“Women age differently than men,” Gaga tells us at the start of the ninth episode of Hotel. We are nominally in the home stretch of episodes — the point of an American Horror Story season when the players on the final-act chessboard start moving into position. “She Wants Revenge” starts off with an interesting twist: The Countess — this season’s reigning symbol of, well, reigning — is feeling a little low. “The last 100 years of my immortal life have been a lie,” she explains. “In truth, I have controlled nothing.”
That’s going to change. The marriage to Will Drake is coming right up, but she refuses to be his show pony. “You design my gown,” she demands her husband. “I’ll take care of everything else.”
“Taking care of everything else,” in this case, means means reuniting with her long-lost flame, Rudy Valentino, recovering from a near-century of forced hibernation in the same hotel where Bruce Willis shacked up in Pulp Fiction. But it also means reconnecting with Donovan: The former lovers share a lovingly graphic sex scene, complete with star-pasties over Lady Gaga’s premium-cable parts.
A porn shoot takes place in the Hotel Cortez, which is by far the least morally bankrupt thing to happen on this week’s episode. The actors wind up dead: at the hands of Iris, and then in the house of Ramona Royale. Donovan brings the male porn star as a feast. He’s got a question. If the Countess killed Ramona’s rapper boyfriend in the early ’90s, why is she just now seeking vengeance?
Ramona spins a sorrowful tale — another lengthy flashback in a season that might as well have been called American Horror Story: Flashback Tangents. Seeking respite from her miserable loneliness, Ramona returned to her parents’ house. Her mom died soon; her father, much slower, fading into dementia. On a whim, she fed him some of her immortality blood. It worked in the worst way: Keeping him alive, without healing any of his faded brain cells. Twenty years passed, until she fed him some xanax and pushed him deep down into a bathtub.
The shock of that loss brought Ramona back to the world. The world had changed. “The internet,” she explains. “Goddamn Hulu. My old movies streaming for free.” People recognized her, apparently not thinking it was strange that she hadn’t aged in a few decades — which should be an unacceptable plot point, but Angela Bassett also hasn’t aged in a few decades.
NEXT: Remember the vampire kids?[pagebreak]
This season of American Horror Story has enough fodder for at least fifteen American Horror Storys. (Recall that we didn’t even spend half a moment this week with Detective John Lowe, our recently uncovered split-personality serial killer cop.) By far my favorite half-explored story arc this season is the bit about the Viralized Children. Apparently, they’ve been rampaging through the adult community of Los Angeles, chowing down on parents, homeless people, and pizza delivery boys.
Alex discovers the kids, feasting on a pizza guy. She tries to convince them to come with her, back to the Hotel Cortez. I’m not sure that’s the best idea, since the Countess doesn’t like it when other people start making their own vampire children. And things have quickly gone all Lord of the Flies among the vampkids: Alex only escapes because one child declares that, as their bloodmother, she alone can escape their Anti-Adult policy.
So much of this season has focused on parents and their children. The Countess and her demon baby; Drake and his longhair; the Lowes and their towheaded brood; Iris and Donovan; the maid and her missing child; even Ramona and her old parents, now. It makes me wonder if those little Viralized Children have some grander role in this season’s final act. Could we be building towards some kind of generational showdown: immortal forever-children versus their undead parents, perhaps?
Ramona tries to kill the Countess but winds up back-tased by Donovan. Donovan is back on Team Gaga, it turns out. He never stopped loving her, and he doesn’t see that she’s so clearly lying to him. For the Countess has planned her exit strategy. An eternity with Rudolph Valentino: How could anyone turn that down? But there is the slight problem of Natacha, who has taken very much to this modern world. “She speaks of nothing but shopping and Uber,” explains Rudy. The Countess has a plan to take care of her. The Countess, it seems, has a plan for everything.
And so she marries Drake: A quiet ceremony, attended only by people who want the Countess dead. Drake takes over the bar, where he meets James Patrick March in the unflesh. March chats him up a bit, talking about good fortune and new worlds to come and blended families. Blended, and how: March shows Drake the room of little Bartholomew. Drake is understandably horrified by the Eraserhead-ness of the Countess’ progeny. As punishment, she banishes him to the prison section of the Cortez, where Ramona makes short work of him.
Fortunately, nobody dies all the way in the Cortez, and Drake will undoubtedly return in spectral form. How many dead ex-husbands can one woman fit into a hotel, anyhow?