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TV Review: American Horror Story Hotel (Season 5, Episode 11)

01.07.2016by: Jake Dee

EPISODE: BATTLE ROYALE

THE SCOOP: Sally nurses The Countess back to health under one condition. But the target of that condition comes back to haunt the Countess for good!

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW. IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE, STOP READING HERE!

THE SKINNY: Ah, it's good to be back in the crippling confines of the Hotel Cortez! Following a two week holiday layoff, it's time we duke it out with the penultimate episode of American Horror Story Hotel, entitled "Battle Royale." The show opens with a clever recap of where the ellipsis left us, told from Liz and Iris' point of view, as they gear up and set out to turn The Countess' penthouse suite into the f*cking O.K. Corral! Liz chooses from a dozen different handguns splayed on a table before her like she were Travis Bickle. One problem. Donovan, Iris's son, happened to catch a stray bullet meant for The Countess, as you'll recall. The poor bastard, bleeding like a stuck pig, is dragged out onto the curb by Liz and Iris to take him to the hospital. But it's too late. Young Danny Zuko bit the big one, reduced to a can of ashes for his mother to dump on the bedspread. I liked the heartfelt goodbye speech Kathy Bates gets to recite, brief but potent, again proving she's become the acting anchor the show needs post-Jessica Lange. Iris snaps, smears her son's ashes over her face and body before walking out onto the roof of the hotel and dropping the remains. Powerful stuff!

Not so for The countess, who awakes to find herself nursed by Sally, who in turn, as an inveterate junky, knows all about human veins. Turns out a major artery was blasted out, and Sally is more than game to stitch the Countess' bony ass up and feed her fresh vampire, not human, blood. But first, a flash back to 1993, where a hilariously recreated grunge band checks into the Cortez, a male/female twosome that Sally struck up an affair with. We flash to some pretty gnarly drug induced S&M where Sally shoots dope in a dude's dick before subjecting herself to odd flesh-mutilating piercing games. All pretty weird stuff, but damn, if that was really Sarah Paulson's ass decked in waist-high fishnets, then color me more than impressed! Anyway, all this kind gesturing from Sally isn't without a fee. See, she really believes she's in love with John Lowe, and in order to keep him locked inside the purgatorial halls of the Cortez, she's asked, more like demanded, The Countess to snuff Lowe out for good. She agrees to when in good health, which prompts Sally to escort in the horde of ghoulish little blond kids. The Countess warns they'll die if they feed or are fed upon. But no matter the nourishment, The Countess can't prepare for what lies ahead!

As for Lowe, dude really seems intent on getting back into family mode. He and Alex return home to try to explain to their daughter Scarlett that, despite the craziness of late, things are going to be just fine. She ain't buying it. The next night Lowe comes home to an empty house, and soon realizes Alex took Scarlet to be with Holden at the hotel. And goddamn wouldn't you know it, when Lowe shows up at the Cortez, he catches The Countess in a post-coital departure and blindsides the bitch a handful of hot gun rounds. Even better, he decollates the corpses and, as the Ten Commandments Killer, adorns his trophy case with her pretty little head. March looks on approvingly. Of course, this is the Cortez, and soon The Countess is a ghastly version of her vampiric self, now forever consigned to the hotel she moments earlier tried to escape. In the one part I wasn't so thrilled about, especially for such a jam-packed show, was the revelation of how the maid Hazel was responsible for March's death in the first place. How she deliberately plotted his death, and her own, so they could live together forever. March banishes the bitch right then and there so he can be alone with The Countess, now his spectral equal.

My favorite part of the show though, hands down, was the crossover cameo from Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie. You know, as the witch she plays in AHS: Coven. Not only was that nice nod to the show's faithful, but the story arc itself worked pretty well too. As a means of feeding Ramona flesh blood so she could feel invigorated enough to take down The Countess, Liz and Iris recruit a new tenant to do the trick. And who do they pick? Old Queenie. A kick-ass fight scene ensues between she and Ramona (Bassett and Sidibe) which not only made me laugh by its sheer absurdity (hitting oneself to inflict pain on the other, voodoo style), but also made me cringe when it ended in a small lake of blood being let all over a nice duvet. See, March suddenly appears and uses his ghostly superiority to stab Queenie in the heart for Ramona to feast upon. Witches are impervious to humans, it seems, but not to ghosts. Perhaps a bit of a self-indulgent non-sequitur, but I loved it! As for the rest of the show, I thought this just might be the best stint of Hotel yet. It was filled with one huge story point or character loss after another, with the stakes clearly rising before next week's season finale. Donovan's dead. The Countess is a ghost. John is back to his murderous ways, with his wife and kids lost somewhere inside the hotel. All of these strands make for what's sure to be a most welcoming round of mayhem in the season finale, "Be Our Guest." See you next week!

KILL OF THE WEEK: For reasons mentioned above, Queenie catching the blade of March was too damn good!

BLOOD & GORE:

  • A hail of gunfire and requisite wounds, blood squibs and the like.
  • Needle punctures to the torso.
  • Ripped flesh piercings.
  • A hall of bloody corpses.
  • Knife stabbing to the heart, a bed-full of gore.

WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: I do have to wonder why it was The Countess John felt the need to blow away. Then decapitate. Then store her dome in a mantle-piece.

MOST BIZARRE SCENE: No question, that crazy-creepy threesome with Sally and her two grungy rock-star pals. I mean, if jacking a needle plum into some dude's cock isn't bizarre, what is?

Extra Tidbit: Where do you think the finale is headed?
Source: AITH

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