Different episodes of What We Do in the Shadows focus on different aspects of the series. Some are more character-based, while others just revel in goofy jokes. Still others are intent on moving the plot forward or on expanding the show’s take on vampire lore. “The Roast” has elements of all of these. But more than anything, it’s a showcase for the show’s makeup and visual effects departments, who I imagine spent a significant portion of their budgets for the season on this week’s episode. We had flying! We had vampires being dragged across the front yard! We had super-speed and super-strength, full-body burn makeup, and fire! So much fire!
There’s technically no such thing as middle age when you’ve got eternal life, but apparently, vampires still worry that they’re losing their edge. I sympathized with The Baron once he revealed his true motivation for throwing a temper tantrum at Laszlo’s roast: I, too, sometimes see hip young people out on the town and feel the urge to yell after them about all the cool parties I was going to before they were old enough to drive — or in a vampire’s case, before their grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother was born. And the fact that he expressed it through sideways anger over The Guide telling him about Guillermo’s (totally accidental, let’s be fair) attempt to murder him all the way back at the end of season one, episode one? That’s just human (or, in this case, formerly human) nature.
In my experience, you don’t really think about losing your edge until you’re confronted with evidence that it’s gone. That certainly seems to be the case for the rest of the vampires, who don’t see the issue with their Staten Island lifestyle until The Baron tells them they’re a disgrace. Not consciously, anyway — I suspect the reason that Nadja and Nandor are so concerned about Laszlo’s bout of melancholy is revealed when Nadja says that they’re down to a mere 16 rounds of coitus a week. (Nandor replies that it’s only three times a week for him, and Nadja makes a sad face and touches his arm in support. It’s the most polyamorous moment I’ve seen on television … maybe ever?) Many of us base far too much of our self-esteem on an active sex life (or the lack thereof), so of course this relative dry spell has them worried.
They’re thinking too much like humans, however. Laszlo still has a vampire’s sense of time and isn’t worried about spending three weeks staring off into the distance thinking about organizing his bookshelf because he knows that he has a countless number of weeks ahead of him. There’s also no such thing as wasting time when you have an infinite sea of it stretching out in front of you; the only thing one can really fault him for is making his lovers worry by not paying as much attention to them as he usually does. All will be forgiven, however, as Nadja makes clear with her delighted expression when her husband snaps out of his funk at the end of the episode.
He asks her if he missed anything interesting while he was on his mental walkabout, and she replies, “No!” All the action in this episode — the fire and growling and chasing and death threats — barely registers in that monotonous sea of endless days I was just talking about. That’s a very vampiric way of thinking: They’ve done it all and seen it all, which means it takes a lot to get them excited. So is the casualness with which the gang discusses Guillermo’s impending death at either The Baron or Nandor’s hands once Nandor — now truly the last one to find out — discovers Guillermo’s secret. They’ve all died. The Baron has died at least three times now. What’s the big deal?
Still, although The Baron gives him some good advice when he says that Guillermo has to break the news to Nandor about his transformation himself, we still have to wait a while — until the season five finale would be my guess — for him to work up the courage to do so. The queer-platonic relationship between Guillermo and Nandor is something that we’ve discussed at length in these recaps, and the end of “The Roast” shows the two of them at their most tender with one another, recalling their shared history with sweet specificity. (I found it very touching that Guillermo remembers exactly what he wrote in his card to Nandor on his first day as a familiar.) Given the clear love between the two of them — and just as importantly, the fact that they’ve already bent the rules for him a couple of times now — I have to guess that Nandor will find some loophole that will allow him to spare Guillermo’s life. I’m not sure exactly what that loophole will be, but the great thing about vampire lore is you can make it up as you go along.
Thinking about Guillermo’s shifting role in the vampire household also clarifies what might be next for The Guide: They’ve never had much respect for her and ignored her back when she was working with them at the local Vampire Council HQ. But they respect her even less now that she’s hanging around the mansion more or less full time. (Where does she sleep in the mornings, I wonder?) Bumping Kristen Schaal up from a guest star to a series regular hasn’t had much of an effect on the overall season arc so far, but again, I have to guess that she’ll factor in in a big way as that arc wraps up. As Guillermo’s status rises, hers is falling. Can a vampire become a familiar? If you can’t raise a brood of mutant vampire frogs with your murder-roommate in the suburbs, it’s one way to mix things up when the years start to run together …
• The Baron’s comment about Sean at the roast (“Sean is cool. He’s a good time.”) harkens the way back to the original 2014 motion-picture form of What We Do in the Shadows, in which the vampires have a human pal named Stu they describe in similar terms.
• “The Roast” is a dense text of WWDITS lore, actually making reference to everything from the series premiere to last week’s episode, where we had a whole thing about Laszlo, Guillermo, and the whack shack out back.
• “There are no stupid ideas, just stupid people.”
• “If you think ejaculating onto a pillow counts as cooking your wife dinner, you might be a Laszlo Cravensworth!”
• This week’s line reading award goes to Natasia Demetriou, when Nadja says with disappointment and resignation in her voice, “Fine. If we want to live, I do have a plan.”
• Which one’s a weirder nightcap: warm blood, or flat Pepsi?
• I loved the confidence with which Laslzo cuts open the dead Guillermo/fish hybrid and pulls out its gills, as well as the sick glee on Colin’s face as he watches him do it.
• “I made a fart in your coffin.”
• Hearing a George Hamilton joke in 2023 was like when they’d make references to obscure ’70s TV shows on Mystery Science Theater 3000 — time ripped open for a moment, and I forgot what decade it was. Anyway, Hamilton broke out in the relatively chaste spring-break romp Where the Boys Are in 1960 and indeed looked like a tanned leather wallet in his later years. He also played Count Dracula in the 1979 movie Love at First Bite, which is probably how the vampires knew who he was.