“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.
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