This What We Do in the Shadows review contains spoilers.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 Episode 5
The incompetence of the real world catches up with the ineptitude of the modern vampire as What We Do in the Shadows season 2 episode 5, celebrates “Colin’s Promotion.” It’s not so much a celebration for Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), though. He doesn’t even know what the company does when he’s called in to the human resources, one of the most vampiric of mortal careers. For all his stoic monotony, he doesn’t take news well at all.
“Co-workers die,” according to the old adage, “Vampire live forever.” The episode takes on the vampire class system in a roundabout way. What We Do in the Shadows hasn’t yet clarified whether Colin, an energy vampire, is an immortal being or just a human car battery looking for a charge. The bloodsucking vampires have been around since forever and Colin doesn’t even know how long he’s been around. This, along with his ignorance of the function of the company he works for, may seem like Colin’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, that throne goes to Nandor (Kayvan Novak), though Laszlo (Matt Berry) taking credit for the “portrait bomb” seats him closely at the left hand. But Colin’s lapses have nothing to do with intelligence. He just doesn’t pay attention to things which don’t concern him. He didn’t take the job because he wanted to work in whatever industry the company belonged in, playground equipment or hand grenade manufacture. He didn’t even take if for the money. It was a means to an end, and in the end that means power.
But Colin isn’t a JR Ewing or C. Montgomery Burns. It’s not about finance, it’s about life force. Colin has been draining his housemates’ energy since they moved in. They’re a gift that keeps giving because, until tonight, they haven’t quite been taking him seriously. Or even given him much thought.
Nandor sees Colin Robinson as a wild card. Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) says he’s the card on the top of the deck with instructions that you throw away. Even at his eulogy, Nadja streamlines Colin’s contributions. She offers to toss a portrait he loved but the other vampires hated into his once and future resting place because it kills two birds with one stone. He gets to keep it, they get to get rid of it.
We get to see Colin Robinson’s vulnerabilities, which are often mistaken for ploys to cover attempts to drain people of their energy. But most often they are not mistakes. He really is trying to drain. He says he drains to live, and doesn’t live to drain, but his true weakness is he enjoys sucking the life out of people. And will do it again in a heartbeat, until the heart is barely beating. In which case, he’ll just wait for it to beat faster and do it again. It would be considered a tragic flaw if only vampires died.
We learn tonight that Colin came with the house, which is also how he got the job and the unwanted promotion: he was already sitting at a desk, one imagines. Once he sees how much life force he can drain when he has managerial power, he lets it go to his head. Colin gets newfound powers, and a good head of hair until he starts looking like one of the Talosians on the original Star Trek. Power went to their heads too. The build-up in the sequence when it all starts to come together is both frightening and funny. He can drain with a droll salutation and he can also crush garbage cans with one hand and use his mind to throw co-workers into walls so hard it makes indentations on the sheet rock. With a tip of a finger he actually tips over the camera crew and the balance of power in the Staten Island house.
“What the hell is Persian Frank Zappa doing on a horse,” Nadja demands of a painting Colin suggests the carnal vampires consider for their art redecoration project. The painting commemorates a successful battle campaign against a defenseless opponent. The subplot is actually just as interesting as the main through-line and could have been examined a little more closely. Nandor the Relentless attacked Nadja’s village generations before she was born. The place was a paradise where even the urine was intoxicating. Nandor slaughtered everyone there but the most feeble. He attacked during a heavy downpour and while he was screaming “you will never forget my name” they couldn’t hear his name. His legend, Nadja says, was watered by the tears of her village.
So, imagine Count Dracula, in his mortal form Vlad Tepes, the son of the dragon and the scourge of the Turks, five hundred years later holed up in a house on Staten Island. Do you think he remembers the name of every monk he ordered to have a hat nailed into their skulls? Of course not, it’s just a thing he did, possibly when drunk. And they should have tipped their hats to him in the first place. They were lucky he didn’t impale them. But that was getting old. Vlad and Nandor might have pillaged together, or scheduled their battles around each other’s for the holidays.
But Nadja is an equally formidable foe, with the most intoxicatingly vicious threats. Not only does she want to kill Nandor and make his skin into a house coat, she wants to wear it to his mother’s house and say, “See this house coat? I made it out of your son.” It’s wonderfully awful, and of course Colin laps it all up. Nadja suggests the vampires lap Guillermo up, which ultimately leads to the energy vampire adding the power of all of the Three Stooges to his itinerary of insidious gifts.
Vampires and sharks are very similar. They are both indiscriminate in their slaughter and feared for their eating frenzies. Just when it looks like Colin will jump the shark, What We Do in the Shadows steps back from the abyss to end on a balanced note. The horrific bits add to the comic bites deliciously. “Colin’s Promotion” continues the comic excellency the series found in its second season. The timing is perfect, the performances assured, and the interaction is solid. The vampire mythology is suitably skewered in mostly unexpected ways.