What We Do in the Shadows finale review: What is a legacy?


FX’s What We Do in the Shadows wraps up its first season with an episode that manages to look backward and forward at the same time.

FX’s What We Do in the Shadows wraps up its first season with an episode that looks to the past to inform the future, and provides a few solid laughs along the way.

The basic gist of “Ancestry” is pretty simple. Familiar Guillermo has decided to DNA test everyone for some reason, possibly because they all pretty much leave samples of blood and hair all over the house on the regular. Nadja and Lazzlo reject their results because they’re afraid of the information being used against them by witches (don’t ask, long story). But Nandor is pretty stoked to learn he has over 200,000 living descendants – a result of his 37+ member harem back in the day.

Though, as Colin Robinson helpfully points out, he’s got nothing on Genghis Khan. (And his 16 million living relations.)

But Nandor has spent much of this season looking for some kind of meaningful connection to the world he lives in, and in a way, this provides him with one. Perhaps we’ll meet more of then in season 2 beyond poor 98-year old Madeline, who ends up dead thanks to her great-times-thirty grandfather. The subplot that weird, nerdy Nandor is only looking for a place to belong is one of the quieter, but nevertheless still heart-tugging subplots of this season.

Related: Nandor and Colin Robinson are comedy gold together. (See also: “Animal Control.”) They need to go on more adventures in season 2. And I need to know more about energy vampire mythology after Colin’s assertion that churches are actually great feeding grounds for them, especially since the holy space makes the regular vampires burst into flames.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that “Ancestry” wraps up the story of Nadja’s reincarnating lover Gregor – by beheading him again – her new protégé Jenna is once again nowhere to be seen. Sigh. Nadja has been at her most interesting this season with the younger vampire, and Jenna’s presence generally means that What We Do in the Shadows passes the Bechdel test that week.

(This episode…does not. Again.)

However, this episode does better than most at making Nadja and Lazzlo’s marriage seem both genuine and oddly romantic, though it’s a big disturbing that his grand gesture of love involves consistently murdering the man she has an ongoing affair with. At the end of the day, it might be better than his bizarre topiary creations, though, so let’s just go with it.

But the big twist of “Ancestry” is actually Guillermo’s DNA test, which reveals him to be a descendant of famous vampire hunter Van Helsing.

Given that Guillermo’s already accidentally killed two vampires this season, this connection makes a certain oddball amount of sense, though the realization definitely puts something of a damper on his obsession with Armand from Interview with the Vampire. (As well as his hopes for eventually becoming a member of the undead himself.)


One of the other overarching plots of season 1 has been Guillermo’s relationship with his master, Nandor, and his hopes that one day his decade of service will be rewarded with death and conversion. The two clearly do care about one another — they both check-in on each other when they suspect the other is down or struggling with something — and if we’re honest, Nandor seems to get along with Guillermo better than he does with Lazzlo or Nadja for the most part.

Can all of that overcome the fact that Guillermo is secretly an enemy of the undead by blood? (The final scene of him flinging stakes into the portraits of the roommates is…ominous at best.)

As What We Do in the Shadows’ first season concludes, it feels as though the show has settled into something of a consistent groove, mostly featuring hilarious send-ups of both everyday life and vampire lore from week to week. Its weakest points are usually when it tries to string something like an arc together — see also, the Baron’s visit from Europe, as well as Jenna’s aforementioned disappearing/reappearing storyline.

Therefore, it will be interesting to see whether the show can put something meaningful together out of Guillermo’s secret, or if it will simply be played for laughs, despite the fact that he’s clearly dangerous to all of them, even if he doesn’t intend to be.

We’ll find out in season 2.

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What We Do in the Shadows will return in 2020.