Just a forewarning that everything from here on out is loaded with *SPOILERS*, so read at your own risk!
Episode 8: “The Wellness Center” (dir. Yana Gorskaya)
“Yes, it seems to me that this Uncle Sam is bleeding us dry, Maybe it is time we bleed him!”
It’s the time of year where Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) celebrates his Accession Day, in which everyone celebrates the anniversary of the day he was crowned Supreme Viceroy for Al Qolnidar. The house is littered with decorations from top to bottom – yes, even the creepy paper. In years past, everyone has gotten really into the celebration, especially a belly dancing Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch). When it comes time to wake him up, however, Nandor wakes up in a state of malaise, as if he could care less about the party to come.
When you’re faced with a neverending existence that amounts to nothing of meaning or substance, it’s easy to see why Nandor would fall into a depressive state. Depression really sucks, man. In an attempt to make him feel like he has worth, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) tasks Nandor with collecting unpaid Vampiric Council union fees (i.e. the grunt work no one else likes doing). When he reluctantly accepts the job, I couldn’t help but hear Kayvan Novak’s bitter tone sounding very similar to Brett Goldstein’s Roy Kent from “Ted Lasso.”
The unpaid union fees bring Nandor to a suspiciously bright vampire wellness center, in which everyone has rejected their bloodsucker lifestyle. This place has serious Scientology vibes. They have even resorted to forcefully removing their fangs from their mouths even though they grow back the next day. At the head of the cult, I mean wellness center, is Jan (Cree Summer), who leads the former vampires like an inspirational yoga instructor. I would recognize one of the most prolific voice actors of my childhood anywhere.
After consulting with Jan in her office, Nandor decides to stay behind and join her cause, rejecting his vampirism in the hopes that one day he’ll become human again (but not really since Jan is full of sh*t). Naturally, the house is wary of the decision, but they allow him to make his own choices, much to Guillermo’s (Harvey Guillén) dismay. In their most emotional confrontation yet, Nandor relieves Guillermo of her servitude. When asked to become a vampire before he leaves, Nandor refuses, claiming the curse of vampirism isn’t something he can bestow upon someone he cares too much for.
It’s been about a month since Nandor left the house, and honestly, he makes a great human. Or maybe that’s just because Kayvan Novak is a beautiful, beautiful man. The flowing shorter hair, the ‘70s inspired aesthetic, it’s all coming up Nandor. He’s found a new community to confide in, even though it’s totally a cult. Jan even trusts him enough to make him her second-in-command.
Guillermo, being the suspicious friend he is, heads to the wellness center to check on Nandor, much like when his master checked in on him when he followed a faux vampire last season (“Collaboration”). When Jan confronts him, Guillermo goes full vampire slayer mode and proceeds to perform a “John Wick”-style rescue operation for Nandor. Guillermo’s silver rope-lined seat belts prevent Nandor from trying to escape the car.
Guillermo informs the rest of the house that he’s done something drastic and that they have to trust him. He leads them down into the basement where Nandor is locked up in the same cage from the beginning of the season. Everyone looks upon Nandor in shock, and is in agreement that he’s about due for some serious deprogramming. Meanwhile, Jan goes full Jonestown, leading her flock to the promised land by having them embrace the sun. They all burn to death because of course they do.
I think this episode shows a different endgame for the season. I predicted it would follow the crew learning to harness their Vampiric Council duties, and while they have, there’s a serious throughline of Nandor trying to find a piece of himself that he feels is missing. Between the random love affairs and the existential crisis at the casino, he’s broken himself down trying to find happiness – even if it comes in the form of a fraudulent vampire healer. This sets a very interesting path for the next two episodes and I can’t wait to see how this is resolved.
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: Kayvan Novak 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.