What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 Episode 10 Review: The Portrait
The vampires deal with grief in their own special ways as Colin Robinson is painted out of “The Portrait” in What We Do in the Shadow’s season 3 finale.
This What We Do in the Shadows review contains spoilers.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 Episode 10
What We Do in the Shadows’ season 3 finale is a perfect example of how seasons should end. Every character is caught in their own personal cliffhanger. Each one is about to be scattered to uncertain futures and new beginnings, but with old habits that die hard. Everything dies hard when you’re a vampire who lives forever. Which brings us to the most recent death in the household on the island of Staten.
All the pictures of Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) have been taken out, painted, scratched, or sticky-noted over in the opening credits. That doesn’t bode well for the return of the energy sucking Dilbert-looking housemate. But no one is waiting around. Vampires aren’t the most sentimental of creatures. Lifetimes of loss have whittled away the grieving process to a hearty and quick farewell. The remaining vampires, plus Baron Afanas (Doug Jones), Goëjlrm the Sire, the floating vampire Dark Shade (Kristen Schaal) and Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), sit for a “portrait that he is not in so we can forget about him forever and the healing can begin,” as Nandor puts it.
The portrait artist is Donal Logue. He is splitting his time between his duties at the Worldwide Vampiric Council and an upcoming two-episode arc he booked on SVU. This is an allegory to his second appearance on What We Do in the Shadows, having shown up last week to inspect the local council, and inadvertently celebrate Colin’s 100th birthday party. Logue has been painting since he was on Grounded for Life, whose cast portrait he painted from a photograph because the kids were too squirrelly. One amusing detail is how the images of his artwork are credited to the Donal Logue Collection.
Also, look for a very funny VCR mistake when the head of the Worldwide Vampiric Council (Taika Waititi) opens his message by talking with someone off-camera, making sure they are not taping over RuPaul, which he hasn’t seen yet. After all the very nice things he has to say about Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and explaining how, even though they are immortal, waiting is still a thing, we see the tape cut to the RuPaul episode he will never see. “You wouldn’t know a punchline if it ran over your scrotum,” Nadja proclaims about Nandor, but the mourning process is filled with them. We also witness teachable moments.
“Colin Robinson’s head imploding into a pile of goo has made me realize I need to make the most of my life,” Nandor (Kayvan Novak) admits, and books himself an “Eat, Prey, Love” tour. How can you eat without preying? Nandor has gone through a lot this year, and he’ll be the first to tell you. Between lost loves, fractured spiritual quests, and a full understanding of the Big Bang Theory beyond the series, he realizes it is time to move on before everyone else moves on without him.
Guillermo, of course, has no intention of moving on, and shows his moves. The sequence where he confronts Nandor effectively builds up suspense, humor, and the unexpected. The episode is filled with surprising moments and, from the first body throw to the crucifix climax, the battle in the vampire’s bedroom is a highlight. Even Nandor comments on the little guy’s speed and prowess, and it is oddly gratifying to hear it. But the most unexpected thing about the skirmish is the outcome: Nandor promises to take Guillermo to the River Tigris in his native El Caladar where he will make him a vampire. Can we believe him? He gives his word, but this isn’t a spoiler because nothing ever goes as planned for the vampires of Staten Island.
Laszlo (Matt Berry) continues to surprise. His emotional arc has grown to become one of the most interesting aspects of the show. Every motive is ulterior, but outrageously romantic. Laszlo has been going on and on about never returning to the U.K. because he was kicked out of the Sherwood Society, which his family has been in for generations. He swore an oath to himself, never to return. Laszlo hides his exclusion story behind platitudes of class consciousness and immoral outrage. But when the truth comes out, we see he’s just a romantic. Nadja says she left him for a week, sometime during the 1920s, and he didn’t even bother to take sustenance because he spent all his time writing poetry and masturbating.
Laszlo’s final bait-and-switch is also a grand romantic gesture, and no, I’m not talking about the Cursed Witch Hat which he tries to sneak into his luggage. Nadja is no longer the defenseless, village girl he first fell in love with, he writes to her. He sees her acceptance into the World Vampiric Council as a major step in both of their evolutions. Laszlo breaks his vow for her, or at least it seems he is quite willing to do so until he pays his final respects to Colin, and breaks his promise for the same reason. It’s romantic, and will give him more time to wank. He is also giving up at least three trunks worth of porn which Guillermo made sure got packed. This is quite a sacrifice for an eternally horny immortal being.
Nadja’s arc, this season, has been one of empowerment. She even gets two votes at house meetings because of the doll which contains the spirit of her departed self. It is interesting to see, in one installment, how she navigates her way through the morass of vampiric egos and mourning. Part of the reason she’s been chosen to sit at the World Vampiric Council must be because of her ruthless reputation, that is if the other vampires still believe she killed Nandor in a power play. The floating vampire and Logue apparently know, but given the state of communication in the vampire world, this isn’t certain. Still, Nadja is both pleased to have the opportunity, and yet still feels like she has to appease Laszlo. This leads to the very satisfying conclusion that they will “make love on the bones of those who have scorned you.”
None of the promises come to pass because of Lazlo’s final respects. He walks in on what looks like the aftermath of the scene in Alien when the alien pops out of John Hurt’s body. The scene then vaguely resembles the low-low-budget horror classic Basket Case. But in the end, it is a marvelous answer to how to keep Colin Robinson on the show. The special effects in the sequence are exquisite, the sad little bespectacled suckling creature is almost a joy to behold. That is, until his true nature kicks in. Do not change the channel until after the credits conclude. It makes the whole story of what happened to Colin over the season make sense.
As an episode, “The Portrait” is a work of art. It may be the best season finale of What We Do in the Shadows. It provides cliffhanger after cliffhanger, twists, turns, and amazing character development. It promises suspense and adventure for the season to come. It is also a fun episode.
What We Do in the Shadows‘ “The Portrait” aired Oct. 28 at 10:00 p.m. on FX.