‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Recap: ‘Battle Royale’ Welcomes Death and a ‘Coven’ Fan Favorite

American Horror Story Hotel Recap Episode
Ray Mickshaw/FX

Spoiler alert: Do not read on unless you’ve seen episode 11 of “American Horror Story: Hotel,” titled “Battle Royale.”

To say the very, very least, a lot happened in the penultimate episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel,” titled “Battle Royale,” a shoutout to Ramona Royale’s crucial role in this episode (along with Angela Bassett’s terrifying performance). The most important event, of course is that the many people looking for the Countess’ (Lady Gaga) head on a platter finally got their wish.

The Countess finally met her maker, but that wasn’t all. Continuing in “AHS'” habit of bringing back fan favorites, the episode even saw the return of a certain “Coven” witch. But let’s break it all down:

Liz, Iris and Ramona

The episode picks up just before Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) and Iris’ (Kathy Bates) attack on the Countess. Iris is hesitant, but Liz has barely ever seemed so sure of anything before. As we saw, the duo enters the Countess’ suite and fires off bullets, but to Iris’ dismay, her son, Donovan (Matt Bomer), throws himself in front of the Countess. Though injured, the Countess escapes.

Donovan tells them that he can’t die in the hotel, as he’ll be trapped there with the Countess’ “other lovers.” It’s a little strange, given that just a few minutes ago he was perfectly fine with dying at the Countess’ hands, but Liz and Iris drag him out to the street. It seems that, through it all, Iris’ allegiance to her son stays strong. Some “blazing final act” it’s turning out to be for Iris, as she watches her son die in her arms.

Liz late cremates Donovan, and, alone, Iris empties the ashes in room 55. Her coldness returns when Miss Evers shows up, and Iris tells her to vacuum up all of Donovan’s remains.

Liz and Iris have been around long enough to know that it would be a longshot to expect that the Countess actually died. Liz has an idea, however: unleash Ramona from her cage. Iris is understandably weary, given that she and Ramona didn’t end on the best of terms, but Liz points out that they have a common enemy — the enemy that everyone seems to share these days, the Countess.

When they find Ramona, despite having feasted on all the vampire children, she’s not in good shape. She needs a fresh kill to put her back into a fighting position. Iris and Liz vow to help her with that, and the perfect sacrifice falls into their laps.

That sacrifice just so happens to be from “Coven,” with Gabourey Sidibe reprising her role as Queenie. It shows some interesting insight into the aftermath of “Coven”: she’s basically a celebrity, as Liz saw a report on CNN about her, and knows she’s a witch. And a witch’s blood would be perfect for Ramona.

Liz and Iris show Queenie her room, where she’s attacked by Ramona. However, anyone who saw “Coven” should know this won’t be easy for Ramona: Queenie’s a human voodoo doll, and Ramona can’t touch her without harming herself.

There’s a loophole, though, and it appears in the form of James March. He ultimately kills Queenie — he can’t be hurt by her powers because he’s already a ghost. March tells Ramona he also wants the Countess dead, and, like so many others, he thinks Ramona is just the woman for the job. Ramona feasts and, with the blood of a witch in her veins, she’s stronger than ever. But can killing the Countess really be that easy?

The Lowe family 

Not too much happened with this B plot in this episode, but the Lowe family finally returns home, about as close to whole as they can get. Scarlett (poor, poor Scarlett) brings up some very valid concerns: What are they supposed to tell Grandma? And how will the infected family members feed?

Feeding, John tells her, will be his concern alone. Later, he kidnaps a man, but returns home to find his family gone. A key to the Hotel Cortez is waiting, and John takes the bait, returning to the place where Sally is waiting. She tells him that March has his family, because John didn’t follow through on his promise. John has to find one more murder, and oh, he delivers.

The Countess and Sally

Sally has saved the Countess from what seemed like almost certain death, dragging her away and, in a brutal scene, removing the bullets from her body.

Why does Sally save the Countess? While you could chalk it up to need — Sally can’t leave the hotel, and therefore couldn’t leave that bait for John — it could also be Sally’s abandonment issues, which the Countess notes. “You’re not going to leave me, right?,” Sally pleads. “They always leave.”

With that, we learn more of Sally’s backstory. She was a musician (and drug dealer) and hopelessly attached to a musical duo. The three go to the Hotel Cortez, where a racy threesome scene quickly turns horrific. Sally, desperate to keep the couple with her, sews the three of them together, but the couple overdoses, and she’s stranded in bed with the corpses at her side. After two days, the Addiction Demon appears and tortures her until she can’t take it anymore, and detaches herself from the couple.

(Edit: Plothole alert? While it would make sense that Sally died this way, we learned earlier that she died when Iris pushed her out of the window of the Hotel Cortez, as commenters have pointed out. But if dragging Donovan out to the street before he died saved him from becoming a ghost of the hotel, shouldn’t it have also saved Sally, who technically died on the street as well? We need answers, Ryan Murphy!)

As a last resort to keep the Countess alive, Sally brings her some of her vampire children. Though it seems to break the Countess’ heart, she accepts their sacrifice, coming back to life by feeding on their blood.

Up and walking again (but still clearly weak), the Countess returns to her suite, where an empowered Ramona finds her, leading to a scene bursting with chemistry as the two alpha females clash once again. Ramona admits it’s easier to kill the Countess in her imagination, and the Countess even attempts to apologize (“I’m not used to this, cut me some slack, bitch,” says the Countess, clearly unaware of what an apology really is).

