Of course, most viewers guessed weeks ago who’s been killing sinners and posing the crime scenes with Hannibal-like attention to detail. But for anyone still wondering, “The Ten Commandments Killer” left no stone unturned in explaining every detail of who did it, how he did it, and why he did it.
Duh, it’s fallen cop John Lowe; his convenient memory gaps, obsession with the case, and just generally spooky behavior made him the obvious choice—especially considering the show’s other fiends are all supernatural creatures forced to do their bidding within the walls of the Hotel Cortez, and the Ten Commandments Killer has been freely prowling Los Angeles.
The entire episode is basically a huge avalanche of exposition, as John reacts to Wren’s death (fun fact: vampires can suicide by throwing themselves in front of cars) by bursting into the hotel and demanding ANSWERS. Alas, the truth leads him not to a killer he can arrest, but to himself, as Sally—who’s had a far sneakier hold on his life and actions than we realized—shows him the stash of displayed body parts hidden behind an armoire in room 64.
The first object is the hand of a thief and it dates back to 1926—taken by the first Ten Commandments Killer, James Patrick March. It wasn’t enough for March to just murder at random in the hotel; apparently he also had this artier side that guided him to pass judgment on anyone who didn’t play by the Bible’s rules, which he seems to view more like a fun hunting challenge than anything having to do with religion. When he died before he could complete the project, he found a worthy successor in John, who stumbled into the hotel reeling from a tough case we’ve heard him mention before, in which a father killed himself after accidentally causing the death of his whole family.
Anyway, that was five boozy years ago, and March and Sally have been working him ever since. They’re both needy; March hungers for an earthbound accomplice, so he tempts the Countess to kidnap John’s son to make him even more vulnerable. Ghostly Sally wants John to stay with her forever, so—under threat of the Addiction Demon, who’s apparently March’s soldier—she encourages his killing spree, with eternity together her eventual reward. The mystique of the Hotel Cortez, of course, makes it so John doesn’t remember murdering anyone, much less hanging out with Sally and March on the regular.
Once Good John realizes what Bad John has been up to, he heads straight to the police station to confess to his former partner, Det. Andy Hahn, the only person on this show who’s still living full-time in the real world. John tells him the above tale, but Andy is quite understandably rather skeptical: “I know you, brother. You are a lot of things, but you are no killer.”
But John is a killer, even if he’s just now realizing it—and he loves being a killer. He stabs and castrates Andy, who he’s long suspected of lusting after his (now-estranged) wife, and heads back home to the hotel, finally awake to his true self. Iris, for one, is relieved; she’s been adjusting her front-desk greetings according to which John is passing through for years now. But she also can’t resist urging him to get away from the hotel while he can: “You can leave all this behind,” she says longingly. She had her chance, but that’s no more.
Nope. John’s got work to do, since there are two empty bell jars left to fill in March’s Ten Commandments display of body parts. Two more murders to go. Two more sinners to punish. Hey, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is still up for grabs, isn’t it?