This Interview with the Vampire review contains spoilers.
Interview with the Vampire Episode 5
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire’s “A Vile Hunger for Your Hammering Heart,” is a pivotal episode. The dysfunctional family unit of Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson), and Claudia (Bailey Bass) pushes past the breaking point several times. In normal families, the kid grows up and moves on. That’s a sticky point for vampires.
Throughout his conversation with journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian), Louis digs his fingernail into the hardwood tabletop in front of him. As the questions take an accusatory stance, the vampire carves quite a dent in the wood. It is a small detail, meant to subtly show the preternatural talents in Louis’ talons, but it also scratches the surface of the façade of sanguinarian etiquette. It may not be in the book Bruce (Damon Daunno) keeps suggesting, but no matter how refined a vampire may appear on the outside, there is a beast in there, clawing its way to the surface.
The splintering hole vaguely resembles an inverse stake, and as Molloy digs deeper, we wonder how long it will take for that table to bleed. It’s a wonderful diversion. Much like how Lestat weaponizes cognitive dissonance, or how Louis steers his autobiographical conversations through distractions. Three pages torn from a diary? Why talk about horrid things like sexual assault, when there are larger lessons to be learned? Like how to be a teenage serial killer. It’s a great hook for a novel, and would play well on social media, but the parental vampire figure tries to block it with a curfew. That scratching fingernail etches every kill.
Charlie’s death, which concluded “The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood with All a Child’s Demanding,” sets Claudia adrift, and Bass rides every wave. The traumatized too-young vampire giggles her way through her initial killing spree, flirts drunkenly with cops looking for excuses, and plays Louis and Lestat like pinballs on a very tilted board. It is as mischievously fun as it is frightfully suspenseful, building until the audience doesn’t even realize they’re hoping someone is getting away with murder, and a lot of it. Only a hungry teen vampire could try to chalk up 56 bodies as a post-romantic ice cream binge, but Bass adds that topping too. It’s delicious, but not the cherry. After meals, Claudia keeps leftovers, that is such bad vampire etiquette.
Besides being troubled lovers and at-odds parents, Lestat and Louis find themselves as crime investigators, after hearing off-the-record accounts of foul play from, and about, soon-to-be-former associates. They play their good cop/bad cop roles to the hilt. Louis tracks every college death and sees patterns everywhere. Lestat insists the case is closed. To his long-surviving predator instincts, Claudia is more than a menace, she is tacky. Who keeps toes from a kill? One woman’s breast? These are the things which separate vampires from psychos, and Lestat will not slum in such a crowded neighborhood.
Louis abandons his ruthless business life in New Orleans, and Europe apparently wasn’t big enough for a vampire like Lestat. We have to wonder about what we actually learn from the wayward vampire Bruce. Those three pages ripped from the diary are not the only secrets scattered about. Bruce appears to confirm everything Lestat promised Claudia would find in European vampires. But throws dark shade on what brought Lestat to the U.S. in the first place. Was he running, like Louis and Claudia are considering, from a more oppressive, possessive Dark Gift giver? And does it have anything to do with the allusion to vampires scaling Dubai skyscrapers and the “vampire apocalypse” Molloy tosses off in an aside. It is at the heart of the only thing Claudia is looking for, beyond normal anatomical growth: details.
In the book, Louis and Lestat dress Claudia up like a doll, and treat her like one. They avert their attention from her reality, and in the series, this lays bare their own jealousies. Lestat was jealous over the telepathic bond he was excluded from, and every young soldier he finds in Louis’ arms sends a pang which triggers hunger, and he takes his tastes as he finds them. Lestat saves all his sociopathic charm for his jealousies, because his romance, and the vibes of tough love he is emitting, are authentic.
Louis wonders too much about the truth to see it, and deliberately does not accept it when things get too real. His rose-colored glasses shield him from the bloody truths he gets from his maker, his vampire sister, and his real sister, Grace (Kalyne Coleman), who is the first to skip out on Louis. This, however, is the emotional event which realigns Claudia’s perspective. There is a vague racial component in the household buried under layers of the vampiric superiority, but the major block is their contemporary Americanism and whatever is being held back by the foreign object which keeps them captive. Lestat does not want to let go of the operatic relationship he enjoys with Louis, or did. The emotional battles between the three vampire characters leave scars, but the deepest cuts come when they maintain restrained civility.
The slap Molloy lays on Louis is shocking, but wholly appropriate. A major violation occurred, and given the past few times the vampire made his supernatural presence known, it could develop into a pattern in interview sessions. Molloy is a fairly brave character, using insinuation as an interrogative tool, and never letting his empathy get in the way of his endless derisive moral judgements. He can’t possibly be as indignant as he puts forward. Molloy wouldn’t be talking with a multiple mass murderer in the first place if he didn’t have some kind of empathy with the killer. He’s not quite Robert Downey Jr.’s encouraging ratings chaser Wayne Gale in Natural Born Killers, but Molloy is not an innocent bystander taking notes, either.
Molloy may very well be chronicling a protracted suicide, and rooting for it. There is something appealing about that “single-shooter, X-Box, mouth-breather shit” his readers crave. After all, Charlie Manson wrote a couple good songs. His motivations are consistently called into question, and not only by Louis’ most trustworthy assistant, Rashid (Assad Zaman), who works like clockwork on Molloy’s last nerve.
Bogosian maintains a very tricky balance, and uses it to keep his character level on a very unlevel playing field. For most of his scenes, he is sitting or comfortably pacing, while Reid, Anderson, and Bass aren’t even limited by gravity. Yet, Bogosian’s physical acting is on par with any stunt or gratified climax in more active scenes. His eyes say one thing, while his eyebrows scream another, and when he loses muscle functions, his spasms are the least of what’s going on in his body and mind.
The physical fight between Louis and Lestat is shot and choreographed so perfectly it doesn’t even need stunt doubles. We don’t have to see the vampires to know what they’re doing. The aftermath of their lover’s quarrel renders one of the most beautiful sets in the series unrecognizable. But it’s got nothing on what is kicked up from the dust. The aerial maneuver, mixed with the emotional intensity and the omnipresent sound of a sucking wound, is a defining moment for the show. Unexpected, magnificent, and shot with a cinematic scope, it still asks more questions than all the answers it provides. It also further breaks ties to the novel. It is shattering.
And as we see Claudia’s sad reflection in the shards of a broken mirror we realize … vampires aren’t supposed to be reflected in mirrors, and Anne Rice’s dark angels were not beholden to the myths and legends of Stoker’s Dracula. It takes more than garlic and sunlight to kill a vampire. It could also be done by dull conversation. When Louis and Claudia leave Lestat with no one to verbally spar with, it is as bad as a stake through the heart.
Interview with the Vampire reaches a turning point in “A Vile Hunger for Your Hammering Heart.” While the direction is clear, the options are still illusory. This can’t be the parting of ways, because it leaves Lestat afloat, his throat intact, and seemingly more powerful than ever. For fans of Rice’s book, this really is a cliffhanger, because we don’t know what is coming, and we don’t know who is coming back. This cannot be the last encounter before the trip abroad. The suspense is truly killing me.
Interview with the Vampire airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET on AMC and AMC+.