This Interview with the Vampire review contains spoilers.
Interview with the Vampire Episode 3
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire episode 3, “Is My Very Nature That of A Devil,” is a turning point in a series about transformation. Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) debates revisionist history with Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson), words are said, tapes are burned, and tongues are bit. Daniel plays a portion of the 1973 original interview tapes where Louis calls himself Lestat de Lioncourt’s (Sam Reid) “complete superior,” and concludes he had been “sadly cheated in having him for a teacher.” This does not jibe with the modern telling, but it isn’t jive. The series goes from rehearsed to nuanced, but the acts remain the same.
After a very pivotal scene, the vampire asks the interviewer which one of them is performing. Molloy has come across as combative, a hardened journalist looking for the hard truths, and resists Louis’ “odyssey of recollection,” but would you buy a Buick from this guy? He doesn’t even remember if he owned one when the vampire turns the tables on him. Louis claims the tapes are the performance. In order to follow, we have to allow him his odyssey. The exchange is well-played between the two characters, but is aimed at a doubting audience.
“Hunting is pure instinct,” Lestat tells Louis at the start of the episode. “Reason is a set of leg irons. Everyone is capable of abominations.” Once viewers offer their throats to the new fangs, all manner of unremitting terrors can follow. Molloy is trying to hold Louis accountable. The vampire doesn’t want to keep count. This allows the journey into the many deaths which come after death to pass through the deepest valleys of the shadows of death, where we can truly fear and know evil. It is unremorseful, especially when asked to explain itself. Interview with the Vampire not only embraces its horror, it provides tender foreplay for its deepest intrusions.
The episode is entitled “Is My Very Nature That of a Devil,” and provides a unique examination of the pleasures and tortures of Darwinian extremism. “They came from apes, we came from them, we should be better than they are,” Louis reasons. But his mentor does not need morality to buoy his existence. This is what sets Anne Rice’s vampires apart from most other renderings, they are undiscriminating in their tastes, and offer the best argument against superheroes. When Louis suggests only killing those who need killing, Lestat asks “who are we to decide?”
As fascinating as a supernaturally powered gay, Black vigilante feeding on evildoers in the midst of the segregation of the Storyville section of New Orleans would be, Lestat is right. He ought to know, he is the least calculating evildoer in the entire state of Louisiana, while his partner keeps feeding on stray cats rather than give in to supernature. The battle between good and evil is better fought internally than against an army of slayers. Vampires, victims and vigilantes, oh my. Even the V for Vendetta director knows to parse his vowels.
The Marvel vampire hybrid superhero Blade would count himself lucky not to contend with Louis’ many nemeses. Regardless of his special acumen, the entrepreneurial provider of mortal sins’ white investors will never see him as equal, and his family considers him the stray sheep. “Here comes the ghost,” Louis’ niece yells when he shows up for a visit. “The devil walks at night,” his mother (Rae Dawn Chong) says, and it is the hardest assessment.
The newly turned vampire still loves his sister Grace (Kalyne Coleman) and his mother, but the family tortures him on his choice, nature, and what they believe to be a sin against nature, Louis’ sexuality is demonized in equal measure to his vampirism by the people he loves most. The ones he will outlive, well, in death.
Lestat promises a world of unrelenting pleasure, and sees no reason to place limits on instincts. This only adds to the underlying suspense of strained relationships. Jealousy is played very well by both Anderson and Reid, who come at it from different approaches. Lestat doesn’t taunt when he flaunts, he sees it as an invitation, even with the scent of the alpha male in his every breath. And yes, we see the vampires breathe, quite heavily very often. Louis’ encounter with his young soldier friend in the woods is about as hot as series television can get. It’s even better because it is stone cold-blooded.
On the other end of the spectrum is a very cool, hot-jazz scene, a piano duel between the Azalea club’s resident piano player Jelly Roll Morton (Kyle Roussel) and Lestat, a classical pianist with a mean left hand. This colors his sinister allure. He turns a minuet into a smokin’ vamp with a mean turnaround, but his motivation is not narcissistic. He does it for Louis, not himself. Louis pays it forward, clearing the air on the origin of the early jazz nugget “Wolverine Blues,” and letting us know Lestat can fill or clear a room with equal ease.
Because of the moral discussion which centers the episode, the carnage many horror fans tune in specifically to see is doled out in smaller portions. But when Louis finally finds the arch villain worthy of death-by-superhero, he puts on a garish display. He even has witty patter. “I’ll let you reload,” could be a catch phrase in a Terminator movie, but it is only a passing tone on Interview with the Vampire. It lightens the situation, yet it seals the worst deal an alderman could make. He gives an ear for gore’s sake, but the ultimate message to the people causes the same kind of chaotic panic of the street scene in Joker. That film is about the birth of a supervillain, something Anne Rice’s characters could lean into. It takes something different to be a hero, and vigilante justice is normally displaced in reality.
The “Colored only, no whites allowed” sign Louis displays is an act of heroic defiance, the consequences of which he takes on as his own responsibility. But the episode ends with the introduction of Claudia, who series creator Rolin Jones calls Anne Rice’s “greatest creation.” She comes as a surprise to those who did not read the book. The episode does not lead to her in any overt way. We didn’t know we were waiting for her until she shows up. She does not get a Kurtz-from-Apocalypse Now! preamble, but she is Louis’ destiny, as well as his fate.
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire maintains a consistently high quality in production value, cinematic scope, and character study, as well as suspense, romance and exploration of the greyest moral corners. “Is My Very Nature That of a Devil” breaks rules, and frees the series to mix Jones’ vision and Rice’s story. It feels both revelatory and revolutionary as it plays out, musical in its language, and eloquently instrumental. It is a high point of a series which has been building steadily and suspensefully.
Interview with the Vampire airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET on AMC and AMC+.