“Room 33” begins with a flashback that offers a shout-out to American Horror Story’s first season. Then we zip back to the present, where John continues his (sneakily assisted) descent into madness, Liz Taylor gets a taste of bliss, and Ramona and Donovan’s revenge plot hits a bit of a speed bump.
Ok. Liz Taylor is one of the best characters on this show (her oh-so-dry appraisal of the bratty John was one of this season’s best moments: “Looks like that breakdown is going well...”), and it’s perfectly logical that she’d fall in love, considering how happy and confident she is with herself. But the whole Liz-Tristan romance—though it was sweet, what with the “When I see you come down to the lobby...” pillow talk—felt more like a calculated plot device than anything emotionally genuine. There wasn’t much else for Tristan to do now that the Countess has her sights set on Drake/Drake’s moneybags—who, for his part, and even though he’s gay, has apparently fallen for her seductive vampire charms. And despite Liz’s loyalty to the woman who made her a woman, she can’t resist grabbing onto what she suspects is her once-in-a-lifetime chance at real love.
But: “I don’t share,” the Countess informs her. Oh, we know, girl. And when the Countess generously says “You may have him,” we know what’s coming next: RIP Tristan. Will Liz join the Anti-Countess League now? They could sure use someone with her savvy. Donovan’s contributions thus far have been re-installing his newly turned mother at the hotel’s front desk, which has yielded no useful intel to date, and bringing Ramona back to the hotel, where she’s eager to go to the basement and “take care of those kiddies.”
But the kiddies aren’t in the basement anymore, because Liz helped Alex (heh, “Nanny McPhee”) move the coffins as part of Alex’s mindfuckery-heavy plot to get John out of the hotel. John is sure he saw Alex lying in one of the coffins with Holden, which he actually did see, but it’s a crazy enough claim that Alex, pretending she’s still in no-nonsense doctor mode, is able to retcon him into disbelieving. She also convinces the Swedish girls from episode one—now ghosts doomed to wander the hallways; still obsessed with The Fast and the Furious, though—that tormenting the guests is a really great way to pass the time. Their gory three-way with a boozed-up John is enough to spook him out of the hotel ... FINALLY ... and reunite with his daughter ... FINALLY ... who by now is one of few sane and/or not-supernatural characters left on the show.
However, while you can take the cop out of the Hotel Cortez, you can’t take the Hotel Cortez out of the cop. In his rush to pack up, John doesn’t notice that the very mysterious resident that lurks in Room 33 has slithered into his suitcase. In that opening flashback to 1926, we see the Countess—already a vampire—going to the Murder House to get an abortion. But her three-week-old fetus (her husband is not the father, she says) has already grown so much that the procedure is more of a c-section.
The baby is born alive, and though it never grows beyond a baby-sized monster, it’s still very much a beloved son. Ramona knows this, but “Bartholomew” clobbers her when she tries to kill him, and he escapes. (Side note: of course Ramona and Liz were pals back when Ramona and the Countess were an item. Another reason to suspect they’ll bond again now that they’ve both been royally burned by Her Blondness.) Liz orders Alex to find him, so it’s quite convenient when she goes to her old house to confront a freaking-out John and finds the little critter hiding in the bushes. Anyone else get Basket Case vibes from these scenes?
So the main theme of the episode is love; the best takeaway is to avoid it like hell, especially if the Countess is in your orbit, because it’ll just lead to heartbreak and revenge, and possibly require you to become a vampire. The goings-on at the hotel are always so blood-soaked and theatrical that it’s almost easy to forget that American Horror Story has an ongoing serial killer mystery, too. Though John’s been kicked off the force, he still barges the latest Ten Commandments Killer crime scene, which has something to do with not taking the Lord’s name in vain:
We also hear, from John’s concerned-yet-increasingly-exasperated police colleague that they’ve got a suspect in custody. A suspect, eh? We’ll have to wait until a later episode to hear more about that. Also absent this week: that rampaging gang of junior-high vampires Alex unwittingly created when she dosed Measles Boy with her undead blood. Surely we’ll be seeing those little devils again soon—and what will the Countess have to say about Alex’s unauthorized handiwork?
But we do get one more look at that horrible hipster guy that Iris took care of last week, shrieking his way through purgatory, still trying to find some kale. Ha.