In theory, this is the second half of "American Horror Story's" annual Halloween two-parter, but "Room Service" feels much more like a regular episode, random folks in costume aside. I'd probably be more annoyed about this if this wasn't one of the best "AHS" episodes in years.
Alex Lowe is the worst at pretty much everything. Alex, not content to simply be the worst parent in the world, continues to aggressively compete for the title of "Worst Doctor in the World" by going into the hospital to treat patients on what appears to be her first day as a vampire. She looks terrible, and we can tell she's not doing well because she's having problems reading, and guzzling blood bags in the hospital's supply closet. This place has some quality medical care, y'all.
Alex decides it would be a great idea to use an injection of her new magical vampire blood to try and treat that boy who has measles thanks to his non-vaccinating mom. (See also: Worst doctor in the world.) Her blood manages to completely cure the kid in about six hours though, and everyone's pretty excited that Alex seems to have performed a miracle.
We're back in the revenge business. Donovan goes back to Ramona Royale's house with his newly vampire-ized mother in tow. He explains that Iris is the manager of the Cortez and she could help Ramona get inside information on the Countess. He says Iris is a perfect spy because she is boring and uninteresting, and since the Countess never notices her, she'll never know that she's working for the enemy. Donovan is real into this revenge plan all of a sudden, huh?
Iris, meanwhile, looks like a barely functional trash pile. No one has bothered to ask her thoughts on what Donovan did to her, or how she feels about being a vampire, or whether she's even down with this whole Revenge of the Exes plan her son and his new BFF have going on. Since she's lived in that hellhole hotel for something like 20 years just to be around her son, it's unlikely Iris would argue about any of this much with Donovan anyway, but it would be nice to see her perspective considered.
These kids today, y'all. Surprise, Alex's decision to "save" her patient via application of vampire blood was a terrible idea, as she not only cured the boy of measles, but she's made him into a vampire. (Whether she knew that her actions would result in him turning seems as though it could be up for debate, I think.)
So no one should be surprised when Max the Measles Boy nonchalantly kills his parents over breakfast the next day and trots off to school to participate in Halloween festivities. Once there, he manages to turn his teen girlfriend Madeline into a vampire while they're making out in a closet. Maddy is kind of shocked about how disgusting this all is, but Alex has become a real evangelist for vampirism, telling her that she'll be better and stronger than ever once she just drinks the blood of their teacher that he just murdered.
It turns out Max is a serious overachiever though, because he somehow manages to turn their entire class into a raging mob of bloodthirsty teens that basically murder everyone in the school. The kids lie about all of this to the cops, of course, and get sent home with their unsuspecting parents. Great job, Alex. Solid work.
It's a hard knock life, I guess. Iris staggers back to the Cortez, where she runs into Liz Taylor, who basically guesses immediately that she's not exactly part of the land of the living anymore. And because Liz is the greatest person ever, she makes Iris a blood martini and gives her the "So You're a Vampire Now" pep talk that her son completely forgot.
Iris is pretty down about the whole having-to-kill-people-and-drink-their-blood thing, and is also depressed that she's stuck with herself for the rest of eternity since she was just trying to commit suicide 24 hours ago. She's very tragic about it, and, well, it's hard not to feel bad for her. (It's about time Kathy Bates got to play a marginally sympathetic character on this show, I guess?) Find your bliss, Iris!
She pulls herself together enough to go back to work on the front desk. Unfortunately, the first guests are two incredibly obnoxious "social media influencers" who show up looking for a Halloween night room and a discount because of their Internet fame.
They're terrible people, and it's hard to even feel that bad that they're totally going to die, even if one of them is played by "Glee's" Darren Criss. I'm even willing to forgive the fact that this subplot only exists as a means to bring another of Ryan Murphy's former cast members on to "AHS," because it gave us so much wonderful Iris-and-Liz bonding, something that should definitely be included in every episode going forward.
Praise hands emojis everywhere: It's time for the Liz Taylor story. Iris thanks Liz for all her help and apologizes for not treating her better over the past two decades that they've been coworkers. Iris says that she's not homophobic, but she never felt comfortable asking Liz questions about who and what she is, so she just never said anything at all. She's asking now, though, so it's time for a flashback.
We learn that Liz used to be Nick from Topeka, a medical sales rep married to a woman named Tracy. He travelled to L.A. a lot and often stayed in the Cortez, using the trips as a chance to deck himself out in dresses and furs and heels, since he couldn't at home.
On one trip in 1984, the Countess magically appears in his room, and tells Nick that she's been watching him, and understands what he's feeling. She says his blood smells like a woman, which we're just going to go with (even though it's a super bizarre statement), because Nick starts crying out of relief that someone — anyone — has bothered to see the real person inside him.
The Countess wants to help Nick become the goddess she was born to be. They do a makeover, complete with mini musical montage, and Liz Taylor is born. It's the Countess who comes up with the name (specifically it's based on the "Butterfield 8" incarnation), and she offers Liz a lot of Pinterest-worthy advice about being who you are and not being afraid of any part of yourself. It's strangely sweet – if only because not only does the Countess genuinely mean what she's saying, but it's obviously what Liz needs to hear.
She encourages her to take her new look for a spin down the hotel hallway, which is a great, empowering idea until Liz runs into her medical sales co-workers. They corner her and hurl gay slurs, threatening to tell everyone back home what kind of person "Nick" really is, and asking if he has AIDS. Nice guys, huh? Liz shoves them off and the Countess ends up slicing their throats, and the two have basically been best friends ever since.
Iris looks moved, and tells Liz that she's brave. Liz tells her to go stand up for herself and teach the irritating hipsters a lesson. (Which, of course, means murder them.)
She's Mary Poppins, but for vampires. Alex stops by the hotel to visit Holden, suddenly sporting a dress that is surely a reject from the "AHS: Coven" costume closet. (Yikes!) Her son asks if the two of them will be together forever now.
The Countess says yes, as long his mom makes sure to not suck in her new position as Governess to the Demon Children. Apparently Alex has to keep all the vampire kids out of trouble and refill their giant candy dispensers or some such. Alex is nervous about the possibility of running into her ex, since John lives in the building. Though since neither of the Lowes seemed to remember that they have a living child named Scarlett this week – where is she?? – I don't think she's going to have to worry much about John's observational skills.
Alex agrees to her new job and takes Holden off to bed, where the undead mother-son duo sleeps cuddled up in a coffin facing each other. Seriously, every time I think this relationship can't get any more creepy or gross — oh no, here's a lower place. Ick.
Odds and Ends:
• Are we really only going to trot Angela Bassett out for a scene a week? There's so much to love about this episode that it feels petty to complain about this, but come on.
• Denis O'Hare and Kathy Bates are magic together. Please give us more, show.
• Does anyone else constantly feel the need to refer to Liz as Liz Taylor upon every reference? Full-name status at all times!
• Finally: We found out that Liz is actually still a human!
• Even though we all knew Iris was going to kill the irritating hipsters, the true genius of this show is that it somehow makes a violent stabbing feel really empowering.