After the insanity that was last week’s episode, “The Wedding,” WWDITS Season 4 Episode 7, “Pine Barrens,” is a fun break from the main arc that also pushes things forward nicely. Once again, the gang is broken up into their own different storylines. Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), Baby Colin (Mark Proksch), and Sean (Anthony Atamanuik) take a boys’ trip out to the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Meanwhile, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Nadja Doll, the Guide (Kristen Schaal), and Marwa (Parisa Fakhri) host a girls’ night in. And Guillermo (Harvey Guilén) hosts his family for dinner for his abuela’s birthday.
Spoilers follow for WWDITS Season 4 Episode 7, ‘Pine Barrens.’
I really enjoyed this episode. All the different storylines aligned to tell a cohesive tale, one that highlighted each character’s issue and led to a satisfying conclusion. We start off with the best of boys: Nandor, Laszlo, Tween Colin, and Sean embark on a boys’ trip to the Pine Barrens, where tensions quickly start to run high as Nandor and Laszlo irritate each other. At first glance, it’s easy to take Nandor’s side, as Laszlo refuses to be of any help and makes sure that Nandor does the majority of the chores alone. As the episode progresses, it’s revealed that both of them are both angry and irritated with each other for the same reason: Since before Nandor married Marwa, he and Laszlo haven’t been able to spend time together. And neither thought this was such a big deal until their anger blew up in their faces and forced them to confront just how much they mean to each other. In the end, though, Nandor and Laszlo come together to battle the New Jersey Devil (yes, it exists), fixing their problems with violence.
And then there’s the other side of the coin, the one that truly broke my heart. Since Colin is the only vampire who can walk around during the day, we got a heartwarming, adorable scene between him and Sean in which they talk about just how much Laszlo loves Colin, even if he isn’t great at showing it all the time. I’ve been dismissive of Sean as a character until now. He’s the stereotypical New Jersey dirtbag – aside from loving his wife, doesn’t have any redeemable qualities. But it was through this scene with Colin that I started to see some depth and a little something more to his character. (Even if immediately after the scene, Colin becomes a dummy once more. At least we had this.)
Back on Staten Island, Nadja hosts a girls’ night since the house is “empty,” in the process repeating the joke that she can’t remember Guillermo lives there to save her…afterlife? In one of the most heartfelt and adorable scenes of Season 4 thus far, Nadja gets showcased with a tightly knit friendship circle that she loves and that loves her, and also reveals that her favorite movie is Mamma Mia – which, to be fair, makes complete sense. (And now we know why Laszlo dislikes it and refuses to let her watch it when he’s around.)
Watching Nadja nurture these close female friendships brought tears to my eyes. Ever since the makeover scene from the last episode, I’ve been yearning for more moments where Nadja allows herself to be happy, trust others, and, most importantly, find herself and who she is outside of her relationship with Laszlo or her work. The girls’ night gives us all that, plus Nadja connecting with the other women around her, all of whom are now an integral part of her life. It was joyous to watch these supernatural beings sing and dance and make each other laugh, highlighting the importance of nurturing the bonds that strengthen them and bring balance into their lives.
And just when I thought WWDITS Season 4 Episode 7 couldn’t get any better, Guillermo happened. Earlier in the season in “Private School,” we found out that after a decade of neglecting his human family, Guillermo uses the money he embezzles from Nadja’s club to take care of them. He stated that he had two families to care for and would do his best to balance both of them, giving them equal love and attention. This is why things were bound to get complicated when Guillermo invited his family –the one with Van Helsing blood – to dinner at a vampire house.
I love the gag of Nadja pretending to be Guillermo’s girlfriend. In earlier seasons of What We Do In The Shadows she would never have even considered, and would have instead killed Guillermo and his entire family where they stood for his insolence. She doesn’t now because Nadja has grown to care about Guillermo; just the mere act of pretending, even for a little bit, is proof enough. It paled in comparison to the revelation that a Van Helsing’s blood starts to boil and they get insanely powerful killer instincts when they’re around demons. (WWDITS refers to the majority of creatures of the night –including vampires – as demons.) Which means that as much as Nandor has been holding back his affection for Guillermo, Guillermo has also been holding back his ancestral drive to kill Nandor and the rest of his other family.
Eventually, Nadja gets found out, meaning Guillermo has to make a very difficult choice: defend her and reveal to his family what he’s truly been doing, or let his badass, feral monster-hunting family kill Nadja and then deal with the fallout. And so Guillermo makes the impossible choice, telling his family the truth: he’s been living with and serving these vampires, and that Nadja isn’t his girlfriend…because he’s gay. Harvey Guillén gave the performance of a lifetime, one that had me terrified for him after the visceral reactions his family had to everything else he revealed. But in “Pine Barrens'” most beautiful moment, Guillermo’s family embraces him with open arms because “familia es familia, homie.”
Because Nadja was also incredibly supportive, WWDITS Season 4 Episode 7 episode ended on a bittersweet note. She and Guillermo seem as close as they’ve ever been – if you’ve been paying attention. This will most likely blow up in their faces once Nadja finds out Guillermo has been stealing from her. Each new beautiful scene solidifying their friendship will only make it harder when the truth is revealed.