It ends as it has to: a race-car bed shit-canned, a house repaired, a club (not really) burned to the ground…and an energy vampire restored to his beige and milquetoast prime. As I wrote back at the start of this very good season of vampire comedy, there was no real chance that What We Do In The Shadows’ resident assholes were ever going to actually change, since that’s pretty much the point of being a vampire—whether you’re stuck in undead stasis like Nandor, or caught in Colin Robinson’s particularly grisly state of eternal reincarnation. The only exception, of course, is Guillermo—but it seems like he might be trapped in some old patterns, too, for all that he says he wants to break free.
It’s an oddly melancholy introduction for an oddly melancholy episode of WWDITS, as we wrap up all of this season’s plotlines with a level of focus that doesn’t leave the normal room for bizarre and excessive joke-telling. For a show that often lobs a gag every twenty seconds, this is a noticeably joke-light episode of Shadows, focused on putting the season pretty much back the way we found it before last year’s finale. But instead of bemoaning it, let’s just take a run through all the ways we get back to that status quo by episode’s end.
First up: Having lost her star act (thanks to Baby Colin finally aging into a teenage Colin that nobody wants see do a little soft shoe) and failing to find any worthwhile replacements, Nadja ultimately concludes that she has no choice but to burn Nadja’s down. The best joke of the evening comes in the aftermath, when it’s revealed that those goddamn blood sprinklers finally did their job, putting out the fire—everywhere except in Nadja’s office, where she kept her stash. (Don’t worry, WWDITS’ cartoon reality ends up taking care of that problem, too.)
Speaking of Baby/Tween/Teen/Adult Colin Robinson, tonight finds him in surly teenager mode and showing the first signs of a return to energy vampire-hood—before revealing that, just as predicted, all that hammer banging he’s been doing in his old room has been part of an instinctive resurrection process meant to bring back the original flavor bore. (And how perfect is it that part of Colin’s indoctrination for himself involved basically making him solve an escape room, that beloved pastime of the tedious and the dull?) Once he stumbles onto all of Old Colin’s diaries—and his hair starts rapidly falling out—all it takes is a little time for the reborn Colin to Ship Of Theseus himself back into a carbon copy of the original, with no memories of his whole season as Laszlo’s ward. He’s a living, breathing (?) symbol of the ethos that “Things might change, but nothing actually ever changes.”
Still: If any of our resident vamps are likely to come out of tonight’s finale a little different, it would be the good Mr. Cravensworth. For the character who was, probably, the biggest asshole in the main cast in season one (give or take Colin, who can’t necessarily help himself), Laszlo has been on a very odd journey for the last two seasons. First, he came to genuinely care about (or at least pity) the dying Colin last year and then he got to work through a shitload of his own father issues as Baby Colin’s dad over the course of these last 10 episodes. I don’t think we’re going to necessarily get a kinder, gentler Laszlo next season, but Berry can play the character’s softer edges well, and it’ll be nice to see little hints of the relationship potentially get threaded into his latest bouts of intense caddishness and debauchery.
Which brings us back around to Nandor and Guillermo, who’d be our poster children for stasis if not for, y’know, the guy who literally crawled out of himself like an egg. With Marwa/Freddie gone, Nandor is back in something like hibernation mode, contenting himself with reading books for the next several years to doze off the emotional hangover. Single and deprived of his parental role for Colin, Guillermo tries to push on him, to draw on the relationship that the show has spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time laying track for—this season especially. But how are you going to induce change in a guy who could comfortably nap through the entire span of your lifetime? The show never blinks from the fact that Guillermo is desperately hoping for a gesture of sacrifice and kindness from a guy who will be really sad for about 5 seconds after he dies and then move on to the next Gizmo or what have you. Nandor is a sweet guy sometimes, and he’s capable of doing good things. But he’s a vampire, and Guillermo continually tricks himself into forgetting what that means.
And so—after an over-long set of montages that track the non-destruction of Nadja’s club, the resurrection of Colin Robinson, and a shockingly small number of gags or jokes—Guillermo makes a move that could maybe be characterized as growth, but which feels more like backsliding: Taking all his embezzled nightclub earnings, he brings them to his old pal Derek (who’s living a very drab life as an undead convenience store clerk) and offers him a bribe to turn him into his deepest desire. Which is also, of course, the thing that’s been abusing him for more than a decade at this point: “You’re going to make me a vampire.”
One more unchanging asshole for the pile!
- The whole “ruined house” thing is, of course, dispensed with in one sublime line of dialogue from the restored Colin, who reveals that the non-cash-starved vamps have about $650,000 in the bank and that their “personal identification number” is “42069247.”
- Cute touch: Laszlo has scratched the “God” off his copy of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret?
- I said it last week and I’ll say it next week: It’s nice to see Mark Proksch back on the show’s set. (And if you want to hear what filming this season of the show was like for him as Baby Colin, we’ll have an interview with him up tomorrow.)
- For a guy who loathes musical theater, Laszlo’s a dab hand at Fiddler.
- Failed ideas to keep Nadja’s afloat: vampire freestyle rap, human improv, Laszlo’s medley of audience-insulting songs, bachelor parties, children’s birthday parties, and—in what’s unfortunately the biggest whiff of the episode—having The Guide resurrect dead famous people to podcast on stage.
- Nandor, explaining that he can grok the youth: “Some of my finest soldiers were just teenagers.”
- For all the time we spend on the resurrected celebrities, we get our best gag from the subplot early on, when The Guide reveals that she only has the “second” largest collection in the U.S. because some computer guy has the biggest.
- Okay, making Gandhi read out a Blue Apron ad for steak burritos was pretty funny.
- Nadja, talking to the fire chief in her burnt office: “What is insu-insu-inshurance? And where can we get some of that?”
- I think this episode gets a little too invested in the feeling side of things, but the cast singing “Sunrise, Sunset” together over the credits was nice.
- In case you missed it: Here’s our AVQ&A on Matt Berry’s best assaults on the English language.
- And that’s a wrap for this season! A few lackluster notes, but overall, it was as good as the show’s ever been. “Private School” was my favorite; it’s a toss-up between tonight and “The Night Market” for my least favorite episodes this year.