Aah, early episodes of American Horror Story, when there isn't quite so much going on that you can still make sense of everything.
After last week's kitchen sink premiere, the second episode of Hotel gratefully took its time laying the groundwork of the Cortez's past, because, as Iris explains, "If you want to know what this place is about, you have to know about the man who built it."
Evan Peters finally made his Hotel debut as James Patrick March, a new money psychopath with daddy issues who built the Cortez as his own version of H.H. Holmes' Murder Hotel, complete with hallways to nowhere, soundproof walls and secret passageways and chutes. Every time one of his contractors would start catching on to the bizarre blue prints, Mr. March would simply dispose of him down one of the death traps the contractor helped build. And as he'd do his nefarious deeds, March would wear a peculiar black mask, setting off major Murder House déjà vu.
But Mr. March has little in common with Rubber Man. Once his "monument to excess and opulence" was complete, Mr. March averaged three murders a week using varying methods. And, of course, it wouldn't be a season American Horror Story unless we got to see Peters' butt. So yes, Mr. March even murdered people while he was having sex with them. And when he was done, the laundress, Ms. Evers (Mare Winningham), would clean the sheets.
You'd think washing bloody sheets would get old for after eight decades, but clearly Ms. Evers has found her calling since she's still gleefully doing the work in the present day. Because of course she's the same laundress who's been spotted creeping around the Cortez before.
You see, Mr. March was married and, as Iris speculates, his wife turned him into the police to get his millions way back in the 1920s. And when the law shows up at March's office, Room 64, he gave Ms. Evers the "honor" of choosing the order in which they would die.
"Part of me wishes you could go first, so I could launder the sheets," said no one ever until that very moment.
Ultimately, Ms. Evers chooses to be March's last victim and the two kill themselves, only to have their spirits haunt the Cortez to this very day.
It seems Ms. Evers isn't the only one of March's old friends to still be roaming the halls. Though we never saw her face, March's wife looked and sounded eerily like the Countess (Lady Gaga), who displayed a penchant in this episode for dropping her men without a care.
After Donovan (Matt Bomer) tells the Countess he would rather #netflixandchill than go out hunting, he should have known his days were numbered. And so when the Countess meets the junkie male model Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock), she only had to catch one whiff of his copper-smelling rage before deciding to infect him with her blood virus and kick Donovan to the curb.
Donovan doesn't exactly take the breakup well, but the Countess says heartbreak is what really defines us. And, as she makes abundantly clear, she should know. Born in 1904, the Countess has lived long enough to see everyone she ever loved die, including the man who turned her and all of her vampire friends during the 1970s, when she was the true "disco queen." (Cue video of Gaga rollerskating.)
Exactly how the Countess got entangled with Mr. March, we'll have to wait to find out. In the meantime, it seems March's past has also resurfaced through the recent murders taunting the police. As John Lowe (Wes Bentley) pieces together, both March and the killer he's been hunting are choosing their victims based on The Ten Commandments. That's because in addition to daddy issues, Mr. March also really hates religion (because of his daddy, of course). He went on a long rant about it in the flashbacks, which eventually ended with him declaring he was going to kill God. (There was also a screed against people who don't vaccinate their children in this episode, but that's one too many diatribes to tackle in one recap.)
What did you think of the episode? Plus: See what the cast says about what's next for the Countess' love triangle in the video below: