“What We Do in the Shadows” has been graced with a slew of amazing guest performances from Tilda Swinton (“Only Lovers Left Alive”), Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Doug Jones (“The Shape of Water”), Danny Trejo (“From Dusk Till Dawn”) and Evan Rachel Wood (“True Blood”), to name a few. And this week, the show bestows the legendary Mark Hamill (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) with his own set of pointy vampire fangs.
Just a forewarning that everything from here on out is loaded with *SPOILERS*, so read at your own risk!
“On the Run” (dir. Yana Gorskaya)
Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), with the assistance of Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), search for sunken spots on the front lawn due to numerous decomposing bodies the trio have let melt away for who knows how long. The game is interrupted when a flying dagger appears from out of nowhere, followed by a cackle only a Joker could love. A mysterious cloaked figure falls from the sky and relishes in finally catching up to Laszlo after all this time. The white-haired vendetta seeker, aptly named Jim the Vampire (Mark Hamill), reveals the true nature behind his joyous revenge, the thing that would drive anyone to patiently track down someone you have a burning contempt with — past-due rent.
Over 167 years ago, Laszlo rented a guest room in Jim’s San Diego beach house, bailing on the last month of rent. It was probably the security deposit that put Jim over the edge. It doesn’t seem like he has much else going on in his life. Proposed with either paying his debt or engaging in a one-on-one duel, Laszlo chooses the duel. And before a cool vampire bout transpires, Laszlo cowardly nopes the hell out of this predicament and flies away.
Laszlo shamefully settles into a local off-road motel where he reaches inside an air duct and pulls out a box labeled ‘disguise,’ insinuating that he’s had this escape plan ready to go for a while now. After penning a goodbye letter to Nadja, the man formerly known as Laszlo hitches up his dark blue jeans and makes his way to the quaint town of Clairton, Pennsylvania. Behind the counter of Lucky Brew’s Bar & Grill, you’ll find not Laszlo Cravensworth but affable bartender Jackie Daytona. It’s all in the toothpick, which is a foolproof way to make sure no one can see right through your lazy masquerade, apparently. That said, it’s very on-brand of Laszlo to put in the least amount of effort possible to keep a low profile. This is the same man who made a prized possession out of a cursed skin hat despite every way it upended his life, after all.
Within moments, Jackie Daytona, like a mysterious lone cowboy riding into town, is universally popular with the community, serving drinks, beating up charitable bikers, and passionately supporting the Girls’ Volleyball team. All it took was murdering the people whose lives he took over; it’s all but a minor inconvenience if you’re gonna have a cool new life. Local waitress Lucy (Madeleine Martin) just can’t get enough of her new mysterious friend and his heart of gold. A conveniently coffin-sized meat cooler at the ready, everything’s looking up Daytona.
It’s the eve of the Regional Volleyball Finals and Lucky Brew’s is bustling with team spirit, Daytona leading the charge as the biggest cheerleader of all. Due to budget cuts, however, Coach Swanson (Ashley Botting) announces that the team won’t be going to State. Jackie mopes around the bar, that is, until Lucy casually sings a little tune, effectively giving him a great idea. A benefit talent show will do nicely, of course, because Jackie Daytona didn’t “scrape and murder his way to Pennsylvania just to watch those talented athletes get f***ed off.” Cue the ‘community bands together for a common cause’ montage!
Meanwhile, back in Staten Island, Nadja weeps for her dear Laszlo. Looking to console his friend, Colin seemingly leans in to kiss Nadja, and I just wanted to scream ‘EXCUSE ME, COLIN ROBINSON?!’ He considers the awkward kiss rejection a form of draining, as if he hadn’t already gotten his fill last week. It’s an awkward joke and not necessarily in a good way. Colin getting rejected by the Nadja doll, however, is *chef’s kiss.*
In case you were wondering when, or if, Mark Hamill would show his face again, Jim the Vampire walks into the bar. It appears that despite Laszlo looking exactly the same, the clueless bloodsucker doesn’t even recognize him. I couldn’t help but see this as an extension of the Bandit/Buford T. Justice casual encounter in “Smokey and the Bandit”, where the pursuer is as dumb as a bag of rocks to not see his target when it’s right there in front of him. The two momentarily bond over a pint before going their separate ways. If I were strapped with the dilemma of helping the people I love or surrendering myself over to Mark Hammill, I mean, there’s only one correct choice.
On the night of the talent show, Jackie proudly announces that the benefit has raised enough money to send the Girls’ Volleyball team to State. And then Jim has to walk in. For a brief moment, it seems as if he’ll once again look past Laszlo’s disguise and be on his way. All it took was a mirror and the removal of a toothpick for Jim to realize he’s found his evader. The two start duking it out, casually informing the entire bar that they’re in the company of vampires. What proceeds is a fun barroom brawl that contains rapid evaporating, fire spitting and, as the cherry on top, the two brandishing pool cues as if they were lightsabers. Laszlo and Jim put an end to the fighting when the fire incinerates the benefit money.
Laszlo, having seen what his cowardice has led to, agrees to pay his outstanding debts by gifting Jim with his prized Billy Bass singing fish above the bar. He flies home after unceremoniously crashing his big red pickup truck into a wall. Nadja, ecstatic to see him, races to the boudoir to engage in playful foreplay with the man once known as Jackie Daytona, and all while Doll Nadja watches in the corner.
To make sure the team gets their money, Laszlo sets the bar ablaze, sending the insurance money their way. Oh, and he sets another building on fire to pay for the funeral for one of the waitstaff who was still in the bar when it went up in flames. Oops. Just when things are looking up for Jim as the team’s newly appointed Assistant Coach, he of course has to break his gifted Billy Bass in a sudden burst of anger. Some things just never work out for vengeful vampire landlords.
“On the Run” definitely took a hit-or-miss detour that, in woeful comparison with Guillermo’s more pressing arc hanging in limbo, still provided a few good laughs, an awesome barroom brawl, and a delightfully campy Mark Hamill performance. It’s definitely one of the least memorable episodes of the series thus far. Following up last week’s episode (“Colin’s Promotion”) is a tough act to follow, to be fair.
- There’s no way that mailman lived to see another day.
- Nandor is looking much more suited with a stake in his heart with every chance he gets to sacrifice Guillermo to the threat at hand.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jackie Daytona persona came from one of Laszlo’s pornos. It’s too good.
- “I cut loose to Pennsylvania, because it sounded like ‘Transylvania.’ And we all know that sounds cool.” Can’t argue with you there, Jackie Daytona.
- “Jackie Daytona shows up and suddenly, balls are going where balls are supposed to go.”
- I want someone to look at me like Mark Hamill looks at a Billy Bass singing fish.
- (gif below) – “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” for Alcoholics
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.
Matt graduated from Keene State College in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Critical Film Studies. A few of his favorite films include “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Army of Darkness,” “Before Sunrise” and “Certain Women.” Having already contributed to Bloody Disgusting, ELF Magazine and The Simple Cinephile, Matt aspires to expand and continue writing with various outlets. If there’s any chance to talk about horror films and/or Twin Peaks, he’ll very much jump at the opportunity.