Ramona is seduced, though. “Kill me, but screw me first,” begs the Countess, and one has to wonder if her emotions are genuine — that she really wants to be freed of the hotel, but still wants Ramona — or if this is just a scheme.

Regardless, it works. The Countess, looking arrogant as ever, goes to leave the hotel, but is stopped in her tracks by John, who shoots her dead — for real, this time. John delivers the Countess’ head to March, who is clearly pleased. Sally, however, goes to kill John, but John dodges her and March holds back Sally. John, having delivered on his promise, goes to find his family.

Those mourning the loss of Lady Gaga hardly had time to grieve, though, as she’s returned as a ghost. She’s clearly not happy about her new state, with all her fire and passion zapped from her. March, however, could not be happier to have the Countess trapped with him.

Miss Evers is being uncharacteristically bitter, and it’s because she now has to deal with the Countess for eternity. In her anger, she admits to March that it was she who left the evidence that led the police to him, not the Countess, and confesses her undying love for him. Honesty is not the best policy in this case, though, as March banishes her from his presence. Miss Evers takes this news strangely well, embracing some new-found freedom.

We end on a painful shot of the Countess, who’s possibly realizing her worst nightmare. However, the Countess doesn’t go down without a fight… which we’ll undoubtedly see as “Hotel” airs its finale next week.

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  1. Ogreg says:

    Im kinda mad that they killed off queenie, I better see one of the witches either ressurect her or them coming to the hotel for revenge, I mean shes in the coven’s high council, and the supreme would be able to have a vision of her dying based on her powers from coven… raging that they killed queenie

  2. abookofhours says:

    I’m guessing we haven’t heard the last of Queenie, who proved that she could bring herself up from Hell during the test of the Seven Wonders back in Coven. Her cameo was just too darn fleeting to be random. (Also: Queenie’s on the coven’s high council now, so she’s kind of a big deal. The Supreme knows where she went. Will the coven come calling at the Cortez?)

  3. Bootylips says:

    Yeah I wasn’t clear on how Hyperdermic Sally originally died either. I kinda thought it was from being pushed out the window too. Then when she appeared it was kinda of snarky like “I’m already dead Iris. You can’t kill me.” So there’s that.

  4. Noel L. Cox says:

    Nice touch seeing Queenie. So Murder House and now the The Cortez has trapped souls? Is there a connection? Also, what does John want? Does he seriously think March will let him go so easily? And is Ms. Royale still alive or did the Countess kill her? Can’t think of what will make a satisfying ending for this show with one episode left, unless they gut the building and rebuild it to the Murder house. Although I have no idea what the time lines of those two shows so it may not be possible. Maybe just answering how souls get trapped within a building would be a nice touch.

  5. rcs says:

    Everything seems to be coming together nicely and I love Sally , she certainly seems to be showing a bit more passion than Alex …She definitely should have John !!! The million dollar question is who is the Addiction Demon ? And what ’bout the Countess’s child ?

  6. Cat says:

    Tristin was killed by the Countess in the Hotel also. How come he wasn’t able to come back as a ghost to be with Liz? Hmm….tis all rather inconsistent and confusing! Persisting with watching to the end but not enjoying it as much as previous seasons.

  7. Sally was already dead when Iris pushed her out the window. This was a flashback to her original death.

    • Lindsey says:

      No she wasn’t. She specifically says that she kept coming back to the Cortez because it was the only place she ever felt love. If she was a ghost she would never have left. Including being thrown out of a window…. couldn’t happen to a ghost because they can’t leave the building.

  8. Eileen says:

    Love the shout out to the “Knotty Pine” Coven scene in the scene with the Countess and March. In Coven, the afterlife was the man’s heaven (fishing and gin rickeys) and the wife’s hell (knotty pine!). In Hotel, Gaga’s face makes it clear that the eternal dinner table is Gaga’s hell but March’s heaven

  9. I’m CONFUSED! I though Sally died after Iris found her son dead of an overdose, and she pushed her from a window. This article says she died after being sewed to the corpses.

    • Liz says:

      Yes, this doesn’t make sense. I also thought that Iris pushed her out of a window and she fell to her death. Unless Iris pushed a ghost out of the window which still doesn’t make sense because the ghosts can’t leave the building.

  10. Lindsey says:

    If Donovan won’t have to be trapped in the hotel because he offflicially died out of the hotel then why is Sally there? Iris pushed her out of the window and she technically died on the sidewalk!

    And why has no other Vampire ghost been seen up until this episode? And where is Will’s son?

    Maybe I should become part of the writing staff at AHS so holes like this wouldn’t happen.

    • Chris Emery says:

      these loopholes would still happen because RYAN MURPHY has final script approval and he constantly changes things. Much like BRIAN FULLER did with HANNIBAL creating a fan script with the words #MURDERHUSBANDS which was ridiculous. Sometimes (and I’m gay) gay men should never have last script say

  11. Maf says:

    Hold on a second, Sally does not kill herself, Iris pushes her out of the window.

    • Nick says:

      Yup, had to double check, but I caught that too. And while Sally’s sewing stunt may have been horrific, it wouldn’t have caused death. Just some real nasty flesh wounds…

      The real question is, why would Sally return to The Cortez with Donovan after experiencing such trauma in that place?

      • Brendan says:

        It’s because right after she said that the Cortez was the only place she felt like she belonged and was welcomed.

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