'American Horror Story: Hotel' recap: 'Mommy'

For The Baltimore Sun
With Naomi Campbell's cameo, the "American Horror Story: Hotel" cast continues to expand.

Pro: “American Horror Story” continues to do a much better job at keeping its gargantuan cast of characters interconnected this season. Con: A lot of these storylines make only the most limited amount of sense.

Tristan settles in. Tristan entertains himself by making friends with the dark spirit of the murderous wackjob who built the Hotel Cortez back in the 1930s. He’s mad impressed that James March was such a successful serial killer, especially now that he is a murderous pseudo-vampire and understands how awesome inflicting violent death on others can be.

Their get-to-know-you chat is interrupted by the arrival of Will Drake and Claudia the Vogue Editor, particularly when the duo accuse Tristan of squatting and kick him out. Tristan is not a fan of having his new Murder Museum taken away from him (they’re planning a renovation of the floor) so he decides to kill them both as a precautionary measure.

Later, Tristan shows up in Will’s room and apologizes for his terrible behavior lately. Will, meanwhile, is fixated on the fact that the huge cut on the model’s face somehow magically healed itself in 24 hours, so Tristan decides to distract him with sex. While they’re kissing, Tristan pulls a knife out to kill Will, but the Countess appears out of nowhere to dramatically forbid him from going through with it. Tristan pouts, but Will escapes death.

What is with the people in the mattresses — seriously. Claudia returns to her room, where she immediately loses cell service and randomly takes a shower, which is an obvious sign she’s about to be murdered to anyone that’s ever seen a horror movie before. And so she is, when Gabriel the Heroin Junkie suddenly emerges from her mattress to strangle her and then stab her to death. Nice glorified cameo, Naomi Campbell! (Or does this mean Claudia is going to be a ghost now, too? Is everyone dead? Is this the last episode of “Lost”?)

Blood-covered Gabriel stumbles into the lobby and runs straight into John Lowe. John takes him to the hospital, where we have to assume Gabriel’s maybe NOT dead since other people can touch and interact with him? He’s also gasping that he didn’t mean to kill that random woman; he’d thought it was that “junkie whore” Sally instead. John looks really confused but before he can clarify, Gabriel dies on the gurney. Again. Or for the first time. I have no idea what is happening.

The Lowes’ therapist must make so much money. We get to know Detective Lowe’s wife this week, by way of a seemingly interminable internal monologue wherein Alex explains her feelings about parenting, children and her obsession with her son Holden. She remembers how much she’d loved him as a baby — more than her husband or her daughter or anything ever — and we learn that she tried to kill herself about a year after he disappeared.

For this and, I’m assuming many other reasons, the Lowe family is in therapy, although this visit they’re all discussing Scarlett’s insistence that she saw her missing brother alive. She doggedly sticks to her story about floor-to-ceiling video games and glass coffins at the Hotel Cortez, and it looks like her mother is finally starting to believe her when she makes an offhand comment about how he smelled.

Later, Alex shows up at the Cortez to serve her husband with divorce papers. (Haven’t they only been separated for like, 36 hours?) John becomes hysterical – ugh, Wes Bentley is like an Evan Peters-level terrible, ugly crier – and begs her to stay. She does, for a while, and they end up kissing until John suddenly suggests that they have another baby (???).

That’s enough for Alex. She leaves, but is stopped in her tracks by the sight of Holden in the hallway, who just says “Hi, Mommy” in the world’s creepiest voice like it’s no big deal. Yikes!

Everyone wants Will Drake, apparently. The Countess takes Will out for a night out on the town and they end up having a nightcap afterward. He tells her he’s gay, but they end up making out anyway, because of course they do. Tristan interrupts them before things go too far, but not before the Countess promises Will that she’ll call him to continue things soon.

Tristan’s angry that his new girlfriend is already cheating on him, but the Countess explains they need Will because he’s rich. It turns out that she herself doesn’t have any money anymore because she lost everything to Bernie Madoff. (What has she been living on since then?) She says they can’t kill Will until she marries him and takes everything he has.

These kids today, y’all. Iris excitedly tells Donovan that she’s been researching on Craigslist apartments they could rent together now that he’s free of the Countess. Donovan kind of overreacts to this and unloads on his mother, telling Iris he hates her so much, she ruined his life, drove his dad away and that he’d basically rather live in a burning dumpster than with her, etc. etc. He even blames her for still being alive, since she couldn’t let him die in peace when he had the chance. (This comment is going to become ironic later.)

Iris cries, but defends her choices, insisting everything she’s ever done was out of love for her son. Donovan tells her to kill herself, because he is literally the world’s most worthless kid.

Introducing Ramona. Donovan ends up attacking a woman who turns out to be Angela Bassett (FINALLY!), who tasers and kidnaps him. When he comes to, he’s strapped to a weird machine that’s apparently cleaning his blood, because he’d fed on a junkie earlier. The woman reappears and decides to tell Donovan her life story because it’s time for some exposition. She’s Ramona Royale, a B-list movie star from the 1970s, who’s also the Countess’ ex-girlfriend.

The Countess turned Ramona and the two of them were together for decades before they drifted apart. Things did not end well between them. Ramona fell in love with a rapper and turned him. In response, the Countess shot him in the face and killed his entourage, because apparently she can’t handle her creations creating anything else. Ramona is plotting to destroy the Countess happiness by killing her precious Children of the Corn. She wants Donovan to help her, but quickly kicks him out when he tells her he got dumped last week.

Iris’ dark night of the soul. Kind of. Iris decides to ask Sally for help killing herself. Sally is curious why her archenemy wants to die, but Iris says she has nothing to live for if her own son doesn’t love her. Sally agrees to use her endless supply of drugs to help her overdose, but she insists that Iris be 100 percent sure she doesn’t have any unfinished business, because she doesn’t want her haunting the hotel for all of her afterlife.

Meanwhile, Donovan has returned to the hotel in despair and is whining to Liz Taylor, Eternal Bartender, about the sad state of his life. Among other pearls of real talk, Liz Taylor reminds him that though he feels like he has nothing, Donovan still has Iris, who loves him more than anyone ever has or will. A lightbulb goes off.

Luckily for Donovan, Sally is doing a pretty terrible job of killing his mother. After the truckload of heroin didn’t work, Sally decides to smother her with a plastic bag. Donovan bangs his way into her room just as Iris stops breathing and freaks out, sobbing that his mom is all he has left. Panicking, he decides to cut open his own arm and make Iris a vampire, which probably guarantees a pretty awkward Mother’s Day next year.

Odds and Ends:

• Matt Bomer and Kathy Bates are killing it this season. The Donovan/Iris relationship is so compelling and I’m so emotionally invested in what’s next.

• Does the Countess know how to be around someone without sleeping with them? At this rate I’m going to assume she hooked up with Bernie Madoff.

• Do none of the boyfriends/girlfriends in this story freak out when their significant other reveals their “I can make you immortal but you have to drink my blood” plan? How is EVERYONE so cool with this?

• The Countess’ plan to marry Will for his money and then murder him makes the fan theory that she was March’s wife who turned him in to the police seem very plausible.

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