Tuesday, July 19, 2022

REVIEW: 'What We Do In the Shadows' - Nadja Struggles to Revive the Performer Her Nightclub Wants to See in 'The Grand Opening'

FX's What We Do In the Shadows - Episode 4.03 "The Grand Opening"

Opening night of Nadja's vampire nightclub is threatened when the big musical guest cancels.

"The Grand Opening" was written by Sam Johnson & Chris Marcil and directed by Kyle Newacheck

The Djinn resurrected Nandor's 37 wives. He then killed all of them who didn't match the perfection Nandor was searching for. In the end, he was left with Marwa. She still didn't fulfill all that he wanted. The Djinn was capable of making whatever adjustments Nandor needed. He did all of this exactly how Nandor demanded. That didn't fit the narrative that djinns are always devious and twist around the words of the wishes they grant. That is suddenly of interest to Nandor and Guillermo. Nandor fears he isn't good enough for the woman he has brought forth to serve as his wife. He doesn't take that as motivation for self-reflection. Guillermo can rattle off a list of qualities Nandor could strive to improve. Instead, it's all about physical appearance. That's as deep as Nandor wishes to explore. He asserts that his ability to satisfy his wife is reflected through penis size. That's how he values himself. All satisfaction that can come from this dynamic has to be sexual. That's the only way in which Nandor can process the world. It's very true to the overall horny nature of this show and the vampires. Nandor isn't the only person who succumbs to these thoughts. He has never been truly challenged by what it means to be a man or a husband. He and Guillermo negotiate with the Djinn so there is no way they can be tricked. Guillermo supports his master in this way because he truly wants Nandor to be happy. He doesn't need to see the final results in order to be satisfied either. All he cares about is Nandor's happiness. If Nandor approves the change, then Guillermo is happy with it too. They acknowledge all the ways in which the Djinn could have fun at their expense. In fact, they take the fun out of this endeavor by putting in so many details with the contract. Enough of an opening still exists for Nandor to be displease with how it turns out. The Djinn notes how this request is a frequent ask by the people who rub his lamp. It's nothing new to him. He knows the world is full of gross people who only care about their sexual dominance. Guillermo extends friendship in a way that could be inferred as sexual interest. That's not what Guillermo takes out of this dynamic though. Of course, it's easy for the viewer to see Nandor and Guillermo constantly drawn together. Nandor can never show Guillermo the appreciation he deserves. But now, he can never think about his penis without also thinking about Guillermo. That thought prevents him from being with Marwa. As such, all of this is a failure. They were running against the clock and rushed too quickly to the finish line. And then, Nandor couldn't perform. His thoughts always point back to Guillermo. That may not change how he behaves whatsoever. It simply showcases how Nandor's quest for personal satisfaction through a relationship continually goes unfulfilled because he's looking for value in the wrong places.

Of course, it's a meaningful examination to see how power dynamics have evolved over the years regarding vampires. Most familiar are subservient to their vampire masters. Guillermo has tried to break those codependent bonds. He still finds himself in the same position he has always been in. He still cares for the vampires even though he has a bit more freedom in speaking up for himself. He and Laszlo are essentially trying to co-parent the child Colin Robinson after all. That opinion is valid even though Laszlo spends the entire episode trying to prove he can influence the boy to engage in pursuits he enjoys. Laszlo doesn't care for LEGO blocks or musical theater. The boy is aging rapidly. That showcases the potential to tell many different stories about this new addition. It won't forever be stuck with him as a baby. The family should receive clarity shortly regarding whether the child is destined to grow up to be exactly like Colin Robinson. That remains a distinct possibility. And yet, he still comes to Nadja's rescue during the opening night of her vampire nightclub. In that regard, his attention to detail and willingness to perform actually become a celebration. It's a way for everyone to thrive even though their interests are varied. Nadja would love to host the epic return of vampire rapper Richie Suck. He hasn't released new music in a decade. She finds him as a shell of the vampire he once was. His life is dictated by his human familiar - Dr. Tom. It's such a unique inverse to the relationship typically depicted in this regard. It's all played as falling into the same stereotypes as the music industry. Richie Suck is accustomed to other people dictating what he does. As such, he doesn't know how to wield power for himself. Of course, him taking control over his life again doesn't mean he is suddenly good on the stage. He was celebrated as a rapper. That doesn't mean he's good at stand-up comedy. That's the career path he wants to pursue. It's a spectacular failure. It reflects poorly on Nadja as well. It infers she doesn't know what she's doing. She can't provide the crowd with what they need. And then, child Colin Robinson steps forward and performs. That too showcases the shifting balance of power. In that moment, Nadja is right back to respecting people who manipulate and exploit others. This child has to be seen as special given his rate of growth. He can't be viewed as a typical child who requires the typical care and attention to raise properly. Instead, he can be whatever the vampires need him to be. That's freeing in a way. It also presents so many opportunities for the future. It's fun seeing his act work out so well. It still comes across as the vampires barely having to put in any work themselves while reaping so many of the rewards. That remains constant despite how frequently their lives have been required to change over the course of the series. That evolution has been far too fleeting even as it's still a blast to see their constant adventures and ignorance over the rest of human life.