American Horror Story: Hotel Episode 11 Recap: Battle Royale

Photo: Ray Mickshaw/FX.
When we left off in December, Iris and Liz Taylor had stormed into the Countess’ lair to murder that haughty, well-dressed bitch who ruined their lives. Too bad Iris (Kathy Bates) was so high on good vibes and other people’s blood that she overlooked one crucial detail: A big downside to opening fire on your son’s lover is that he might be lounging right there, playboy-ing as usual in the fancy neon-signed penthouse. So, the Countess (Lady Gaga) wriggles away after taking a few bullets, and Iris murders Donovan (Matt Bomer) instead. She makes up for her blunder by dragging him outside to die in the gutter. “Thanks, Mom,” he croaks. It’s their best conversation in years, but the killers are wasting valuable time, considering their actual mark has escaped down the trash chute…

The Countess lies helpless, surrounded by a pile of dead bodies and their queen, Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson). Sally’s super good with needles, so she plays doctor, digging around for each bullet with extra force so she’ll have more gross Countess goop to stitch back up. Meanwhile, we’re treated to a Sally flashback from 1973, the night she sewed herself to two grunge musicians during a sexy heroin binge so that they’d never leave her (choice line: “I just wanna crawl inside your skins and masturbate”), and then the Addiction Demon started haunting her and never stopped, and blah blah blah. Normally the Countess would have no time for Sally’s weepy-needy bullshit, but at the moment, she’s stuck under a fierce leopard-skin blanket and pools of her own blood. I think this scene would seem much scarier if this weren’t a perfectly normal outfit for Lady Gaga. Long story short: Sally’s hundreds of stitches in time save the Countess, who returns to the penthouse to change costumes and hair. Because this season-long David Bowie impersonation of hers isn’t going to play itself out. Girl’s gotta work!

After an invigorating scene in which Iris scatters Donovan’s ashes around a crappy hotel suite even though he specifically asked to not remain there, she and Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) resume their impossible mission by collecting Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) from her little shop of horrors down in the dungeon. She’d already feasted on that pack of wild vamp kids and hotelier Will Drake, so if she’s gonna have enough strength to take one for the team and kill the Countess, she needs lots and lots of nourishment first. As luck would have it, why, there’s Queenie from American Horror Story: Coven (Gabourey Sidibe) just milling about in the lobby. Liz Taylor recognizes Queenie right away as “one of those witches” from CNN, but Ramona, who’s hiding in the bathtub of Queenie’s hotel room, couldn’t have known this dreadful extra bit of news: “I’m a human voodoo doll, bitch!” Queenie gleefully shares, stabbing herself all over so her opponent will feel the extra blows, too. It’s a tremendous fight scene: Not only does a giant mirror shatter like so many dreams of Hotel Cortez patrons who wanted to survive the night, but an unexpected warrior busts in to stun Queenie with his stupid Brahmin accent and other magical powers.

“I’m not aliiiiive, you see,” says the hotel’s original owner/serial killer Mr. James Patrick March (Evan Peters). “You may be a witch, but I’m a ghost.” Boom! It’s the trump card, somehow, some way in this absurd alternate universe. So Queenie’s dead. As Ramona Royale dives in to feast on fast food, March requests Ramona kill the Countess on the property so she’ll be trapped there with him forever.

Now infused by a witch’s brew and loads of flattery from Liz Taylor re: how badass she looks in one of her evening gowns, Ramona Royale saunters into the penthouse, ready to kill her former lover with…drop-dead gorgeousness? Immediately the Countess’ senses perk up; she smells an opportunity for seduction along with the traces of walnut in Ramona’s blood. “Kill me,” the Countess offers. “But screw me first.” Sex sells, of course. (That’s probably the only moral of this horror story.) They entangle in a blur of weaves, then suddenly the Countess exits her suite in a long, white coat, free at last. Huh. That was easy.

But not so fast, blood angel: Here’s Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley), who’s been tearing through the Cortez trying to find his family. (Again.) (He’s likely doomed forever.) The stone-faced serial killer had just gotten used to providing for his brood in a productive way again — bringing home dead bodies for his ancient blood vamp wife and son — and he’s willing to do anything to return to that domestic bliss. He’ll even (gasp!) finish off that ridiculous Ten Commandments serial-killing spree for Mr. March. The only one left on their list: Thou shalt not commit murder. So Lowe needs to find a murderer in a creepy mausoleum chock-full of ‘em. It’s almost too easy. He smiles stiffly, gun already cocked as his elevator’s doors open onto the very same murderer who kidnapped his son five years ago. He shoots and scores, and we bear witness to Lady Gaga’s “I’m dying for real” prestigious TV actor face as she flails backwards in slow motion before biting the dust.

Fortunately, her features relax into a more serene blank stare once her head is triumphantly exhibited in Lowe and March’s museum display of severed body parts. So that’s done. Whew! I guess. Huh. One episode left, and I’m rooting for no one. Well, maybe Ms. Evers (Mare Winningham), who, shattered by the Countess’ crossover into the afterlife, pours her heart out to March. She loves him and it’s about time he knew. And she’s the one who turned him in to the police 80 years ago so they could die together and spend eternity in a shared, bloodstained misery. Ohhh.

Okay, so in my most hopeful vision for next week’s finale, Mare Winningham, Denis O’Hare, and Chloë Sevigny will kill everyone else (even those who are already dead, because why fuck with tradition at this point?) and then finally escape the hotel by rappelling from the seventh floor window via a richly woven train of clean white sheets, sparkly evening gowns, and Dr. Alex’s signature berets. YES. DONE. Cut. Oooh, fashion!

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