Even vampires need a vacation sometimes. We’ve never really seen the crew interact with anyone outside of the New York area, so this should be a fun change of pace. I’m sure they’ll make another mess as they usually do. I’m counting on it. Guillermo probably isn’t. Anyways, off to the far reaches of *checks notes* Atlantic City! Just a forewarning that everything from here on out is loaded with *SPOILERS*, so read at your own risk!
Episode 4: “The Casino” (Yana Gorskaya)
“Bazinga is the war cry of Sheldon, their tall leader.”
Friendly neighbor Sean (Anthony Atamanuik) and his wife Charmaine (Marissa Jaret Winokur) are renewing their wedding vows at the Monaco Grand Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, and have invited the vampire crew to accompany them on the trip. Everyone seems really excited to go, and then Laszlo (Matt Berry) does something that I don’t think anyone expected. He starts playing the show’s theme song (‘You’re Dead” – Norma Tangea) on the house’s piano, joining the legion of franchises that have started to incorporate their themes diegetically (e.g. the “Imperial March” in “Solo: A Star Wars Story”). Rather than going right into the intro, “What We Do in the Shadows” overlays the opening credits on top of the party bus journey to Atlantic City, displaying every cheap motel and religious billboard along the way.
Once everyone has settled into their rooms, with Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Laszlo wasting no time staining the sheets, everyone gets together for a small get-together downstairs. Sean – the world’s premiere “Ocean’s Twelve” aficionado – gives a sweet toast to the company of friends, and my brain can’t comprehend him referring to Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven” as a prequel. I mean, he’s not wrong from his perspective, but still!
As Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) feeds on the table drama, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) is sent off to fetch a broom to clean up the mess. At this moment, Nandor (Kayvan Novak) makes a really good point that the household should really start treating him not as the chore-ridden familiar he used to be (and still kind of is), but as an equal member of the team. Naturally the table warms up to better understand their new bodyguard by prying into his private life. And as luck would have it, right as Guillermo is about to open up, Sean swings back with casino chips and everyone dissipates from the table like middle school kids watching the miracle of birth video at the Boston Science Museum. I speak from experience.
Charmaine takes Nadja to see a cover band of “The Rat Pack” perform, with her believing it’s actually the Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. she used to swing with in their heyday. Colin Robinson bores a poker game to sleep. Nandor becomes addicted to an electronic slot machine of “The Big Bang Theory.” I’ve been to Foxwoods, so I know how enticing those machines, with their massive comfy chairs and entrancing lights, can be, especially if it has a franchise you like on it.
Conflict arises, however, when everyone tries to sleep and they can barely shut their eyes. It turns out that the ancestral soil from their homelands sprinkled throughout the room, which a vampire must bring with them in order to sleep and retain their unholy powers while traveling, was accidentally vacuumed by housekeeping. Colin Robinson claims no responsibility considering he was distracted by his favorite show: the TV channel in the hotel room that’s just one giant singing advertisement for the place.
Guillermo is separated from the group for the most of the episode as he’s tasked with flying to each of their homelands (Heathrow, Antipaxos and Al Qolnidar), or at least what remains of them, and bring their soil back to the hotel. Getting Gizmo those plane tickets brings out a remorseful side of Laszlo you don’t really see, as he reluctantly asks Sean to use his credit card because he doesn’t feel great about taking advantage of his best friend. To show just how much he trusts him, Sean gives him the card with no questions asked.
Back at the hotel, all of the vampires, bar Colin Robinson who’s having a blast, are absolutely drained of their energy. They’re already dead, but at Sean and Charmaine’s vow renewal ceremony, they look like limp spaghetti. Nadja tries wooing money out of the cover “Rat Pack,” but opts to threaten them instead. Meanwhile, Colin Robinson gives Nandor an existential crisis by explaining the actual Big Bang Theory, eviscerating his view on the universe logic of elephants and space turtles he was led to believe.
Guillermo returns with the soil, and immediately gets to work on a plan to acquire the money borrowed from Sean’s credit card. Prior to the boxing match taking place at the casino, Nandor and Nadja will hypnotize both fighters to be prepared at their command, while Guillermo buys tickets, and Colin Robinson places a bet. Seated at the fight, Nadja triggers the hypnosis with “Ain’t that a Kick in the Head,” prompting one boxer to literally decapitate the other with an uppercut to the head, much to Guillermo’s shock. F*cking hell, Nadja.
Sean gets his money, and immediately blows it all on one of the tables. Before leaving the casino, the crew show their gratitude toward Guillermo with a doily that says “You are a very good bodyguard,” with the word “familiar” crossed out. It’s a small token, sure, but he sees that they’re trying, and smiles back.
Episodes like “The Casino” really show how talented these actors are. A casino provides so many environmental opportunities to try new things, and that’s exactly what they do here. Throw in a shocking boxing match that involves one fighter violently knocking the other’s block off and you have a standout episode I’ll be happy to revisit after the season ends.
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.
Featured Image: (L-R) Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillén in “What We Do in the Shadows” I FX
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.