This week’s flashback-filled episode was amazing. It features Old Hollywood, old vampires, being locked up and finally escaping.
The show opens with Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) finally renovating the Hotel Cortez. His construction workers notice that the hotel has some strange parts that aren’t in the blueprints, so they break down a wall to reveal a dark passage. When they go down this passage, their necks are ravaged as two aged and dried up vampires drink their blood.
The show cuts to John Lowe (Wes Bentley) being checked in to a psychiatric ward by Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny). As John is getting evaluated, he tells the doctor about his work on trying to figure out the identity of the Ten Commandments Killer. Then there’s a flashback to the police station to when John was fighting with his old partner and asking who the suspect is. The camera cuts to John, who notices overturned files in the station that say the suspect is currently in a psychiatric ward, the same ward that John is being checked into.
The Countess (Lady Gaga) sees the two dead construction workers and doesn’t understand who could have killed them. This is the set-up for her backstory. It’s 1925 in Hollywood, the Countess, known back then as Elizabeth Johnson, is an extra on a film set, and she has big dreams for Hollywood. Elizabeth is obsessed with the immortality of film. She has a crush on the film’s lead, Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock), but Rudolph is married to a famous actress, Natacha Rambova (Alexandra Daddario). On set, Elizabeth gets a note from Rudolph asking her to meet at his house. She comes and he seduces her. Natacha comes upon them. She isn’t upset, but rather includes herself in the fun as they all three soon become lovers.
Elizabeth and a friend go to the grand opening party of the Hotel Cortez. While at the party, news comes in that Rudolph is dead. Overcome with grief, Elizabeth goes to an open window at the hotel to kill herself. But James Patrick March (Evan Peters), who has taken a fancy to her, saves her. He falls in love with Elizabeth and out of a desire to be rich, Elizabeth agrees to marry him. It also turns out that she likes to watch Mr. March kill people. Still in grief over Rudolph’s death, Elizabeth visits his grave frequently, dressed all in black and bringing a single red rose. On one visit to his grave, Natacha goes to Elizabeth and reveals a very much alive Rudolph.
Rudolph then goes into his story of what happened. While Rudolph was on a press tour for his upcoming movie, he was approached by F.W. Murnau — the director of “Nosferatu.” Murnau told Rudolph of what he discovered while filming “Nosferatu.” He found what he called an infection that led to eternal youth and life, but also a thirst for blood. He gave Rudolph his blood and infected him. His reasoning for this was his knowledge that talking pictures would soon take over film and Murnau wanted to preserve the beauty of Rudolph. Rudolph then turns Natacha, and they turn Elizabeth. The three make a plan to run away to be together forever.
As Rudolph is telling his story, Mr. March overhears. He sends his men to come and take Rudolph and Natacha. The two wake up in a hotel room that leads into a hallway where all the doors are closed off by brick walls. They are trapped within the Hotel Cortez.
Back at the hospital, John finds the room that the suspect is located in. It’s Wren (Jessica Belkin), one of the Countess’ blond children. John learns that she was present at all the killings with the real killer. He soon develops a bond with the child because she reminds John of his daughter Scarlett. She starts to like John, and she tells him about how her relationship with her father was bad.
She begins by telling him how her father went to drink at the Hotel Cortez bar one day in 1986 and locked her in the car during sweltering heat. Wren accepted her fate until the Countess saved her. She won’t tell John who the killer is, but she tells him that if he helps her out of the hospital, then she will show him where the killer lives. Together they escape. Wren tells John that the killer lives in the Hotel Cortez. She then runs away from John and gets hit by a truck, willingly, while crossing the road.
The two vampires that killed the construction workers turn out to be Rudolph and Natacha. They go around the hotel killing and drinking blood to regain their strength from being locked up for decades. Natacha blames Rudolph for their entrapment because he fell in love with Elizabeth. They make a pact to regain their glory and drink up.
Meanwhile, the Countess has dinner with her ghost husband, Mr. March. It turns out that they have dinner once every month. Mr. March is still very much in love with the Countess, but the Countess never loved him. He gets jealous when he hears that the Countess is remarrying. Mr. March lets it be known that the two vampires that killed the construction workers were the two that she loved all those years ago. This takes the Countess by surprise. The scene then cuts to two rejuvenated and fashion-forward looking vampires, Rudolph and Natacha, as they strut their way out of the Cortez.
This episode may just have been the best of the season. The Countess’ back-story about her true love in Rudolph along with the Old Hollywood glam was striking. The tie-in with “Nosferatu” and “Shadow of the Vampire” was very well done and gave a fresh take to the tired vampire mythos in popular culture. Overall, this is what this season was waiting for, actual backstory and connections that needed to be made.
Contact Jeanette Zhukov at [email protected].