'American Horror Story: Hotel' recap: 'Battle Royale' kills off several big characters

For The Baltimore Sun
American Horror Story: Hotel recap: "Battle Royale" is a fitting name for this episode.

It’s 2016, and “American Horror Story: Hotel” has come roaring back from its holiday hiatus with an episode that ties up a lot of loose ends, kills off several major characters and features a guest appearance by a character from a previous “AHS” season.

These ladies probably should’ve done some target practice. Remember in the last “Hotel” episode when we got that perfect moment of Liz Taylor and Iris bursting into the Countess’ suite, guns blazing, to the melodic strains of “Hotline Bling”? One of the real TV highlights of 2015, in my opinion. This episode begins by showing us the buildup to that scene, as Iris and Liz load their guns and talk themselves into killing their boss, before they burst in to her room, shooting wildly. (But, sadly, no Drake soundtrack this time.)

Idiot Donovan throws himself in front of the Countess in an attempt to save her and gets shot a bunch of times while she flees. This is very upsetting for Iris, who didn’t expect her son to be there, let alone to try to use himself as a human shield for the woman who’s treated him like trash for weeks. Donovan knows that he’s hurt badly, and begs his mother to take him off the hotel property before he dies, so he won’t be trapped at the Cortez forever with the Countess’ approximately 76 other dead ex-boyfriends. Liz claims they need to find the Countess and finish what they started, but Iris is adamant. So the two of them drag Donovan out into the street. 

“Am I safe?” Donovan asks Iris when they get outside. Iris nods, and Donovan calls her Mom. It’s all weirdly quite moving, and a fairly neat inversion of a similar scene from “AHS’” Season 1, except in that one Constance was trying to drag her dying daughter Addy back on to the Murder House property, so she could still see her.

Bye, Matt Bomer. We hardly knew ye.

Hypodermic Sally to the rescue. Of course the Countess doesn’t die despite getting shot multiple times. For some reason, though we’ve barely seen these two characters acknowledge each other, Hypodermic Sally shows up to save the day. Sally hides the Countess in Sally's disgusting hellscape of a basement, where she digs all the bullets out of the Countess' body with her bare hands and stitches her up, all while chain smoking in a way that just can’t possibly be very hygienic. Guess it’s a good thing the Countess is already dead.

The Countess wants to know why Sally helped her, and she makes a vague proclamation about how she won’t be left again because she’s tired of everyone abandoning her, and apparently Sally just gets life-and-death obsessed with anyone who speaks to her ever or gets near her for any reason at all.

P.S.: Sally is a really deeply messed up person. While she’s stitching the Countess up, Sally decides to tell her a story. Time for a flashback!

Suddenly it’s 1993 in Los Angeles and Sally’s writing music for a couple named Nick and Tina, and also doing drugs and hooking up with them. They all end up at the Cortez one night, get really high and have a threesome. That’s when Sally decides it would be a great idea to literally stitch all three of their bodies to each other, because that sounds like the absolute least fun way to have sex with multiple people ever. This situation is pretty disgusting as it is, but things get even nastier when Nick and Tina overdose, and Sally can’t do anything except scream for help, because she has PHYSICALLY ATTACHED HER BODY TO THEM like a complete psycho. So Nick and Tina die, and Sally’s still stuck to them, and she’s trapped there for days, until the mole rat-resembling death rapist this show is calling The Addiction Demon appears to literally slap some sense into her and she pulls herself free.

Yuck.

The only Lowe with sense has returned. Yes, Scarlett lives! Alex and John’s constantly forgotten daughter pops back up this week to drop truth bombs on her parents and dazzle the world with her incredible self sufficiency. John says now that they’ve stolen Holden back, they’re all going to be a family again, completely ignoring the fact that his vampire child doesn’t age and the Countess probably knows where they live. Scarlett is skeptical about all this, and wants to know what they’re going to tell people about why her brother still looks like a baby, and how her mom is planning on dealing with the fact that 50 percent of their family drinks blood now.

Scarlett is the only one of these people who deserves to survive.

