American Horror Story Hotel: 05×11, Battle Royale (Review/Recap)

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It’s been a long break AHS fans, but we’re back and ready for action after the climactic cliffhanger of Iris and Liz Taylor going in guns blazing against the Countess and Donovan. In the aftermath we learn that multiple shots were fired injuring both, but Donovan covered her – taking most of the bullets himself. An injured and bleeding Countess disappears in the chaos, and Iris is horrified that he was caught in the crossfire. He pleads with his mother to drag him outside of the hotel and end his life so he can pass on, escaping the Cortez for good. Iris and Liz manage to fulfill his wish, and another character is added to the growing death toll of AHS. 

The Countess is next seen screaming in agony as Sally pulls the bullets from her body (very intensely acted by Lady Gaga) and Sally explains that the Countess is all she has left at the Cortez. Sally opens up to the Countess about people who were “good to her” in the past – two musicians who saw the best in the lost soul. At the brink of their relationship (the 3 of them) they checked into the Cortez and began to shoot up in the midst of a passion filled threesome. The extremely twisted side of Sally appeared, and in an attempt to keep them close – very close… She sewed the three of them together by their skin. Unfortunately for the other two, they didn’t make it through the sadistic act and died, leaving her stuck in between them for 5 days. After the second day, the commandments killer came to her and began the demented/torture filled relationship between the pair until she tore herself free. Sally then begs the Countess for help to bring back John, and that the relationship between them is crucial (which the Countess points out isn’t the best timing). 

At a later time, Sally informs the Countess that she’s lost so much blood from the wounds and a transfusion is required, but the only candidates are her children. She breaks down sobbing, saying she’d rather die (another emotionally charged moment) and the children tell her they want to help their “mother” which leads to two offering themselves. Liz takes care of Donovan’s remains by cremating him in the hotel furnace, and gives them to his grieving mother who struggles with a goodbye that sadly addresses their unrequited bond. The next time we see Iris she’s covered in ashes and insists that Miss Evers vacuums (and dumps) his remains. Very eerie folks… Meanwhile the Countess ingests the blood of her vampire offspring, which leaves her healthier and angrier than before. 

Liz and Iris decide their only remaining option is to free Ramona for help (risking their lives to save themselves) and find all the fallen corpses Ramona has fed from. Ramona isn’t too easily convinced of their claims for revenge, but comes around as opposed to her current predicament. When they return to the lobby, Queenie – YES from AHS Coven – awaits to check in. (Even referencing Cordelia Fox, this is so marvelous!) Iris and Liz decide she’s a good offering for Ramona, but her witchy premonitions tell her some bad mojo is in the air. Ramona strikes from behind the shower and is surprised to learn Queenie isn’t an easy victim, using her human voodoo doll status as a way of fighting back. Things are going in her favor until James March enters and stabs her through the chest, so Ramona then feeds from the now deceased witch. I’m still reeling that this crossover and death just hit the AHS world, but moving on for now… 

John is lured back to the Cortez by Sally (pulling strings) and she tells him that one kill is remaining and he will receive his family unharmed. Obviously John has tried to distance himself (but has he really?) however he’s instantly brought back into the fold. Iris and Liz offer Ramona a large selection of guns and knives to kill the Countess, but she says the witch’s blood in her system is enough to bring her some once and for all. The Countess waits in her room (still somewhat recovering and glamorous as ever) and seems unshaken by her presence. She tells Ramona she won’t be taken down without a fight, and they share a drink before anything drastic plays out. The Countess slides in and apologizes for her past sins, before offering her the hotel – because she claims to be feeling lost after a lifetime of (and most recently) anguish. She tells Ramona she’s ready to die but in actuality, she kills her and tries to flee the Cortez. Before she can escape, John waits outside the hotel and fires at her – ending her life after dozens of close calls and completing his role in the sketchy plot orchestrated by the demon/Mr. March. RIP to one of my favorite AHS villains; it’s not easy to see you go. 

Mr. March waits for his “queen” and the Countess enters, still foggy from her recent death. (Fair enough, right?) He tells his former bride that they are truly blessed to have each other’s company, and when he says he’s forgiven her for turning him in – but she denies it. Things get interesting as Miss Evers tearfully admits to her crime and did it so they could die together. She drops to the floor and voices her devout love, yet March is disgusted by her and “banishes” her from his presence. The Countess looks on as if she’s studying the display of emotion, but before Miss Evers leaves she makes sure to insult his wife once again. The couple sits alone and he makes a toast to an eternity of companionship as she emotionally takes a drink in the episode’s final moments – a well written, acted, and directed scene to a strong episode of AHS Hotel. 

Overall Grade:

After episode 10 was a major step forward, episode 11 exceeded my expectations and was one of the strongest episodes this season. A special mention of the performance from Lady Gaga is definitely needed, giving her some of her some of the most emotional scenes possible – while bringing her strong acting abilities to the character. The relationship between the Countess and Mr. March is a twisted and enjoyable plot to the ongoing series, and I’m consistently pleased to see the progression. The quality increased to the level of the first three episodes, and after settling into a comfort zone for the last few chapters, it earns an increased grade of an ‘A-

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-Though there has been continuity between seasons on a few occasions, this was the most prominent present-day crossover and it was necessary as well as shocking. I feel a major season of importance in the near future…

-If I had to guess what will tie things together between seasons for a future installment, I’d have to guess demons. The constant reference to demonic entities in Murder House, Asylum, Coven, and especially Hotel would make it a plausible plot for Ryan Murphy and company to expand on.

-Lady Gaga has truly proven to be a stunning actress. The highs and lows she has brought to her character have been a marvel to watch unfold in AHS Hotel.

-The Countess survived against the odds for as long as she could, but her demise was certain from her past relationships. At least we have ghost Countess to wander the halls?

-Evan Peters continues to kill it this season (figuratively speaking) and I look forward to every moment he appears. His ending scene in this episode in addition to his crossover scene were two superb moments of AHS Hotel.

-Random sidenote, I’m still desperately hoping for a possibility to see Madison Montgomery return to the shared universe. She’s already proven that death can’t stop the misbehaved starlet from wreaking havoc.

 

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