Before we get started, a warning. This episode is incredibly brutal for a few reasons, and I want to give y’all a heads up about what we’re going to be diving into today. Episode Five of Interview With The Vampire, titled “A Vile Hunger For Your Hammering Heart,” deals with rape, implied suicidal ideation, explicit domestic abuse, and includes an extended scene of extreme domestic violence.
Already the fandom across social media is divided about this. For now, just be warned that there was a lot going on in the final act of this episode, and while I don’t have space to really dive into some of the nuances in this recap, I will be writing about this in a blog later in the week. So for now, just know I’m only going to be scratching the surface of what’s happening at the end of “A Vile Hunger For Your Hammering Heart.”
This episode starts out with Rashid getting his blood sucked at the dinner table. Mister du Point du Lac (as Rashid is in the habit of calling him, without fail) has latched onto Rashid’s neck. Rashid stares across the table at Daniel Molloy, as if daring him to say something, as if gloating.
Besides the fact that this is a ridiculously wild scene that I think reinforces my personally held belief that Daniel and Louis are playing into the trope of bad exes who simply never got around to fucking out their feelings one last time, this moment also dismisses one of the prevalent fan theories. A few folks have hypothesized that Rashid might be Armand, but having Louis suck his blood for sustenance puts Rashid firmly in the “human” category. Sorry y’all.
Across the table, Daniel reads out a list of last words—Claudia’s record of her murders. A particularly poignant one is “Boy with inner tube and dog; ‘Let my dog live’,” in parentheses, she’s written “I did.” Each entry is differentiated by a slightly different style, sometimes underlined or in green ink. She appears to have murdered, on average, two to three people a night. He continues on.
Across the table, still being consumed by Louis, Rashid smiles. Talk about being invited into an intimate moment. Already, Louis and Daniel are challenging each other, pushing each other’s buttons.
Daniel admits that there’s not a lot that could be more fucked up than 42 pages of murder victims. Rashid mentions that it is not much different than what Daniel is planning to do with Louis’ life story: “What do you think will happen to Mr. Du Lac when you publish this book?”
Here is a fascinating twist! Louis and Daniel are both here as a kind of last attempt to save something. It’s more or less a mutual suicide pact. Louis will get the story out there, and the vampires will come for him; Daniel might die of Parkinson’s after his greatest failure made right, but it’s likely he’ll be murdered by the vampires as well. Louis pulls off Rashid’s throat and immediately comes for Daniel’s. He asks if Daniel wants to know what Rashid tastes like.
“I didn’t ask that,” Daniel says, voice flat. “You were thinking it,” Louis responds. He goes on to say that Rashid tastes like honey and pineapple, and offers a sample. Daniel, never one to give in, says he’ll wait for Damut. This back and forth is non-stop, and Daniel never lets Louis have the last word without a challenge, even though Louis has every advantage. He is, after all, able to read Daniel’s mind.
When we slip back into the past, Louis is in Claudia’s room, breaking the wings off birds and hoping to lure her out of her coffin. He doesn’t yet know the extent of her kills, and he thinks that she’s refusing to leave her coffin after her Charlie, the first boy she liked, died after she got carried away while feeding on him.
Louis goes to Lestat, worried that Claudia is starving herself. He charges into her room and tears open her coffin, revealing an empty casket. When he reaches for her diary Louis immediately protests, telling him that it’s private. Lestat doesn’t listen and begins reading out loud. We get the first glimpse of a woman who hates herself, who is tearing herself apart attempting to grow up—to have one last go at being human. As she sneaks back into her room and attempts to get into her coffin, she’s ambushed by her parents who immediately ask her what the fuck is she doing with all these bodies?
She refuses to answer and Lestat shoves her against the dresser. Claudia immediately looks to Louis—“You gonna let him do this to me?” The tension rises as Claudia deflects, and then finally answers that she buried them miles away in the Chalmette bayou and weighed them down. But Chalmette, Louis reminds Claudia, is three feet below the Mississippi River’s water line—which means that the next storm that lands on Louisiana will bring all those bodies floating up, necks torn out, half eaten and empty.
