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“What We Do in the Shadows” Season 2, Episode 3: “Brain Scramblies” Recap – Mind Melting at the Superb Owl

Another week means another episode of “What We Do in the Shadows,” and that means we all win. It’s the only way I can keep track of the listless days at this point. Before we move on, I want to mention something I somehow managed to keep out of last week’s recap: I absolutely love that the show, in tandem with the film, kept Norma Tanega’s “You’re Dead” as the theme. Its tambourine rhythm is catchy as hell and fits the aesthetic of Waititi/Clement’s world incredibly well. With that said, let’s get into this week’s vampire shenanigans.

Just a forewarning that everything from here on out is loaded with *SPOILERS*, so read at your own risk!

Brain Scramblies (dir. Kyle Newacheck)

Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Colin (Mark Proksch) find themselves invited to a Super Bowl party this week, hosted by their next-door neighbor Sean (Anthony Atamanuik). Their lack of human relationships have led them to believe that they are attending a Superb Owl party in which they’ll be celebrating “the greatest owl of all time.” Not even Colin could convince them otherwise, despite his minimal effort. Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), however, is sent off to collect virgins for the end of the evening.

Upon arriving at Sean’s place, he has a mini spat with his wife Charmaine (Marissa Jaret Winokur) which, of course, wildly pleases Colin. Proksch solidifies Colin as having the best ‘vampire fulfillment’ gaze of the troupe; it has to be the one of the most dastardly grins I’ve ever seen. Colin lecturing the party about the different facets of motion smoothing, putting Sean’s party friends right to sleep, proves that this show almost seems intent on proving that I have more in common with the energy drainer than I care to admit. And he’s right! Please fix the format settings on your TVs, everybody.

Charmaine drags Nadja away from the living room to hang with the wives in the kitchen, while Nandor and Laszlo realize that there is, indeed, no Superb Owl in sight. Sean cracks a joke about them being vampires, prompting the two to flee into the bathroom of all places. Believing that Sean somehow knows what they really are, Nandor and Laszlo agree to escort him to a secluded location and hypnotize him…again. This is sure to go smoothly considering how many times they already wiped his memory in last season’s “Baron’s Night Out.”

As Nadja pities the wives for their “handsome chap” turned “lazy sack of s***” husbands, Sean’s grandmother Joan (Sondra James) comes downstairs and recognizes her. On the other side of the house, Sean shows off his massive collection of “Ocean’s Twelve” prop memorabilia to Nandor and Laszlo. I’m willing to bet Steven Soderbergh doesn’t think about “Ocean’s Twelve” as much as Sean does. The two bloodsuckers accidentally reveal their vampiric state, leaving them no other choice than to double hypnotize Sean. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even remember who he is. 

Photo credit: FX

Nadja decides to head upstairs to catch up with Joan since she last saw her as a little girl. One look at her wedding photo, however, causes this sweet decades-old reunion to turn sour real fast as Nadja notices her stolen jade necklace, a family heirloom which contains the screams of her mother, who was eaten by a bear. Natasia Demetriou’s seamless turn-on-a-dime temperament from friendly to vindictive is one of many reasons why she’s the show’s MVP. Nadja then searches the house with no success, although it is now confirmed that old handbags are worse than Bibles. 

Back in the living room, the hypnotized Sean serves melted batteries on a platter as microwave nachos. It appears that Nandor and Laszlo fried Sean’s brain to the extent that he’s stricken with a case of Brain Scramblies, causing him to forget how to act like a human being. They figure the best way to rectify the situation is to murder him, you know, as a kindness. With Nadja joining in, the trio agree to give Sean one final night of vampire fun before Nandor ‘whacks’ him with his ceremonious head-ripping gloves. 

Once outside, the vampires show him all of their tricks such as flying, transfiguration and crawling on the walls. I love how the flying in the night portion is the nightmare version of the “Superman” sequence. And on top of all that, they throw him a puppy party, accompanied by his many, many screams. Right as Nandor is about to finish him off, Sean finds himself enamored with Charmaine in their backyard, unaware that he’s married to her. Turns out that having Brain Scramblies turns bickering men into adoring, servient husbands. Even though Sean gives away Nadja’s missing jade necklace, Nandor ultimately leaves the party the most disappointed, with no head ripping and no Superb Owl. 

Photo credit: FX

On Guillermo’s side of things, the virgin hunt doesn’t exactly go as planned. He still finds himself at odds with his Van Helsing lineage and whether that should define who he’s going to be. Guillermo’s search leads him to a group called the ‘Mosquito Collectors of the Tri-State Area,’ very much setting off his virgin alert. Upon arriving at the meeting, the leader Claude (Craig Robinson) approaches Guillermo with questions about his feelings on bloodsuckers who prey on the innocent. Providing the answer they wanted to hear, the club drops its facade, ultimately revealing their true nature, to Guillermo’s surprise, as a den of amateur vampire hunters. Between his efficient slaying abilities and this revelation, it appears that Guillermo’s distancing from his bloodline will prove to be significantly more challenging this season. 

After being ridiculed by a slideshow presentation, labeling a vampire’s familiar as pathetic, lonely and desperate, Guillermo learns that no one in the group has ever seen a vampire before; that is, except for Shanice (Veronika Slowikowska), who’s revealed to be the college roommate of Jenna (Beanie Feldstein), the timid LARPer turned invisible bloodsucker on account of Nadja. Crossing my fingers that she returns in some capacity later this season, and based on the mutual connection between Shanice and Guillermo, it looks very likely. 

What makes this episode special is that, for the first time, Guillermo is forced to confront his complicity in snatching victims away from their loved ones so they may be devoured by a house of bloosucking nightcrawlers. Once again, his shocked expression when he instinctively accomplishes three bullseyes on some vampire mannequins with a crossbow is just perfect. He rushes out of the meeting but not before they give him reassurance that he may have found a new flock he could confide in. 

Photo credit: FX

It may be early in the season, but I predict that Guillermo’s arc will play out something like this. He’ll become increasingly friendly with the wannabe vampire slayers over the course of the next few episodes. At some point, they’ll discover the house and launch an attack. Guillermo will reluctantly join them. Right before they get a good shot at Nandor, Guillermo will have a change of heart and take the group down, Nadja and Laszlo assisting in the matter, but not before they get a fatal shot off at him first. As Guillermo lays dying, Nandor, grateful for his sacrifice, will finally turn his loyal familiar into the vampire he’s always dreamt of.

Bloody Notations

  • “That’s the Owl’s Egg.” – Nandor confusing ordinary objects, a football in this case, as something from his world will never not be funny. 
  • Laszlo’s “Greetings, Owl!” sign is just adorable. 
  • Entering ‘virgins in my area’ on Google doesn’t exactly yield narrow results.
  • Real friends take a nice s*** together.
  • Alternate vernacular for Vampires = mosquitos, suckers, biters and my personal favorite – The Fang Gang.
  • “You’re a lying piece of old cabbage.”
  • “Have either of you two seen a jade necklace containing the blood curdling screams of my dead mother in here?”
  • Aw, I want a puppy party.

You can catch “What We Do in the Shadows” on Wednesday nights at 10/9c on FX. And you’ll find weekly recaps right here on Shuffle Online following each episode.

Until then bloodsuckers, sleep tight in your musty coffins, and cross your fingers Guillermo isn’t waiting outside with a freshly carved stake. 

Featured image credit: FX

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