Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The vampires follow their animal instincts on a flea-ridden What We Do In The Shadows

Illustration for article titled The vampires follow their animal instincts on a flea-ridden What We Do In The Shadows
Photo: FX Networks

After the events of this week’s What We Do In The Shadows, I can only assume that once the vampires succeed in taking over Staten Island—if the vampires ever succeed in taking over Staten Island—the employees of the municipal Animal Control department will be paraded through the streets in shirts made of cat hair as they’re pelted with feces by passers-by, before they’re corralled into a giant blender and whipped up into a human smoothie upon which all the creatures of the night can feast. How else to repay the indignity visited upon Laszlo this episode, after gluttony for blood leads him on an adventure that ends with him running down the street—a move that’s quickly becoming Matt Berry’s comedic signature on this show—while under attack from half a dozen yowling, scratching cats?


The title of this week’s episode, “Animal Control,” works on more than one level: That’s where Laszlo ends up after his attempt at a second helping of blood from new neighbor Phil at the beginning of the episode sees him beaten rather severely with a broom and carted off to the shelter in a panel van. But it’s also a bit of a play on words, as this episode finally sees the triumphant-ish return of Nadja’s reincarnated human lover Gregor-Jeff from the pilot episode—a lover for whom Nadja must learn to control her animal passion (ehh?), because the idiot men with whom she’s chosen to spend the centuries need her help getting out of a jam, again.

Nadja’s eyes (and fangs) often wander when she’s mad at Laszlo, and given Lazslo’s libertine nature, it seems doubtful that he’d mind if she pursues a little dirty old mop juice on the side. So it’s not like she changes her mind about having wild, animalistic sex with Gregor-Jeff on the floor of the parking garage out of respect for the institution of marriage or anything. But with both Laszlo and Nandor in cages and Colin Robinson unable to bore his way into the room where they’re being held, a pile of rats she must become in order to go rescue her beloved. (Can you imagine reading those last couple sentences without seeing this episode, by the way?) And thus, a dangling storyline is wrapped up. If we left it there, I’d be satisfied—but I’m starting to think that the vampires’ creations are all going to come back, possibly all at once, later in the season.

It’s not like she’s really missing out on all that much with this particular incarnation of Gregor-Jeff, anyway: Not only is he boring and bad at archery, but he has roommates, and that’s awkward. This was a really good episode for Nadja and the actress who plays her, Natasia Demetriou: Opportunities for Demetriou to have fun with improvisational word play (at least, I assume her “Jesh? Jenk? Anyway, it sounds like Jesh” monologue was at least partly improv), comedic monologue (god, I love her stories from the old country) and physical comedy (I got a big laugh out of her facial expressions and projectile vomit after trying the popcorn) were sprinkled throughout the episode. And, as was mentioned earlier, she saved the day at the end, even if the guys didn’t thank her properly.

As for the week’s mail animal-shelter storyline, as a fan of cats and Matt Berry saying things, I relished every second of Laszlo’s attempt to rally his feline fellow prisoners to the cause. His “excellent” in response to the cat mewing at him was especially good. But the extensive use of the closed-circuit cameras in this episode felt like a workaround for less-than-perfect SFX in the same way couching Lazlo’s “Pied Piper of raccoons” bit in shadow in episode two did. (Notice how Laszlo and Nandor both transform multiple times in their cages, but only in the CCTV shots.) That being said, the casting for the auxiliary characters remains excellent, and Colin Robinson’s character arc remains the most dynamic on the show.

Based on the pilot, I thought he was essentially stunt casting, and would just pop up to ruin things every once in a while. But as the season goes on, he’s evolving from butt of the joke to wild card to actively helping the rest of the vampires—or taking the piss out of them, as he did with Nandor when Nandor confessed that he can only hypnotize humans who want to do the thing he’s hypnotizing them to do. Colin thinks this is pretty lame, but it seems of a piece with the idea that vampires can only go into places when they’re invited—a bit of vampire lore that’s evoked no less than three times in this episode—to me. And how can you be mad at the line, “I want you to bring me the strange bat with the erect penis?”


Stray Observations

- “That’s kinky.” “Is it?” Ah, long-term love.

- “I need to do a two.” Horrifying. The creepiest, most unsettling line all season.


- “You will always see me again.” “Okay.”

-How many bats do they have at this animal shelter, anyway?

- “It’s like a weak ejaculation. Ehh eh eh eh eh—Jeff.” Fucking brutal, man.

-Is it just me, or could Jake McDorman, a.k.a. Gregor-Jeff, do a pretty great Thor impersonation?


- “This mop is as full of water as I am with desire!”

-According to no less of an authority than 4yourcatshealth.com, before Dracula created the popular association between vampires and bats, the vampire’s signature animal was actually a cat. In other words, I think Laszlo, Nadja, and the gang should keep at least one of them. And not as food, either.