What We Do In The Shadows: The vampires get drunk, high and gifted with a new future


What We Do In The Shadows gives the vampires a night out on the town, and a way out of the show’s most suffocating narrative predicament.

When What We Do in the Shadows premiered, it was ostensibly a show about vampires just trying to get by in America. They did normal things like shop, go out, and boss around their human familiars, blissfully ignoring their original charge to conquer the New World in the name of the undead.

The arrival of the mysterious “Baron,” an elder vampire from Europe who somehow both outranks and terrifies the show’s primary threesome of roommates, presents a particular problem. Suddenly they have to explain why they were too lazy to take over more than (maybe) the street in Staten Island they currently live on.

The series’ pilot made this problem sound terribly pressing, but pretty much stuck the Baron in a coma immediately and the show moved on to other things.

Now, finally, in episode six of the season, the Baron wakes up. And, rather than berate his lackeys for their incompetence, he orders Nandor, Lazzlo and Nadja to take him out and show him some of the sites of America. (Fourth roommate Colin Robinson, sadly, is not invited to come along.)

On the surface, this is a terrible idea, both within the narrative and outside of it. We literally just saw the vampires go to a club two episodes ago. And how in the world can we, as viewers, possible take this story seriously when the Baron, well…looks the way he looks?

It’s easy to handwave the fact that our main vampires get away with some extremely weird behavior and outlandish clothing on the regular, if only because the show lets us see Lazzlo mind controlling people enough to assume he probably does it all the time. But the Baron literally looks like death, and it’s hard to suspend your disbelief enough to ever think this story line could be viable.

And yet…by the time the Baron’s night out on the town actually gets under way, it actually turns out to be pretty fun.

The show doesn’t shirk from the issue of the Baron’s positively desiccated appearance, either, though it probably doesn’t make it as much of a problem as it should be. (Honestly, he’s so disgusting looking people should be running away screaming, not just giving him side eye in the local bar.)

And What We Do in the Shadows is always at its most entertaining when it puts its truly ridiculous cast of the undead out into the real world. Therefore, watching the Baron do mundane things like go to the local corner market, shoplift a stress ball and react to street hecklers angry over his New Jersey devils baseball cap are precisely what this show is made to do.

(And I guess this is New York. Maybe people would be more riled up over the Devils hate than the Baron’s actual appearance? It’s possible.)

The sequence in which the Baron assaults a drunk man on the street, drinks his blood as a crowd of passersby stare in confusion and Nadja attempts to play the moment off as everyone hugging, only to become so drunk he can’t stand on his own is honestly a perfect sequence.

Doug Jones should really just play any creature that’s made out of prosthetics  in entertainment forever, thanks.

Events become increasingly maudlin as everyone gets drunker after doing shots from various intoxicated patrons. The vampires start having weirdly maudlin philosophical conversations about killing and how they’re “all going through shit,” and it’s basically every three AM chat you ever had at the bar in college freshman year.

A similar joke lands just as well later on in the episode, when the vampires visit a rave and eat some dancers who are high on unidentified psychotropic drugs. “Now I am a wizard!” Nandor deadpans to the cameras with glee, wearing a traffic cone as a hat.

The extended projectile vomit sequence after the Baron tries human pizza is both unnecessary and juvenile, but for some reason also the sort of humor this show seems to love to embrace every so often (see also: Nadja’s carnival date with Jeff.)

But the most intriguing part of the episode is its ending. The decision to kill off the Baron just as it seems as though the ancient creature and the roommates may have patched up their differences is a surprise, but also probably a great move.

It frees the show from a constrictive narrative framework that I’m not sure anyone cared about, and removes a problematic character that no one was that interested in anyway.

Plus, Guillermo accidentally burning the Baron to death with sunlight is the ending this entire saga deserved.

Look, we all know that none of our main trio is particularly interested in world domination, and most of them – particularly Nandor – actually like the human world. And we as viewers probably like watching them navigate its oddities a lot more than whining about how they need to try and take over a neighboring borough.

In short: This twist feels a lot like freedom.

Perhaps it is a bit early for the show to be abandoning the idea of a season long story arc. But it’s not entirely clear that What We Do in the Shadows was really built for that kind of thing anyway. The jokes in this show are largely situational and the stories generally ephemeral. A more episodic style is likely a better fit, at the end of the day.

It’s certainly been the source of the series’ best episodes so far. So let’s see where we go from here.

Next. Westworld has a new villain for season 3. dark

What We Do in the Shadows continues next Wednesday on FX.