What We Do in the Shadows: Collaboration
May 30, 2020 7:50 PM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

When Nandor's old familiar from the 1970s returns to Staten Island, Guillermo reconsiders his role and his options, while Nadja and Lazslo revive their musical act with a little help from Colin.

Guillermo serves a new master on a trendsetting What We Do In The Shadows (Katie Rife for TV/AV Club; rating: B+)
This week’s episode felt like a throwback to the first season of What We Do In The Shadows, both in its world-building—the familiar meetup reminded me quite a bit of the familiars’ lounge in season-one highlight “The Trial” (FanFare), but with more spacious digs—and in its character work. A lot has changed for Guillermo since the season one finale, but his motivation to quit serving Nandor and move in with the flighty Celeste (Greta Lee) in “Collaboration” was more like the Guillermo we met in the series premiere. In other words, given that Guillermo’s character arc is now focused primarily on his destiny as a vampire hunter, the plot this week hinged on his desire to become a vampire, without any nods to these conflicting impulses. That made it feel a bit like an out-of-order track from an album being played on shuffle, a disorienting detail in an otherwise very sharp and silly episode.
Episode soundtrack, listed on Tunefind.
posted by filthy light thief (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In case you missed it: Nadja and Laszlo Sing Songs of Love and Terror (1963)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:54 PM on May 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

I wasn’t totally into the premise of Nadja and Laszlo being a musical act whose songs have become huge pop hits, but Celeste’s party becoming a bloodbath as Houston and her 12-year-old posse slaughtered all the familiars made this a fun episode. The climactic scene between Nandor and Guillermo felt like a signal that the show isn’t going to keep the status quo going forever—I anxiously look forward to the point where Guillermo has to decide between vampire or vampire slayer, and what happens after that.
posted by ejs at 9:12 PM on May 30, 2020

I’m pleased that I called the twist!
posted by Going To Maine at 9:16 AM on May 31, 2020

Which twist? I was surprised that Celeste was faking, but watching Benji flap off at the rest stop shocked me.

I am forever entertained watching Colin feed. That joke does not wear out for me.
posted by gladly at 11:47 AM on May 31, 2020 [5 favorites]

You said I tasted of goat cheese!
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:04 PM on May 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Update the tale of the scorpion and the frog for the present day as the energy vampire and the uber driver.
posted by ckape at 12:06 PM on May 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

Which twist? I was surprised that Celeste was faking, but watching Benji flap off at the rest stop shocked me.

O, the Celeste one. The Benji one was quite a surprise, and felt like the ultimate flex by Guillermo.

I am forever entertained watching Colin feed. That joke does not wear out for me.

Rewatched the city council episode recently and that may be the funniest of the energy feedings.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:01 PM on May 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was surprised that Nadia seemed like the weak link in their musical duo. Laszlo seemed like kind of a hit machine, cranking out these melodies that got stolen by other acts, but Nadia wrote these goofy-ass vampire lyrics and then her singing was this weird warbling stuff. Normally she's the sensible one of the pair, but in this case she seemed like she was dragging Laszlo down!

Matt Berry is actually a very talented musician, putting out songs that are very 1973 without quite sounding like anything you've heard before. Like, they sound like hits from that era, but somehow you can't say they sound like a specific band or even a specific genre. Whatever you'd expect Matt Berry's music to sound like, it's not that.

I had the twist about Celeste clocked pretty early, but that hardly ruined the episode for me. Greta Lee recently played a remarkably similar character on Miracle Workers, this friendly, quirky, kind of airhead-y hipster girl with a major dark side. I hope Celeste didn't get murdered by her master, because her need to feel like a vampire just once was so pitiful. She lost a lot of my sympathy with her readiness to sacrifice the other familiars to save her own skin, but even so her dying(?) act was to beg Guillermo to save Sam the familiar cat. There's some interesting morality on this show, where everybody is kind of evil but also kind of pathetic and lovable. Celeste was very much in that wheelhouse.

When it looked like they were going to just wipe poor Benjy's memory and dump him at the gas station, I thought that was kind of a mean twist... So it was nice that he finally got to be a vamp, even if that mean he's now a murderous bloodsucker. Like I said, interesting morality in this show.

This episode felt like a real progression in Guillermo and Nandor's relationship, like Nandor finally gave some ground and admitted that he actually cares about his weird little pet human. I still feel like Guillermo may be headed for a life as a slayer, but I can't see him ever staking Nandor. They have this complicated bond, and I think it's the heart of the show. Last season I complained that the show hadn't found the balance between making the vamps evil but also lovable, and I'm pleased to say that this season things have really clicked into place. They're killers and they can be terrible, but we also somehow root for them. That's a trick the movie handled superbly, and it took the show longer to get there but they're definitely there now.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:08 PM on May 31, 2020 [5 favorites]

Ursula, yep - my husband and I have a running list of "villains" that are both sympathetic and interesting, which is a really hard sell for most people. But the fact is, people are complex; villains especially so.

This show is rife with'em. Even Colin Robinson has his "awwwww" moments here or there, like when he saved the whole gang from being turned to ash last season at the bottom of the well.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:40 PM on June 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

Did anyone else think the Nadja and Laszlo parts of this episode were meant as a direct parody of Only Lovers Left Alive?
posted by kyrademon at 8:43 AM on October 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

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