This What We Do in the Shadows review contains spoilers.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 Episode 3
After constant battles, stakings, stalkings, hauntings, and curses, What We Do in the Shadows season 3, episode 3, “Gail,” finds love, or something like it. It comes from the past, is completely unexpected, and very hard to maneuver. Yes, I’m going to start with Laszlo’s (Matt Berry) jalopy, which is more than he can do, even with Colin Robinson’s (Mark Proksch) help.
Laszlo and Colin haven’t had much alone time on What We Do in the Shadows, but their pairing is unnaturally solid. The audience sometimes forgets that these two characters can act so stupidly. Maybe it’s because Colin’s glasses and sweater and Laszlo’s ribald tone give the appearance of intellectual prowess. But that’s like confusing Colin’s unending knowledge of arcane trivia as wisdom when it’s only a ploy to suck the energy from a room. Laszlo is well-versed enough in the classics of erotic literature to know “Cornelius Dong’s Adventures in the Boner Brigade” never came out in hardcover, but he really just looked at the pictures in the paperback.
The discovery, dismantling, and reconstruction of Lazlo’s car, and all the destruction which comes along with it, is another example of keeping comedy classic. What We Do in the Shadows consistently presents comic setups which are deeply rooted in sitcom standard, yet is never automatic. Lucy and Ethyl could very well have rotated tires like this on I Love Lucy, though neither one would have burst into flame upon ignition. That does come as a surprise, and when Colin laughs it off, it packs twice the punchline.
The jalopy, called the Stutz-Laszlo, and its backstory are funny in what is becoming patented What We Do in the Shadows-style schtick. It’s a little ridiculous, twists historic reality, and bends language. Laszlo had his driving privileges taken away because he transported miners across state lines, and the vehicle was made for Henry Ford, who gave it to his hero Mussolini. What, too soon? We don’t hear how Laszlo got it from the brown-shirts. The sequence is carjacked by Dark Shade (Kristen Schaal) who, as the beleaguered caretaker of Vampiric Council headquarters, knows which buttons to push to drive a scene.
The title of the episode refers to an on-again, off-again romance Nandor (Kayvan Novak) has been carrying on for decades. Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) pegs the sad fate of the relationship from the beginning, knowing the pattern of loves and losses in this coupling. Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), in his new role as bodyguard to the vampires, says he is just looking out for his master’s safety. But the jealousy is transparent, and the caution appears to be both well-founded and intentionally-misguided.
Gail Marie We-Don’t-Know-Her-Last-Name is played by Aida Turturro, who played Tony Soprano’s sister Janice on The Sopranos, and was pretty scary in her own right. She put two silver bullets in the chest of Richie Aprile, whose “Manson Lamps” stare intimidated even Tony. That pair met when Richie was doing a yoga posture called “downward facing dog.” It’s not a sexual position, regardless of what Laszlo and the others walk in on. It’s just something that happens when the moon is full.
The series is not afraid to be controversial. There aren’t a lot of mixed couples among the werewolf and vampire species, so not a lot is said about the intimate difficulties of supernatural interspecies sex. Nandor is a big man, all around, as a vampire, but once he goes bat, he just wants to go back. Even though he may be proportionally well-endowed in flying rodent form, it’s barely a tic to a ravenous werewolf.
Nadja’s relationship with Gail is as fascinating as Nandor’s. Even her doll reflects it. The reputation of Nadja’s feelings for Nandor’s on and off were-friend precede her, but is based on dismissive misogyny rather than fact. Nandor and Colin pigeonhole Nadja, Laszlo vampsplains her, and Guillermo feels entitled to presume her intents. Nadja is transparent, sharing her feelings honestly, fully, and with increased intensity. But her words come out as if in another language, from another species.
The Twilight takeoff is also doggedly funny. It’s fun to watch werewolves fetch. The bit about them chasing cars works better because of the puppy-like dialogue. Gail’s infatuation on Robert Seger works on a comic level mainly through a subliminal reference to the musical poet’s backing band. The Silver Bullet Band is never mentioned by name but hangs over each of the scenes as a punchline. Just like Nandor hangs out in the majority of his scenes with Gail.
The cast is obviously having fun, and Gail’s first scene may be one of the best introductions on TV. “Hi, you remember Gail,” Nandor says. “I am inside her right now.” It is funny because it seems both candid and completely obvious. The characters are so completely straightforward, and seemingly unfiltered. Sometimes the show is obliquely clever, such as all of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves,” but the jokes usually land on a note of overt buffoonery. Even the somewhat reserved Colin is always “down to clown.”
“Gail” was written by Marika Sawyer, and directed by Kyle Newacheck. What We Do in the Shadows is bubbling just below last season but still delivering satisfying episodes. They’re just quite not as filling. But this week’s puppy chow is yummy.
What We Do in the Shadows‘ “Gail” aired Sept. 9 at 10:00 p.m. on FX.