Sure enough, the waters rise, and the bodies with it. Louis and Lestat venture outside of their home and meet with Tom Anderson, who’s been tapped for a position in the government, and is asking for their monetary support. From him they learn that 56 bodies came up from the mud, and each one of them mutilated. They also learn that they should expect a routine visit from the police. The two vampires return home to a deputy in their living room, Claudia drunk on the couch, and a few more cops upstairs searching the house.
As Louis and Lestat make excuses for their incinerator, Claudia goes to her room. Immediately, she starts pulling out a grim collection of trophies—a finger tucked in between pages of a diary, a toe in a jewelry box, a woman’s left breast in her knickers drawer. And then, as she spins the coffin around, a man tied up, wheezing in her closet. She sprays perfume to rid the scent and the frantic naivete amid the horrors of her murderous nature ramps up the tension until a deputy knocks down her door.
The deputy is about to leave but as Louis and the cop trade threats, the Deputy reminds Louis that there’s one bed in the boudoir, and sodomy carries a five year prison term. Even when Louis attempt to reject human affairs, even when he tries to focus on his family, human mores are not so far behind.
When the two men confront their daughter, Louis tries to be measured, but Lestat is indiscriminate with his insults. They argue, and Claudia plaintively asks, “Who am I supposed to love?” Louis and Lestat have each other to help ease the burden of immortality but what about Claudia, doomed to be 14 forever? She stands and screams, asking which one of these men is going to fix it, “Which one of you gonna fuck me?!”
This is a terrifying and horrific demand, not least because we—the audience—can understand her. We’ve spent two episodes with her, intimately aware of how horrible it is for her, how maniac she is, how irresponsible she is, and here’s a young girl asking for someone—anyone—to take responsibility for forcing her to live like this. For Louis, it might seem like the ultimate failure.
She demands a companion, Lestat refuses, and Claudia, in a fit of rage, attempting to force Louis to her side when he has been attempting measured diplomacy, reveals that Lestat has been stepping out on Louis. She runs upstairs to pack and Louis tries to convince her to stay. As Claudia recounts what her life could have been like, Louis sees his fight with Lestat from five years ago playing out. She could have been human; she could have survived. Instead she’s dead—a mistake.
In retrospect Louis admits that she was made out of remorse and selfishness. Louis, when he talks to Daniel, tries to convince him that she was simply traumatized, caught in the storm of puberty for five years with no friends, and Daniel continually reminds Louis that he is making excuses for her mass murder. He refuses to allow Louis to persuade him that she’s a victim, pitiable, a child. Besides the fact that he thinks she’s a mass murderer, Daniel also says that Claudia makes “you and Frenchie look like a couple of whiny existential queens.”
Truly, I gasped out loud. Sure, there’s challenging a source, but then there’s driving a knife into an open wound and asking if it hurts. After this, Daniel offers something a little more honest. Louis doesn’t want to exploit Claudia, but she’s a part of the story, and Daniel knows that the fascination with her will be a draw. He says that it doesn’t matter what anyone’s intentions are with regards to what gets put out there. Even with context, once you put it out there, the audience decides what it is.
It is, for both Louis and for us, a warning. I mentioned earlier that this episode is brutal, and it feels like this is where the writers are commenting on their own work. Just like the second interview, or burning the tapes, this is a clear indication that the writers know that what’s coming will divide people. We will decide what it is. And we will have to each do so for ourselves.
We’re back in New Orleans, where Louis and Lestat have to adjust now that they are under suspicion. And without Claudia, there is nothing to distract them from the unspoken resentments each of them hold. They angrily get into their respective coffins, sniping at each other. For the next seven years, Louis and Lestat waste away in a townhouse that becomes less and less of a home. Lestat stays, Louis stays, they destroy themselves, waiting for a miracle that will make their love feel loving again.
Claudia, meanwhile, has been on an adventure, traveling across the U.S., visiting universities, taking a life here, a life there. Finally, she finally meets up with another vampire—Bruce—and they connect over a shared meal. They flirt, sort of, and he hands her a book titled, of all things, Etiquette. When she tries to refuse him he breaks her arm. He stands over her, towering as she whimpers on the ground.
“There are four pages torn out,” Daniel says, reading over this moment in the story. Louis repeats; he will not have her exploited while Daniel pushes—she wrote about it, he’d like to read it. Talking about Claudia is clearly getting to Louis—he’s carved away at the table with one of his nails, he’s snappish and sharp, he is losing his cool, and Daniel knows it. But still, Daniel insists on knowing, insists on asking for the truth, he reads the last lines aloud and when he raises his hand, it begins to shake.
