What We Do in the Shadows: Are Energy Vampires Drained by Adulation?

For all the damage inflicted in “Urgent Care,” it appears Colin Robinson learned a new power.

Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) and Nandor (Kayvan Novak) in What We Do in the Shadows
Photo: Russ Martin | FX

This article contains spoilers for WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS season 5 episode 6.

Named for the esteemed healthcare establishment of the common mortal, What We Do in the Shadows, season 5 episode 6 “Urgent Care” treats the mortality of two uncommon patients. Each, very differently. The vampires relegate Guillermo’s (Harvey Guillén) one-story fall and twisted limbs to a flesh wound at best. They are far more concerned with their roommate who is unaccountably off his game.

Poor Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch). He’s got a black eye and he is suffering. Not because of the pain of broken blood vessels under the skin, but for the attention he gets for it. Unwanted, unwarranted, and horribly off-putting attention. The most shadowy of the vampires is interesting all of a sudden, and it’s killing him. 

This is not a case of anaphylactic shock, Colin is only allergic to ragweed and chewing gum, which is a shock and part of the problem. The more we learn about the energy vampire, the more we want to know, and his visibly reluctant telling of these stories is absolutely fascinating. The less he wants to say the more we want to hear.

Ad – content continues below

This condition has been hinted intermittently throughout the series. In season 3 episode 2, “The Cloak of Duplication,” Dave Lewis (Nabil Rajo), the energy vampire of a rogue vampire house operating out of Staten Island, introduces himself to Colin Robinson as a “big fan.”

Dave Lewis accuses Colin Robinson of draining him by asking about the origins of energy vampires. This is further proof that tonight’s hypothesis is true. If the rogue clan energy vampire, or any psychic vampire, has an interesting historical past, it makes each of them vulnerable to the drain of adulation.

“His reputation does precede him,” Proksch tells Den of Geek in this season 3 interview. “It would be interesting to see him rise to a level of energy vampire stardom, and how he would handle that.” But even then, the actor believed the attention would be counterproductive. “It goes back to him being the spider with the spider web, hanging out in the background.”

What We Do in the Shadows explored exactly this scenario during the episode “The Campaign,” when the energy vampire put on a public face for community feeding. Colin Robinson dropped out of the race for Staten Island Comptroller because the smorgasbord of mega-drain opportunities available on political stump tours wasn’t to his taste. Interoffice power went to Colin’s head in the season 2 episode “Colin’s Promotion;” the celebrity of legislative authority goes straight to his stomach.

“That’s just something energy vampires dabble in once in a while when they need to put on some pounds,” says Proksch. “It’s the Wagyu of the energy vampire world.”

This theory is further confirmed by The Energy Vampire Council, which takes the initial energy of the election process as a means to get to the systematic background draining of bureaucratic bleeding. Each member of the council may have had to run for office in order to empower themselves with a steady stream of emotional nutrition, but they quickly ran to non-descript, behind-the-scenes jobs where they could anonymously partake of prana on tap.

Ad – content continues below

Energy vampires appear ordinary on the outside, common even, regular, unremarkable, like so much bland wallpaper. Unlike the mortal energy vampires conceptualized by 1930s British occultist Dion Fortune, who thrive on parasitical pathology and narcissistic charges, the immortal psychic vampire drains energy through annoyance, boredom, and deliciously awkward moments.

“The everyday life exhaustion of others is what he feeds on,” Proksch explains during a season 3 interview. When Colin becomes interesting during “Urgent Care,” he energizes the people he comes in contact with, and worse: He gives them something to talk about. The cumulative effect not only blocks Colin from getting the nutrients he needs. It saps his own negative energy, and is a byproduct of the energy vampire’s true nemesis.

“The perennial optimists in our world are hard for Colin Robinson to deal with, because they kind of just go along with him,” Proksch explains in this 2020 Den of Geek video. “Upbeat people, which is a nemesis to me in my personal life, so it goes hand in hand.” By energizing would-be victims with fascinating tales of woe, Colin is put in a position of actively feeding his most natural enemy.

“Urgent Care” introduces a new tool in the arsenal of the psychic vampire. The episode ends with Nandor (Kayvan Novak) drained to a dangerously lethal state after donating energy to Colin through a mechanism developed by Laszlo (Matt Berry). Seeing Nandor in such a condition, Colin suggests re-energizing the relentless one to his former state. When Laszlo asks if this is possible, Colin explains the energy transference must go both ways. He figures if he can take energy, he can give it. This implies he had no idea of this special skill, and it opens possibilities for future development.

What We Do in the Shadows has a tradition of dragging out passing gags. During season 4, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) discovered she developed super-voice superpowers, and employs it against the veterinarian vampires tonight while helping Guillermo escape euthanasia. If Colin Robinson has a new ability, it will come in handy in the future.

Written by Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil, and directed by Yana Gorskaya, “Urgent Care” shows how tight the small vampire unit is, under the surface. Though the sanguinary vampires treat the energy vampire as a lesser monster, and the familiar Guillermo as an unbroken pet, they all come together in times of crisis. It makes for a satisfying feed.

Ad – content continues below

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