Why Interview with the Vampire Season 2’s Trial Was Bloody Perfect Television

Interview with the Vampire season 2 proves breaking immortal laws can be costly, but bending traditional rules makes for great TV.

Sam Reid as Lestat De Lioncourt, Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac, Delainey Hayles as Claudia, Roxane Duran as Madeleine, Ben Daniels as Santiago, Jake Cecil as Gustave, Emse Appleton as Estelle, Suzanne Andrade as Celeste - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 2, Episode 7.
Photo: Larry Horricks | AMC

This article contains spoilers for Interview with the Vampire season 2 episode 7 and Anne Rice’s VAMPIRE CHRONICLES novels.

Hang a jury. The verdict is in. A conviction sealed. Interview with the Vampire season 2 episode 7 “I Could Not Prevent It” is moving, chilling, and adventurous in ways horror, romance, and television rarely pardon. Curtains rise on the trial for Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson), Claudia (Delainey Hayles), and Madeleine (Roxane Duran), who broke the Five Immortal Vampire Laws, and the legal procedural dismisses traditional rules of regular programming. Everything is scripted, but feels as off-book as Lestat de Lioncourt’s (Sam Reid) disregard for counseled testimony. The implicit danger of the approach is subtle, undeniable, and unique. There is nothing screening or streaming like it. You should watch it right now (or later on when it eventually arrives to Netflix).

“I Could Not Prevent It” yanks the rug from expectations and accepted truths. The power structure of the Coven and Théâtre des Vampires is ruptured. Our antiheroes vanquished. Further flaunting conventional wisdom, most action happens on a static stage setting. Any pause can mean death, but increases suspense. The audience is subjected to a recap, knows the end going in, yet are left questioning everything that’s gone before with razor clarity. A rare feat.

Dangerous Timing

Lestat ghosted season 2 for six episodes, a treacherous gambit. The anticipation of the legendary vampire’s arrival is a major reason “I Could Not Prevent It” excels. Every player is hiding something, consistently vulnerable and eerily exposed. Claudia’s childlike appearance conceals a mature woman. Vampires Lestat and Louis rebel to retain something inherently human, a breed new Coven leader Santiago (Ben Daniels) labels as “complicit, repugnant, and appalling.”

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Santiago is not merely ambitious and self-serving. He is grieving and rightfully and righteously spiteful, robbed of a companion for crimes now laughed away. He maintains disparate motivations, and intentional miscommunications. Santiago is also a force to be reckoned with whether upstaged at the theater or the TV screen. Daniels’ gift of maintaining multiple points of focus provides the audience with a central ring of the circus.

Lestat owns the stage before he hits it, tossing his pinstripes at the overhead plank. He steals every line, shares ultimate solitude with an audience member, and never restrains his presence to stage or physics. This affords visual surprises in a one-location set, like the uniformed heckler posturing for brethren-in-arms. “They, like yourself, may be disgusted by the transcendent love between two vampires of the same sex,” Lestat indulges before divulging greater abominations with devastating timing, and a hasty adieu.

The actors are unafraid to showcase carnivorous nature, biting humor, ravenous romance, and the ravings of tortured minds. Hayles barely tames Claudia’s feral core. Anderson plays a brilliantly unhinged version of Louis during the season 1 recreations which accommodate Lestat’s contradictory testimony. The most effective moments condense undying romance in ever-troubled times. Series creator Rolin Jones modernized Rice’s story, freeing sexual subtext into open expression. Louis and Lestat run hot. Even in the most unlikely circumstances, they express unspoken obsessive devotion.

The Eyes Have It

The episode resonates with the audience because the cast connects intimately on camera. Overwhelmed with guilt, fear, hatred, and a deep longing, Louis’ first glance at Lestat tells a tortured history through a slight smile. 

Lestat doesn’t cross an ocean for his daughter. Claudia is a leaky dinghy in her vampire parents’ “stormy romance.” AMC’s adaptation doesn’t explore the tragic vampire’s relationship with Madeleine, a surrogate familial anomaly. Claudia’s final eye contact with Lestat will linger through eternity. It is reconciliation, love, trust, and a call for help from a child to a parent. During her defiant departure, Lestat looks like a proud father. Claudia is the best of the vampire Lestat, and by acknowledging this, he reevaluates the past. Lestat never recovers from the death of Claudia in the books.

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Courtroom Drama?

In Dubai, Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) refers to a preserved copy of the script, “TRIAL! The Treacherous and Unnatural Crimes Of the Vampires Louis and Claudia (And Their Fledgling Madeleine!).” The play was rehearsed in advance, off camera. During performance, Claudia silences an increasingly bloodthirsty audience with a crucial correction: “It’s not a trial. It’s a stoning.”  

