Mental notes taken while watching the third episode of American Horror Story: Hotel: Check your mattresses extra carefully before getting into bed, and don’t even think about haunting Sally’s hallways.
The death count — and undead count — grew even higher this week, plus we saw the arrival of Angela Bassett (we’ll get to that in a bit) and even a Ponzi scheme, for good measure.
(And no, you’re not seeing things — I am not Darren Franich. But I am filling in for him this week, and I once stayed in a hotel on a summer camp overnight trip that I’m convinced to this day was haunted, so I’d like to think I’m especially qualified to pinch-hit here.)
The episode opens with Tristan strutting around the hotel like he owns the joint, and making nice with Evan Peters’ ghostly James Patrick March. “I know everything about you,” he tells him (How? Google, of course). Flattered by the psychotic praise, March encourages him to put all the Cortez’s secret murder hallways to good use (there’s a glimpse of a “Black Closet” I would not be surprised if we visit again at some point this season, if only in my nightmares). But they’re interrupted by Will Drake and his fashion editor pal Claudia, who marvel at Tristan’s new youthfulness and the lack of scar on his face before turning their attention to how they want to renovate the hotel. Tristan tells March and Miss Evers not to worry, because he’s going to take care of it.
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Turns out, the Countess also has a plan for Will Drake, and it involves equal parts marriage and murder. She lost everything she had to Bernie Madoff (a different sort of vampire, one of the financial variety) and wants to marry Will for his money before killing him. So Tristan will need to put his bloody plans on hold, at least for now.
Someone else with a plan is Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett, making her entrance to this AHS season). She’s a badass B-movie star who wants to cross over into mainstream Hollywood. A meeting with a producer leads to her crossing paths with the Countess, who seduced her and then passed on the ancient blood virus. They stayed together through decades (and clothing trends) until 1991, when Ramona falls for a rapper named Prophet Moses. But when she turns him with her blood so they can be together forever, she falls on her ex’s bad side in a big way — the Countess follows them to a recording studio and kills everyone, Ramona’s new love included. Seems the Countess isn’t a fan of her creations creating their own undead creations. Now, Ramona wants revenge, and she wants Donovan to help.
NEXT: Mothers, dearest? [pagebreak]
The focus on mothers and children this season also continued with both Alex and Iris. Alex admits she bonded more strongly with Holden than with Scarlett or John, and it destroyed her when he disappeared. In a therapy session, she questions why Scarlett would make up stories about seeing Holden at the hotel, but she insists it really happened — the room with the video games, the tiny glass coffins, how her brother smelled like lavender…which is exactly how Alex remembered Holden smelling as a baby. Suddenly, her story seems less ludicrous and becomes even less so when Alex encounters him later inside the hotel. “Hi, Mommy,” has never sounded so creepy.
The mommy issues are even murkier for Iris and Donovan. She wants them to move out together now that he and the Countess are on the outs, but he’s holding onto a serious grudge that spans back to childhood, including trauma induced by their joining an “insane vegetarian cult.” (“I had so much fiber in my diet, I s–t my pants at school,” he seethes.) Iris tries to plead with him — if she’s not his mother, she says, she doesn’t know who she is. He responds that if that’s the case, she should just kill herself.
She takes his words to heart and enlists help from Sally, who issues a warning (“Don’t haunt my hallways, b—-”) before injecting her with enough drugs to “kill an entire marching band.” When that doesn’t work, she moves to Plan B: a plastic bag. But before she suffocates, Donovan — fresh from a heart to heart with Liz Taylor about the unconditional nature of a mother’s love — enters just in time and saves Iris by slicing his arm and passing her the ancient blood virus. What was that Ramona had said about the Countess not liking her vampires creating new vampires?
Additional room service items:
- Good luck sleeping in hotel room beds ever again after what happened to Naomi Campbell — sorry, Claudia — who laid down to sleep only to have Gabriel pop out of the mattress and stab her to death. (He later flatlines at a hospital, but surely this isn’t the last we see of Max Greenfield?)
- A bloody, now-dead Campbell also got in one other great line after meeting Alex in the hall: “If this was hell, I’d be the one in that awful Zara knockoff you’re wearing.”
- There’s another Ten Commandments murder, this one a pointed commentary on tabloid journalism: reporters with their tongues nailed to their desks, to stop them from trafficking in lies. Ouch.
- Next week: It’s Devil’s Night! Better known as Halloween, American Horror Story-style. Trick or treat, everyone.