Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel”
The Hotel Cortez claims several more victims as the story struggles to maintain balance. While bringing the horror in full force, several characters are seemingly ignored. Characters such as The Countess and Liz Taylor absolutely stole the episode with their mystique and emotional drive. This season in particular has had a difficult time giving an adequate amount of attention to each character, and this episode truly highlights that problem.
The Countess finally received some much needed backstory to help viewers understand her actions and motivations in regards to the children she has taken under her wing. In 1926, while secretly pregnant, The Countess travels to the unmistakable “Murder House” that was featured in the series’ first season. Here she meets with Dr. Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) where she undergoes an abortion; the baby survives and turns out to be viciously violent. The Countess names the baby Bartholomew and keeps him in Room 33 of the hotel. In the present time, Bartholomew appears to not have aged at all since 1926 and has almost super-human abilities. Is he a vampire or some other supernatural creature?
The individual stories of the other characters are far less intriguing than that of The Countess in this episode. A romantic relationship develops between Liz Taylor and Tristan Duffy, who is the current love interest of The Countess. Liz fears that this new relationship will not be accepted and struggles to work up the nerve to tell The Countess. Near the end of the episode, Liz finally decides to tell her, leading to a rather predictable altercation. The Countess shares that betrayal is something she cannot stand the taste of and slits the throat of Tristan with her bedazzled fingernail. After learning the backstory of Liz in last week’s episode, this is a heartbreaking moment, but Tristan is likely to return as a ghost. Tristan’s death brings forward another problem with this season: the difficulty of distinguishing exactly who is a vampire, ghost and human on this show. The exact rules of each supernatural being need to be laid out to the viewers, especially since the season is already six episodes. This mystery is more irritating than intriguing and does not necessarily drive the story forward.
Ramona Royale is one character in particular who is horribly underused in the episode. Royale’s arc this season has essentially remained stagnant and unchanged. Killing the vampire children that The Countess holds dearly becomes Royale’s main goal, however nothing is accomplished. Royale is attacked by Bartholomew in room 33 and is later sent out of the hotel by Liz Taylor. Although, Angela Bassett’s acting talents are superb for the material that she is given.
Alex’s story in this episode revolves around John and his apparent hallucinations. Holden appears to John one night and leads him to the drained swimming pool where Alex rests in her coffin. This is a major turning point for John as he begins to realize that he cannot trust Alex. The rest of the episode shows Alex repeatedly manipulating John into believing that he is going crazy. Meanwhile, both parents seem to completely forget about the existence of their daugher, Scarlett, who is left at a friend’s house. Alex does show some general kindness by saving Bartholomew after he escaped the hotel in John’s bag. The dynamic between Alex and John is very interesting to watch, although Alex is extremely inconsistent in both her actions and dialogue.
“Room 33” is yet another step in the wrong direction for this season of “American Horror Story.” The setting and tone are both constantly eerie. However, the story and extreme lack of balance between the characters are major negatives to note. Sally, Iris, Donovan and Mr. March are hardly developed and receive very minimal screen time. With seven episodes left, hopefully the story and mysteries will become clearer to the viewers. Be sure to tune in to “American Horror Story: Hotel” next Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.