“She Wants Revenge” begins with Lady Gaga trying to get a contractor to fill in a giant hole in the Hotel Cortez. He says it’s impossible to do in the time frame she wants, but she won’t hear it. Around this time each season, American Horror Story becomes a lot like this act of filling in a giant hole in the Hotel Cortez: there’s far too much to do, not enough time, yet a blind hope that the plan will all come together in the end.
After last week’s episode-long “revelation” about John Lowe being the Ten Commandments Killer, “She Wants Revenge” takes time to catch us up with all the various loose ends it has splayed around, and even adds a few extra unnecessary layers to these stories as well. The most prominent of these being the story of Angela Bassett’s Ramona Royale. For some reason American Horror Story keeps piling on more reasons Ramona hates The Countess. We already know that The Countess left Ramona heartbroken after dumping her, and we know that The Countess killed Ramona’s one true love. Now “She Wants Revenge” also shows us that Ramona hates The Countess for her own mistakes.
In a flashback, we see that after The Countess broke her heart, Ramona returned home to spend time with her family. When her mother died, her father’s Alzheimer’s started to get increasingly worse—a problem she decided to fix by turning him into a vampire as well. Ramona just assumed that since vampirism can heal some pains, that it could also heal mental deterioration. Well, she was wrong. But somehow this is supposed to explain her hatred of The Countess even more. How? Because she gave Ramona eternal life and Ramona couldn’t figure out its limitations before making a mistake that forced her to kill her own father?
This carelessness with vampirism was even more obvious with Alex, who thought she could save her patient’s measles and instead started a roaming group of children who are now killing and drinking the blood of parents, hobos and pizza guys. For some reason, no one has noticed the half dozen missing pizza guys, that all disappeared after going to the same house.
This is also emblematic of another one of AHS’s big flaws, which is short-sighted thinking that seeps into its characters as well. AHS early on throws in a lot of crazy ideas without much concern for how these will finally culminate. Even worse, this season has had seemingly smart people make really idiotic decisions for the sake of “well, this would be fun, huh?”
These idiotic decisions are handled at their best with Donovan, who originally had a plan with Ramona and Iris to end The Countess, but out of nowhere sleeps with The Countess once again and turns his back on his group. This season also seems very content to just have sexual relationships sprout up for the sake of convenience. The show needs a reason for Donovan to betray his partners, so he sleeps with The Countess. We never understand how this comes to be, it just is, and that’s enough explanation in the world of American Horror Story.
Hotel is at its most fun when it feels like a giant chess game between The Countess and James Patrick March. They both have big plans and are manipulating those around them for their own gain, and it looks as if these two sides are going to fight very soon. The Countess uses her sexuality and love to get people to do her bidding—as she does by tricking Donovan, getting Will Drake to marry her before slitting his throat, and turning Valentino against Natacha. But March seems far more calculating, befriending the people he wants to utilize and allowing them to make their own choices in submitting to his will. We saw this last week with John Lowe and we see him begin to make Drake turn on The Countess by showing Drake her vampire baby. Everyone is just pawns in this game and it’s starting to feel like all the other characters are little else than that.
“She Wants Revenge” is about people making bad choices that come back to bite them in the ass, or surely will eventually. Donovan teams up with The Countess, Ramona makes her sick father eternal and we see the repercussions of Alex inadvertently creating a group of roaming vampire children. Everyone makes mistakes, but in American Horror Story’s case, it seems like its own mistakes could have been solved with a bit more planning and foresight. There’s a lot of holes left in this Hotel with not a lot of time to fill them up, and the show is only making the holes bigger.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.