Is Iris Dead On 'AHS: Hotel'? Kathy Bates' Character Likely Has A Heartbreaking Backstory

If you thought that American Horror Story: Murder House was filled to the capacity with death, then you haven't seen anything yet. American Horror Story: Hotel premiered last Wednesday, and it was a pretty violent hour of television. Death came swiftly (and painfully) to several characters during the season premiere, and just like the home that the Harmon family moved into on American Horror Story: Murder House, the new season's Hotel Cortez has a rule: Anyone who dies on the property can never "check out," and are doomed to haunt the halls for eternity. That begs the question: How did Kathy Bates' character Iris die? If we are to assume she's dead, this ghostly receptionist definitely has a story to tell.

Bates' Iris is the hotel's receptionist, but as we learn in the first episode, she didn't start out that way. Iris was nothing more than a mother concerned for her junkie son Donovan when she entered the Hotel Cortez in the '90s, but while following him into the hotel was done with the best of intentions, it ultimately sealed her fate and bound her to the Cortez for eternity. After seeing her son pass out from using heroin given to him by hotel visitor and addict Sally, Iris pushed Sally out of an open window to her death. Sally now haunts the hotel, but Iris doesn't seem to be alive, either, she certainly seems to not have aged in the past 20 or so years — so how did she go?

That's a mystery we'll have to unravel over the next few episodes, but there was a clue in the premiere that may have hinted at why Iris is stuck in the hotel. After Sally criticizes Iris for incorrectly torturing their hotel guests, Iris scoffs and tells Sally that she blames her for everything that has gone wrong. Iris killed Sally, and we know that the ghosts of the hotel are more than capable of murder: Could that be a hint that Iris was killed by Sally in an act of revenge?

It's certainly possible, but something tells me that the show won't make things that easy for the audience. Sally may have ultimately been the reason why Iris died, but I'm not so sure it was by her ghostly hand. Iris was clearly concerned about Donovan using drugs, which may have led her to follow him to the hotel and live with him there in order to make sure he stayed away from heroin.

We know that addiction is a major theme this season, and that addiction often causes people to hurt those they love. Could Donovan have killed his mother in order to protect his habit? Or, could Iris have killed herself because of Donovan's drug habit — or later, blood habit? It certainly would be a poetic tragedy appropriate for American Horror Story.

So far theories of Iris' death are just that, but something tells me we will unravel Iris' real story soon — and it might just be heartbreaking.

Image: Suzanne Tenner/FX (2)