“She Wants Revenge” isn’t American Horror Story at its finest, but it does mark a major step back in the right direction after two especially disappointing installments. The episode kicks off by running through all of The Countess’ boy toys. First she’s busy planning her intimate wedding with Will Drake, then she manages to track down her long lost lover Rodolfo Valentino and finally it’s back to the Hotel Cortez to rekindle her romance with Donovan.
Meanwhile, Iris is busy living it up as a vampire. When Stormcock and his porn stars check into the hotel to shoot a dirty movie to put on the world wide web (gasp!), Iris decides to take it upon herself to rid the world of their “mess-terpiece” and set an example for mothers everywhere by killing them. While in the middle of her little project, Donovan walks in and gets a kick out of his strong new mother. She’s thrilled he’s there but also warns him that The Countess might be coming for him. Apparently she spilled the beans and told The Countess that is was Ramona’s fault that Bartholomew escaped and now she’s concerned that The Countess will connect the dots and figure out that they’re all plotting against her. However, Donovan assures her that he’s got the situation under control because The Countess thinks that they’re officially back together.
After that comes more pure gold from Mare Winningham as Miss Evers. Will Drake is busy trying on suits with Lachlan when she steps in to warn him of what will happen if he marries The Countess. She explains that once The Countess puts that ring on his finger, she’ll bleed him dry, but Will isn’t buying it and demands that she leave the hotel immediately. She casually tells him, “So be it,” and then launches into an especially vicious tirade detailing his demise and her excitement to see it play out.
From there we move over to Ramona’s mansion where we get an especially heartbreaking flashback. Donovan swings by to share a drink – the remaining porn star – and tell her his plan. He slipped a drug into The Countess’ drink so now’s the time to strike. However, he admits that when the time does come, he won’t be able to pull the trigger himself, which leads to a conversation about trust. The writers don’t connect the flashback to Ramona’s desperation for revenge particularly well, but it is a wildly captivating and chilling sequence.
We go back to Los Angeles in 1992, right after The Countess took Ramona’s one true love from her. Lonely and heartbroken, Ramona goes back to the one place she knows she’ll find people who love her, her parents’ house. Both are sick, her mother with a physical illness and her father with Alzheimers, but she does find some solace in being with them. However, after her mother passes, her father’s health deteriorates. Then, one night, her father is attacked during a break-in. Desperate to keep him alive, Ramona gives him some of her blood. Trouble is, the virus doesn’t fix neurons so even though she gets him back, he still barely remembers her. After 20 stagnant years, she decides enough is enough and puts him out of his misery by drowning him in the bathtub.
After that disconcerting trip down memory lane, Ramona and Donovan head to the hotel where the plan is to simply stab The Countess while she sleeps. It’s pretty clear that that’s not going to pan out the moment they step into her suite, but we do get a somewhat effective twist when it’s revealed that Donovan’s been conning Ramona all along. He tases Ramona just before she can dig the knife into The Countess’ heart and then locks her up so that he can “hate watch” her. Iris tries to reason with him, but it’s no use. Donovan belongs to The Countess yet again – for now at least.
The Countess heads back to the motel where Rudy and Natacha are staying. While Natacha is out swiping The Countess’ credit card to her heart’s content, The Countess tells Rudy the plan; once she scores a large sum of money she’ll turn the Cortez into a fortress against the modern world, and they can live happily ever after there together – without Natacha. Surprisingly, Rudy seems okay with that last part. When The Countess struts out of the room super pumped about her future, we find out that Donovan has been right outside and he’s got a look on his face that suggests he heard it all.
Finally the big day comes, and The Countess and Will tie the knot. Immediately after, Will heads to the bar for a celebratory drink where he comes face to face with Mr. March who takes him to meet Bartholomew. When The Countess overhears Will insulting her child, she decides that now is the time to off her brand spanking new husband. She knocks him out and he comes to in the same room as Ramona. He graciously helps her out of the cage, but soon discovers that they’re completely trapped. He’s concerned they’ll starve, but Ramona assures him that she won’t and starts chowing down as Miss Evers watches her tear him apart. The Countess is “hate watching” as well, but from the comfort of her suite thanks to her fancy new security system.
Lastly, in a portion of the show that’s exciting to revisit but doesn’t quite fit into this episode, we finally reunite with the classroom full of children who became vampires. Alex tracks them to a mansion where they’re noshing on a pile of dead bodies. She tries to convince them to come with her to the Cortez, and Madeline does want to take her up on the offer, but the boys insist they’re better off on their own and force her to leave with them.
Minus this last little bit and the slight disconnect with Ramona’s flashback, “She Wants Revenge” is one of the tightest episodes of the season. It does bounce from one character to the next rather quickly, but it’s exciting, engaging and all comes together in a satisfying and well-earned conclusion. At this point, is there any stopping The Countess? She’s got the hotel, has no trouble eliminating her enemies and has almost everyone else wrapped around her finger. At this point, I wouldn’t mind seeing Iris and Liz Taylor finish her off, but it’s hard to imagine them pulling it off alone.
Episode Rating: ★★★
Odds and Ends:
- “Buy your own damn flowers.” – Liz Taylor
- “I’m becoming a goddamned dirty Harriet.” – Iris
- “I’m an example for mothers everywhere now.” – Iris
- “Would you like me to bring you a knife, Mr. Drake?” – Miss Evers
- “You’re a genius! But The Countess is a creature from heaven.” – Mr. March
- “One day very soon you will understand. You will know nothing but pain, hm? And I will be there and you will reach out to me for help and mercy and in return, I will watch you die with a smile on my face because I will know that once you are gone, I will get the chance to clean the blood and shit out of that pretty formalwear of yours.” – Miss Evers