The panic on his face is clear and terrifying. He has been in the presence of a vampire for days now, possibly weeks, and this is the first time we’ve seen real fear. Louis is forcing his body to imitate the severe muscular tremors of Parkinson’s. It’s a low tactic for someone like Louis to threaten Daniel, as if demanding the truth is violence. Louis has all the power in this situation; he’s a vampire, he’s got money, he’s giving Daniel the story, feeding him, keeping him, and he uses Daniel’s worst fear in an attempt to intimidate him into telling the story the way that he wants it told. It doesn’t work like that. As soon as he regains control of himself he stands and slaps Louis across the face. He then calmly turns around and sits back down, pushes his glasses up and notes that they are still recording. This is a reminder, not only will Daniel not be intimidated into telling the story the way that Louis wants it told, but he is still human, and Louis has no right to fuck with him like that. All the earlier boundary pushing Daniel can give as good as he gets but this? Emphasizing and triggering symptoms of his chronic illness that will eventually kill him? Louis knows better. He should be better.
We go back to New Orleans. Louis, on the bed, eating rats, reading deaths off a paper and asking Lestat if it’s Claudia. Lestat, still feigning patience after years of this, says that he’s the one still standing in front of Louis. Louis ignores him; Lestat attempts, one last time, to persuade Louis to pay attention to him. When Louis does not, he leaves to meet Antoinette, his lover. Louis doesn’t even look up.
Louis gets a call from Grace, and finally he’s pulled out of his bed. They meet at their mother’s grave, and she simply wanted to do him the courtesy of saying goodbye—she, Levi, and the kids are heading north in search of work, and whatever Louis is now, he is not the Louis that she knows, remembers, and would call brother. She lays down flowers on the grave and we get a look. Underneath Florence de Point du Lac is a second name: Louis de Pointe du Lac. Dead October 18, 1930. “Beloved Brother.”
Claudia is watching Louis, following him, and she realizes that they made her so that she could take the place of Grace. Claudia was not ever going to fit in as his child, but as his sister, she might be able to change his mind, to show up on equal footing with him, and, possibly, even Lestat.
When Claudia returns home she wastes no time at all. She’s here to pick up Louis before she leaves for Europe. Immediately there is a tug of war over Louis as Claudia demands Louis break away from Lestat’s abuse, and Lestat demands that Louis ignore Claudia’s absurd declarations.
Then, it breaks down. Lestat shoves Claudia against the wall, and Louis immediately pushes him away. The camera follows Claudia as papers fly and Lestat beats Louis. They drag each other through the dilapidated house as it crumbles around them, metaphorically shattering whatever facade of a happy home they had managed to pretend was still standing. It’s a vicious fight, Louis and Lestat tearing at each other.
In a moment of sheer horror, Lestat overpowers Louis and drags him out into the steet. He says that he fought his nature, controlled his temper, never once harmed Louis, until the point. As Claudia begs for Lestat to let Louis go, Lestat grabs Louis, bites his neck, and flies with him up above the clouds. Lestat wants closure, demands it, and he asks Louis to simply say that he will never love him. It’s a butal, twisted, torturous request, and when Louis demands to be let go, Lestat does.
He falls to earth, battered and broken, a horrific image of a Black man in extreme amount of pain, viciously beaten. Claudia stares at Lestat, who looks on impassively, still looking almost perfect, and the episode ends, cutting off any further discussion.
It’s a massive cliffhanger, a horrible way to end an episode that should have been about reconciliation and is instead about destruction. Within all these characters is the capability to commit violence, but to see it so horribly, brutally, and explicitly expressed between protagonists is a difficult way to end an episode. I know that at the end of “A Vile Hunger for your Hammering Heart,” I was upset and disturbed by the implications. But we’ve had five episodes where the writers have proved again and again they know exactly what they’re doing–and I’m hopeful that in episode six we’ll learn exactly what they were doing in this one. But as Daniel said: once you put it out there, we decide what to do with it.
Interview With the Vampire airs new episodes Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on AMC. Online, AMC+ is airing episodes one week early.
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