Maybe the real cursed hat was the friends we made along the way. Two beloved guest stars from the show’s first season returned on What We Do In The Shadows this week, one of whom got top billing on my recap for that week and another who only merited a few passing mentions in the writeup. But I was wrong, y’all. The cursed hat made from the sweet puckering skin of a witch’s sphincter is a star, and I was wrong not mentioning it in the headline the first time around. So now that that’s been corrected, let’s talk about Simon the Devious.
If you just recently started watching the show, last season the vampires went on a field trip into Manhattan to see their old frenemy Simon the Devious (Nick Kroll) at his vampire nightclub. Laszlo wore the aforementioned cursed hat to the club in order to spite Simon, who naturally coveted the supple sensation of witch anus against his forehead. An argument ensued, Simon stole the hat, and as our vampire heroes were on their way out Simon accidentally torched his own club with a flaming arrow, reaffirming Nadja’s belief that the hat was cursed. Fast-forward to now, when Simon is living in the sewers of Staten Island like a cut-rate Phantom of the Opera, with none but his loyal minion Count Rapula and a mutant porcupine woman named Carol to witness his melancholy.
Revisiting that episode made me realize that, this season, What We Do In The Shadows is playing it a little looser. It still, for the most part, hews to a traditional sitcom structure, introducing a conflict at the beginning of an episode and solving it by the end. But it is also breaking down the internal dynamics of that structure a bit, as well as allowing for more elements to reoccur without the need for pat resolutions. Here, I’m thinking mostly about Guillermo’s double life, which has had more of a presence in this season than the ostensible through line of the Baron’s visit last year.
The show’s also come a long way in terms of special effects and CGI, and this week’s episode was perhaps the most ambitious yet in that department. We not only had Colin’s big, boring hero moment with the troll (whose genitalia no longer had to be blurred out when he turned to stone—ah, standards and practices), but also Laszlo bouncing around like a kernel of popcorn in a hot pan and the many transformations from bat to human and back again in the final showdown. The screeners we get for the show are often not 100 percent finished in the effects department, so I can’t speak to how all of that is going to look on TV, But what was finished looked great, even passing the big test for CG creatures: What does it look like in bright light?
Perhaps due to this emphasis on effects and world-building, in terms of pure joke-a-minute hilarity, this wasn’t the funniest episode of the season. (Jackie Daytona, Human Bartender was a tough one to follow in that regard, to be fair.) It did a lot of heavy lifting in terms of storytelling, though, including one moment between Nandor and Guillermo that I found strangely affecting. Guillermo’s worst fear has come true, and his master knows he’s a vampire hunter. But Nandor doesn’t banish him from his service, or tell the other vampires what’s going on—more out of fear for his reputation than anything (at least, that’s what he says), but still, he seems to accept it.
From here, I’m not sure what happens; they may just never speak of it again, or this may have major repercussions for Guillermo going forward. With just three episodes left in the season, I’d bet it’s the latter. What We Do In The Shadows is, in some ways, a show about love; thus far this season, Nadja and Laszlo’s relationship has been foregrounded—it even factored into this episode, as Simon revealed that, deep down, he’s jealous of what they have—but the dynamic between Nandor and Guillermo is also a marriage of sorts. Seeing if Guillermo can learn to reconcile his birthright as a vampire hunter with his loyalty to his vampire master sure sounds like a dramatic climax worthy of a season finale to me, how about you?
- “I like to read when I am watching the pictures!” Nadja, welcome to the Bong hive.
- Having dealt with a troll attack after talking some frankly pretty mild shit about a notorious talk-radio host here on this very website a few years back—it’s a long story—I can confirm that it is indeed a very draining experience. Don’t engage if you can help it, and block, block, block! Or, if you don’t want to give them the satisfaction, at least mute the assholes!
- In trying to figure out what Carol’s deal was, I stumbled across this article about a new (as of 2012) species of dinosaur “described as a cross between ‘a bird, a vampire, and a porcupine.’” It was the size of a house cat, and lived 100-200 million years ago. So now you know that, too.
- “Are you trying to make a girlfriend out of dust?” “No, the vacuum broke.” “It is a very messy, but cool, idea.”
- Y’all have seen Troll Hunter, right? If not, please do; the design of the troll in this episode reminded me of that film quite a bit.
- This season, Simon’s crew consists of Gunfrappel, Blaglad the Exsanguinator, Wesley Sikes, Apusa, The Freak Sisters, Len the Zombie of My Former Accountant—all returning from last season—new vampires Neil, Patrick, and Harris, as well as that treacherous son of a bitch Elvis Presley.
- Matt Berry Line Reading of the Week goes to the blurted-out apology, but his “mmm” when Simon says “you’re such a good friend” was also brilliant.
- “You lying piece of asshole!” is one I think I’m going to add to my vocabulary. See also: “Once again into the shit pipe.”
- What kind of movies do you think Nadja and Laszlo like? I could see them cackling their way through Fatal Attraction, but their favorite has to be Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages. No distracting dialogue in that one.