This What We Do in the Shadows review contains spoilers.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 Episode 6
When the vampires of Staten Island first took their orientation through the offices of the Vampiric Council, they were warned about the room which enclosed the Sire. The first of all vampires, the one whom all vampires are descended from, and whose demise (probably) means the death of them all. You’d think they might do better than stick him in a stone cell in gratitude. But the vampires on What We Do in the Shadows never plan ahead. In season 3, episode 6, they deal with “The Escape “
One of the gifts the vampires of What We Do in the Shadows has is the power to shirk responsibility. Nandor (Kayvan Novak) honed this skill, we learn during the episode, while still a mortal military head of state. Whenever something went wrong on one of his battlefields, he would blame another country and declare war. Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) passes off her avoidance of responsibility as mere forgetfulness. Yes, she knows she was supposed to remind Nandor to feed the Sire, she even wrote a sticky note. But blame? Fault? These are words which get too easily lost in translation.
The Sire’s proper name, written on an ancient scroll as Goéjlrm, takes on a life of its own. Nandor practices pronunciations before facing the undead press, Nadja struggles through its mangling whenever forced. The situation is presented very well as dire, the stakes, always a dangerous topic for immortal bloodsuckers, are higher than any presented by the series before. The very possibility of total vampire extinction. “We’ve had a good run,” Nandor assures the press, who are desperate for solutions from an underwhelmed ruling body.
Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) takes control in the most passive aggressive way. Since his promotion from familiar to bodyguard, it seems Guillermo is only doing twice the work for half the pay. Tonight, when faced with the possibility that Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) doesn’t know where on earth he might find water, glasses and ice, no less, Guillermo turns the screws.
There isn’t a dust-buster yet made which can contain the floating vampire Dark Shade (Kristen Schaal) in this episode. She is all over the place, like a dark cloud at a picnic, guiding ants to the entrée. Tonight, her best moment is introducing Nadja and the audience to The Watchers, who have been silently peering over Manhattan from atop their perch on an old gothic building. These gargoyles have always been there, at least since the building went up. It is interesting how we never see the cameramen and the Watchers at the same time. Yet, they too, are waiting, and watching.
But not gossiping. Apparently immortal beings tasked with being vigilant viewfinders become eternal busybodies. Maybe it’s because they are carved in stone and don’t really get out much. “Quid quo pro, Clarice,” the goyles say as the vampires leave them without any naughty nuggets. It’s also very ambiguously amusing how they treat the vampires when they leave. They talk behind their back with a begrudging respect for the very attitude they are trash talking.
Colin Robinson finally finds a new vein of energy to suck tonight, which has double the impact. He’s been running on empty much of the season, as his energy vampire antics hit their peak when power went to his head in season 2. As the vampires head to Ozone Park, Queens, to hunt the roguish, escaped Sire, Colin’s eyes are positively aglow, and without any need for special effects. Earlier in the evening, he posted to a neighborhood website, asking if anyone noticed anything at all suspicious, and it explodes “into an orgy of racism.”
There is a returning character tonight, who is better left uncovered. Baron Afanas spent the last two years buried alive in the backyard of the vampires’ Staten Island home. Not knowing which way he was tossed into the makeshift grave, he’s been digging sideways the whole time, unsure which way is up. The Baron is an ancient vampire, probably the most ancient after the Sire, which proves vampires do not gain intelligence, nor really retain knowledge, in the long years of their everlasting afterlife. His best bit comes when he thinks he is controlling a vehicle he rides on with his mind. It’s actually being guided by a hand-held control stick Dark Shade is playing with. The fun of the scene is how much glee is packed into four little wheels.
The Sire is actually quite a frightening-looking creature, and the scene where Nadja and Laszlo (Matt Berry) track it in the store builds quite a bit of suspense, with or without a magic flute. The horror of it all lingers well into the punch line. Laszlo looks suitably throttled, luckily by plastic bins, and Nadja is truly both terrified and mortified. In a very short moment, she goes from cajoling and indulging to cringing and crying, only to have it land on the silliest of gags. At least it’s quickly a running gag.
The episode ends on a deliciously upbeat note in the wilds of Nutley, New Jersey, where devil dogs roam free, and dinner is as easy as an ad for an Airbnb. Written by Jake Bender and Zach Dunn, and directed by Yana Gorskaya, “The Escape” is a slight departure for What We Do in the Shadows. The vampires have never been this openly vulnerable, and it is scary how much more comic this makes them.
What We Do in the Shadows‘ “The Escape” aired Sept. 30 at 10:00 p.m. on FX.