If you grew up playing Chutes and Ladders, you probably thought it was just an innocent, maybe even boring, board game where you'd roll the dice and hope to avoid the slide-back spots to get to the final spot first.
But there's a metaphor to all those ups and downs along the way -- woe, the highs and lows of life -- and "American Horror Story: Hotel" just ramped that concept up tenfold and threw four buckets of blood on it for good measure.
"AHS: Hotel" episode 2 reminded us that coming face to face with Lady Gaga's Countess (or any of her fellow blood drinkers, for that matter) is 100% the worst kind of landing. Even if you're as perfect and game for her madness as Matt Bomer's Donovan.
All work and no play makes Donovan a dull boy?FX
The Countess is ALL about the hunt, guys. So when Donovan actually thought she'd be interested in a night of Netflixing "House of Cards," her "oh-no-you-did-not-just" expression was well-earned. See, Donovan's been trying to avoid his mother Iris (Kathy Bates) so much that even though Countess is looking fancy AF in her bling bling, he wants to stretch out on the couch all cozy like and call it early. He's not about that life anymore, it appears.
And here we thought these two were just freaky enough to make it last. Pity.
New blood is YUM.FX
Angry fashion model Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock), however, is exciting AF with all his copper-smelling rage and face-cutting ways. It was all over with once he and Countess locked eyes by the runway, and poor Donovan could only sit back in his ultra-slick shades and watch it happen. He becomes her new vampire plaything (and our conduit for detail flow on the nature of her blood-drinker virus).
The rules of drinking blood, per Gaga:FX
Can you die by bullet? Bitch please, yes. But, "if you're smart," you can be immortal. "The beauty of the virus is you never age. You now have a super charged immune system," the Countess coos to her new minion. Also, the sun won't kill a virus vamp, but it's still to be avoided. And no fangs because that'd be passé AF.
But the biggest rule of all is that the hunt and the blood and the sex is nothing compared to the way she feels when she breaks someone's heart. "Bigger the better," she explains. So her turnees are not to give their hearts to anyone else EVER (and Donovan's instructed to pack his bags accordingly).
Still staying on that wagon, lady.FX
In an unusual moment of dialed-down crazy on Hypodermic Sally's part -- she even confesses that "this place is batshit crazy" -- the self-proclaimed addict waits at the bar with bottle of booze and a bunch of questions about John Lowe's lost little boy, but he manages to keep his seat on the wagon. For the kids. Er, kid. Scarlett.
"I can’t afford to get lost," he says.
Her sudden sense of togetherness, however, was fleeting. She later grinds out her own teeth just for the shock value of it.
Children of the corn-haired Countess...FX
No, the kids are not all right. Right now, the Countess counts four little bloodlovers, ah ah ah, but with little Scarlett Lowe running around unattended, things are looking up for the blonde squad. Which is fine, because there's probably enough Wonka-esque candy supplies and video games in that place to satisfy a dozen wee ones. And they've got the perfect lure on-hand: Holden Lowe.
To be fair, she does try to recruit the ageless little dude back to the Lowe fam, where he's sorely missed, but he's happy in this lair now. And that selfie she tried to take with him as proof for dad? Blurred AF, of course. She's gonna go back there, we just know it. BAD IDEA KID.
March the Maniacal, at your service.FX
Oh, and we finally got the f--ked up backstory of this whacked out hotel. Turns out, a man named Mr. James March (Evan Peters) wanted a rich, impressive abode where he could do all his deathly bidding -- seriously, WTF with that stomach slice bit in the bed?!? -- so he designed the place with lots of secret passageways and body chutes to the basement.
But his anti-religious zealotry got the better of him, and the cops discovered his Bible and body ditch, which was when he and his trusty hotel maid Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) took themselves out and left their souls to haunt the place unperturbed.
"This building has a heart, black as the Ace of Spades, and you're sleeping in it," Iris warned the oh-so-skeptical John Lowe. Yeah, that's going to be bad.
The Ten Commandment Killer rises.FX
Annnnd here we go. Serial killer stuff. When John receives a suspicious package at the station, labeled with the creeptastic hotel he's staying at, he immediately calls in the bomb squad. But false alarm, guys. It's just a blood-covered statue.
As it turns out, though, that blood matches some of the victims they're investigating right now. And there's a pattern here, too -- all the killings have involved taking down people for their various violations of the Old Testament’s highest commands. Looks like someone's picking up where Mr. March left off.