American Horror Story: Hotel Review – “Battle Royale”
Battle lines are drawn in blood throughout the hallways of the Hotel Cortez, and not everyone can survive.
January 6, 2016
Lady Gaga as The Countess
Kathy Bates as Iris
Sarah Paulson as Sally
Evan Peters as James Patrick March
Wes Bently as John Lowe
Matt Bomer as Donovan
Chloe Sevigny as Alex Lowe
Denis O'Hare as Liz Taylor
Cheyenne Jackson as Will Drake
Angela Bassett as Ramona Royale
Special Guest Stars:
Mare Winningham as Hazel Evers
Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie
This week’s episode picks up slightly before last week’s left off. Liz and Iris are locking and loading for their assault on The Countess, unfortunately they don’t know Donovan is in there with her (Which by the way makes zero sense because Iris already knows Donovan has reverted to his Countess butt monkey status).
They shoot Donovan as he jumps in front of the bullets to save his beloved blood queen. Iris stops shooting but Liz Taylor is in it to win it. The Countess crawls away and Liz and Iris are forced to recycle one of the greatest scenes in American Horror Story history, but it’s okay because it’s in reverse this time.
Remember in the first Halloween episode ever? Addie Langdon, dressed as a pretty girl, crosses the street and gets hit by a car. Constance then drags her dead lifeless body across the street, trying to get Addie’s body to the Murder House property before she breathes her last breath. This was the moment everyone watching the show realized just what Jessica Lange was capable of, that she wasn’t just there as a famous face. She was there to act her ass off. I remember getting chills the first time I saw it.
This time, Donovan is still alive and he doesn’t want to die on the hotel property to haunt its halls forever. Iris and Liz are forced to carry him out to the street to let him bleed to death there. Iris then has him cremated and does something weird off camera with the ashes. At first she’s just playing around in them on the duvet, but when Hazel Evers shows up she’s covered head to toe in ashes and there are ashes all over the bed. While certainly not the weirdest thing that has ever happened on this show, it’s weird.
Down in the basement, surrounded by corpses, Sally nurses The Countess back to health, sewing her bullet wounds together. In a flashback we learn where Sally’s wonderful seamstress skills originated. In the early 90’s she was the songwriter for a grunge duo that liked to shoot up in the Hotel Cortez. One day, during a particularly heroin heavy threesome, Sally gets the bright idea to sew all of their bodies together so they can be together forever. Then the grunge duo overdose, still sewn into Sally’s body. After three days Sally meets the addiction demon and decides to rip her body away from her dead lovers.
Despite all of this she doesn’t immediately seek out the help of an NA group. Instead, she goes back to the Cortez over and over, shooting up and waiting till she hits her real rock bottom: when Iris throws her out of one of the Cortez windows.
The Countess is eventually forced to eat two of her willing children in order to regain her strength. All Sally asks in return is to bring John back to the hotel.
John, Alex, Scarlet, and Holden are all back home and back to normal. Except Scarlet isn’t having any of it. She knows her parents are the worst and that something is up. Her older brother is still younger than her and has a strange new diet. She’s also pretty sure he ate the dog. Her mom is drinking blood too, while her dad is saying he’s the one who’s going to get it for them. Which he does, in the form of a man hogtied in his trunk.
Only when he returns he finds the house deserted, a key to the Hotel Cortez left for him. When he returns to the hotel Sally tells him James Patrick March has the fam, and if he wants them back he has to commit one final murder to end his Ten Commandments killings: Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder. Logical.
Iris and Liz realize they need the help of Ramona and let her free. She’s managed to stay alive by eating all the little measles infected vampire children, but now she’s got the measles herself and she needs to kill something. She couldn’t smell the measles on the kids but she knows that The Countess’s blood smells like black liquorice? Logical.
But where oh where could Iris and Liz possibly find someone to kill? Liz’s solution is to knock someone out on the street with a baseball bat instead of wait for someone to show up looking for a hotel room… you know, what everyone has been doing for years. Logical.
Then, surprise surprise, someone is in the lobby to check in! None other than Queenie, from American Horror Story’s least interesting season, Coven. Seems the witch has been pre-selected for The Price is Right! Supreme Cordelia even magicked her ticket so she is guaranteed a call to ‘come on down.’ If she makes it to the taping that is.
American Horror Story’s latest attempt to link all the seasons is downplayed by Liz’s offhand remark “Oh I remember you! I saw you on CNN! You’re a witch!” Meanwhile Iris has no idea what Liz is talking about. Don’t worry Iris, I’m not buying it either.
Liz and Iris show Queenie to a room that makes her feel iffy. That’s because Ramona is hiding in the shower with a knife. Sadly, Ramona has no idea that Queenie is the literal representation of “I’m rubber and you’re glue” and every attack on her is reversed onto Ramona. I actually forgot all about that, which now makes sense as to why the writers sent Queenie to the Cortez! LOGICAL! (I’m actually not joking this time)
But then JPM shows up out of nowhere and stabs Queenie to death because her voodoo doll magic doesn’t work on ghosts. For some reason I can’t help but feel like the rules of the AHS world are like playing make believe with a five year old. You’re all “well I’m a human voodoo doll” and they go “Well I’m a ghost so your voodoo doll doesn’t work on me!” “Alright then I’ll burn your hotel down.” “You can’t burn my hotel down because it has a ghost force field!” “Then I’ll blow up the entire city block.” “You can’t blow up the whole block because I have ghost bomb sniffing dogs and a ghost swat team to defuse it.”
Ramona, feeling better after sucking Queenie dry and looking absolutely amazing in one of Liz Taylor’s gowns, goes up to kill The Countess once and for all. Only The Countess doesn’t care anymore. She just wants to leave the Cortez, but first she wants to bang Ramona.
After they do it, The Countess packs up her stuff to leave, presses the button for the elevator and we pick up where last week left off, with The Countess getting shot to death by John. John puts her head with his other trophies and The Countess is stuck forever having dinner with JPM while Hazel Evers looks on, disgusted. The Countess tells JPM that it wasn’t her that turned him into the cops, Hazel admits it was her and JPM fires her.
This penultimate episode was packed with story but it all just seems like the quickest routes to tie up all the loose ends they created throughout the season. While it isn’t as bad as Coven or Freak Show’s second to last episodes, the writers allowing their rules and logic to take a backseat just doesn’t help. Next week in the stagnant finale it seems all the spirits are going to keep on killing hotel guests while Liz and Iris are trying to boost their Yelp reviews (someone should tell them they can just buy those now).
Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure that guy is still hogtied in John’s trunk…
Lots and lots of story packed into one episode
Liz Taylor still kicks ass.
Leaps of logic that don't fit.
Queenie's appearance feels like a last minute addition.