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The theatrical court is introduced as a lie. The trial is fixed. The accused are props. This asserted contradiction skewers how the performance is perceived. Unmasked, Louis and Claudia are battered, their Achilles-tendons slashed to secure them in place, and they are bombarded by telekinetic waves of mental disorientation from the vampires keeping order on the judicial bench. There is no defense attorney.

Playing the prosecutor, Santiago wears a judicially powdered white wig. Occupying the best seat in the house, Armand (Assad Zaman) is guarded by the much younger and less powerful vampire Sam (Christopher Geary), the playwright who mouths the words along with the actors. This might seem absurd unless Sam is Samuel Beckett who wrote Waiting for Godot. The star witness to the absurdist litigation makes his entrance on cue, delaying proceedings with off-script asides to test Santiago’s patience.

On the stand, Lestat brands Louis a skilled and seductive predator who stalked the vampire until the Dark Gift was shared. Lestat also reframes the making of Claudia, testifying he quoted the great laws before yielding to Louis’ emotional blackmail. Lestat apologizes for using the cloud gift to drop Louis into a two-kilometer fall. In spite of Santiago’s dismissal of the damage, Lestat says he “broke” his lover, asks for forgiveness, and an appreciative court, jury, and audience grant absolution.

“Real pretty, you dropped him like an egg from an airplane,” Claudia interjects. “You apologize, and all is forgiven. Can I cry and say that I’m sorry, too?” This is reasonable, but can never be. Preordained, the rebuttal brings the episode to a new level. It captures Rice’s overall intent. Innocence is trampled. Rice’s initial inspiration, the perennially precocious vampire based on her own lost daughter, makes a memorable exit.

Genre-Defining Horror Moments

“I Could Not Prevent It” presents a wealth of iconic visions of horrific artistry. A special notation should be made of Madeleine’s giving the finger to the crowd when sentenced to death. The long shot of Louis dragging the fire-damaged, mortal Claudia to an indifferent Lestat is an indelibly morbid image. Positioned between opposing forces deciding on a cursed future, regardless of the choice, darkened lights illuminate sorrow over shock.

Claudia sets up the season’s definitive horror moment with a friendly warning. Granted as a final request, Claudia asks a spectator in an upper row to remove his hat. “I now know all your faces,” the condemned promises. “If there is an afterlife, I am going to come back and fucking kill all of you. And if there isn’t an afterlife, I’m still going to find a way.” These would be famous last words, but Hayles is saving her voice.

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The instantly iconic visual is the most theatrical. The special live event is the troupe’s first-ever matinee performance, and Santiago’s tightening grip on Lestat’s improvisational time-wasting is designed to guide the action to a precisely timed cue. At 1:29 in the afternoon, the sun is exactly positioned to turn Madeleine and Claudia to ash in their assigned seats. The scene would be horrifically memorable enough, but when Claudia sings her most hated song, “I Don’t Like Windows When They’re Closed,” it takes on devastating double meaning.

What Motivates Lestat to Testify?

In the books, Lestat is coerced to testify. He comes for vengeance, and changes his mind. Lestat is not a planner. He acts on impulse, but never intends to let Louis die. Santiago leads the plaintiff to demand “justice for the attempted murder of the vampire’s being,” while Lestat drops the charge to a “story of love, not butchery.” His testimony sets records straight, while upending due process.

Lestat is the primary financial benefactor of the Théâtre des Vampires, and after his initial disruption of Maître Armand’s rules, must be aghast at how it reverted to a codified, law-infused mockery of the vampire liberties he unleashed. Lestat, the hurricane, blows away rules, going off-script to keep tension brewing on all participants.

Lestat also treasures Louis.

Who Do We Believe?

Molloy’s book must confirm the existence of vampires through the point of view of an immortal being. His aggressive interview style is a means to pull the truth out of a reluctant subject. The interruptions keep the trainwreck of the memories and the freewheeling series on track. Daniel’s annoying adherence to the narrative provides the final touch to the masterpiece of the installment. From the ultimate truth, he uncovers the doubt.

We learn what Daniel understood. Louis is not a reliable narrator. The reluctant vampire revises stories, and is aided by Armand, another untrustworthy primary source. Armand is as much a trickster as Santiago. Even Armand’s coercion of the crowd to choose banishment is a trick. Belgium turns out to be a two-by-seven-foot box.

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Through forced perception, Lestat appears to twist events, memories, and the audience to his favor. When Louis instructs Daniel to use Lestat’s version of events, it upsets every element of trust. “That is how it happened,” Louis says. “I didn’t think it at the time, but yeah.”

Daniel doesn’t know what to believe. Louis keeps the lack of faith, explaining, “This is Lestat. This is what he does, over and over until you don’t know what is real anymore.” The very doubt instilled by the murderous sociopathic enigma of Lestat elevates the episode to inexplicable heights.  

The Interview with the Vampire season 2 finale airs Sunday, June 30 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC and AMC+.