‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Season 5 Finale Recap: The Hotel Cortez Becomes Heaven For Its Inhabitants

Hotel Cortez Liz Taylor Death
Liz Taylor tells the Hotel Cortez inhabitants that she has cancer and that she wants them to kill her so she can stay at the hotel. Screencap: FX

Like many American Horror Story seasons, it’s all’s well that ends well for most American Horror Story: Hotel characters. During the Season 5 finale, Liz Taylor and Iris have taken over upkeep of the Hotel Cortez, aiming to make the hotel a destination. However, Sally and Will Drake continue killing guests, in particular two reviewers, prompts Liz and Iris to urge them to stop killing.

Liz and Iris urging the dead Hotel Cortez inhabitants to stop killing patrons. Photo: Screencap: FX

Iris is able to help Sally by giving her an iPhone and she becomes a social media sweetheart, with fans that hang upon her every word. With this social media connection to the outside world, she is never alone again. She throws her hypodermic needles out of the window and stops killing Cortez patrons to search for her soul mate.

Sally becomes a social media sweetheart after Iris gives her an iPhone to connect with the outside world. Photo: Screencap: FX

Liz is able to help Will by stepping in as his proxy in running his fashion house. Will continues designing, while Liz is the face of the line. They use Will’s absence as apart of the allure of his collections. Fashion shows are hosted at the Cortez with the ghosts as models. Attendees are select and phones and camera are banned.

Dead Hotel Cortez inhabitants as models for Will Drake's fashion line. Photo: Screencap: FX

With the Cortez a success, Iris attempts to help Liz get in contact with Tristan Duffy, who has not been seen, despite having died at the hotel. Iris gets psychic Billie Dean Howard to reach out to Tristan; however, he refuses to speak to Liz. But Billie is also able to make contact with Donovan, who is some place that smells like his mother’s pancakes. He tells his mother from the beyond that he loves her, giving her closure.

Though Liz wasn’t able to get in touch with Tristan, she finds happiness with his family. Her son and daughter-in-law embrace her and she is present for the birth of her first grandchild. However, she learns that she has prostate cancer, which has metastasized to her spine and is untreatable. She decides she wants to die at the Cortez and wants to employ all of the hotel’s dead inhabitants to kill her out of love. But the Countess makes her first appearance since her own death and slits Liz's throat, telling her “I wanted to be here to help you transition, one last time.”

After Liz dies, she is standing in front of her body when Tristan appears to her. Tristan tells her he stayed away because she still had living to do. But now, the two are able to be together.

Tristan and Liz Taylor reunite after Liz's death Photo: Screencap: FX

On Devil’s Night, Oct. 30, 2022, John Lowe returns to the Hotel Cortez, as he has every night since his death. We learn that John was on the run with his family, but they soon realized that they needed to return to the Cortez. With his daughter Scarlett the only normal member of the family, she is sent to a boarding school, called Thatcher School (where Will Drake’s son Lachlan also attends), while John, Alex and Holden remain together. John continues to kill to collect blood for his wife and son, but he is caught and shot and killed by the police. John dies just inches away from the Cortez, meaning he does not return to the hotel as a ghost. However, he does return for Devil’s Night, where he joins his fellow serial killers in a night of debauchery.

Iris tells Ramona that she's allowed Billie Dean Howard host television specials to bring more attention to the Cortez, but it has not worked. Billie is adamant about trying to contact John, and on this Devil’s Night he agrees to play along.

John appears to Billie and sits for an interview (even though she is the only person who can see him), where he tells his story about how he died. He then takes her to the room where all of the serial killers meet for Devil’s Night. We see once again, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Aileen Wuornos, Richard Ramirez, The Zodiac, and Mr. March.  The group threatens to torture and kill Billie unless she leaves the Cortez and never returns and never speaks about the hotel again. With all of her torturers dead, they bring in Ramona as further leverage.

Billie Dean Howard being threatened by John and his serial killer friends. Photo: Screencap: FX

Once Billie runs from the hotel, John goes back to room 64, where his family is sleeping. We see Scarlett all grown up. John gets into bed with Alex and Holden, while Scarlett sleeps in a chair next to them. He knows by the time he falls asleep he will no longer be at the Cortez, and will go back to whether is stays for his afterlife.

John spending time with his family on Devil's Night. Photo: Screencap: FX

In the season’s close, we see the Countess sitting in the Hotel Cortez bar, decked out in jewels and smoking a cigarette. She spots a handsome man and approaches him, telling him he has a “jawline for days.”

The Countess flirting with a Hotel Cortez guest. Photo: Screencap: FX
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