Suddenly, a “Coven” connection. Liz and Iris decide to free Ramona Royale from her prison in the walls, in hope she’ll be mad enough to help them kill the Countess.

They find Ramona, who refuses to help until she gets something to eat. To stop her from feeding on either of them, Liz and Iris volunteer find her a victim. Luckily, a random guest has just showed up in the hotel lobby, and it’s someone we’ve seen before — Gabourey Sidibe, playing Queenie from “AHS: Coven." Yes, really. Apparently Queenie’s in L.A. to appear on “The Price is Right” and Liz is all kinds of starstruck because she’s heard about these Louisiana witches. Iris is just interested in feeding Ramona. They show Queenie to her room, where they’ve (very obviously) hidden the other vampire in the bathroom.

Ramona and Queenie fight, and it’s pretty awesome, because Queenie’s witch powers mean that she can’t be hurt (because she’s a human voodoo doll). Or at least they do until March materializes and stabs her. Since he’s not alive, Queenie’s magic can’t save her, and she dies. Ugh. If we had to bring on someone from “Coven” just to kill them off, couldn’t it have been Zoe instead? She sucked! Queenie was awesome!

March admits he stepped in because he also wants Ramona to murder the Countess, so she’ll be stuck in the Cortez forever. (Speaking of this — since Queenie died in the hotel, is she stuck as a ghost there now? Can Cordelia come and release her with her Supreme-powered magic?)

Oh right, this Ten Commandments thing is still happening. John runs out to grab groceries and a drug-free kidnapping victim to feed his wife and son, but comes back to an empty house and a Cortez room key hung over a lamp.  

He races to the hotel, where he accuses Sally of kidnapping his family so she could lure him back to the hotel, kill him and keep him there forever. This is actually Sally’s long-term plan, but she says March wouldn’t let her kill him while the Ten Commandments business was unfinished. She tells John that as soon as he kills a murderer — to check the “Thou shalt not kill” box — he’ll be done and she can take him to his family. Since this show generally — and this building specifically — is full of killers, that probably won’t be too hard.

Time for the final boss fight. Fueled up on witches’ blood, Ramona gets ready for her confrontation with the Countess. Iris has assembled a small arsenal of weapons for Ramona, and Liz has loaned her a fabulous dress, so they’re ready for some payback.

However, things don’t go quite according to plan. Instead of just immediately killing the weakened Countess, like a sensible person, Ramona decides to talk and flirt with her, and have a boring existential conversation about the meaning of life. The Countess apologizes and offers to give Ramona the hotel in exchange for just letting her leave. The two women hook up one more time — because of course they do — and afterward the Countess packs her bags. Unfortunately for her, she runs into John in the elevator, who shoots her and then cuts her head off for his serial killer trophy wall, since she’s pretty much the definition of that “murderer” box he needs to check off.

The afterlife seems kind of terrible. The Countess shows up for her first post-death dinner with March. He wants to help her acclimate to being a ghost, but the Countess is pretty bummed out. March is so excited about getting to spend all of eternity with her, that he’s even ready to forgive the Countess for turning him in to the police all those years ago. She sniffs and says she isn’t the one who ratted him out, if she’d wanted him dead she’d have killed him herself. (Sounds legit.)

This leads to Miss Evers finally admitting her feelings for March, and confessing that she turned him in so the two of them could die together. March is furious and banishes her from his side forever. Miss Evers says she feels strangely free and drops her apron on the ground. Awww. Go on, girl, get yourself a hobby. Make friends with Liz and Iris and let them teach you the ways of technology.

March makes a toast to his wife, and says he’s pretty psyched that he’ll get to have dinner with her every night now forever, as the Countess looks miserable. Welcome to Hell.

Odds and Ends:

  • Another episode that felt like a season finale.
  • Another episode that I think I would have been OK with as a season finale.
  • Apparently next week IS the season finale? This will be the first 12-episode season of "AHS" since “Murder House."

Thoughts, comments, or elaborate theories to share?  Hit me up on Twitter: @LacyMB

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