On episode seven of American Horror Story Hotel, Will Drake begins renovations on the hotel, while explaining to his son that himself and the countess will be together (while altogether avoiding the transition of sexuality.) When a few construction workers trek down a darkened hallways they are attacked by creatures in the shadows – and one is revealed be played by Finn Wittrock, but looks different than his former character Tristan! At a hospital facility in the Los Angeles area, John undergoes an evaluation from a doctor and appears to be entirely numb to what’s going on around him. His voice seems hollow, his gaze distant, and John’s mind is still processing what’s happening, but John has motives to be there. At the Cortez, the Countess and Iris are walking the halls until discovering the bodies from the vacant floor – unsure of who could have left the trail of the deceased. Tristan look-alike strikes again with a thirst for blood, but this time killing recurring real estate agent Marcy (bittersweet) with a woman also wearing vintage clothing.
A 1925 flashback shows the Countess working as an extra in a film alongside Rudolph Valentino, (who is played by Wittrock and is meant to bare a striking resemblance to Tristan.) As a struggling star she’s enamored by the celebrity, and receives a note as an invite to join him later in the evening. The young, more timid Countess arrives in style and they begin to share their thoughts on cinema – with the countess hoping to immortalize her image in a modern American art form as she describes. This speaks volumes on her quest for life (even in the afterlife) and better reminds us of the transition she makes from the past to present day. The two begin a passionate dance (random, but why not) until his soon-to-be ex-wife and real Hollywood star Natacha Rambova joins them, making the countess uncomfortable. The cold starlet warms up and refers to her as the mouse in a cat and mouse game (not so good news) and the three begin the “dance” as an unexpected trio. She is seen later at the Hotel Cortez, beaming from her relationship with Valentino, until learning he has recently died. Overcome with emotion, she makes her way towards a window on a higher floor and prepares to jump – but Mr. March grabs a hold of the grieving woman and wipes her tears, refusing to let her end her life. Thus begins the beginning of the Countess and Mr. March!
At Valentino’s tomb, three women (including his former wife) and discuss the story of a cloaked woman who visits his grave annually. The woman is the Countess of course, and Natacha finds her – sharing that he isn’t dead after all, before he also arrives to greet her. She tells her former partners she filled that void by marrying Mr. March, and we see that the two shared an extremely physical relationship, but the Countess made sure to exert her dominance as well which was a major turn on for the Cortez creator. Valentino explains to his former love that him and Natacha have received an ancient blood virus (discovered while filming Nosferatu, like the reference in episode 1) and they hope to give the countess this vampire infection so the three can live out their lives together in happiness – but Mr. March listens on and not too pleased as you can imagine.
John has actually entered the facility with the hopes of getting more answers, and seeks out a girl being held in the hospital. When he breaks in, she identifies by the name of Wren, and admits to being present for the commandments killer’s crimes, detailing each of the gruesome deaths she’s witnessed (she’s also clearly a vampire.) Wren tells the detective that she feels responsible for the deaths, and John hopes to establish a trust and friendship, telling her she isn’t the reason behind the string of crimes. She tells John that he’s nothing like her father (and it sounds as if he was extremely disgusting and disturbed) until being saved by the Countess outside of the Cortez, but doesn’t have an answer for him as to who the killer is. When he escapes with Wren, she says an unsettling goodbye and throws herself in front of a bus, not wanting to go on as the creature she is. This also fuels my speculation that John must be the commandments killer without realizing it. At the Cortez, the two creatures from earlier are now better seen (and it’s actually Valentino and Natacha) Their bodies now appear decayed, and they make it known that Mr. March is responsible for their captivity – with Natacha blaming Valentino and the Countess. He tells her he will work hard to regain everything they had, but they begin by feeding from a pack of Australian male strippers to quench their hunger in the meantime.
Mr. March and Miss Evers prepare for a once a week dinner which at first seems to be a joyous occasion, but is far from it. She begins by informing him she plans to marry Will Drake, and the former hotel owner pretends to show happiness before his anger is better shown. When she hints that she may have found true love, he claims that it can’t be the first time because of their marriage. The Countess says that she has never lied to him, and never claimed to love him – which is a hard pill to swallow. In retaliation, he shares what he has done to Valentino and Natacha which the Countess doesn’t take lightly. He is shown to have beaten them and sealed the two in a concrete floor while the Countess waited at the train station for hours without their arrival. This scene between the two was one of the most captivating scenes in the episode, with stellar acting from Evan Peters and Lady Gaga. While the relationship between the pair may be an unhealthy one most definitely, it is definitely an entertaining duo that I hope to see more of in the second half of American Horror Story Hotel.
Overall Grade: This episode took a turn after previous episodes of the season, introducing two new characters (and one played by the same actor) After the initial confusion, I did enjoy getting to see a major piece of the Countess’s past. Seeing Mr. March return to the fold was also a great decision, as his story is one of the more interesting aspects of AHS Hotel. In terms of the season so far, this episode was more of a back-story chapter, and showcased even more sides to the Countess. The episode “Flicker” earns a ‘B’.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-James March actually loves someone! This was something speculated upon from his introduction to the series, but the payout was a hard pill to swallow for all parties involved.
-The Countess wasn’t kidding when she said early in the season that she knows heartbreak… after the supposed departure of Valentino and Natacha, she clearly built more walls.
-With so many characters in the Hotel, I actually enjoyed that this episode honed in on very few storylines giving more time to develop characters we care about.
-AHS Hotel is going on a break! No recap next week, but the follow week I’ll be back to recapping the marvelous horror anthology!