American Horror Story - Hotel: Season 5, Episode 7 - "Flicker"

Leyla Hamedi

Despite introducing yet another plot line, this is actually a well-done episode that explains both the Countess's origins and her connection to the infamous Hotel Cortez, even while the other storylines flounder.

American Horror Story

Airtime: Wednesdays, 10pm
Cast: Lady Gaga, Kathy Bates, Wes Bentley, Matt Bomer, Chloe Sevigny
Subtitle: Season 5, Episode 7 - "Flicker"
Network: FX
Air date: 2015-11-18

Rudolph Valentino and the eternal beauty of Hollywood's Silent Age humping vampires (humpires).

One would think getting some answers in an American Horror Story season would be as elusive as sighting in real life any number of the mythical monsters the show portrays, but here's lucky episode seven to disprove that. "Flicker" shows the mama monster's very own origin story, shedding new light on the mother issues of the house (hotel) mother, the Countess (Lady Gaga).

Renovations are underway at the Hotel Cortez as fashion monger/the Countess's fiancé Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) readies his new atelier. Workers come across a sealed doorway and Drake pushes them to knock it down and carry on with their work. Upon breaking in, two crazed zombie things violently come roaring forward and rip out the workers' throats. Oh, good. More creatures. But wait! Let's talk about the Countess a bit.

First of all, she's not as old and worldly as we were led to believe. In 1925, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Bensonhurst bimbo Elizabeth comes to Hollywood to make it as an actress, and falls in love with the big, bad, seducing screen star. So the Countess's Madonna-trying-to-do-a-British-accent accent is all smoke and mirrors, although it does lend accuracy to the fact that it changes with every word out of her mouth. Rudolph Valentino is the movie star in question and portrayed by Finn Wittrock (in all his dopey model of getting killed by the Countess last week glory), which sheds light on why she took such a shine to Donovan's (Matt Bomer) successor. Although beautiful and eerily similar to the original, American Horror Story’s Valentino has a worse Italian accent than either of the Super Mario brothers. Wittrock may have been a little out of his depth here, but watching him and his wife Natacha Rambova (Alexandra Daddario) flounce and pout in all the 1920’s glamour is so lush and glorious, it doesn't matter. Like gorging oneself on rich desserts. Eye-candy!

Valentino and Rambova are secret vampires who enlist Elizabeth as their little toy "mouse". (Cue incredibly pale bodies writhing in a threesome.) When Valentino dies, Elizabeth is swept up in the female hysteria that hit all his fans and tries to kill herself. Luckily, super-rich businessman James Patrick March (Evan Peters) is there to save her life and wife her. (Feminism came a little late for the Countess, it seems.) Of course, the plot twist is that Valentino is not dead, and he and Rambova want to make Elizabeth into the be-yoo-tiful vampire they believe she can be. She agrees. Too bad March overhears and gets a little jealous. So he bricks the Hollywood couple into a secret passage way in his hotel, doubly secured with steel doors. Harsh, but he did build the hotel for Elizabeth and she was just about to throw it all away in order to make the beast with three backs with someone who would've probably been laughed out of Hollywood when the talkies came!

March and the Countess enjoy dinner once a month despite their respective deaths and undeaths. It is during one such meal that March reveals what he did 90 years ago when then-Elizabeth believed her vamparents had abandoned her. Now Valentino and Rambova are out and ready to take the world by storm as they had originally planned. You'd think after that long without nourishment they'd take the time to savor the blood instead of spewing it everywhere. Never mind, at least they're also vampires, not new creatures for the story to contend with, and the Countess is scared for the first time in her life. The ascent to the season finale climax has officially started.

Oh, and Detective Lowe (Wes Bentley) also does some stuff, including breaking into an asylum to bust out an underage girl because she's been helping the Commandments Killer. Yes, that tired storyline. The little girl is a vampire (Countess turned her in the 1980s while she was dressed as blonde Cher), and promises to help Lowe, but then she gets hit by a bus (as one does) and so on. Who honestly cares at this point about him? Mama, don't let your young 'uns grow up to be vampires. Actually, do let them, because we want to know what's going on with the army of bloodsucking kids and what is in store for the Countess now that her two mommies are back. If nothing else, it should be quite the ride.

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