In the American Horror Story: Hotel recap, the Countess’ history is retold including a relationship with Rudolph Valentino and her marriage to James Patrick March….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
There’s so much lurking inside the Hotel Cortez that we still haven’t seen.
This week’s episode unveiled a major reveal regarding Lady Gaga’s the Countess and the great lost love of her life, not to mention the person who passed along the vampire virus to her nearly 100 years ago.
We also learned — as long suspected — that the Countess was married to James Patrick March during his murderous rampage across Los Angeles until he died some years later. The nature of how they came together and fell apart gave some real insight into what drove both of them to where they are at now.
The only side story came from John Lowe falling further into madness as a theory I launched a few weeks back seems to be picking up steam amongst a lot of other recappers — that John is in fact the Ten Commandments killer — and his journey this week saw him end up in a mental institution looking for answers.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of American Horror Story: Hotel titled ‘Flicker’…
Will Drake has a lot going on right now — art exhibits, fashion shows, wedding plans — but at the top of the list is finishing the renovations at the Hotel Cortez. The only problem is as contractors start digging further and further into this house of horrors, they find new and strange places hidden behind every wall.
On one particular floor, an entire row is blocked off by a one-inch steel plate that runs the entire length with no discernable way to break in or tell what’s behind it. Will doesn’t have time to quibble about how it got there, but just wants it gone.
So the workers saw through the wall but when they go inside, two ghoulish creatures emerge and feed on them mercilessly before escaping.
A few hours later, the Countess and Iris arrive at the floor to investigate the death of the construction workers because Mr. Drake is off having his butthole waxed and bleached. This is where Iris drops the best line of the entire episode, maybe the entire season.
“I couldn’t pick my butthole out of a lineup.”
When the Countess and Iris look inside the hole where the construction workers lay dead, there are a lot of questions and very few answers. The Countess wonders if this was the new Governess Alex, but Iris says whoever was feasting here wasn’t just eating — they were starving. The Countess just looks at the gaped hole and the dead bodies in silence as Iris stares back at her.
“I’ve just never seen you scared before.”
At the time, the Countess doesn’t know what came from behind this wall but a flashback to Los Angeles in 1925 will reveal that what was hiding in that catacomb was a link to her past and the day she received the gift of eternal life.
The Latin Lover
Before the Countess was the queen of the 1970’s disco era or even the haunting sex-obsessed fashionista living in the penthouse at the Hotel Cortez, she was an extra in movies in the mid 1920’s and that’s where she first encountered famous actor and sex symbol Rudolph Valentino (played by Finn Wittrock) on the set of his film Son of the Sheik.
Rumors abounded on set that Valentino and his wife Natacha (played by Alexandra Daddario) were having problems and breaking up and when the Countess receives a note asking to meet at his bungalo later that night it was if her heart was pounding through her chest and falling into her stomach all at once.
When the Countess arrives, she shares dinner and a dance with Valentino but then receives a rather shocking surprise — Natacha has been there the entire time and the two of them were never getting a divorce, it was all just a show for the studio who has been trying to break them apart for years. Valentino and Natacha invited the Countess over because they are both quite taken by her and a few moments later the three of them fall into bed together before starting a full fledged polyamorous relationship that lasted for months.
But tragedy struck while the Countess was attending a party at the newly opened Hotel Cortez as she found out via a newspaper article that Valentino had died while on a press tour for his latest movie.
Stricken by grief, the Countess was ready to throw herself out a window because without Valentino by her side, life was no longer worth living. But just as she was about to fall to her certain death, James Patrick March grabbed her from the ledge and pulled her back inside again. He wiped away her tears and was immediately drawn to her like a moth to a flame.
“In fact, I may never let you go”
~ Mr. March
Some months later with Valentino gone, the Countess married Mr. March at the Hotel Cortez and even participated in his appetite for murder when she discovered his bloodlust one day and suggested that he start killing people with money so that would at least benefit them. Oh and she wanted to watch.
Mr. March was head over heels in love, but the same couldn’t be said for the Countess. While she was certainly drawn to his dark side, deep down she never got over Valentino and ever since he died she dressed in black each day and delivered a single red rose to his gravesite as a way to honor him.
Until one day when the Countess placed the latest rose in the mausoleum and from out of nowhere she turned and saw both Valentino and Natacha approaching her, alive and well, and explaining what happened to them after his alleged death.
Creatures of the Night
As happy as the Countess is to see her former lovers returned from the dead, she’s still furious why they didn’t explain their rouse and why they’ve come back now.
