Alas, all of my vampire friends, and Guillermo, of course, are back for another round of bloodsucking, roommate-bickering fun with the new season of FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows.” The hilarious horror comedy, based on the 2014 mockumentary hit from Takia Waititi and Jemaine Clement, became a frequent comfort watch for me during quarantine last year. I also had the pleasure of covering last season for Shuffle during that time!
“What We Do in the Shadows” actually gave me something to look forward to every week. I have nothing but the utmost admiration for the creative team of this show. I said this when writing about last season, but while I wholeheartedly enjoy the bloodsuckers of Waititi’s feature, I’ve truly grown to enjoy this cast of that much more.
Before we start, however, I feel like I need to fix an error on my part. In last season’s recap for “On the Run,” I said I liked the episode, but ultimately labeled it as “one of the least memorable episodes of the series thus far.” I’ve revisited it many times since. Ignore me. I was wrong. Jackie Daytona rules, and that’s that. Phew, glad I can get that embarrassing blunder off my chest. Anyways, on with the vampire hijinks!
Just a forewarning that everything from here on out is loaded with *SPOILERS*, so read at your own risk!
Episode 1 – “The Prisoner” (dir. Kyle Newacheck)
“Thanks for saving us, but sorry, you’re our mortal enemy – you got to die, babes.”
Oh, how do you solve a problem like Guillermo (Harvey Guillén)? The final few minutes of Season Two created quite the conundrum for the loyal familiar and Van Helsing descendent when, upon seeing his crew ambushed by the Vampiric Council, he slaughtered an entire auditorium of vampires as if they were paper, and he was scissors. Guillermo’s holy water spin stands mighty alongside his ‘flipping the bird’ window jump from “The Curse.” And that’s on Guillén being an absolute treasure who understood the assignment and then placed a huge wooden stake through its heart.
I legitimately had no idea how any of them were going to get out of this. As “The Prisoner” begins, it goes to show that neither did any of them. Downstairs in the basement’s basement, lies Guillermo in a massive cage – equipped with raw chicken, Yoo-hoo and a poop bucket – as Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) decide his fate. All I could think was ‘how did these idiots manage to capture THE Guillermo de la Cruz, vampire slayer and distributor of witch’s semen?’ The answer: they’re idiots. No cage can hold Gizmo.
Guillén is wonderful at walking that line of being the smartest person in the room, while also remaining relatively level-headed and without a trace of ego – even when faced with a potential death sentence. He has the demeanor of ‘You trap me in a cage? Hah! I’ll show you. I’m gonna casually slip out for lunch, clean up your mess while you sleep, and protect you from a mysterious fog shape drifting about the house. So how about that?!’ It really goes to show how much he cares for them.
In a stunning turn of events, The Guide (Kristen Schaal), last seen back in “The Trial,” arrives with a message from the Supreme Worldwide Vampiric Council. A welcome return of Viago (Taika Waititi) via VHS, informs the household that apparently when you slaughter over 70% of vampires in the tri-state area, you get promoted to Leaders of the Eastern Seaboard Vampire Council! Everyone celebrates like members of the group who did nothing to garner the A, yet is more than happy to take the credit from the one person who did all of the work.
And what of Guillermo? Well, he’s endowed with a promotion of his very own! No longer is he a familiar but a *drum roll* vampi….bodyguard. It’s what he’s always wanted. Then again, it’s better than death, I guess. Now that that dilemma has been settled out, including a powerless four-way vampire hyp-meow-sis, it’s time for them to take their place among the council. Therein, however, lies a new dilemma. Who will be the one to take the throne? I doubt they can botch this “Game of Thrones” as badly as the other one. Let the vampire power grab commence!
Episode 2 – “The Cloak of Duplication” (dir. Yana Gorskaya)
“The plan is that I – Nandor the Relentless – will sit on my throne and make a number two.”
God, Guillermo ‘updog’-ing Nandor into that joke is one of many reasons why this is one of the greatest comedies on television right now. At the moment, it would appear that Nandor and Nadja are operating as co-rulers, but are each no-so-secretly plotting their individual rise to power. If I’m to predict how this will turn out – which worked so well for me last season – I wouldn’t put it past Guillermo to turn Vampire by the finale, and assume power over all of them. It really wouldn’t be that difficult, bar Colin Robinson at the height of his powers.
Down in the bowels of the Vampiric Council, The Guide introduces everyone to a room of supernatural artifacts that I’m sure we’ll be revisiting frequently: the Chamber of Curiosities. Even Guillermo gets a chance to hold the Van Helsing family jewels. Yes, I’m 12 years old. It’s here where we’re introduced to a shape-shifting article of clothing that not only holds the great power of embodying anyone you choose, but is the perfect excuse to let Novak really show off his range: the Cloak of Duplication.
Further in the Council Chambers, Laszlo and Colin Robinson become privy to an ancient library that would make Belle look at Beast’s collection as amateurish. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Laszlo would immediately search for the porn. I have a feeling Ash would really appreciate reading from the Knobnomicon rather than the other one. Meanwhile, I agree with Colin Robinson’s literary quest. How exactly do you become an energy vampire? What does that process even look like?!
Meanwhile, Nandor utilizes the Cloak to try and woo Meg (Lauren Collins), the gym desk attendant whom he seems to have a rapport with. Is the montage of a shirtless Nandor working out an excuse for Novak to show off his dad bod? Yes. Am I complaining? NOPE. Instead of going himself, Nandor relinquishes the task to Colin Robinson, who fails spectacularly, and then to Laszlo, who also fails spectacularly. What sells this portion of the episode is seeing Novak mimicking everyone’s mannerisms to perfection. The stoic rudeness of Colin Robinson, the overconfident swagger of Laszlo, and the timid nervousness of, eventually, Guillermo are all wonderfully illustrated through his expressive face.
Over in Queens, Nandor, Nadja and Colin Robinson visit a cell of youthful vampires called the Council of Vampires (clever) that seem to have defected from the code and payments. They never say it but they’re totally “okay, boomer”-ing the trio. Is there a solution that could bring them together? Potentially, but Nadja just goes ahead and pulls a “Jason Lives” on their leader, and that about does the trick.
It doesn’t seem like the new Council will have everything under control for much longer, as The Sire, the world’s oldest living vampire, seems to be on the verge of escaping its prison chamber. I see this episode went with the “Underworld” ending. Very nice.
Did you think this was a great start to Season Three? How did you see Guillermo getting himself out of this mess?
You can catch “What We Do in the Shadows” on Thursday nights at 10/9c on FX. And you’ll find weekly recaps right here on Shuffle Online following each episode!
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.