It’s downright trendy to be a witch in 2020. I myself admit to having an Instagram feed full of cauldrons and sigils that are really just elaborately staged ads for bath salts—one of the sharper details of this week’s episode of What We Do In The Shadows. “Self-care” comes up a few times in “Witches,” and it’s true that modern-day witches’ potions are more likely to be of the moisturizing and/or exfoliating variety than anything involving toad-foot powder or the blood of an unbaptized infant. (Unless it’s good for winter dryness. Is it?) Sucking down a nice glass of baby’s blood sounds more like something Nadja would do, actually, which may explain her ongoing rivalry with sorceresses in general—that, and the apparent vigor of her husband’s sperm.
We open with a good old-fashioned house meeting, as Nandor tries to get Nadja and Laszlo to gather for some important agenda items that aren’t important enough to affect the week’s plot. But Guillermo has finally realized that Nandor needs him more than he needs Nandor (good for you, Guillermo!), and he will take his mandated 15-minute break every four hours, thanks. Last week’s episode seems to have prompted a major emotional shift in the once-hapless familiar, who has time to watch Shark Tank now that the vampire assassins have stopped coming to kill his housemates. With the season finale coming up next week, the logical conclusion to Guillermo’s arc for season two is for him to leave Nandor’s service forever, perhaps to return in the season three premiere. Whether that exit will involve his lineage as a vampire hunter, I’m not sure, considering that whole thing seems to have been put to rest after the slaughter of the mosquito hunters in “The Curse.”
This week’s episode was pitched as Nadja-centric, which turned out to only be partially true. It started off strong, thanks to Natasia Demetriou’s performance —her gasp and exclamation of, “witches are afoot!,” in the montage of witches being blamed for household mishaps was one of my favorite moments of the episode. But bringing Guillermo and Colin Robinson (who just can’t help but make it about him and his dick) along for her rescue mission to Satchel Serafina, and then making it Guillermo and not Nadja who rescues the rescue party—twice!—took the focus off of the character in what was supposed to be her moment to shine.
Having jealousy over Laszlo sleeping with Lilith (and the rest of her coven, apparently) be the root of Nadja’s hatred of witches was also disappointing, in that it’s a cliché for female characters to squabble over mens’ affections. While she’s also gotten more aggressively horny, Nadja’s become a more jealous wife in season two, another bummer simply because it’s a clichéd dynamic in sitcom relationships. Adding a delightful touch of homoeroticism between the vampire bros mitigated things, as did the swirling purple fog and brilliant reaction shots from Kayvan Novak and Matt Berry when the witches began their erotic ritual. (The close-up on Nandor’s face when Laszlo said, “I don’t know about you, old chap, but I have a raging hard-on!,” was hilarious.) But I must admit that, at least for me, this episode didn’t quite live up to the promise of its subject matter. No offense, fellas, but you’re usually the ones who get hung up on the potency of your jizz. Sperm is supposed to be good for your skin, though. Lots of protein.
- *Hits joint* “You know, man, apples are a pagan symbol going back to the Druids. They have a five-point star in them if you cut them in half.”
- Goats are obviously witchy as hell, too, representing Satan in traditional European witch lore. Ask Black Peter’s cousin, Black Phillip!
- More direct-to-camera acknowledgement of the “documentary crew” in this episode. They’ve been diligent about that this season.
- Another one for your horror bingo card: An Exorcist-style spider walk!
- A light Google did not turn up anything related to Nadja’s line, “five spits for an enemy, Lilith!,” but if anyones got a spare $19.50 and some time on their hands, I did find a promising academic journal article titled “A Collection Of Saliva Superstitions.”
- “What are you going to do, moisturize us to death?” Good one, Nadja! You earned that mug to the camera.
- Satchel Serafina is presumably supposed to be a parody of Catland Books, Brooklyn’s actual premiere metaphysical emporium. I’ve never been inside, but I did take a Zoom class from them on poisonous plants. If you ever see me looking bored at a party, I’d be happy to tell you all about “flying ointment,” a mild herbal hallucinogen that makes you feel all floaty that groovy chicks used to make back in the Middle Ages. (This should go without saying, but don’t try it at home.)
- Given the real-life news of the week, it’s a great time to read up on W.I.T.C.H. The acronym originally stood for “Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy From Hell,” as the group was dubbed when it was formed for a “Hex Wall Street” protest in 1968. Since then, the acronym has taken on several new meanings, but members of these anonymous, intersectional protest covens all dress in head-to-toe black, cover their faces, and don pointy witch hats when they hit the streets. In recent years, W.I.T.C.H. has shown support for Black Lives Matter, among other leftist causes, at demonstrations across the country—thus the picture you may have seen in viral tweets like the one below.