[For American Horror Story – Hotel “Battle Royale” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Battle Royale Ramona draws vitality from an unlikely source and Sally uses her past to negotiate her future.
Put on your seatbelt because twists, turns and big changes are booking a night at the Hotel Cortez in this highly anticipated return after a two week long winter’s nap. It’s all gonna be different after this episode which isn’t entitled “Battle Royale” for nothing, baby. We open in the moments just before the last episode ended – so in a prequel moment of sorts. Liz Taylor loads a series of guns laid out on her bed and gets the report from Iris that The Countess is distracted. It’s time to attack, guns blazing, and never look back. They pack on the ammo, raise their guns in the air, and head for the suite where the two old broads shoot and shoot and shoot some more … but Donovan stands in the way to take most of the bullets for The Countess. Once they finally stop shooting Donovan begs Iris to take him out of the Cortez so he doesn’t get trapped there with The Countess’s other lovers. So, she and Liz Taylor carry him outside and leave beautiful, perfect cheek-boned Donovan on the street to die. Right before death he thanks Iris and calls her “Mom” so it’s a happy moment for her even though she’s watching her son die and knows it’s forever this time.
Meanwhile up in her filthy attic apartment, Sally pulls bullets out of the agonizing Countess while the Countess screams and writhes in agonizing pain. Heartless Sally just laughs. She sews and bandages the wounds then makes The Countess promise not to leave her because, “they always leave me”. The Countess says she’s not going anywhere – how could she? It’s true, the woman is wrecked, but still gorgeous being Gaga and all. Then Sally tells The (helpless) Countess her sad Hotel Cortez origin story. Two singers used Sally for her drugs and songs, though she thought this was love and that they considered her an “artist”. The three of them checked into the Hotel Cortez and shot drugs while screwing. Then in the sweaty meditative calm of the aftersex glow Sally sews the pair to her. She attaches the three of them by their nipples one singer on either side of Sally. But then the singers overdosed and left her like everyone else does. Sally explains that after they died she laid next to them for five days while their bodies rotted, still attached to her by their nipples. Then James March came and tortured her until she could take it no longer. She extricated herself – nipple rip and all. So this filthy cave became her spot in the Cortez – her version of hell; the grungy attic apartment where she sews up The Countess. So, now Sally wants someone to be with her that won’t ever leave, John Lowe. She wants the Countess to get Lowe, bring him to the Cortez, and kill him so she can have him with her forever. The Countess needs to get better if she’s going to do this deed and since she has to drink blood like her own Sally drains two of the kids from the video game/candy room even though it’ll kill them and The Countess protests. This makes The Countess sad but you gotta figure she’ll get over it now that she’s “healthy” again.
Speaking of John Lowe, he’s home with Alex and Scarlet explaining that they’re going to be a family now that they have Holden back. Scarlet knows what’s up and asks how they’ll explain Holden being a small child forever. “He’s supposed to be my older brother,” she points out. John acts as if this is easily remedied by simply not telling people. Sure, John. Nobody’s gonna wonder about your dead-looking albino kid that never ages. Then Lowe goes out to the trunk of his car where he’s got a guy bound with a duct-taped mouth. He makes the guy promise that he hasn’t taken any drugs in thirty days. Then goes back inside the house calling for Alex with a bag from the trunk in his hand. John doesn’t find Alex and Scarlet in the house but does find a key from the Hotel Cortez hanging from a light fixture. So, then he goes straight to Sally at the hotel. When he confronts her about Alex and Scarlet’s whereabouts Sally says he has to do his last commandment for March Thou shalt not commit murder. So, John says he just has to find a murderer to kill and Sally smiles saying that shouldn’t be too difficult. Take a hint, John! She also implies that March took his family but we don’t know if that part’s true.