Valentino explains that while he was on the press tour for his latest film, he was approached by famous German director F.W. Murnau (best known for his film Nosferatu) and it was there that he explained in his research for the seminal vampire picture that he discovered a coven of sexy vampires who passed along a virus that gave him eternal life but a thirst for blood that went along with it.
Murnau told Valentino that silent pictures were disappearing soon and the sound of the actors and actresses voices would render him unemployed because as beautiful as he was on the outside, his lack of perfect English would hinder him when speaking. So Murnau offered him the same gift of eternal life and once Valentino drank his blood, he knew that his life on screen was over. So he passed along the virus to Natacha as well and then faked his own death so that he could escape fame and live a life of anonymity that would last forever.
The Countess is obviously angry about the loves of her life pull this off without ever considering her feelings, but Valentino and Natacha have returned to reclaim her and give her the same gift that gave them eternal life. Once she’s ‘infected’, the Countess can then leave with them and travel the globe as the three of them will live and love forever.
Valentino: “When she came to me I shared with her the dark gift Murnau had given to me.”
Natacha: “And now we want to share it with you.”
What the Countess doesn’t notice at the time is that her husband Mr. March has been watching this entire time as his beloved wife plots to leave him.
Who Is the Killer?
As for John Lowe, he’s checking into a mental hospital to get some much needed help and his soon to be ex-wife Alex has even come along to support him. While it looks like he’s seeking assistance with all the issues he’s been dealing with lately, in reality John discovered the name of the hospital where the police are holding the suspect in the Ten Commandments killings and he wants an audience.
Once he’s admitted, John bides his time until he attacks a guard, steals his keys and enters into the room where the killer is locked up.
Inside, John doesn’t find a murderer but only a little girl named Wren.
She claims that she went along with the Ten Commandments killer on all his murders and even assisted with a few of them. She also explains her awful childhood where she grew up with an abusive father, who told her at a young age that once she was old enough, she would become his mate. So the little girl always feared actually getting older. All of that stopped, however, in 1986 when her father went drinking at the Hotel Cortez and she met the Countess for the first time.
Ever since then, Wren has remained the same age because the virus was passed onto her as well.
John then wants to know if she can take him to the killer and Wren agrees so long as he can get them out of the hospital. This is going to require a trip back to the Hotel Cortez because that’s where the killer resides. They leave together but just as they are about to approach the road, Wren stops and says something awfully strange to John after asking if he would kill the killer when they arrive at the hotel. John says if he has to kill him, so be it.
“I really like you. I hate to see it end. Goodbye, John.”
Wren throws herself in front of a speeding bus much to John’s shock, but maybe even more unsettling is that she may have confirmed the rumor that I first suspected as far back as the Halloween episodes — that John is in fact the Ten Commandments killer and he’s been flashing back and forth between two split personalities this entire time.
In present day, the Countess shows up at Mr. March’s room for dinner — a monthly event where the former husband and wife catch up. She tells him that she’s about to marry again and Mr. March is all too happy for her. Although he does offer up some advice about her new husband.
“Very good, darling, very good. Might I suggest that when you murder him you do so off the property. It’d damned awkward to keep running into him for all eternity.”
~ Mr. March
The Countess says that maybe she’s finally fallen in love and doesn’t plan on murdering him but Mr. March knows better — and he also knows she’s been in love before but just not with him. He tells her that for all the things he did for her including expensive gifts and giving her the entire hotel, she never loved him.
“I could never compete with the shadow of a God on a screen 20-feet tall!”
~ Mr. March
That’s when Mr. March reveals that after that day in the mausoleum, that he found Valentino and Natacha, hired men to assault them before he locked them into a section of his hotel hidden behind a steel-plated wall where they would stay forever. They would be just a few feet away from the Countess but she would never know.
So the two ghouls who killed the construction workers and later killed poor real estate worker Marcy — who survived the Murder House but doesn’t make it out of the Hotel — are actually Valentino and Natacha, who finally broke free after being locked in that dungeon for the past 90 years.
The Countess is horrified at the revelation because now she knows that the greatest love of her life didn’t jilt her and leave her waiting for a train that never came. It was her awful husband that kidnapped them and left them for dead and it resulted in the Countess never being able to love again.
A few moments later, Valentino and Natacha emerge from upstairs, their wrinkled and withered skin looking as healthy as ever — now that they’ve fed — and they walk out of the Hotel Cortez hand in hand.
It seems love really does last forever except for the Countess, who had hers stolen away and tucked in a box which resulted in her own heart breaking in two almost a hundred years ago.
“Circles” by The Soft Moon
“Lullaby” by The Cure