Plot: Following the shocking season two finale, the housemates are in a panic over what to do with Guillermo now that they’ve discovered he’s a vampire killer. The vampires have been elevated to a new level of power this season, and they will encounter the vampire from which all vampires have descended, a seductive Siren, gargoyles, werewolf kickball, Atlantic City casinos, wellness cults, ex-girlfriends, gyms, and a plethora of supernatural curiosities. Colin Robinson is also celebrating his 100th birthday. And Nandor, who is suffering from an eternal existential crisis, tries to give his life more meaning. Is he destined to be an immortal bachelor with 37 ex-wives, or will he find love?
Review: What We Do In The Shadows’ first two seasons are the most consistently funny first two years of any series I can recall. Expanding on Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s brilliant film, the small-screen adaptation took the concept of a mockumentary following a vampire family and gave us a whole new clan to laugh at. The big and small-screen versions of this storey complement and enhance each other rather than serving as remakes, similar to the BBC vs. NBC versions of The Office. Are Nandor, Nadja, Laszlo, and Colin Robinson’s exploits capable of completing the hat trick with a third run as good as the first two?
I’m pleased to report that the answer is an emphatic yes. What We Do In The Shadows continues to mine the mundane aspects of modern life for fodder for Staten Island’s undead fish out of water. The central conflict in both of the first two seasons centered on the foursome of vampires as they struggled with the Vampiric Council’s mandates as well as Nandor’s familiar, Guillermo, discovering his family lineage as a vampire killer. Both of these appeared as plot elements in the first season finale before the Council was dropped as a major plot device until the second season finale. The third season, at least over the first four episodes made available for this review, resets the narrative a bit to bring both of these in line with the season narrative arc.
What We Do In The Shadows shifts slightly into a workplace comedy as the main cast ascends to positions of power as leaders of the local Vampiric Council. Where they were once offenders, these characters now wield power, and the results are frequently chaotic and absurd. While Laszlo explores the vast pornographic library they now have access to, Nandor and Nadja compete for control of the council. Colin Robinson remains his energy-sucking self, albeit with a bit more backbone around the more traditional bloodsuckers. Guillermo also no longer has to hide his Van Helsing connection, allowing for a much wider range of jokes to be available to the writer.
Taika Waititi makes a cameo in the new season, and Kristen Schaal joins the cast as The Guide, who works with the Council’s new leadership. While the first half of this season’s episodes continue to be standalone stories, the overarching Council narrative makes this the most cohesive season yet. The characters interact in new ways than we’ve seen before, giving Colin Robinson and Guillermo a lot more to do in the main storylines. In the first season, Mark Proksch’s Colin Robinson seemed like a one-off gag, but he quickly developed into a consistently funny character. Now that he’s a part of the main vampires, things get a lot more interesting..
It’s also great to see Harvey Guillen remain not only the brunt of the jokes but also a willing participant. Everything feels more balanced from episode to episode now that everyone can share storylines. While the first three episodes feature hilarious pairings, the fourth episode, titled “The Casino,” demonstrates how great the show is when all of the characters are involved. It also demonstrates that, despite being supernatural beings who bring death to humanity, they are also incredibly human. This season’s backstories for everyone help to further develop these characters and elicit sympathy from the audience. Never before have I felt vampires be as relatable as they are on What We Do in The Shadows, making this more than just a funny show but a very heartfelt one, too.
Overall, it’s difficult to find anything bad to say about this show. My only criticism is that the stories often feel rushed to a conclusion to fit the half-hour sitcom format, but that flaw is minor in comparison to the laughs we get with each episode. Even when it appears that they are repeating jokes that we have already heard for two seasons, the entire cast continues to mine their character traits to hilarious effect. The story is kept fresh this season by a slight narrative shift, but it may need to find something else to keep it going beyond this season. For the time being, enjoy What We Do In The Shadows, which is still as darkly funny as ever.
What We Do In The Shadows premieres it’s third season on September 2nd on FX and the next day on FX on Hulu.