In a trend that only started last year, the producers of ‘American Horror Story’ decided that all of the wildly different seasons of the show need to tie together as if they all took place in the same continuity. While I’m still not sure how I feel about that, I will admit that I enjoyed the callback to Season 1 in the latest episode.
We open with a flashback to 1926. The Countess, then going by the name “Mrs. Johnson,” arrives in Los Angeles and immediately heads for the home that fans will recognize as the Murder House. She’s come to see the ethically-challenged Dr. Montgomery (Matt Ross from ‘Big Love’) to take care of a little problem she’s having. She’s pregnant and wants an abortion. When Montgomery asks how far along she is, she lies and says only a few weeks even though she’s quite visibly much further than that. She also neglects to mention another important detail – that she’s a vampire. The crazed doctor does his butchery and yanks the fetus out, only to discover that it’s still alive. In fact, the little monster skitters across the floor and attacks his nurse.
For a show that so often revels in grotesquery, the episode is surprisingly timid here and keeps the baby entirely off-camera for most of the running time. I suppose even ‘American Horror Story’ has some lines it won’t cross.
We then return to the present day. Young Holden wakes his father up and leads him to the caskets in the empty swimming pool. John sees his wife Alex lying in one.
From seemingly out of the blue (and out of character for Tristan), we learn that Tristan and Liz are having an affair under the Countess’ nose. Liz worries about betraying the Countess, but believes she’ll understand if he explains to her. After all, Tristan is just the latest in a string of disposable playthings for her, but may be Liz’s only shot at true love. This seems terribly naïve.
The Countess has successfully made Will Drake fall in love with her, but still can’t get him aroused sexually. She orders Tristan to act as fluffer and get Drake started. Tristan is very upset about this (he still insists he’s not gay), but the Countess has no sympathy.
After John discovered her, Alex drugged him and returned him to his room, then removed the coffins from the swimming pool. When he wakes up, she tries to convince him that he’s had a psychotic break and hallucinated the whole thing.
The Countess visits Room 33, which is the nursery for her baby. (That’s one old baby.) She tells it that she’ll be taking a trip to Paris with Drake, but will be back soon.
With the Countess away, Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) and Donovan return to the hotel to kill all of the vampire children as punishment against the Countess. Iris helps them. When they can’t find the caskets in the pool, Donovans goes to the Countess’ suite while Ramona heads for Room 33 to take out the baby (his name is Bartholomew).
Pathetic Donovan gets to the suite and sniffs the Countess’ panties. He’s interrupted by the ghosts of the two European models who were murdered in the season premiere. They’ve been wandering the hotel halls trying to find a way out but can’t seem to leave. Donovan explains that they’re stuck in a repeating cycle they won’t be able to break until they find a purpose for themselves. To illustrate, he tells the story of an elementary school teacher named Cara who committed suicide in the hotel and was stuck in her room until she discovered that she’s really good at haunting the hotel and murdering guests. Finding their purpose still won’t let the models leave the building, but at least they’ll be able to stop roaming it aimlessly.
Ramona arrives at Room 33 but is ambushed and attacked by baby Bartholomew. We next see her at the hotel bar, a little scraped up but mostly just disappointed in herself. She tries to drown her sorrows in drink when Alex shows up looking for Bartholomew. She was charged with taking care of the baby and can’t find him.
Attempting to follow Donovan’s advice, the models seduce and murder a douchebag guest in the hotel. Sadly, as much fun as they had with it, that doesn’t do the trick. It wasn’t their purpose. Alex then runs across them during her search for Bartholmew and offers them a new purpose. They can help her drive John mad.
Despite being removed from duty, John turns up at a crime scene where the Ten Commandments killer murdered a priest in his church. His former partner kicks him out and tells him that they already have a suspect in custody. They don’t need his help with the case.
John makes a very self-pitying drunk. The two models find him in the hotel and seduce him into a threesome that turns very disturbingly bloody. Freaked out by this, John runs through the hotel naked and covered in blood until he finds Liz, who doesn’t even bat an eye when responding, “Looks like that breakdown is going well.”
Recognizing that he’s cracking up, John decides to check out of the hotel. Baby Bartholomew sneaks into his suitcase. As they return home, his daughter Scarlett is pissed with both of her parents and John can hardly blame her, but he promises to get things back to normal as soon as possible.
That doesn’t go so well. A few minutes later, John spots the monster baby skittering around the house. He shoots at it and scares the crap out of Scarlett. Alex returns after this and tells John that he’s out of control. She sends their daughter away to stay with her grandmother for a while. Alex then finds baby Bartholomew in the bushes outside the house and brings him back to the hotel.
Liz confesses to the Countess about the affair with Tristan and begs her understanding. The Countess slashes Tristan’s throat and announces, “I don’t share.” Liz is devastated.
As we close, the Countess is reunited with Bartholomew. Finally, we get a glimpse of the little monster, and yeah, it’s pretty freakish.
While there’s nothing specifically wrong with it, this isn’t the most exciting episode of the season. It mostly just seems to progress storylines where we’d expect them to go. I’m a little shocked at the Countess murdering Tristan, but it’s not like this is the last we’ll see of him. (What was the point of his storyline, anyway?) Of course he’ll be back as a ghost.
The best part of the episode is the quick return to the Murder House. Even there, however, a photo on the mantle of Lily Rabe as the doctor’s wife stands out as a distraction, since it reminds me that the actress just appeared on the show playing a different character a couple episodes ago.