Who here likes monsters? Most of you, I’m guessing—you are reading a recap of a What We Do In The Shadows episode. Well, I agree. Monsters are the best. And this week’s episode has a menagerie of beasties unlike any we’ve seen in the season so far. When I say “monsters,” I don’t mean our core group of vampires, although they are abominations that literally feed on the suffering of others. (And we love them for it!) I’m talking about monsters, the kind that used to be made out of liquid latex and foam rubber but nowadays are achieved, more often than not, with the help of a guy in a mo-cap suit.
The king of those guys, Doug Jones, returns this week as The Baron, last seen crisping up like a forgotten tortilla over an open flame after a night of partying with Nadja, Laszlo, and Nandor back in season one. But Nadja’s eulogy—“Baron, such wonderful filthy times we did have. What a way to live your life after death, and what a way to die”—turns out to have been premature. The Baron has been hanging on to eternal life for the past two seasons by sucking leftover blood out of the many humans buried in the vampires’ backyard. (R.I.P. Topher.) This, understandably, raises some concerns.
You see, the What We Do In The Shadows universe follows a modified version of the Lost Boys principle, which states that if you kill the original vampire from which all vampires are descended, it will affect the rest of them as well. In the Joel Schumacher movie, the vampires just turned back into humans. But on this show, it means a certain second death. The vampires seem to have a slippery grasp on what this means, exactly: One minute, they’re all terrified, but by the time they actually get close to The Sire, a.k.a. Girly Jim, a.k.a. Gyormn, they’re ready to commit mass suicide by proxy by slaying the leathery-winged bastard. I suppose when you’ve been alive as long as they have, death becomes an abstract concept.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. As the episode opens, Nadja is tearing Vampiric Council headquarters apart trying to find a magic flute that will help Laszlo with one of his many seks-seewal conquests. (Ah, love.) This leads to the realization that she and Nandor have forgotten to feed The Sire, the OG vampire introduced, but not seen, in episode one of this season. (It really does underline how lucky they are to have Guillermo around. Guillermo would have kept the old guy fed.)
If Laszlo proved himself to have something of a conscience in “The Casino,” then this week Nadja showed that she doesn’t have one at all. Or, at least, she’s not able to own up to her mistakes, first gaslighting (or maybe hypnotizing?) Nandor into taking responsibility for The Sire’s disappearance and then stopping just short of confessing to her lie. And honestly, that’s a good thing, at least in terms of writing—how dopey and clichéd would it have been for her to give a big speech in that moment?
Guillermo shows a little more courage this week, calling the vampires’ bluff and forcing them to just shut the hell up and do what he says if they value their undead lives. He even slaps some sense into Nandor, who really took the idea that this was all his fault to heart. Early in the episode, Colin and Laszlo’s bromance continues apace while Nandor and Nadja are away at work. But by the end of the episode the whole gang has come together—my favorite!—with The Baron, riding on the back of Guillermo’s new buddy the Hellhound, in tow.
In the meantime, we take a brief detour to visit two gossipy NYC gargoyles in a scene that reminded me a bit of the original Ghostbusters, both in its rooftop setting and the old-school look of the animation. (I wasn’t sure if that was a practical or digital effect. Anyone have any input?) The Sire himself is most definitely a digital effect: One actor, stuntman Vaios Skretas, is credited with the physical performance, while another, Jean-Michel Richaud, is credited with the voice. I really liked the creature design on The Sire: Part mouse, part gorilla, and part bat, and expressive enough to go from terrifying to cute in the right context.
This was an ambitious episode in terms of effects and locations, and dare I say, they pulled it off. The vampires actually did their jobs semi-correctly for once as well, although not without some assistance. I’d be curious to know what newer viewers who haven’t been writing a thousand words a week about this show since it started airing think about these more internal lore-heavy storylines. But it’s hardly Game Of Thrones, especially with those flashbacks built in. Speaking of internal lore: When is the spin-off sitcom about The Baron, The Sire, and Hellhound coming to FXX?!
- “He is one very angry, very crispy piece of crust.”
- I liked Nadja’s top in the opening confessional interview. That’s it, I just liked it. Who are you wearing, Nadja?!
- “Lars Murderbone, Orlando Sentinel.”
- Colin droning on about Jaws trivia really took me back to standing awkwardly in various theater lobbies, wondering where I’ve met this guy before and how I can politely extricate myself from this situation.
- “How do you know what vampire piss tastes like?” “Just trust me, okay?”
- Colin ignores the cries for help he hears in his neighborhood, but posts on Nextdoor when he wants to spread chaos. Typical Nextdoor.
- Line reading of the week goes to Kristen Schaal, for popping up next to Guillermo and whispering, “Will do,” when he tells her and the Baron to just be quiet. Schaal was on fire this entire episode, really.
- I was also tickled by everyone’s fake laughter when they dug up The Baron and weren’t sure if he remembered that they murdered him or not.
- Laszlo swallowing the harmonica—meta commentary on how everyone is obsessed with the musical qualities of Matt Berry’s voice, or just a silly gag?
- I don’t have any fun history facts for you all this week, as “The Escape” was just a good old-fashioned monster mash!
- Oh, that’s why they called the dog a Hellhound.
- One of the things that I like about this show is when they give you a new, funny. supernatural context to an otherwise ordinary thing. This episode had two of those: Truck sounds, and Airbnb.
- Playing us out this week will be the great Robyn Hitchcock with “The Man Who Invented Himself,” side one, track one off of Hitchcock’s solo debut Black Snake Diamond Röle.