We’d be excited for the return of What We Do in the Shadows no matter what. But given the bleak state of the world, getting reacquainted with the show’s awkwardly hilarious vampire roommates felt like an especially welcome distraction. Last night’s two-episode season two premiere reminded us of everything we love about the show.
What’s everyone been up to lately? In “Resurrection,” we learn that Nandor (Kayvan Novak) has been having “a summer of self-discovery,” transforming himself into vapors and so forth; Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) got his driver’s license and has been applying his energy vampire powers to Manhattan-bound traffic; and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Laszlo (Matt Berry) have lost six or seven familiars to unfortunate accidents, though they’re very fond of their current helper, Topher (Haley Joel Osment).
Speaking of familiars, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) has been keeping busy, picking off the assassins that’ve been stalking Nandor, Nadja, and Laszlo since their big escape from the Vampiric Council last season. Turns out that reveal at the end of season one, about Guillermo’s Van Helsing family ties, means he’s deadlier than Buffy with a wooden stake.
Guillermo, who’s also a master of passive aggression, is no fan of Topher—he’s lazy, he takes credit for the chores that Guillermo does, he has a secret side hustle involving a hard cider start-up, he calls Guillermo “G-Money,” and he doesn’t even care whether or not he becomes a vampire, which for a familiar should be the ultimate reward. Topher is so puffed up with toxic dude-bro energy that even Colin can’t drain his essence, but Nandor, Laszlo, and Nadja think he’s the bee’s knees...so much so that when he’s accidentally electrocuted in their backyard koi pond, they seek out a necromancer named Wallace (played with gusto by Doctor Strange’s Benedict Wong) to bring him back to life.
Wallace—who operates out of a hut filled with “magical” trinkets and cheap license-plate keychains—isn’t exactly on the level. He checks his phone during the ritual, which is definitely a red flag, and while his spell does bring Topher back, it’s soon obvious to an exasperated Guillermo (and only Guillermo) that the guy’s a full-on zombie.
While there’s a happy ending, with the brain-dead Topher being returned to Wallace (who, as it turns out, has an entire basement of failed, monstrous clients toiling in his basement), “Resurrection” does establish a juicy conflict for the season going forward: Guillermo is a now highly skilled vampire killer, but he’s still holding onto his codependent relationship with Nandor and hoping he’ll be transformed himself one day. His torment within is expressed mostly to the documentary crew that “films” the show, with some majestically subtle eye contact that screams volumes whenever he deploys it.
We also got a pair of outstanding guest stars—something What We Do in the Shadows is already well known for—and some classic, weirdly funny moments, like when Nandor insists on a very particular pronunciation of the word “carcass.”
The second episode that aired as part of the premiere, “Ghosts,” sees Nadja’s eternally doomed lover Gregor, also known as Jeff (Jake McDorman), returning in ghost form—after an extended sequence where Nandor, Laszlo, and Colin agree that ghosts don’t exist, even though vampires obviously do (along with zombies, werewolves, and Babadooks, as Guillermo points out).
Realizing that since vampires are technically dead—except for Colin, who isn’t even really sure what his deal is—Nandor, Laszlo, and Nadja decide to summon their own ghosts to see what unfinished business they left behind. Despite a bit of a language barrier, since Nandor has forgotten his native tongue after centuries of not speaking it, he eventually figures out that his ghost wants to reunite with his beloved horse, so he helps him out. Laszlo’s ghost needs Laszlo’s non-ghostly hands to help him climax, so he helps him out, with explosively sticky aftereffects. Meanwhile, Nadja and her ghost get along like gangbusters, so Nadja allows the spirit to possess a doll as a way to hang around undetected.
Meanwhile, Ghost Jeff shuffles off with whatever unfinished business he had still unfinished (“Just fuck off for real this time,” Nadja instructs him), and Colin, who’s spent the entire episode trying to lure anyone into his “What’s up dog?” joke trap, finally conjures up his grandma, who immediately falls for it. There’s not a ton of Guillermo in this episode, but we’ll definitely be seeing more of him—and his grand dilemma—as the season progresses.
What We Do in the Shadows airs Wednesdays on FX, and streams Thursdays on FX on Hulu.
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