The ninth episode of American Horror Story Hotel showed us just what the Countess could be up against, and it looks worrisome for the femme fatale. This week’s installment opens with the Countess reflecting on her poor choices and people in her life (mostly men) while finding evidence that Valentino is still very much present after escaping the cemented hallway of the Cortez. Later she continues to plan a wedding with Will Drake where she forces him to choose a public spectacle or her love - and Will clearly chooses the timeless beauty. She asks Liz Taylor for help, which she laughs at the notion after taking away her only shot at finding true love. The Countess’s monologue explains she's adapted to noticing this resentment develop with those she infects, and claims with everything going on - she's very much on edge and ready to wreak havoc. Refusing to be disappointed again, she tracks down Valentino at a dingy motel and the two greet with a lip lock, but we next see her at the Cortez that evening sleeping with Donovan. He hopes to win back her heart, and she is now open to the idea and explains she will be married to Will on Wednesday and a wealthy widow by Thursday. The Countess is weaving quite a web of passionate love affairs that are intoxicating to the men, but potentially dangerous for her own safety...
A guest by the name of "stormcock" checks into the Cortez (yes a porn shoot is preparing to commence) which has occurred multiple times before, but the newly turned Iris is both drawn to the activity and upset, so she "checks on the guests" which actually involved her murdering the adult film stars except for one. Donovan stumbles across the bloody aftermath and is impressed by his mother’s bloody tirade, but she tells him the more pressing matter is that she had to disclose Ramona was the reason Bartholomew escaped. Iris doesn't want the Countess to connect the dots about their initial involvement, and Donovan assures her he'll take care of things himself.
While in preparation for the wedding, Will's son questions his decision which provides opportunity for an open discussion about him identifying as bisexual and that the Countess is the person he's found love with. The discussion is cut short after Miss Evers appears to warn Will not to marry her and save the life of himself and his son. She tries to tell him that nobody can survive the Countess, but he kicks her out and ignores her warnings. She agrees to exit, but tell Will he will soon ask for her help to which she’ll smile and watch him suffer. After an ominous statement, she exits which is something that worries Will. The Countess seeks out a contractor to modify a floor used for captivity, but Mr. March appears to try and appease the Countess - she's not so into forgiveness at the moment. Donovan takes the male pornstar (only survivor of the 3) to Ramona and tells the Countess’s former lover that he sees through her promises, now ready to make a move if Ramona can make the final blow herself. (He admits to loving her but knowing she'll never belong to him.) He tries to find something to ensure she's trustworthy and shares a story from 1992 when she went to her father after losing the man she loved. When emotionally devastated, Ramona stayed with her family for months and slowly watched their health deteriorate before her own eyes.
Sometime after her mother passed away, her father only begin to downward spiral (truly heartbreaking scenes) until one day men broke into his home and killed him during a robbery. Ramona found his body and cut into her veins to pass the virus to her father and possibly cling to the hope he could live. Unfortunately, the mental damage done from before couldn't be repaired and though he was still living, his quality of life diminished exponentially. She fed him on her own for 20 years hoping something may change, but little to nothing happened. One day Ramona came home to find that he had killed two men who attempted to rob their home again, but still maintained his vegetative state afterwards. Eventually Ramona chose to end his life on her own as a chance for him to finally find peace, and vowed to get vengeance on the Countess for ruining her life in more ways than one. With Ramona resenting what she is, I feel like her death will be something that is sure to happen before the end of the season.
Alex returns to her home and finds a large amount of bloody corpses sprawled across the floor and a group of children (the virus infected children from an earlier episode) so she tries to explain to them that if they don't start trying to be discreet they will get themselves killed. Some of the kids don't want to kill anymore (they all murdered their families to stay hidden longer) and others thrive in the bloodbath. In the end, they aren't keen on listening to Alex, and they leave together, sure to cause more conflict in the near future. Donovan tells Ramona he had drugged the Countess, giving them a chance to make their attack - but as it turns out he's sided with the Countess and we discover it was a trap all along. Donovan locks her up in the blood cage and Iris realizes she's been played. She begs him to recognize that they must stop her while they have the chance, but he ignores both women and insists their love will triumph.
The Countess meets with Valentino again at his discreet motel and he tells her that ever since Natasha was given a credit card by the Countess, her interests lie in shopping and convenient ubers. Aside from the financial difficulties she presents, the Countess hints at attaining his approval if something were to happen to her. Natasha enters with many retail bags in hand, and she's invited to a "girls night" at the Cortez with the Countess. So far anyone who gets in her way hasn't had the best luck so Natasha's days are seemingly numbered. Will and the Countess commence with their (extremely) private wedding ceremony, and Liz Taylor is the only guest as a witness - and shows little enthusiasm about the nuptials or the Countess in general. Liz tells her she can make arrangements on her own, and the Countess tells her she still hopes that perhaps one day she'll get to experience something real (and that the relationship with Tristan wasn't real.)
Will celebrates his wedding with a private moment at the Cortez bar until Mr. March appears to him for the first time, initially pretending to play nice. March explains that he views blended families as a bit of an issues - and reveals baby Bartholomew to the newlywed. He is shocked by the "thing" he sees in the bassinet and the Countess reveals herself, disgusted by his comments about her only child. After she strikes him, he is awoken in a room with Ramona (still bound in her cage) and he frees her while trying to comprehend everything he just experienced. We see that the two are actually cemented on the floor from before, with no way to escape. Ramona takes the chance to feed as a last potential meal, (or maybe infect him as a new ally?) and we see the Countess sitting comfortably from her suite watching the murder of her new husband on surveillance cameras. The Countess has successfully dealt with her foes thus far, but I have a lingering sensation that things will be getting complex for the devilishly entertaining character.
Overall Grade: We were privy to fireworks this week, with the Countess’s conflicts becoming more prevalent to the plot of the series. Even though she’s known for her acts of cruelty, I am drawn to the character (like those she manipulates) and most certainly enjoy her plot. Evan Peters continues his reign as an AHS professional, continuing his committed and unsettling performance of the original hotel owner and psychopath. AHS
episode 9 receives a ‘B’
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Ramona will present a major problem in future episodes; I just hope Bartholomew can avoid getting hurt in the process.
-The division of character in every other episode has proved to work on a weekly basis, giving other characters a chance to equally share the spotlight.
-I wholly admire Lady Gaga’s direction with the Countess, and she has proven to be a talented addition to an award winning series.