Sixteen years in this fucking town, and I have yet to meet someone who will steal a boat with me. It just looks so fun, you know? Crisp nighttime air, half-finished Bud Lights, spurting fountains of blood, the sweet sound of chicken ladies squawking across the sound... “The Siren” opens with Colin Robinson and Laszlo Cravensworth doing just that, stealing a party boat and embarking on a journey to find out the truth about Colin’s origins, and those of all energy vampires. They get sidetracked immediately and don’t learn a single thing, but Laszlo gets to reminisce about his past as a seaman* and Colin discovers a new soundtrack for his, let’s say, “private time” in the basement. Not a bad night out, all things considered.
Season three of What We Do In The Shadows has alternated between standalone adventures that bring the entire cast together and more traditional sitcom episodes with an A-plot and a B-plot. “The Siren” is one of the latter. I have a well-established preference for the former, but this week’s episode still kept things lively even as the gang was scattered across the city and the filthy waters that surround it.
Guillermo barely factors in to this episode, storming off early on because he’s pissed he has to share his interview segment with Doll With The Deceased Spirit Of Human Nadja Inhabiting It, the closest thing the poor dear has to a name. Instead, this is an episode that’s two-thirds Nadja (there’s two of her, so she counts twice) and one third just dudes being dopey, gullible dudes. Centuries of life, and Laszlo is still falling for sales people’s flattery.
Early on, we see the stalemate that’s resulted from Nadja and Nandor deciding to alternate days as head of the Vampire Council, days they spend undoing whatever it was the other one tried to get accomplished the day before. (A bit of political commentary there, I dare say.) With Laszlo and Colin off on a man-venture, Nadja and Nandor distracted by work, and Guillermo just plain over it, there’s no one to pay attention to mini-Nadja.
I enjoyed the puppetry in this episode, which included some delightful marionette work and was honestly quite expressive. Little Nadja and big Nadja really do have the same personality: Little Nadja sings along with Laszlo, tries to fight Nandor, and tells Colin Robinson to shut the fuck up. Just like mom! Or is she big Nadja’s mom? She did exist first. Whatever.
Anyway, mini-Nadja gets sick of being ignored and wiggles her little five-centimeter legs on out of there. This sends big Nadja into an emotional spiral, running the gamut from despair to anger to defiance within the course of minutes after discovering her twin soul is gone. The ensuing chase through the city culminates in another Ghostbusters-esque moment, as Nadja’s spirit jumps from mannequin to statue to giant inflatable rat, hurling sweet and salty epithets at her undead self as she waddles down the street like a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who pays union dues. (As a member of the WGA-E—hell yeah.) In the end, it turns into a teachable moment about self-care—although not as cloying as it sounds summarized like that, because this is a well-written show.
Speaking of, this episode was doing a bit of the What We Do In The Shadows version of a typical sitcom theme: “oh, you men” type of humor. “The Siren”s A-plot, which sees Laszlo and Colin shipwrecked on the island of a very Long Island siren, gently makes fun of how goofy and distractible men can be when an attractive woman—even one with chicken legs—pays attention to them.
But Laszlo doesn’t seem to be especially into Sheila the Siren, played by NYC-based comedian Catherine Coen. That surprises me a little, given that I thought he was an all-you-can-eat-buffet kind of guy. But in the end, it’s for the best, as it both gives him the opportunity to further prove his BFF bona fides—Laszlo really is turning out to be a good friend, a loyal pal who’ll be there for you in a jam, just don’t ask him to rub sunscreen on your back—and gives Sheila and Colin, who turns out to have a warbly falsetto singing voice, some alone time. Cheers to the happy couple, may you feed on each other’s misery from afar—just like Colin likes it.
- Plum Island is a real place off the coast of Long Island. It’s home to a research facility that tested bioweapons on livestock from 1954-1969, when Richard Nixon shut down the program. It’s also the alleged home of the Montauk Monster, a fascinating cryptid/mutant/wtf that washed up on the shores of Montauk, New York in 2008. The official line, in the words of my colleague Sam Barsanti, is that the Montauk Monster was just “a fucked-up raccoon that died in the water.” Or was it?
- Congratulations to Nadja and Nandor for learning how to use Zoom, although The Guide probably set it up for them. And apologies to Scott Bakula, who probably thought he was auditioning for a TV show called The Vampire Council.
- “…which isn’t how a puzzle works, of course, but who gives a shit?”
- “37 wives, and you still cannot read the room when a woman needs some attention.”
- Speaking of not being able to read the room, we’ve got The Guide putting the moves on Guillermo. Who’s the lovesick puppy now?
- Feeling a little called out by Colin’s mythology corner on this week’s episode, not gonna lie.
- Matt Berry sea shanty album when??
- The award for comedic performance this week actually goes to guest star Catherine Coen, who really puts her back into that chicken-lady walk.
- In honor of beloved union mascot Scabby the Rat, please read this story from the LA Times and this one from Vanity Fair about the impending IATSE strike and the struggles crew members go through to bring you TV shows and movies. All they’re really asking for is meal breaks and more than 6 hours between the end of one work day and the beginning of the next.
- The visual juxtaposition when they put these characters and their elaborate costumes under harsh fluorescent light gets me every time.
- This week was a bit rushed, so I haven’t had a chance to email firstname.lastname@example.org to see what happens. Perhaps one of you would like to?
- The characters seemed especially aware of the camera crew this episode, addressing them multiple times throughout the episode (and leaving them to deal with Sheila as Colin and Laszlo fly away).
- “Human form!”
- Just a sampling of big Nadja’s sweet talk for mini-Nadja: “You stupid bitch, I love you so much!” “My lovely bitch, we’ve got you!” “I love this little slut.”
- This week’s end credits music is an interesting one: “Nightingale Of Paradise,” recorded by the Baha’i Victory Chorus back in 1966. I don’t know enough about the Baha’i Faith to really get into all that, but the song did appear on a groovy exotica compilation called Technicolor Paradise—Rhum Rhapsodies And Other Exotic Delights from Chicago-based archival label Numero Group.