Spoiler alert: Do not read on unless you’ve seen episode 10 of “American Horror Story: Hotel,” titled “She Gets Revenge.”
At first glance, the name of the winter finale of “American Horror Story: Hotel” could apply to any number of characters: the Countess (Lady Gaga), Alex (Chloe Sevigny), Sally (Sarah Paulson), Ramona (Angela Bassett)… the list goes on. At one point, it would seem “He Gets Revenge” would’ve been a better title, given Donovan’s (Matt Bomer) big kill.
But in the end, it’s Iris (Kathy Bates) and Liz Taylor (Dennis O’Hare) who find vengeance, setting the stage for an epic battle in the Hotel Cortez when the show returns in 2016. But there was plenty that happened in this week’s episode, so let’s break it down:
Liz Taylor and Iris
Even for “AHS” standards, the beginning of the episode was dark. An elderly couple checks into the hotel; the woman has cancer, and doesn’t have much time left. The two decide to go out together, putting a bullet into each other’s skulls. Liz, still traumatized from Tristan’s (Finn Wittrock) death, wants to end it all as well, but Iris stops her. If Liz has unfinished business and kills herself in the hotel, she’ll be trapped there forever.
So, Liz decides to take care of her unfinished business — her son — and the two friends can commit suicide together. With the help of Miss Evers (Mare Winningham, delivering another striking performance), Liz gets her son Douglas to the Hotel Cortez.
At first, Douglas doesn’t seem to recognize Liz. To him, Liz is just his bartender, and they hit it off. Douglas tells Liz about his life while, to Liz’s knowledge, she remains anonymous.
But the surprise is Liz’s: Douglas knew the whole time who Liz was. And, though some bitterness seems to linger about Liz walking out on the family, Douglas accepts her. Liz’s fears that Douglas would reject her, due to her being a woman, vanish. In fact, Douglas even wants to be a part of her life. For once, a character gets a happy ending, and it’s gratifying to see Liz so happy since Tristan’s death.
With her newfound peace, Liz goes to speak with Iris, who has already made her own tribute video “for her three Instagram followers.” Liz convinces Iris not to kill herself, but instead, go out with a “blazing final act” — but more on that later.
Alex and John Lowe and 2015’s “Children of the Corn”
Alex and John Lowe (Wes Bentley) are finally reunited in the Hotel Cortez. John has countless questions for Alex, but at least they can agree on one thing: they are the “world’s worst parents” (remember Scarlet?).
But they have bigger issues now. The Countess has found about Alex’s stunt of turning a dying child into a vampire, who would go on to turn his classmates into vampires. They’re wreaking havoc across Los Angeles, and if Alex doesn’t take care of it, she and Holden will have to pay.
They find the children and, after Alex tries to help of their dying friends, they agree to go back the Hotel Cortez with them. There, Alex and John lock them in with something even more horrifying than they are: a hungry Ramona (mark “Mama smells appetizers” as one of the best line deliveries of the season).
Alex and John reconnect, and Alex claims that she “likes this new John Lowe.” But Sally’s there — she’s always there. She tries to convince John that Alex would never accept the serial killer side of him, but given what Alex has done, Sally could be wrong. Sally even tries to kill him, but fails.
Alex reunites John with Holden, and they walk out of the hotel, a seemingly happy family. But Sally swears, in front of his whole family, that she’ll kill John. But how can she follow through on that promise unless he returns to the Hotel Cortez?
The Countess and Donovan
Finn Wittrock really can’t catch a break. Yet another one of his “Hotel” characters meets his maker, as Donovan kills Valentino. At the same time, the Countess kills Natasha, yelling, “Who’s the little mouse now?” as she dies. One of the themes of this episode? Never bring a knife to a gun fight.
Even with Natasha dead, the Countess has quite the mess on her hands. Because she killed Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) in the hotel, he’s still around. As the Countess is speaking to a couple of detectives about Will’s “disappearance,” Will saunters in, leaving the Countess uncharacteristically surprised (the reveal almost inspires flashbacks to a certain entrance Emma Roberts made in “Coven”).
Will, not being too dense, has realized the Countess married and killed him for his money, but his wealth is left to his son. The joke’s on Will, however: the Countess is his son’s guardian. She teases that she could kill him, or make him a “blood relative.”
Later, the Countess and Donovan share a couple’s dinner, and Donovan can hardly wait to tell her what he’s done. No secrets in this relationship — he reveals Valentino’s fate, and the Countess goes to see her former lover. Finding him dead, his face torn apart by a bullet, she’s devastated, and we see impressive emotion come out of Lady Gaga.
She confronts Donovan, who’s celebrating his victory to the tune of Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” To the Countess’ surprise, he didn’t run from her, because he wants to die, specifically at her hands. The two share a shockingly emotional scene, almost ending with the Countess’ hands around his neck.
But oh, wait for it: Remember that “blazing final act”? Here it is. Iris and Liz enter the room with guns blazing (literally), firing off bullets at the Countess and Donovan, the two people who betrayed them the most.
Of course, it ends on a cliffhanger. What’s to come of the Countess and Donovan? It’s hard to say, as no one in the Hotel Cortez is ever really dead. And where will the Lowe family go from here? We’ll have to wait until 2016 to find out.