What We Do in the Shadows: The Wellness Center
October 15, 2021 4:23 PM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Nandor is persuaded to reject vampirism and pursue a healthier lifestyle.

Written by Stefani Robinson and featuring Cree Summer as Jan. Yes, that Cree Summer.
posted by fiercekitten (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I really dig the theme song in Farsi (?). I'm assuming that it's modern Farsi, and not the dialect from the 11th century.

Looks like there's a White Wolf Nosfaratu type vampire, have we seen them before?

Guillermo buckling Nandoor in was so cute, and the payoff was a hoot!
posted by porpoise at 9:17 PM on October 15, 2021 [11 favorites]

Nandor with his hair all floofy was a dreamboat. Agreed, the opening song was gorgeous.

This would make a great ethics debate given that Nando is also an immortal serial killer, on how the show handles and frames him and the others being brainwashed into a cult where they are physically, emotionally and sexually abused.

That he ducks when Guillermo tells him to and HOLDS ONTO his hand and doesn't use his actual vampiric strength on Guillermo is just - the deliberate romantic framing of this is so delightful.

Also, the AV Club is doing a great job with recaps - this episode
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:49 PM on October 15, 2021 [11 favorites]

From what I could tell it is modern Farsi, with the disclaimer that I'm not great at modern Farsi and entirely unfamiliar with the 11th century variant. I mean, I don't think the Shahnameh has to be "updated" into modern Farsi for people to read it, so there wasn't a Beowulf-level drift.

It did feel a bit like part of the story here was "look at cute hipster Nandor." (I don't feel good about this -- because the cult thing technically is very dark! -- but there it is.) As always, I love that Guillermo's action scenes were played 100% straight. He's just, improbably, the most badass person ever born.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:59 AM on October 16, 2021 [9 favorites]

On Hulu there was a mid-credit screen, so don't miss that.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:21 AM on October 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I loved everyone's excitement about Nandor's accession day, especially Guillermo putting Nandor's name up in creepy paper.

The wellness cult was equal parts hilarious and disturbing. Jan had attracted a pretty big following - you would think this should be on the Vampiric Council's radar, and not just accidentally stumbled across via dues collection. Of course, Nadja seems completely disinterested in following up even after Nandor joins, so maybe these kinds of things are just always popping up.

"I have lost 123 straight games of cornhole and I have never felt more alive." - line of the episode for me, not sure why it cracked me up so much
posted by the primroses were over at 8:44 AM on October 16, 2021 [9 favorites]

I loved this so much. I was laughing so hard. I would pay a huge amount of money to spend a vacation at a resort where we wore 80s leotards and were pretending to be vampires pretending to learn how to be human while doing fun aerobic dances.

I really enjoy how dimensional the characters are and how they show their dimensions in surprising ways. Maybe pretending to be a human and having fun with his new friends was actually good for him, but given Guillermo's instinct as a vampire slayer it makes sense that what he does show up with crosses and garlic and hurt a bunch of vampires, then kidnap one and lock him in a cage. I love it!
posted by bleep at 7:19 PM on October 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Colin’s Playmobil line had me laughing for minutes. That was a perfect observation, and I wonder which came first: the costume or the joke?
posted by migurski at 9:28 PM on October 16, 2021 [6 favorites]

Funny episode -- but am I the only one who felt that the end was pretty bleak? I know Nandor will return to his old self soon, but for some reason I took his depression to heart and felt genuine sadness that his efforts to find help were thwarted by the dual betrayals of his new friends turning out to be a cult, and his old friends kidnapping him and locking him in a dungeon in order to return him to his depression. Until the next, presumably uplifting episode comes out, the trajectory and conclusion of this one -- locked in a cage with no secret exit this time, and the lights shut off -- left me rather sad as a narrative of depression.
posted by chortly at 10:26 PM on October 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

It was adorable how the vampires were so excited about celebrating Nandor's ascension, and I think it demonstrates how these characters have evolved since the first season. In the first season there was kind of a sour, cynical feeling in the house. I didn't get the feeling that any of the characters really liked each other that much and it seemed like it was mostly inertia that had kept them together for so long. They can still treat each other like crap sometimes, but now you get the feeling that they are actually friends. These days we even see them having vampire sing-alongs around the piano!

A surprising amount of complicated emotional stuff in this one. Was Nandor better off with his wannabe human group, where he was happy? Was it just a cult and Guillermo was right to abduct him, or was Guillermo being totally selfish? Jan and her group had a creepy vibe, but if Jan actually had a sinister intent we never saw it play out. It made sense that she'd freak out about some little slayer dude with a bag full of stakes, and she only led her followers into the sun when it looked like they were going to turn on her. Maybe she really did just want to lead her followers to be happy, healthy "humans". (I do wonder how they fed. We saw them pretending to eat human food, but they couldn't actually go without blood forever.)

Funny episode -- but am I the only one who felt that the end was pretty bleak?

It was so dark that I thought it had to be a cliffhanger, but the trailer for next week's episode seemed unrelated. Nandor's "midlife-crisis" has been a growing thing all season. He's been increasingly lost and dissatisfied, and he's really lost the taste for evil deeds. I've talked before about my hunch that he's headed for a heel turn where he decides he's gotten too soft and he decides to become a real monster again. I'd hate to see it, but it seems like he's getting desperate enough to make a big change like that.

