This What We Do in the Shadows review contains spoilers.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 Episode 9
The vampires of Staten Island encounter another ancient enemy as the season continues to round up all the most unusual suspects, this time they come with a special allure. What We Do in the Shadows season 2, episode 9, “Witches,” features dark magical women who have a checkered history with the bloodsucking creatures of the night.
These aren’t the proud Wiccan traditionalists New Yorkers might find selling talismans and Ouanga Bags at Enchantments or Catlands, except they also happen to run a store called Satchel Serafina. These women were there when many of the ancient books were written. Most TV series, and encyclopedias, would call them hags, but Nandor says they’re MILFs and coven is a magnetic bunch who defy the rules of aerodynamics and circumvent the laws of senescence, which is the scientific term for aging.
The witches’ recipe for eternal youth, or at least keeping their youthful appearances for an even longer amount of time than before, isn’t really that far from the vampires. Semen has generally the same nutritional and biochemical makeup of blood. Maybe it’s even a little more potent because it is in shorter supply, except of course for Laszlo (Matt Berry). He has proven, time and time again, his jocular ejaculatory prowess. In the episode “Ghosts,” the spirit of the man Laszlo was in life can only get heavenly closure with a narcissistic happy ending. Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) needed a mop to clean all the wasted seed which had built up since his anticlimactic death.
The episode begins in the garden. Laszlo used to love apples, but as a vampire, they hold no appeal. So he prunes them from the trees and leaves them to rot. This is bittersweet commentary on both the pleasure Laszlo gave up for eternal life and the casual disregard he has for everything in undeath. He is called out by a deep disembodied voice, much like was called into the sewers by Simon the Devious in a previous episode. The first clue there is demonic mischief afoot comes in the form of a cloven hoof. “What kind of goat sorcery is this,” Laszlo asks before being swept up into the sky.
At first, Nandor (Kayvan Novak) resists Nadja’s (Natasia Demetriou) proclamations of after-the-fact sorceressory. The European vampiress is very superstitious and has a penchant for blaming witches for almost every ailment which befalls her or the people around her. It has apparently cost the vampires a fortune in witch-proof carpet tape. But even after five full spits, one of the superstitious rituals Nadja performs regularly, the wily ways of witches still break through the counterspells.
“I’ll be damned, witches,” Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), says unenthusiastically when Nandor gets pulled up to join Laszlo. He appears to be more surprised that Nadja is right than he is over the astral kidnapping which he’s witnessing. The vampires and Guillermo drive after them into what could very well be the pits of hell. “The smell of beef and sulfur are overwhelming,” says Nadja. “That’s just Brooklyn,” Colin tells her.
Any kind of stealth talents the vampires might possess are useless against the witches. This is especially true for Nadja. She tends to call attention to herself, and her honesty packs the ungloved punch of a blunt object. “We need a nobody. Somebody whose personality is like a eunuch,” Nadja deduces as a way to get into the witches’ lair. She’s looking right at Guillermo when she says it, and has already ruled out Colin as an appropriate spy because, well, she rules him out of everything. This is about as diplomatic as Nadja is capable of being. But as she looks into the camera, it’s apparent she really didn’t think Guillermo would take the hint. All the vampires are self-delusional, and this is an excellent example of how deep this self-absorption is. It also shows that, even after a couple centuries of extended life, vampires don’t develop things like subtlety. Of course, they don’t have to. People are generally food to them.
The room of doors where Nadja, Colin and Guillermo are temporarily imprisoned is very impressive, especially the chandeliers. Nadja doesn’t even think about turning into a bat to fly up and out. Meanwhile, the ceremony room the witches set up is equally remarkable. The altar and the burning and bitter herbs look formidable, but the former medieval conqueror and pillager thinks himself equal to the challenge. Nandor promises the witches that if they let him go he will show mercy, otherwise their fate will not be very pretty. His warning, dire and masterful, is met with laughter. Not derisive laughter. It gets a full throated belly laugh from Lilith, the head witch, and all her acolytes. They really find it funny. At first, the witches’ ceremony looks like it might work out all right for Nandor and Laszlo. Their fear soon turns to arousal, as Laszlo notices he’s got a raging hard on. They like every little thing about it, until they get to the specifics of the sperm extraction.
Nadja has known the head witch since she owned Lilith’s Womanly Shoppe. “It was a front, of course,” Nadja recalls. “It was a way to distribute the very best of semens to any witch who needed it.” It appears the witches are getting a little less picky. They determine Colin is, after all, worthy of semen extraction. Flattered, he points out that, surprisingly, it’s not the first time he’s had the offer. The argument over whether Guillermo or Colin should contribute sperm is amusing and multi-leveled. Colin has become a bit of a credit sucker and his own ego is emerging as equal as his housemates. Guillermo’s “no habla ingles” is a mic-dropping punch line.
The friendship between Nadja and the Coven leader broke up when Lilith and Laszlo had a “bit of a knee-trembler” back in the past. To be fair, Lilith used a glamor to change her looks and ensnare the horny vampire. Not entirely, but enough so he can say she looked just like Nadja. When Lilith demonstrates her ability to clone herself, she looks like herself with brown hair. Nadja’s housemates try to keep up the charade that the two are practically identical. It finally comes out Laszlo has slept with quite a few dark-haired beauties with European accents, including Nandor.
Nandor’s grinning asides to the camera are priceless. He grins when Laszlo admits he’s got an erection, he grins wider when he learns pain might be involved in the semen extraction, and he grins by way of admitting his own dalliance with his housemate. Each of the vampires uses the documentary crew uniquely. The crew, and the audience, gets the truths the characters think they’re hiding from everyone else in the room. The witches think the camera is useful to document the ceremonies. The vampire familiar looks to the crew and sees an almost-equal ally.
Guillermo has been working for Nandor for over a decade and only recently began to enjoy some of the perks he took for granted while working at Panera Bread. He gets one day off a week, and a fifteen minute break every four hours. It’s part of the deal which lured him back from the clutches of the vampire impersonating familiar Celeste in the “Collaboration” episode. Even with his new freedoms, which probably include better snacks than ice chips, Guillermo feels unfulfilled. The life of a familiar is an undead end job. But it also makes for a mother of inventions. Like a lot of people in thankless jobs, Guillermo has been watching a lot of Shark Tank. He may have been drawn to it because of the similarities between vampires and sharks, but there is no indication. In the beginning of the episode he proudly displays a heavy duty blood remover he’s invented.
Guillermo is once again the unsung hero with his Man Milk pitch. No more kidnappings, or surgical extractions, just pure liquid protein. This fulfills an entrepreneurial need, and a social necessity. Witches need to live. Laszlo and Nandor need to be appreciated for how well-endowed they are. The witches also use semen to make magnets (not sure how that works biochemically), which harkens back to the tiny vanity plates the necromancer was selling in the season 2 premiere episode. Nandor and Laszlo, who has been relegated to the coffin in the basement by a still-angry Nadja, completely disregard Guillermo’s needs again at the end with their wink-wink secret stash.
“Witches” works because the magic works. It’s amusing to see our friends outmatched and clueless. They are always out of their element, so there is some reassurance in the consistency of old foes. The vampires and their sworn enemies are bonded in the business of bodily fluids, and I hope we see more of the Witches.