“Room 33” doesn’t have the vibrancy of American Horror Story: Hotel’s strongest episodes, but it does manage to take the overabundance of characters and scenarios, link quite a few together and give them far more value.
The episode kicks off with a flashback that reveals a brand new link between American Horror Story seasons. Back in 1926, The Countess paid Dr. Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) a visit at Murder House. She’s only three weeks pregnant, but looks full term so Dr. Montgomery takes her down to the basement to operate. The sequence implies that she’s undergoing an abortion but instead, Dr. Montgomery delivers the baby – a boy with the capability of mutilating his nurse in an instant. The Countess keeps this bundle of joy in room 33 at the Cortez.
In the present, The Countess is busy trying to pleasure Will Drake, who I completely forgot existed. She tries to spice up the night by calling Tristan in, but little does she know, Tristan would rather be spending his time with Liz Taylor. Even though we haven’t seen the slightest hint of a relationship budding between the two of them, on tonight’s episode, it’s revealed that they love each other dearly.
Meanwhile, Iris, Ramona and Donovan are finally making moves against The Countess. While Iris tries to track down the vampire children, Donovan bumps into Agnetha and Vendela, the tourists from the beginning of the season, and explains to them that they’re trapped in the hotel for eternity. They’ll be stuck in an unbreakable chain unless they find a purpose like Cara, a woman who once killed herself in the Cortez and then woke up and took a liking to terrorizing the guests. As for Ramona, she’s going after The Countess’ baby boy in room 33, Bartholomew.
Mere seconds after walking into the room, it’s clear that you don’t want to mess with teeny tiny Bartholomew. He escapes and Liz Taylor instructs Alex to track him down because if The Countess finds out he’s out of the room, all hell will break loose. While she works on that, Liz takes Ramona down to the bar to mend her head wound and have a little chat. She reveals that she’s fallen for Tristan and deeply believes that The Countess will understand the situation, but Ramona’s been there before. She knows The Countess is ruthless and won’t stand for it. Liz ignores Ramona’s advice and after a very moving speech from Tristan, The Countess tricks them both into thinking they can be together and then effortlessly slashes Tristan’s throat.
As for John, things are finally getting a bit more interesting for him. When Holden wakes him up in the middle of the night and leads him right back to the pool of coffins, Alex knocks him out and tries to convince him that he had a psychotic episode. When that doesn’t work as well as she hoped, she decides to make use of Agnetha and Vendela’s issue. When killing doesn’t do the trick for them, Alex explains that they could find their purpose a different way, by breaking victims’ minds, like John’s.
After attempting to investigate the last commandment murder crime scene but getting the boot, John returns to the Cortez to drown his sorrows in alcohol. He thinks things are looking up when he gets to live out his fantasy with Agnetha and Vendela, but the moment quickly descends into a bloody nightmare, really sending John off the deep end. He showers and packs in a hurry, but doesn’t notice that a certain someone has crept into his suitcase.
John heads home with Scarlet where Bartholomew sneaks out of his bag. After he shuffles around the house a bit, John finds him in the kitchen and we get one of the most stunning shots of the season – Scarlet watching cartoons in the foreground and John attempting to blow Bartholomew’s brains out in the background. He manages to wound him, but when Alex comes to check on John and Scarlet, she finds Bartholomew in the bushes and brings him back to the Cortez to care for him. It’s clear that The Countess is extremely grateful, but considering The Countess has a history of ruining the lives of people she cares for, who knows if that deed will have any weight in future episodes.
Overall, “Room 33” impresses because of how well it weaves all of these stories together. In fact, this episode might have the strongest scene transitions we’ve seen all season. The whole Donovan, Iris and Ramona vs. The Countess thing still hasn’t picked up much momentum, but the Bartholomew storyline definitely shows promise and “Room 33” really ramped things up big time for John, Alex and poor, poor Scarlet.
Episode Rating: ★★★
Odds and Ends:
- “It’s the power of the hotel. Makes you lose your compass, your sense of yourself.” – Donovan
- “I love the bouquet of rotting flesh.” – Miss Evers
- “Looks like that breakdown is going well.” – Liz
- “You collect us and create us and get us addicted to the light of your love just so you can take it away. You feed off the heartbreak.” – Tristan
- “You saved my son.” – The Countess “You saved mine.” – Alex
- Just throwing this out there, but what if John is actually the Ten Commandments Killer?