What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 Episode 5 Review: The Chamber of Judgement

Justice is served warm and runny when the vampires adjourn at “The Chamber of Judgement.”

What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 Episode 5 The Chamber
Photo: FX

This What We Do in the Shadows review contains spoilers.

What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 Episode 5

The vampires get back to their official duties on What We Do in the Shadows  season 3 episode 5 “The Chamber of Judgement.” Nandor (Kayvan Novak) and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) are poised to take the throne at the center of the judicial altar in the subbasement office of the Vampiric Council. They poise for quite a while. So long, in fact, it becomes unjudicial.

The battle over the top seat in the council is as petty as it is essential to the proceedings. One of the unsaid traits of the undead on What We Do in the Shadows is the vampires, besides never aging physically, don’t really seem to age emotionally or intellectually. They love their toys, any sense of ritual, glitz or shiny things in general. In the opening episode, Nandor couldn’t get enough creepy paper. When the rogue vampires declared independence from interpretive dance, Nadja made it a specific point from which they would never be freed. She is proven correct as the dance which opens The Ceremony of Judgment is cosmically confusing but comically utilitarian. The seat at the throne means a lot, but familiar-turned-bodyguard Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) wins the childish game of king of the kill by a default of his own.

I am absolutely enthralled by the relationship between Guillermo and the floating vampire Dark Shade (Kristen Schaal). Sometimes it appears like she’s flirting, sometimes she’s threatening. Sometimes the threats are sexy, and most of the threatened sex is downright dangerous. Dark Shade is throwing off some heavy vibes. Shaun (Anthony Atamanuik), who is Laszlo’s (Matt Berry) best human friend, thinks Nandor and Guillermo are lovers. But he also thinks Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) is either related to “Robinson Caruso” or is lost in space, and that an advertisement on a box is a legally binding document.

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We have to wonder if Shaun ever really got over the brain-scramblies from last season. He seems a little too open to too much, and it may be a case of post-double-hypnosis trauma. In “The Casino,” it appears he’s just got a gambling problem. He drops everything he’s got, and when Laszlo stakes his losses, Shaun still puts it all on one number at a roulette game.

This week, during “boys only night,” Shaun steals the underwhelming thunder of the great psychic vampire himself, Colin Robinson. What could be more soul-sucking than a garage full of Guy Pillows? They’re a knockoff of a brand which has been keeping people awake for years. It’s a good thing Laszlo doesn’t use a pillow, he’s nowhere near ready to be woke, even if he does wear an old lady’s wig to court.

“The Chamber of Judgement” balances the scales of justice between the human world and the vampire one unevenly because there is a vampire at each undue process. While Laszlo tips the scales in favor of the wrong party in the Guy Pillow slumber fest, he bites off more than he can chew at the Vampire Court. Nandor and Nadja, with the whispering human Guillermo in the hot seat, debate the fate of misguided bloodsuckers. It’s pretty much a coin toss. Convinced to give leniency to one vampire, who was selling fake pills which were supposed to keep vampires safe in the sun, the next must die a horrible death. The only fate which is worse would be selling The Guy Pillows door to door, which is too much for even Shaun, who gets sued over it.

The human court is Small Claims court, but to Laszlo, there are no small claims, only grand entrances. The age-old vampire recalls, in his far too distant past, he was a barrister of some kind, at least he had been trained in the laws of law. What makes it all so fittingly real is how he came upon this knowledge: from necessity. He had to defend himself on numerous occasions, usually relating to some kind of obscenity charge. When Nadja later congratulates Laszlo on his first courtroom win, we realize he’s lost all of these historic cases. Why this comes as no surprise is somehow surprising. Laszlo also thought “boys-only night” meant a circle jerk. But it seems Laszlo sentences Derek to a life with Laszlo. While the former Mosquito Club member may represent a new low in vampire stupidity, I’d like to see Laszlo in a Hot Topic.

The “fucking guide” bit is classic. It is a line only Nandor can deliver. “Fucking guy” is almost his catchphrase on the show, and the twist on it is something which wouldn’t be out of place in a TV sitcom from the 1980s. What makes it stand out is the language. It plumbs similar, though opposing, comic deliveries which South Park mines through bleeping, but the nonchalance of the transposition stays with you. It’s like changing your name from Jennifer the Dreadfully Loathsome to Gabby the Dreadfully Loathsome, the little things make the difference.

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” the vampires are advised by HR. It is good for team building. Anything goes in the chambers, but usually on Thursdays because it’s tiring to keep up all week long. Colin really should put in an appearance. He’s certainly not getting any satisfaction tonight. The crunching, squealing removal of the throne would have at least provided a quick pick-me-up to the angst-hungry vampire. Colin’s Miss Honeycrunch Mystery game gets hijacked, he is quickly demoted from window to door when the game is on TV, and he never gets closure from a work layoff story. Even his squeaky off-key Yoda thing only gets a “that’s funny” from Laszlo. The psychic vampire has been drinking empties for a few episodes now. It must be part of the preparations for the season-closing birthday celebrations.

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Written by William Meny and directed by Kyle Newacheck, “The Chamber of Judgement” weighs heavily in What We Do in the Shadows’ favor. We’ve had our fill of the neighbors, and the energy vampire needs an inspiration infusion, but Nadja’s intolerance, Nandor’s indecisiveness, and Laszlo’s indiscretions overrule the objections.

What We Do in the Shadows‘ “The Chamber of Judgement” aired Sept. 23 at 10:00 p.m. on FX.


4 out of 5