‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ recap 5×03: ‘Mommy’

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The third episode of “American Horror Story” revolves around the ever-important relationship between mother and child, and how it’s not always as idealistic as it is made out to be. This week’s theme explores a different aspect in the “American Horror Story” realm, revealing more vulnerable sides in the characters and their bonds.

The episode starts off with a newly turned Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock) visiting one of the rooms in the hotel that James Patrick March (Evan Peters) haunts. Tristan has learned facts about the infamous serial killer and gushes to Mr. March’s ghost about the fun of killing, after Tristan had his first taste of it last week. In a bonding moment, Mr. March then tells Tristan about all the nooks and crannies in the hotel that he has created especially for killing. But more trouble isn’t far off as both Mr. March and Tristan overhear Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) discussing plans for the hotel’s renovation. Tristan reassures Mr. March that he will take care of the new threat.

After that opening sequence, the audience gets an inner monologue from Alex Lowe (Chloe Sevigny). Alex is a pediatrician for the wealthy. She constantly has to deal with parents that believe they know more than medically proven facts because they follow health fads that ultimately harm their own children. Alex goes into talking about how initially having her own kids never seemed like something she wanted. Reflecting on her friends’ relationships with their kids the prospect of having her own always seemed boring, especially since she preferred to focus on her career. She then goes into remembering her first born, Holden. Alex explains her complete emotional turn, as Holden became the true love of her life. Her description of her relationship with her son is beautiful and haunting as it also deals with her love of Holden surpassing that of her husband and her second born, Scarlett. She takes a dramatic turn as she discusses the pain of losing a child — a pain that involves the inevitable sadness, medication and, in Alex’s case, attempted suicide. Alex’s pain seeps through the screen and sets the mood for the entire episode.

The show then goes back to the hotel’s resident. Poor Claudia Bankson (Naomi Campbell) is stabbed to death by Gabriel (Max Greenfield) as he jumps out of a mattress, very much alive. Gabriel stumbles into the lobby covered in blood and erratically falls onto John Lowe (Wes Bentley). John brings Gabriel to the emergency room where he unfortunately dies, but not before telling John that he thought he was killing Sally for what she did to him. This leads John to confront Sally. Sally continues to be allusive to his questions and then weirdly tries to seduce John in an uncomfortable yet artistically shot scene.

Back to Tristan, he approaches Will in an attempt to seduce then kill. As he gets close, the Countess (Lady Gaga) makes sure to stop him. When she confronts Tristan, she expresses her intent to marry Will after she goes into full detail on how she lost all her money by investing with Bernie Madoff.

The other mother-son duo, Donovan (Matt Bomer) and Iris (Kathy Bates), has familial issues that are brought to the screen. Iris is trying to find a new apartment to resettle into with Donovan after the Countess broke up with him. Donovan resists Iris’ attempts to connect with him and he expresses his hatred for her. In what turns out to be a “he-said, she-said” type of scene, it is evident that Iris is over protective yet this proves too much for Donovan as he leaves the hotel after telling his mother to go kill herself.

Donovan leaves in a huff and goes to drink blood from high junkies by a freeway pass. He spots a woman having some car troubles. Low and behold, it’s Angela Bassett as Ramona Royale. She knocks Donovan over the head and puts him in her trunk. Back at her house she is trying to drain Donovan of the junkie blood that he drank. She proceeds to tell him about who she is and what she wants. Turns out, Ramona was a famous B-film actress in the ‘70s, where she met and fell in love with the Countess. After being turned into a vampire, Ramona fell in love with someone else and also transformed him. Heartbroken, the Countess shot Ramona’s lover, leaving Ramona alone and emotionally damaged. Now Ramona is bent on revenge and wants Donovan to help her get close to the Countess, so she can kill the Countess’ little vampire children, but learning that the Countess dumped him, Ramona lets Donovan go.

The episode culminates with Alex visiting the hotel to give John divorce papers. She wanders the labyrinth of hallways when she sees and runs to her son. In a chilling and heartbreaking scene for the broken mother, Holden looks up at Alex and recognizes her. The show then cuts to a scene of Iris killing herself with the help of Sally. They first try to give Iris an overdose but when that doesn’t work, too pained to live without the love of Donovan anymore, Iris has Sally suffocate her with a plastic bag. Feeling alone and dejected, Donovan goes back to the hotel, realizing he has nowhere else to go. Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) won’t take Donovan’s pity party and tells him that, no matter what, no one else in the world would love him as much as his mother. When realizing his wrongs, Donovan goes on a desperate search for his mother. When he finds her dead he realizes that he can’t live without her and he chooses the ultimate bond, he turns her.

Ultimately, this episode developed exciting new plot twists with the turning of Iris and the introduction of Ramona. Though a relationship type was excellently explored, the audience is still left wanting more at the end of this episode thanks to the exciting cliffhangers.  


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