy does not repent and John stabs him through the heart before collecting his dick as the trophy because that’s how you commit adultery after all.
Back at the hotel, John walks in and holds a conversation with Iris, who finally admits that she’s known about this the whole time. Actually the entire hotel staff knew John was the killer, but they played along with him being a cop as a way to protect his fractured psyche. Now the two halves have come together and John is embracing his murderous impulses. He does find out along the way, however, that Sally was the one who sent Wren out into the world to keep an eye on him and her mission was to make sure John didn’t die. Wren died protecting him.
Finally, John retires to his trophy room where he adds Andy’s body part to the collection and March finds him there and asks about this new glow he has about him. It’s called clarity because John is no longer fighting himself — he’s no longer living two lives, constantly pitting one half against the other. John is just the killer he’s always meant to be and the cop and family man is dead.
March: “You can finally appreciate the beauty of your work. Death is your art. I stand in awe of your talent. But what will you do with it now that you understand?”
John: “Two more.”
March: “Splendid. Then the masterpiece will be complete. You’re home, John.”
The final two commandments (in case you’re keeping score at home) are — Thou shalt not have any gods before me and thou shalt not commit murder.
Something tells me the final piece to the puzzle will be John taking his own life — thou shalt not commit murder — and he will be the last trophy in his own killer collection.