American Horror Story: Hotel – Battle Royale Review

Beloved characters die left and right as the fifth season of American Horror Story marches towards a bloody conclusion.

This American Horror Story: Hotel review contains spoilers.

American Horror Story: Season 5, Episode 11

After a two week hiatus, Hotel picks up right where it left off — with Liz Taylor and Iris bursting in on the Countess with guns blazing. Unfortunately the two vigilantes are robbed of their vengeance when Donovan wraps himself around the Countess becoming a(n) (in)human shield. Of course, since both ladies are packing two firearms apiece there should have been enough bullets flying around to kill them both regardless but you know, artistic license and all that. Iris’s baby boy bites it at least as we are treated to the first major death of the night. If previous seasons of American Horror Story are any indication it will be a miracle if anyone makes it out of the season alive. Then again, this season — where almost everyone is either a ghost or a vampire or the ghost of a vampire — that isn’t saying much.

The Countess does eventually meet her demise but not until after Sally performs ghost surgery on her while she tells her more about her tragic past. It would seem — prepare to be shocked — that Sally has co-dependency and abandonment issues, going so far as to get really high and sew herself to two other people. The other people died and she was left there to lie between them for five days while they decomposed.

If we are being honest  American Horror Story is seldom “scary” and it too often substitutes gore for suspense, however sometimes we get something genuinely unsettling and the scenes with Sally pulling a needle and thread through her own flesh and pushing it back down through someone else’s definitely count as one of those times. Unfortunately, as cool as it was, Sally’s flashback is essentially useless and doesn’t really add anything to the episode other than to really beat us over the head that she is clingy and needy. Had she asked the Countess to kill John Lowe on the premises — allowing the two to become ghost lovers for eternity — without recounting her messed up past, I don’t think any of us would have questioned her motives. Especially given the hissy fit she threw last episode.

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Anyway, Sally saves the Countess’s life long enough for her to have a run-in with Ramona who had herself recently had a run-in with Queenie from season 3. Remember Queenie from Coven? Yeah she’s dead now. During a fight with Ramona, James March sucker-stabs her. Apparently her powers don’t work if a ghost hurts her which…actually kind of makes sense. Wow, that might be a first for this season.

Ramona has every intention of killing the Countess but is instead convinced to let her leave — after they have sex of course. To paraphrase Jay from Mallrats: “God damn, this is one wacky hotel!”

The Countess doesn’t make it very far though because as she’s leaving John Lowe gives her a big, wet kiss. Lowe then proceeds to behead the Countess and place her head in his trophy room as a memento of the last commandment — thou shalt not kill. So if you are keeping score, so far that’s Donovan’s, The Countesses’, The Ten Commandment Killer’s, and Queenie’s storylines all tied up. Oh and the vampire kids, Ramona ate them all. My guess is that the finale is going to be a very Lowe-centric affair with some Sally and Liz sprinkled in.

The season has been a very uneven affair and the most frustrating thing has been how the rules seem to keep changing. The vampirism for instance has been the most ill-defined aspect of this show. Tonight the Countess needs vampire blood to heal from her wounds. Why? When Valentino and Natacha come out after being walled up for decades they are essentially mindless zombies suffering from extreme malnourishment and decay and after a few humans they are right as rain. Ramona makes a comment about how she should be in pictures  but “I can’t be photographed.” Again, why? The old vampires don’t have a reflection issue? That is a tenet of their “ancient blood disease” but not fangs or weakness to sunlight? And don’t get me started on vampires becoming ghosts.

Regardless of those problems Hotel has been one crazy ride and part of me will be sad to see it over. Liz Taylor and James March were delightful as always and for that “Battle Royale” gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Random Thoughts About Tonight’s Episode

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  • If you die outside, do you haunt a few blocks? Maybe a whole street?

  • Is it sanitary for ghosts to put their bare hands in a gaping bullet wound? Are their ghost germs?

  • Oh my god, John and Alex remembered Scarlett! It’s a miracle.

  • Um…did Iris roll around in and cover herself with her dead son’s ashes? Gross!

Best lines of the episode:

  • “They don’t call me hypodermic Sally for nothin’ “
  • “Poet’s skidmarks stain just as easily as us commoners”
  • “For the record, Shout at the Devil was an underrated MASTERPIECE!”
  • “Eatin’ you is gonna feel doubly good!”
  • “I am a curse”
  • “Kill me, but screw me first”
  • “At least I don’t have to spend eternity as a pear-shaped frump”


3 out of 5