Liz and Iris then seek Ramona’s help. But she’s been sucking on the measles children in the hidden vault-like suite and thus not exactly in a helpful mood when they approach her. They beg her forgiveness and Ramona says she needs to take a life to bring her back to life. THis makes for an amusing but where they ride the Cortez elevator together with ghoulish grins, a bat in one’s hand a revolver in the other’s. They’re about to head out to find dinner for Ramona but they don’t even have to leave because in walks Queenie (the amazing Gabourey Sidibe from the AHS- Coven season) to the hotel lobby. She’s in town for the Price is Right and explains that she knows she’s going to be “coming on down to be the next contestant” because her ticket is enchanted. She’s a witch from an ancient bloodline, after all. Then Queenie gets a dark feeling in her room and wants to change. Iris and Liz tell her that’s not possible but then it doesn’t matter because remember she’s the human voodoo doll, meaning anything Ramona does to her she does right back without even trying. Only there’s a technicality that makes Queenie vulnerable after all. James March kills her for Ramona. He can because he’s dead so her witch powers don’t work on him. Ramona gets to drink all that witch blood to makes her extra uber strong. March explains that he needs Ramona to kill The Countess and make sure she’s bound to the Hotel Cortez forever because she’s his one true love. Yeah, we know. This is the second repetitive theme of the episode thus far. First with Sally’s constant neediness and now with March and his Gaga obsession. You don’t have to bash us over the head with this stuff again, guys – we got it.
Next we finally see some new action when The Countess lietrally smells gorgeous Ramona at her door. Her blood has the scent of walnuts, apparently. They talk and walk gorgeous stunningly perfect glamorous lady circles around each other, their lust obvious. The Countess attempts to apologize and says she’ll give Ramona the Hotel Cortez as a peace offering. Then they start kissing, of course. So, Ramona’s head gets all warped with her love for The Countess again. Gaga smooches do that. The Countess says she has to either leave the hotel or die but Ramona must screw her first no matter which one she decides. Sounds like a pretty good plan to Ramona. So, she does and then lets her get dressed and packed to leave the Hotel Cortez forever. But just as the Countess gets to the elevator in her perfect floor length white coat who’s coming out the door to kill her …but John Lowe on a mission to fulfill his commandments for James March. He succeeds. The Countess is dead (boo hoo). James March is thrilled, of course becuse not only does this fulfill his Ten Commandments objective but it kills two birds because now he gets to keep The Countess at the hotel too. He puts her head into his morbid Ten Commandments exhibit. As March commends John for his success Sally tries to kill him, stabbing at Lowe from behind. But March prevents it. Then John says, “Take me to my family,” and thus Sally’s torment continues. Can’t a junkie bitch catch a break already?
In the final scene March and Ms. Evers discuss how unnerving it is when you furst find out you’re a ghost and that they must be kind to The Countess while she acclimates. Then in walks The Countess ghost, impeccable and pouting. She says there’s no pain, no passion… sigh. March says now he can finally forgive her for turning him into the police. The Countess retorts that she certainly didn’t turn him in. At first he doesn’t believe her but The Countess points out that she would have just killed him if she wanted him dead. It’s a solid point. She’s good at that murdering stuff. Then Ms. Evers admits that it was indeed she who turned him in. She did it out of love for him, she explains, so they could be together forever. Theme overload, dudes. March then says she’s banished from his presence. Evers replies that she then feels strangely free to not be waiting on him anymore. She leaves. Then March and The Countess sit across from each other at the table and he’s happy to have her finally. Forever. She, on the other hand, is bereft. So lovely in all her sadness. At least we still get to have The Countess around, even if she’s truly dead now rather than our preferred state of undead. Hopefully she’ll get over being Sad Sack Countess soon and get down to all that gorgeous villainy we love so much.
The lesson of this episode is rather uplifting, considering the franchise. Donovan, the one who loved without reservation – the guy seriously must have taken a course from Marianne Williamson – gets to rest in peace. Meanwhile the selfish bitches, Ms. Evers and The Countess, rot in the Cortez without their respective beloveds. For Ms. Evers hell is to exist without James March by her side and for The Countess the same holds true for Valentino. So, they’re both basically in the Cortez equivalent to hell. But it looks like Donovan’s unconditionally loving soul is finally free – heaven sent. While the other true lover, Ramona, now gets to take over the Hotel Cortez – no small reward for choosing sex over murderous revenge and you just know it was the good stuff, too. What’s hotter than rage mixed with makeup sex? That’s right, only Donovan knows the answer to that one.