With great power comes great responsibility – unless you’re a vampire in What We Do in the Shadows. Out in the recesses of Staten Island, great power produces plenty irresponsibility, sheer conceit, and a plethora of hair-brained schemes involving body-switching, spaceflight, and sunburn. “You only live once,” says Lazslo (Matt Berry) in Season 5, Episode 3 — and while he’s not wrong, he’s risking centuries of life.
In “Pride Parade,” written by Jake Bender & Zach Dunn and directed by Yana Gorskaya, vampires become local heroes in Sean’s (Anthony Atamanuik) campaign for controller and at the center of his bid for the LGBTQ vote. In typical “WWDITS” fashion, everyone is thrilled with the attention, only to sideline the event with their own personal chaos by the end of the episode.
Now knowing about Guillermo’s latent vampirism, Laszlo chooses not to kill Guillermo or send him to Nandor (Kayvan Novak), but to use him as a guinea pig (Gizmo pig?) to test what he really knows about vampires. Lazslo is not vengeful and bloodthirsty, it seems that in fact Lazslo is completely on board. As IndieWire’s Ben Travers noted in his review of the season, Laszlo gets along well with almost everyone on this show, betraying that beneath his oddball exterior he contains untold depths of compassion. The vampire tests distract Guillermo from his troubling fate (as a familiar and a being between states of existence) and provide a dense montage of funny gags (“Take off, cock, and get in the running car. I need three liters of your sweat for science”).
As always goes with Guillermo, Nandor doesn’t care until he does. Having unexpectedly grown to value his acquaintance over the years, he hates to watch Laszlo steal it for science. In any other sitcom, the point would be that Nandor is jealous, denying it and acting to get Guillermo’s attention. In “What We Do in the Shadows,” Nandor admits his feelings directly to the camera and then takes it up a notch by flying into outer space and looking ridiculously comical on GoPro footage. Berry may be in the running for MVP, but Novak gives him a run for his money with powerful one-liners throughout the episode, from his terrifying desire for blood in cold blood (“Identify your opponents and then slaughter them in their sleep!”) to his ongoing feud with a bird (“I’m not talking to Matthew right now”).
Not to be left behind in danger or ridicule, Nadja (Natasha Demetrious) and her doll decide to switch bodies. Now I would like to confess my personal undying love for the doll with the soul of the dead man Nadja inhabiting it. I’ve adored her since her debut in Season 2, and I’m glad to see that, based on her increased presence on the show, I’m not alone (it also helps that Season 5 isn’t preoccupied with the financial and logistical costs of grafting Mark Proksch’s head onto the bodies of dancing children). I’m 100% on the side of the doll when it comes to how the vampire treated Nadja and I support her impulse to achieve the result by spending a day in Nadja’s body to experience carnal pleasure.
But I leave.
Demetriou makes the best of the opportunities for physical comedy – at which she already excels – falling on her limbs and flirting obscenely in the restaurant (she also does a killer Colin Robinson impression). The decision to have dolly-in-Nadja’s-vampire-body have sex with Colin Robinson (Proksch) couldn’t have been more perfect, and not just because it pays off the moment in Episode 1 where he allegedly inspected her rear (was it consensual?!). These two are rarely paired together throughout the series — Nadja quickly clarifies that they’re not friends — but their twisted antics feel as natural as any pairing in the episode.
“Pride Parade” puts all the vampires in situations that could get them killed – or worse. Laszlo enters the sun, Nadja separates from her body, and Nandor exits Earth’s atmosphere (vampire flesh isn’t built for that environment, even if you don’t need oxygen), and none of them bat an eye at the danger. The episode presents various myths and truths about vampires — they should count spilled grains of rice, maybe they shouldn’t lose their socks or shoes in the river — but what unites the Staten Island crew in this installment is that no matter how long they have lived, they are completely at peace and no longer exist – or maybe they were too wrapped up in their narcissism to even think that far ahead.
“What We Do in the Shadows” airs Thursdays at 10pm on FX and Fridays on Hulu.