Vampires are familiar with death, in the sense that they cause a lot of it. But when it’s an immortal’s turn to face the unknowable void, they don’t handle the situation any better than their human prey. As What We Do In The Shadows approaches the end of its fourth season, the show is putting aside standalone adventures like the excellent “The Casino” and “The Escape” for a multi-part storyline bringing together the season’s core themes. And, following a pattern established back in season one, it’s pulled in multiple writers—“A Farewell” was written by the Shadows all-star team of Sam Johnson, Stefani Robinson, Marika Sawyer, and Paul Simms—to do so.
What We Do In The Shadows is never maudlin, but this week’s episode was kind of melancholy, huh? Guillermo telling the camera crew to leave him alone as he boarded up Nandor’s door, finding out the secret behind Laszlo’s friendship with Colin Robinson, Nadja wrapping her arms around Laszlo when he revealed the truth—all of those moments had a real sadness to them. At first, I thought perhaps Nandor’s super-slumber was added to the storyline because Kayvan Novak had a scheduling conflict: If you saw Cruella, you’ll know that he’s going to play a major role in that movie’s sequel, which could very well overlap with filming for season four. But then that ending happened, and now I don’t know what to think.
The event at the end of the episode—I’m going to continue to dance around it, because it’s the classic example of a spoiler—appears to be pretty damn permanent. (And gooey.) And if Nandor continues to follow this bout of vampire depression into centuries of sleep, our core cast will be significantly diminished going into the season finale. Thus far, the third season of What We Do In The Shadows has leaned into workplace-sitcom dynamics. But in times of crisis like this penultimate episode, they stop being squabbling co-workers and become a family again: When Guillermo goes to prematurely wake Nandor for a third time, he tells him that “we should all be together” for what’s about to happen.
This episode also shows its cards in terms of what’s been going on with Laszlo this season. I’ve noted the character’s listlessness in these recaps, as well as his newfound interest in hanging out with the gassy, irritating Colin, and chalked it up to a simple side effect of Nadja being too busy with work to pay attention to him. Turns out there was more to it than that. I’ve also noted that Laszlo, for all his libertinism and boorishness, is actually a good friend. That’s truer here than ever.
This episode wasn’t a complete downer, of course. Eternal life goes on, with a handful of those celebrity cameos for which the show is also famous. In an echo of the season one episode that first introduced the Vampire Council, the vampire nobility who come to Staten Island for a blood banquet and some light fucking and sucking are all played by well-known actors. The difference here is that none, save for Blade’s Donal Logue—Nadja is a big fan—are playing themselves, or famous vampire characters. Instead, we have Khandi Alexander (who was in a music video with David Bowie, that’s vampire-adjacent) as the Contessa Carmilla De Mornay, and David Cross (who, to my knowledge, has never played a vampire before) as Dominicas the Dreadful, whose relationship with human Coco redefines the age gap relationship.
All three performances were funny, but didn’t take center stage like they might have in an episode that had less weighty things on its mind. The vampires’ guests did factor in to my favorite scene in the episode, however, where Nandor informally lives the dubious fantasy of eavesdropping on your own funeral. A great warrior, an okay vampire, well endowed but maybe not as well endowed as everyone has heard—that’s a mixed bag of a legacy, to be sure. But he still has Guillermo. Sweet Guillermo, left adrift as his master slams the coffin lid in his face for the final time. Or is it?
- “Laszlo, you are the laziest vampire I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. “Thank you.”
- Also very familial: None of the vampires seem to hold a grudge against Nandor for chewing them out at the beginning of the episode.
- “Sitting out a bad epoch in history” with 50-300 years of deep, dreamless sleep doesn’t sound all that bad, honestly. Wish someone had told me about that five years ago.
- “What’s the point in being able to turn into smoke when you’re just going to use doors?” A fair point!
- “This is a huge honor, and like all huge honors it’s a huge pain in the ball sack.” Also true!
- For me, it was Harvey Guillén who really served as the emotional and comedic anchor of this week’s episode. Case in point: The wordless change in emotion between the first and second times he nails shut Nandor’s chamber door.
- Phew, that chicky nuggies and buttered spaghetti joke was merciless! (In a good way.)
- These past few episodes have really underlined the role of farts in an energy vampire’s tool kit.
- It’s very funny to think that, as Nadja, Laszlo, and the gang are having an emotional moment in the basement, the rest of the borough’s vampire population is upstairs having a carefree after-dinner orgy.
- This week, we were played off by the “experimental punk-jazz-funk-noise-electro band” Material and their song “Words Of Advice,” which samples a spoken-word track by Naked Lunch author William S. Burroughs that is presumably using vampirism as a metaphor for heroin. Ol’ Billy Burroughs sure did love his heroin.
- But in honor of the “young, dumb, and full of cum” Colin Robinson and his 100th birthday, here is a song so irritating only an energy vampire could love it. Party on, Colin.