When Nandor says that watching Colin bellydance loses its excitement eventually, that suggests that Nandor did somehow find it exciting once.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:57 PM on October 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Looks like there's a White Wolf Nosfaratu type vampire, have we seen them before?

Yeah, they're just a certain percentage of the population. Nick Kroll's character has a flunky who's absolutely terrifying; she's one of the vampires who reappears with him when he's living in the sewer.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:51 AM on October 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Jan and her group had a creepy vibe, but if Jan actually had a sinister intent we never saw it play out.

Maybe you didn’t see the whole episode.
posted by snofoam at 8:53 AM on October 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Jan and her group had a creepy vibe, but if Jan actually had a sinister intent we never saw it play out.

Maybe you didn’t see the whole episode.

That's why I mentioned the mid credit scene. Don't miss it.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:11 AM on October 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

Was it the thing where she leads them up all out to the roof so they burn up, then she says, "Back to the drawing board"? If there was something more than that, than no, FX didn't air it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:03 PM on October 17, 2021

There was a Colin Robinson bit at the very end, but I was referring to the part where Jan tricks her followers into their fiery deaths. I found that part to be sinister and malicious.
posted by snofoam at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

I don't even think you need to get to the scene where she tricks her followers into mass suicide, though that certainly puts the group solidly into cult territory.

But was I the only one fully creeped out by Jan's recruitment interview with Nandor in her office? She was not selling him on pretending to be human, she told him she was human, and fake ate and drank to prove it. That face she made eating the apple was plenty to push me into "oh god, she must be stopped!" skin crawls. (Kudos to Cree Summer!)

I get that mere grifting is pretty low on the real life horror scale compared to all the murders we totally disregard by our protagonists, but I don't think Jan is an ambiguous figure as far as the show is concerned.

It will be very strange if there isn't some deprogramming or such next episode, but I would be fine with a cold open addressing it, and then moving on to whatever the next episode is about.
posted by the primroses were over at 2:16 PM on October 17, 2021

It's a show about vampires.
posted by bleep at 4:38 PM on October 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I did think Jan was an ambiguous character. Like, she clearly was aware that she wasn't really human, and at the end she turned into a bat without a second thought. But, was she sincere in her aspirations to be human again? Maybe. She was yanking out her teeth every night, which is pretty hardcore. If she was only running a scam, what was the goal? She was sleeping with Nandor, but I didn't get the feeling she was doing all that stuff with the group just to have sex with her followers. They had a rule that nobody could use vampire powers and it seemed like they'd renounced feeding on humans, which is pretty benevolent stuff. (Again, I don't know what they were feeding on, but not killing people seemed like a big part of their deal.) We never saw her demand that Nandor give her all his worldly goods, or cult-y stuff like that. And the mass suicide thing just seemed like she sensed her followers were on the brink of revolt, so she decided to take them out before they got violent. It was an improvised act of self-preservation, not her planned endgame for the group. I think you could read this as her being a scam artist, a sincere wannabe human kind of in denial about being a vampire, or some weird combo of the two.

What was the mid-credits scene with Colin?

It's a show about vampires.

Well, yeah. I don't get what you mean, bleep.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:19 PM on October 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

It's a silly show and we're maybe thinking too deeply into it re: deprogramming, etc.

This was fun and a lighter-hearted take on cults.

Jan's motivations - maybe she's getting off on exercising power and that's her payoff for forming a cult.

There's her comment before bat-forming out of there, "Well, back to the drawing board." Dunno what's going on there.

The mid-credits scene was Jan dumping her cult into the sun, the Colin scene was post-credits.

Guillermo as a familiar vampire hunter; the garlic powder (!ha!) makes me think if the show will take him down the rabbit hole and have him start dosing himself with colloidal silver - and prevent him from turning vampire, which he aspires to become?
posted by porpoise at 5:43 PM on October 17, 2021

I couldn't really figure out what Jan's grift was. Have we seen any vampires with money issues? I can't see how a vampire would grift other vampires who weren't already buying into the fantasy. It didn't even seem like Jan was glamouring the cult members. Nandor knew he wasn't really a human, but he was having a good time with his new friends. I wondered if Nandor would have gone through the door when Jan lead her charges out. I think he wouldn't have. His instinct for self-preservation still seems pretty healthy -- even if he needs to look both ways before stepping into traffic.

Which is all to say that I was kind of uncomfortable with Guillermo's rescue of Nandor and then putting him in the basement cage. I'm not going to dwell on it, because all of our heroes, including Guillermo, who I love unreservedly, are terrible, terrible beings!
posted by gladly at 5:47 PM on October 17, 2021

We never saw her demand that Nandor give her all his worldly goods, or cult-y stuff like that.

In the brief glimpse of the photos on the wall in Jan's office, there's one of a Moonie-like mass wedding; one that looks like it takes place in the main gathering shed-thing in Jonestown with Jan throwing up a peace sign; and another of her mug shot from Multnomah county, which is where Rajneeshpuram was located. Jan seems to have been involved in quite a few cults already :)
posted by oneirodynia at 7:47 PM on October 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

"back to the drawing board (smirk/shrug)" is exactly what I expect from Nadja, so I imagine the cult is no more or less sinister than the types of bullshit Nadja gets up to.

Maybe something like - Jan told a boastful lie in a group of folks who had a desire, and they just started expecting her to have answers and leadership. At first it fit nicely, but then it got pretty amnoying.
posted by rebent at 1:14 PM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

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