Stefani Robinson

What We Do in the Shadows (2019) s02e10 – Théâtre des Vampires

Something about the episode having three credited writers (Sam Johnson, Stefani Robinson, Paul Simms) foretold it being a grandiose season finale. I can’t remember there being another episode with three writers. It’s got to be big.

And it’s big. It just takes a while to get there.

The episode begins with Kayvan Novak waking up to find familiar Harvey Guillén has abandoned him. This Guillén dissatisfaction subplot came back a bunch last episode—to the point I wonder if some of the interview footage is done in a different context than scenes are shot in—and it’s the season finale so it seems like an appropriate plot.

Fast forward a week and the vampire house has fallen into complete disarray. Matt Berry gets bored while feeding and sends victims away while Natasia Demetriou is just leaving corpses everywhere. No one has any clean clothes because no one knows how Guillén cleans them.

Well, except Mark Proksch who decides to use that knowledge to his advantage because eventually it gets to a crisis point when the house gets a coveted invite to the Théâtre Des Vampires. They need to get gussied up and it’s not going to be easy without any clean clothes.

Meanwhile, Guillén is adjusting to his new normal and finding out he may have left some important things behind. There’s a lot of reference to Guillén’s vampire hunting throughout the season. No other episode has ever balanced Guillén’s season two stuff so well and he’s not even active in a lot of it; though he does end up getting the big set piece.

Great direction from Kyle Newacheck. There’s a nice surprise cameo and then some absolutely inspired writing. And then the performances. So good. Guillén finally gets to let loose in scenes with his regular costars and there are some great Proksch moments (including some meta-commentary on him being underutilized last season).

It’s so good.

And the setup for Season Three (it’s already been renewed, thank goodness) is perfect.

What We Do in the Shadows (2019) s02e06 – On the Run

In addition to being the most Matt Berry episode of “Shadows” ever, this episode also has the best Mark Hamill performance since… 1983? 1980? He’s only in the episode maybe five minutes so it’s hard to compare with the Original Trilogy or Big Red One.

Hamill’s another vampire, one who Berry stiffed for rent on a beach house in San Diego in the late 1800s; Berry had been trying to sell his soul to the Devil to get better at the guitar, but went to the wrong place. Also there was a floater in the toilet, so Berry definitely wasn’t paying. It’s a hilarious argument, leading to a duel, with everyone in the cast getting something to do.

But then Berry runs for it and it becomes his episode. He’s not going to duel, he’s not going to pay the rent, so instead he’s going to pretend to be a human named “Jackie Daytona” and run a bar in rural Pennsylvania. Berry’s beloved by all—well, not the people he’s killed and drained of blood, but everyone else, particularly bar waitress Madeleine Martin. And then the entire town after Berry starts supporting the high school girls’ volley ball team in their quest for the state championship.

There’s a little bit back at the house with everyone dealing with Berry being gone, but mostly it’s an excuse for a great Mark Proksch scene. Natasia Demetriou’s distraught, obviously, and Proksch takes advantage for some great feeding. Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillén are background the whole episode, with the occasional knowing look from Guillén and a one-liner from Novak. It’s like the show realized Berry can’t really go all out with the main cast; “Shadows” has gradually become Demetriou’s show, with Berry acting as her main support but support. Giving him a side adventure really works out.

Two crises arise in idyllic Pennsylvania however—the town can’t afford to send the volley ball team to state and Hamill has tracked Berry to the area. He doesn’t recognize Berry because of the foolproof human disguise, but Hamill knows he’s close. Great stuff with Hamill and Berry, just great.

The end seems like it might not connect, but then does—Stefani Robinson’s script is outstanding. Nice direction from Yana Gorskaya too.

Hopefully Hamill will be back.

Or just get his own show with the character. They leave him with an excellent setup.

But it’s finally a Berry showcase. Since the first episode, he’s been reining it in so as not to walk off with the show. It’s show much fun to see him not have to worry about it and just let loose. Jackie Daytona indeed.

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