American Horror Story is still brimming with sex, drugs and blood, but “Mommy” is also laden with exposition that isn’t delivered nearly as well as Mr. March’s backstory in “Chutes and Ladders.”
Episode 3 opens with Tristan returning to Mr. March’s room. His first visit there wasn’t particularly pleasant, but now he’s a changed man, thinks killing is awesome and is eager to follow in Mr. March’s footsteps. When they hear Will Drake discussing plans to renovate the Cortez, Mr. March insists, “He can’t be allowed to touch a single room.” Tristan steps up and ensures him that he can take care of the issue, kicking off what will hopefully be an especially despicable mentor/mentee relationship.
From there the focus shifts to Alex Lowe. The child she treated in the previous episode got worse and while she tends to him again, a voiceover kicks in breaking down her current situation. Turns out, Alex never really wanted to be a mother at all. She just wanted to be the best pediatrician possible. However, when Holden came into the world, everything changed. They had a very special bond so when he disappeared, it broke her. In fact, she even tried to kill herself. Now she merely carries on, mostly for Scarlett but even then, she doesn’t love her quite like she loved Holden.
Back at the Hotel Cortez, we get a dose of gory goodness. As one might have guessed, the fashion editor Claudia (Naomi Campbell) doesn’t last long. After getting into bed, Gabriel breaks through her mattress and stabs her to death. Cut to another gruesome visual – one of John’s crime scenes. The killer he’s tracking targeted a gossip site next, leaving an office full of employees with their tongues nailed down or ripped right out. This element of the show is delivering some especially stunning displays of brutality, but it isn’t sparking much of a desire to follow along, connect the dots and figure out all of this Ten Commandments nonsense.
We leave the blood behind for a little sexy time with Tristan and Will Drake. Tristan attempts to seduce Will so he can kill him for Mr. March, but before he can do it, he gets the finger wag from The Countess. From there we shift back to Gabriel who’s being rushed into the hospital. Just before he flatlines, he tells John it’s all Sally’s fault so back to the Cortez John goes to confront her. During their chat, she references the Ten Commandments, making John think she might have been snooping in his room. He attempts to arrest her, but she manages to seduce him, possibly with some help from whatever that faceless creature is.
After that, “Mommy” turns up the melodrama. Iris is thrilled when Donovan returns to the hotel, but then the two get into a vicious argument with Donovan spewing out a list of all the terrible things that Iris has done to him, the most scarring being when she gave his father the boot. It’s a good deal of exposition and certainly makes me think that Iris is at fault to a degree, but Donovan’s outburst and insults are so bratty and hateful, it’s tough to understand his side of the situation. After storming off and noshing on some junkies, Donovan attempts to have a another helping but the woman he goes after is actually Angela Bassett and if we learned anything from previous seasons of AHS, she’s not one to be messed with. She tases him, puts him in her trunk and drives off.
Back at the hotel, Alex meets John at the bar. He thinks she’s there to visit and maybe put his mind at ease, but then she hands him divorce papers. He doesn’t take it very well, crumbling to the ground and weeping, so she walks him back to his room. However, something happens while she’s tucking him into bed and they start fooling around a bit. It seems like things could get back on track until John blurts out, “Let’s have another baby.” Sure enough, that’s not what Alex wanted to hear so she splits and that’s when we get the big payoff from all of her exposition earlier in the episode. Hearing about her super special relationship with Holden makes their reunion in the hallway all the more powerful.
Meanwhile, things are getting hot and heavy between Will Drake and The Countess. That is until Tristan walks in on them. He’s furious and meets The Countess down at the bar for a private chat during which she reveals what’s really going on here. Turns out, Bernie Madoff lost all of The Countess’ money (really) and now she needs to marry Will Drake so that she can steal every last penny from him.
Then we’re back with Donovan who’s tied to a chair in a massive marble mansion. While Bassett cleans his system of everything he just ingested while snacking on junkies, she runs through her life story. She’s Ramona Royale, a nobody who wound up becoming a B-movie star. While trying to score bigger, better roles, she ran into The Countess and she changed Ramona’s life forever. They had a 14 year relationship that went to hell when Ramona met and fell in love with someone else. But that wasn’t the tipping point. What caused The Countess to murder a room full of people and blow Ramona’s love’s brains out was the fact that Ramona attempted to turn him. Apparently The Countess’ creations are not allowed to create themselves. Now Ramona wants Donovan’s help to retaliate. He’s going to be her man on the inside during her mission to destroy The Countess’ most precious possessions, her vampire children.
However, before he even starts on that, Donovan complicates matters further by committing what he just learned is the ultimate sin, turning someone else. Iris asks Sally to off her with a needle, but when that fails, Sally moves to plan B, putting a bag over her head. Feeling inspired after a chat with Liz Taylor, Donovan realizes that no one will ever love him like his mother so he runs to see her. Trouble is, he’s too late. She’s already suffocated to death. Desperate, he slices open his arm and revives her with his vampire blood.
“Mommy” isn’t half as energetic, cohesive or memorable as “Chutes and Ladders,” but at least all of this exposition does create the potential for a good deal of conflict in future episodes. Let’s just hope that the writers aren’t dishing out too many details too fast. Quite a few of the characters already have multiple major issues on their hands.
Episode Rating: ★★★
Odds and Ends:
- “Are you familiar with my Black Closet?” Now that sounds obscene.
- “Every beautiful young thing is hilarious.” – Will Drake
- “Don’t haunt my hallways, bitch.” – Sally