WARNING: READ ONLY IF YOU'VE SEEN TONIGHT'S EPISODE!
"It's you, John. It's always been you."
Chills on top of chills on top of chills.
Tonight's episode of American Horror Story finally revealed the identity of the10 Commandments serial killer: The very detective who had been trying to hunt him down, John Lowe (Wes Bentley), who had been unwittingly manipulated by James March (Evan Peters).
The reveal itself was pretty epic (all hail Bentley and Sarah Paulson!) even though…You know, a few of us had guessed it was John. (Truth told, I thought I was bats—t crazy when I first floated the theory), but regardless of whether you had any inkling, the episode was stunning in its attention to detail. It just... ALL ADDED UP.
And as Wes Bentley himself pointed out when I chatted with him earlier today, it wasn't supposed to be a totally unexpected reveal. "The Shining is my favorite movie of all time and at it's core it's about an alcoholic and the two sides of an alcoholic father. You kind of start to get a sense of ‘Oh no, something's not good. He's a danger to those around him.' And that's the same sense here. It wasn't necessarily a completely jarring surprise like The Usual Suspects, were you're like ‘OH MY GOD.' It was more of the desperation of the mental breakdown, and the slow reveal of who this person really is."
Here are eight things you need to know:
1. Wes Knew He Was the Killer All Along. You read that right. Ryan Murphy normally doesn't tell his cast anything when it comes to those major reveals, but he made an exception this time, and for good reason. "In my initial meeting with Ryan," Wes explains, "he just said I'd be a detective who lost a kid. And we talked a lot about losing our kids and that fear, but he never mentioned I was the killer. And then I received the first three scripts as we were gearing up to shoot and I had all these questions and I was texting him. I just felt like there were things I needed to know. At first he was texting me back and then he stopped texting me and he called me a day later and said, ‘OK, listen, I wasn't going to do this and don't tell anybody else that I told you this, but I gotta tell you: You're the guy. Now I don't want you to play it. I just want you to know it so that when moments come up, you'll just subconsciously play it. So it will be good for the show when people know and they look back on it.' I played it as John, as we know him, which is that he didn't honestly know who he was, but we could have those moments like the first time coming to the hotel in episode one, there's a moment where he shares some familiarity with Kathy [Bates] but he doesn't know why. She's like an old friend or somebody you knew long ago. So it's entertaining to look back on, but I never consciously played it. I never thought about it to be honest.
2. Wes Didn't Tell a Soul. "They play games on set and the crew would try to guess who it was and I'd play along with them, half trying to mislead them all the time. It's been fun. I never told anyone. Ryan didn't want me to tell anyone. He knew me and he knows I'm not a talker. Not even my wife, I wouldn't tell her."
3. Strangers on the Street Have Felt the Need to Tell Him John Is Horrible. "People have been coming up to me on the street and saying, ‘Why is John such a terrible father??! Why is the worst?!'" Bentley reveals with a laugh. "And I would just laugh about it in my head—they just don't know."
4. His Experience on Hotel Has Been Deeply Moving. As the father of a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old, Bentley has experienced some very real emotions working on Hotel, which obviously delves into every parent's worst nightmare: losing a child, losing your family, and losing control over all of it. "It has made me two things," Bentley explains. "Grateful that I have dealt with my own issues in the past and my own substance abuse issues and I don't have to deal with my own Jekyl and Hyde—not to that extreme but you know, it's ugly, addiction. And that I had my kids after I had dealt with that in a way that I can now deal with it on a daily basis. It makes me grateful that I'm not there any more and reminds me that I never want to go back and it has had that affect. I'm very good about separating myself from my characters and my life from the life I'm portraying. But this has been so intense and in depth and so personal that it's hard not to. I come home and I'm…It makes me want to protect my kids even more, be a better dad than I am. And you know, all of those wonderful things. And there's terrifying things in it too that I have to shake off."
5. Wes and Evan Try to Crack Each Other Up All the Time. "We all have a really good time. We have to. Those scenes with Evan are so very serious and intense," Bentley reveals, "It's just so dark you have to laugh while you're doing it. He and I can't stop trying to make each other laugh. We can really get dark but then at the core of it we're just really trying to make each other crack."
6. John Does NOT Know That March Took Holden—At Least Not Yet. Since this wasn't clear to me, I asked why John didn't destroy March after he remembered everything, since clearly, the man responsible for taking Holden would be #1 on his kill list. "John doesn't know [March took him]," Bentley clarifies. "In the episode when March and The Countess [Lady Gaga] are talking about taking the child, it's supposed to be that John doesn't hear it. He doesn't know for sure that that's what happened. But that was the intent. He's conscious enough to possibly have heard it, but at this point he doesn't know that. But there's a reason he was a little conscious, so maybe somewhere along the line, that does come to play."
7. The Next Few Episodes Are About John Coming Into His Own. "John's got these two extreme sides," Bentley explains. "He obviously loves his kids and loves his family but he's found out who he really is. And there's a part of him who's accepted that. At the end of the episode, we seem him accepting that. There's a danger there. And what we'll see is how those two things merge, or do they. Does it work? That has to be explored. That's the only way to go."
8. A Fight Club/American Horror Story: Hotel Spinoff Is in the Works. OK, not really, but when asked about Fight Club and Se7en, which Hotel pays homage to, and of which Bentley himself is a huge fan, he had this to say about the prospects of what would happen if John Lowe and Fight Club's Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt/Edward Norton) met up. "It would be a bloody mess!" he laughs. "I don't think they would go at each other. I think what would happen is they would team up because I think with John and with Tyler Durden, there's an idealism in both of them, that is the driving force. March convinces John through his idealism and through his vigilantism and what he believes is good. And that's what motivates John and gives him the excuse to behave that way. And that's the same thing with extremists like Tyler Durden, so they'd probably team up. That would be fun to do. It would be incredibly dark though."
DARK, of course, is also what's ahead for American Horror Story. Don't forget, there are still two Commandments and five episodes to go….
American Horror Story: Hotel airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.