Tuesday, August 2, 2022

REVIEW: 'What We Do In the Shadows' - The Vampires Argue Over Which Family Dynamics Help Baby Colin in 'Private School'

FX's What We Do In the Shadows - Episode 4.05 "Private School"

The vampires endure the private school admissions interview process.

"Private School" was written by Ayo Edebiri & Shana Gohd and directed by Kyle Newacheck

The vampires and Guillermo serve as one big, dysfunctional family. Sure, they are each capable of surviving on their own. However, they rely on each other in order to maintain consistency in their lives. They need that energy. It's the only way they can prosper. The vampires are so far removed from what it means to be human. They have each been vampires for a long time. They still face challenges. It's outrageously funny whenever they are forced into a situation that's so commonplace elsewhere in the world. Every parent can relate to their child having too much energy. They don't know how to focus it in a productive way. Guillermo sees the benefit of public school. Of course, the vampires want the best for Baby Colin. They believe only by offering him the best of life will he avoid becoming an energy vampire once more. They see the constant chaos as reason to believe he is nothing like their former friend. When it comes time to talk about what he actually likes though, the vampires are at a complete loss. That continues their inherently selfish natures. They only really care about themselves. Guillermo has started to embody that energy as well. He has stepped up in a huge way to serve almost on equal standing with the vampires. He hasn't had to be turned into one in order to gain that importance either. The vampires still don't know much about him. He's simply a part of their lives now. They tolerate it because they don't want to endure some new change. They don't want to go through that process. And yet, they must face the uncomfortable unknown in order to make their lives easier. It doesn't immediately fix everything. The vampires come up with their own creative solutions. They only see the benefits. Baby Colin ends the episode enrolled in many athletic programs. That means he's too tired to spend all day waking the vampires up from their slumber. That was the end result the vampires wanted. They don't ultimately care enough to push for more. This is acceptable enough. They claim they want perfection. Nandor seeks that through the Djinn making cosmetic adjustments. It only causes more to go awry. Again, that has long been the way most of these storytelling impulses develop. The vampires have a certain standard. They clash with what society both at large and within the monster world demand of them. And then, they finish everything with an easy solution that isn't perfect or typical. It's good enough for no one to have any lingering doubts about what will happen next. Of course, the show loves playing around with the idea of weighty consequences. The vampires have accumulated plenty of power for themselves. In fact, Guillermo and Nadja are stealing from the nightclub instead of focusing on the improvements that must be made to the vampire residence.

The true hook of this episode comes from the vampires needing to pretend to be a loving family during the private school admission interview for Baby Colin. Whenever they run into trouble, Nadja quickly knocks out Sean and the Headmaster. It's actually quite hilarious to watch the vampires struggle. Guillermo has some of the answers. He voices his concerns. He knows exactly how the vampires need to behave to make this go smoothly. It implodes early on. They don't have a consistent story about how Baby Colin is related to them or why they are caring for him. It's simply a responsibility they took on as a way to honor their former friend. Colin Robinson was annoying because he was always draining the vampires of their energy. However, he was a member of this family too. The creature that came out of his dead body can't be tossed aside to be a problem for someone else. These vampires must do right by him. They don't know how to do that. They have Baby Colin working at the nightclub. He's the nightly performer. It's not a good environment for him to be in at all. He loves performing. As such, he's not complaining about the working conditions. It's not great for his emotional development. Guillermo sees that but doesn't speak up to change it. So much of these comedic situations play out as the vampires doubling down on the behavior they believe should work. Guillermo acknowledges that hypnotism could just trick the Headmaster into accepting Baby Colin without having to know many details about this family. Nadja rejects that notion because it simply came too late in the proceedings. She has become determined to go down this path no matter how difficult it is. It features many hilarious twists and turns too. The vampires believe they have to present as a unique family in the hopes of being special in the eyes of this school. They have to be famous in some way. Every possible pairing is offered up to showcase what family means. None of it is actually the truth. All of it is in a strange way too. That's the overwhelming focus of the entire series. These characters indulge the bad behavior by one another. Their lives crumble as a result. The basement is still flooded after all. Nandor doesn't want to waste any of his unlimited wishes to fix the house. Meanwhile, Guillermo would rather shower his other family with luxurious gifts while Nadja stockpiles cash for herself. This behavior all falls in line with who these characters are. None of it is being done in service of Baby Colin and his own identity being shaped in this world. Again, the vampires don't understand that question or why it matters at all. Guillermo providing that insight is read as an insult to them. It's accurate. They trust him to do all the caretaker roles. No comedic pairing can change that fundamental truth. Moreover, the vampires kill the Headmaster through this need to get things right. It's a horrible ending for him. It speaks to the callous nature these vampires view humanity and the preservation of life. Guillermo is special in a way. He still deserves to be treated well. He's finally taking that advantage for himself even though he doesn't know how to threaten the camera crew when the time comes for it. Nadja has no problem in that regard.