How What We Do in the Shadows Explores Guillermo’s Van Helsing Problem

Vampires exist on Staten Island! In other news, Guillermo has some explaining to do to the de la Cruz family.

Harvey Guillén as Guillermo de la Cruz in What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 5.
Photo: Russ Martin | FX

This article contains spoilers for WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS season 5 episode 5.

Many truths threaten to be revealed on “Local News,” as a water main break in Staten Island forces the vampires into exposure, and their familiar readies to move on. What We Do in the Shadows, season 5 episode 5 reaches a high-water mark in comedy for the series, and a dramatic high point for Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén).

Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) proved vampires can ascend to the inner reaches of outer space during “Pride Parade;” Guillermo is close to cracking the glass ceiling for human familiars. While Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) deal with oversaturation in the media, their most useful human liaison is preparing for a major career move. At least that’s what he tells his family. It promises to be a big change.

At the end of season 4, Guillermo took blood from Vampire Derek (Chris Sandiford) as a form of partial payment for all the years of serving a vampire master who keeps breaking his promise to turn the familiar into a vampire. It turns out to be a bad idea, not only because the act is seen as a betrayal and an insult to the vampire master, but also because the transformation is not going quite right.

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“You see the beginning stages from the first couple of episodes, it’s taking a while for the transformation to take place,” Guillén tells Den of Geek. Undoing the process, or doubling down on it by having another vampire also give blood to an already-transfused subject, carries dire consequences. These were not hinted at when Guillermo first showed signs of vampiric metamorphosis, which was cute as a bat’s ear during the early episodes.

“The ears are really cool,” Guillén says about the first visual evidence of his changing nature. “Our special effects team is amazing. (The ears are) like a little headset that I could put on, like Ariana Grande ears.” But the reveal during “The Campaign” is both dynamic and hysterical, and required much more work than the early supernatural teases.

“For the baby wings or prosthetics, they had to mold my back,” Guillén says. “That took a process. It’s kind of weird to stand still while someone puts plaster on your back while you’re shirtless, and then molds it and lets it dry, and then holds up, you know, skin. It felt like going to the spa. But it was a little new for me.”

While the overall initial impression is more of a giggle than a shock, the newly sprouted appendages are only a starter set. The soon-to-be former familiar will be moving far deeper into unfamiliar territory.

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg because they had to do with so many things, especially with the Laszlo and Guillermo storyline,” Guillén says. “The creations that come out of that were amazing to me. Especially because they had to mold my face into certain things. That was exciting to watch. You see it sprinkled throughout the season. There’s a lot happening. I’m excited for everyone to take a look.”

It is also exciting to see how dramatically the ill-effects of the transformation go, especially as the collateral damage rises. As Laszlo continues his experiments, and Guillermo continues progress sideways into a nether existence, there is nothing to conclude whether the deterrent to full vampirism is the shoddy way it was done by Vampire Derek or because of Guillermo’s family history.

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“We don’t know,” Guillén says. “I think that’s the natural order of what’s happening because of who he is. We don’t know a lot about Guillermo’s past. We know that he did the DNA test, and he has Van Helsing blood running through his veins. But we also don’t know a lot besides that.”

Written by Sarah Naftalis, and directed by Yana Gorskaya, “Local News” flirts with multiple disasters. Guillermo finally confronts his mother, Silvia de la Cruz (Myrna Cabello), with the news of his imminent departure. While this is apparently something he’s done before, there is more at stake this time than ruining his mom’s birthday celebrations.

“We introduced his mom and his family, and they are a family of vampire killers,” Guillén says. “We don’t know what that background is adjacent to. Is there magic? Is there a witchcraft element to it? We don’t know. We’re just scratching the surface to find out what the process is for him to become this full-blooded vampire, or full blood-sucking vampire.”

For full disclosure, check out “Local News,” with sports highlights and weather reported by the crack team of What We Do in the Shadows.

What We Do in the Shadows airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX.