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‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ Recap ‘Battle Royale’

As the season nears its end, we’re coming to understand that to sacrifice is to love. So far, we’ve seen Alex sacrifice her own human existence to be with Holden, John sacrifice his passion for murder to rekindle his familial bonds, and Donovan sacrifice his dignity for one more shot with The Countess.

But this episode showed us different kinds of sacrifices. As Iris and Liz Taylor unleash their wrath on The Countess, Donovan jumps in front of the gunfire to save her. What makes this such an interesting event is that he knows, as we all do, that The Countess’ lovers always turn up dead…except it’s usually at her hands. Here, Donovan shows us all that his love for The Countess is probably the purest she’s ever know, second to Valentino’s, of course. Donovan makes a snap decision to put his own life in danger so that The Countess may go on to continue her less-than-honorable activities.

So, is Donovan good or bad? My gut tells me that at his core he was probably an okay guy. But that he ends his own journey so that The Countess can live out hers seems to say that he approves of her evil-doing. His only redemption is that he finally acknowledges Iris’ love for him as she struggles to haul him out of the hotel before he dies.

To juxtapose this idea that love is sacrifice is our girl Sally. Sure, she expresses love. And rather intensely, too. But what separates her from someone like Donovan is that her acts of love are pure selfishness. She doesn’t want to love for the sake of loving. She wants to love so that she may receive validation in return. And nothing reinforces that like her backstory. As a drug dealer and aspiring musician, Sally finds her tribe in fellow musicians who depend on her to deliver the goods for their drug-fueled lovemaking. When she’s finally let in on the action (pun intended), she takes it a step too far and finds herself without love and without companions. In a drug induced haze, Sally sews herself to her friends only to watch them die of an overdose in her arms. Even with bodies on either side of her, she is utterly alone.  Essentially, her unquenchable thirst for love and validation cost her what she perceives to be love. And as we’ve seen throughout the season, it happens over and over again. Solitude is her hell and she must keep reliving it.

To further explore the idea of sacrifice, let us take a look at Ramona. She has literally spent years of her life plotting against The Countess under the guise of wanting revenge for the murder of another lover. But what we see unfold between these two in this episode shows us another side of Ramona: when it comes down to it, Ramona simply can’t kill The Countess. Instead, she takes the opportunity to have one last hurrah before letting The Countess go. The Countess begs Ramona to have mercy and she does, making all of her time and affort to get to this moment a complete waste. Ramona, not conscious of the choice she would make in the end, has sacrificed lives, loves, and her own time for one last chance to feel the love The Countess once had for her.

An interesting twist, for sure, but unfortunately for The Countess, John steps in to take over the reins. For him, too, killing The Countess is a bit of a sacrifice. He’s relinquished his Serial Killer title for that of Family Man of the Year. But at the urging of James March to complete their project, John chooses to make one last killing and it’s the one we’ve all been waiting for.

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