(Nandor voice) Whatsuuuuuuuup!
Our favorite vampires are back, baby! What We Do In The Shadows (WWDITS) has returned for its fourth season and it’s just as tasty as ever.
[SPOILERS FOR WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS SEASON THREE AND FOUR]
When we last saw the Staten Island crew, they were moving out of their beloved home and undertaking a new journey in their (very long) lives. Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) had just been offered a major seat in the Vampiric Council and was preparing a move to the UK with Laszlo (Matt Berry). Nandor (Kayvan Novak) snapped out of his cult crisis and was preparing to take a “life-changing” trip across the world with Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), after finally starting to see Guillermo as an equal and not just a familiar-turned-bodyguard-turned-friend. And Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) was…well…dead. Colin’s passing allowed the group to look back at their lives and decide on ways to change their futures.
But, as all good things are only momentary, everyone’s plans fell through quickly and changed drastically.
The final moments of the WWDITS Season 3 finale revealed that a toddler with Colin’s face had crawled out of Colin’s decomposing body (something we hear about a lot throughout the WWDITS Season 4 Episode 1). This forces something of a shift in the group’s plans: Laszlo bails on returning to the UK with Nadja, deciding instead to stay in the Long Island home and raise Toddler Colin himself. In the process, however, he tricks Guillermo into Laszlo’s own coffin, forcing him on an insane trip across the Atlantic and totally messing up Guillermo’s plans with Nandor.
One year after these events, Season Four begins.
WWDITS Season 4 Episode 1: ‘Reunited’
Instead of following the vampires individually through their journeys, the show starts up with everyone returning to Staten Island. Their house is a shell of what it used to be, literally decomposing and breaking down due to Laszlo’s neglect and total disregard for how much work went into maintaining it in the first place. We are formally introduced to Toddler Colin, who Laszlo is quick to point out isn’t actually Colin Robinson. A year of living in this “bachelor pad” that doubles as a “safe and sanitary” home to raise a child hasn’t changed Laszlo that much; he’s still the same eccentric, extravagant vampire he’s always been. Only when Nadja surprises him by coming home early that it feels as though a cloud has been lifted.
The two try to reconnect (i.e., bang it out) as if no time has passed, but they keep getting interrupted. Nandor returns as a homecoming surprise for Laszlo, and, in my favorite of Episode 1’s gags, he falls straight through the floor into the disgustingly flooded basement. The severe damage to the house underscores how much they all need each other – not only to survive, but to thrive and be their best selves. Even if the majority of the actual physical and emotional labor falls on Guillermo (who, ironically, also falls into the flooded basement and is later rescued by Nandor).
The WWDITS Season 4 Episode 1 highlight is definitely seeing Nandor caring for Guillermo. After the events of Season 3, Nandor has come a long way. Unlike Nadja and Laszlo, who still cannot bother (or, more likely, are pretending) to care or even remember Guillermo by name, Nandor starts off this season almost enamored with him. From literally jumping after Guillermo to snatch him out of the water, to trying (adorably) his best to dry him off, to standing up to Nadja and Laszlo for him, Nandor’s character arc continues to show new sides of himself, parts thawed by Guillermo’s care for all these years.
While the characters recount how “totally not” miserable they were on their year away from each other, WWDITS Season 4 Episode 1 feels like its purpose is to realign everyone with their old lives but also give them new goals – like Nadja’s desire to start a vampire night club – in order to return the show to a place where minimal character growth has occurred. And while the shift is completely understandable from a storytelling perspective, I can’t help but feel cheated by such a return when the entire promise of Season 3’s finale was to usher in change. By the end of ‘Reunited,’ though, it’s clear that we’re right back where we started: in the perfect place to allow these characters to continue being their over-the-top selves.
WWDITS Season 4 Episode 2 – ‘The Lamp’
Episode 2 starts off by introducing the main conflict. Nadja wants to turn the old council headquarters into her nightclub, but the Guide (Kristen Schaal) is having a hard time grappling with the sudden and immense change. Meanwhile, back at the house, Guillermo stumbles into Nandor’s secret room, where he’s stashed his “ancestral treasure”; it’s revealed that he’s trying to use it as a dowry in his quest to find a wife. While sifting all the treasure, the two find a Djinn lamp. After rubbing it counter-clockwise (this is important!) a Djinn appears, ready to grant Nandor fifty-two wishes. Instead of wishing for a new love, Nandor wishes for all thirty-seven “wives” – both men and women – from when he was human.
Comedy ensues as Nandor tries to remember which one of his wives he was in love with, while Laszlo puts the Guide through an intense therapy session to figure out why she’s so hesitant to change. “Change” quickly becomes WWDITS Season 4 Episode 2’s focal point, as we journey in parallel through the psyches of Nandor and the Guide.
Laszlo’s take on psychology is a hilarious mess that reaffirms just how much these vampires are still stuck in the past. For starters, he cites his time with Sigmund Freud as his basis for the techniques he’s going to be using. Lazslo also labels any emotion the Guide feels as “female hysteria,” assumes that the underlying reasoning behind everything is sexual, and uses cheap hypnotizing tricks. But by the end of the day, he’s made it all work: we find out that the reason behind the Guide’s apprehension, other than her obvious Virgo and OCD tendencies, is she’s being punished for sleeping with the vampire killer Van Helsing. Which is also why the Guide is so attracted to Guillermo.
Back in Nandor and Guillermo’s storyline, the two find themselves at odds once more. Guillermo feels unappreciated, lamenting that keeping the vampires “alive” has meant putting so much of his own life on hold Guillermo has now “missed his mom’s birthday three years in a row.” He also comments passive-aggressively on how he’s “good” and “on board” with Nandor finding a wife. Nandor had secretly hoped this would be an issue for Guillermo, since he (Nandor) still doesn’t know how to go about declaring his love for Guillermo. And so they both go in different directions: Nandor gets engaged and Guillermo trades his help getting the Guide to budge on the remodel for a job as Nadja’s nightclub’s accountant.
‘The Lamp’ ends with all characters embracing a change in ways that’ll only help them get back at and torment other characters, some more obviously than others. But Episode 2 does a nice job setting up the tension of what to expect from the season to come.