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Kathy Bates as Iris on "American Horror Story: Hotel.
Kathy Bates as Iris on "American Horror Story: Hotel. (Ray Mickshaw/FX)

Aren't we all kind of relieved this episode of "American Horror Story: Hotel" isn't a flashback?

After two consecutive backstory-heavy installments, the prospect of some small amount of forward momentum on existing storylines feels great.

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There's probably not a self-help book for this. The Countess is having an existential crisis over the revelation that her original undead lovers, Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova, didn't abandon her decades ago as she'd previously thought, but merely were imprisoned in a secret room built into the walls of the Hotel Cortez by her crazy husband. Honest mistake! She's upset that the last 100 years of her life have been a lie, that she's trusted the wrong people and made poor choices. Immortality is hard.

Meanwhile, Will Drake is actively planning his big, splashy wedding to the Countess. She wants something small and simple, probably to make murdering him at the end of it easier. She tries to enlist Liz Taylor's help to get flowers for the ceremony, but Liz says the Countess is crazy if she thinks Liz will do anything for her ever again after the "slitting your boyfriend's throat in front of you" business.

Denis O'Hare sports an epic expression that even Jessica Lange would envy throughout this scene, and it is incredible. The Countess sniffs and says Tristan never loved Liz anyway, but Liz isn't having it and tells her to get her own damn flowers. (Go, Liz, go!)

The Countess has too many boyfriends. Seemingly of nowhere, the Countess goes to see Donovan, and the two have rather enthusiastic make-up sex.

The Countess admits that she never should have let him go in the first place. Donovan confesses that he still loves her and wants to be with her, but only if she agrees to a monogamous, committed relationship. (Outside of all the people they have orgies with and kill, probably.)

The Countess agrees, claiming she wants a clean slate in every part of her life. They both look happy for a few minutes, and we'd probably all believe this sudden change of heart a bit more if we hadn't just seen the Countess track down the suddenly revitalized Rudolph Valentino at his hotel room and make out with him, too.

Iris is on a crusade. Some people show up at the Cortez to rent a room and make a porn film, and it turns out Iris has a lot of opinions about pornography, as an industry. She thinks it hurts women and sets impossible sexual standards, and she's just not here for it, okay? So she kills all three of them, for justice or something.

Donovan shows up for a visit right after this, and is proud that Iris seems to be coming into her own as a person. Iris tells her son that it's not safe for him to be at the Cortez, but Donovan says it's cool, because he and the Countess are back together now – or at least so she THINKS. (Mwahahaha!) Donovan grins and says that the less Iris knows the better, but just so she knows the Great Revenge Plan of 2015 is still on. Um… okay?

Finally, it's time for Ramona! Donovan goes to see Ramona, where he explains that the Countess came to see him and told him she wanted him back. Ramona wants to know what he's doing visiting her then, since he got everything he wanted. Donovan explains that the Countess' visit showed him that he'll never be free of his addiction to her, not unless they kill her for good. Sounds legit, right?

Donovan explains that he's worked it all out – the Countess will be distracted by her wedding to Will the next day, and he's already spiked her drunk with, like, horse tranquilizers or something. He admits that he'll never be able to pull the trigger on her though, and that's why he needs Ramona. She looks pretty impressed. They seal the deal by eating someone, and Donovan asks Ramona to explain why it took her so long to try and get her revenge on the Countess anyway, since she'd murdered her boyfriend like 20 years ago.

Y'all knew we weren't making it through this week without a flashback. It's Los Angeles in 1992 and Ramona decides the best thing she can do to get over her Countess-inflicted heartbreak is to go home to her parents' house.

She's happy again for a little while, but unfortunately her folks are not well. After her mother dies, her father's Alzheimer's gets worse until he can no longer remember where he lives or who she is. Ramona decides to try turning him, in the hope that making him a vampire will cure his brain, too. It doesn't work – the progression of his disease is stopped by the "blood virus," but he doesn't get any better. Ramona spends 20 years taking care of him and feeding him blood from her kills before she realizes it all has to stop, and drowns him in the bathtub.

Somehow, the act of killing her father wakes Ramona up to the fact that time has passed, and this … somehow makes her angry at the Countess again? This is super-weird revenge motivation, but Ramona is furious at everything she's lost and wants to make the Countess pay.

Back to the pack of vampire kids. Alex goes to Max's house. He's that kid she saved from measles who created his own teen vampire army after she turned him, and discovers that the kids have been eating everyone in the neighborhood at random.

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Max's friend Maddy clearly feels badly that they've killed all their parents and several of their teachers. They even ordered a pizza and killed the pizza guy. Alex tells them they can't stay there because once people realize the pizza guy's missing, they'll come looking for him.

She offers to take the teen vampire herd back to the Cortez, because there are others like them there, and they'll be safe. Plus, I guess 95 percent of the people there are already dead so it's not like they can eat them. The kids refuse, because they've decided that all authority sucks, and tell Alex she can explain the whole dead pizza guy thing to the cops.

Worst revenge ever. Donovan brings Ramona up to the Countess' room in the Cortez where she's passed out. We all know this plan is way too easy, right?

Of course it's way too easy, because Donovan has double-crossed Ramona. He tases her suddenly and locks her in a cage in the Countess's new secret torture chamber she had built in the room where Rudolph was imprisoned. Donovan, the idiot, tells Iris that he and the Countess are in love for real, and are planning to collect all their enemies in cages. Ramona calls him an idiot, and says that the Countess has already replaced him, whether he knows it yet or not.

Goaded by this, Donovan follows the Countess to her next secret rendezvous at the motel where Rudy is staying. She is all smiles, because she's convinced she's figured out a plan so she can have Rudy to herself forever. This plan seems to hinge on several notable people dying, including Rudy's wife, but no one seems real worried about that. Donovan just looks upset at the realization that, yet again, the Countess is choosing another man over him.

This wedding is really terrible. The Countess and Will Drake get married in the Cortez lobby with Irritating Son Whose Name I Can't Remember and Liz Taylor as witnesses.

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Liz puts her hand up when the preacher asks for objections, because she is perfect. After the ceremony, the Countess gives Liz her bouquet and goes upstairs to change, while Will mixes a drink at the bar. James March shows up and decides to introduce Will to the Countess' Demon Baby Bartholomew. To the surprise of no one, Will freaks out that the baby is kind of a monster, which makes the Countess angry. She knocks him out and locks him in the secret prison with Ramona.

When Will comes to, he lets Ramona out, and the two look for an exit. Unfortunately, they're just as trapped as Rudy was for all those years. Will starts crying that they're going to starve, but Ramona declares that she won't, and kills him, while the Countess watches it all on closed circuit TV. Bye, Will.

Odds and Ends

• Liz was onscreen for approximately three minutes total this week and stole the entire episode. Denis O'Hare deserves so much praise for his work this season.

• Related: If Liz dies, we riot.

• I have spent the entire season hoping for Angela Bassett to have something to do and this is the episode I get? Thanks for nothing, show.

• No John this week felt so refreshing after last week's slog through his Ten Commandments Killer backstory.

• Donovan is so stupid; it is a miracle he has survived this long, either immortal or otherwise.

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