Tuesday, September 6, 2022

REVIEW: 'What We Do In the Shadows' - Laszlo and Guillermo Reckon With the Dramatic Passage of Time in 'Sunrise, Sunset'

FX's What We Do In the Shadows - Episode 4.10 "Sunrise, Sunset"

Baby Colin reaches that awkward age.

"Sunrise, Sunset" was written by Paul Simms and directed by Kyle Newacheck

"Sunrise, Sunset" is an absolutely heart-wrenching song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. It offers a melancholic examination of the passage of time. Simultaneously, it feels like no time has gone by and an entire lifetime has elapsed. It's striking and those experiencing it don't know how to grapple with the changes. In the musical, it's performed on the day of a wedding. The central couple's daughter has grown up and is ready to embark on her own adventure with a family. That's the outcome they wanted. Yet it's hard to reckon with it already occurring. They want more time. More time to cherish the moments that felt so sweet and earnest. They had these big dreams. And now, their work is seemingly done as everyone in their family plots for the future with more optimism. Meanwhile, their best days may be behind them. It's only in a moment as big as this that they can take stock of it all. This entire metaphor translates perfectly to this comedy. This is such an absurdist tale about a found family. The vampires came together in this residence. Guillermo sought out his dreams hoping they could finally provide it to him. Time has passed. These characters are no longer the same as they were in the first season. They have evolved. Their ambitions are no longer the same. That change from moment to moment. The vampires have already enjoyed a lifetime of experiences. They reflect on all these developments with absolute amazement. They have total recall over specific details of their lives. They haven't lost anything as a result of this transformation to creatures of the night. Guillermo wants that so badly. It's always denied to him. He thought Nandor would be the vampire to make his wish come true. Even in a season that featured a Djinn granting wishes, it's still a life of constant disappointment for Guillermo. He found something to cherish and hold dear. He found true love and acceptance. That wasn't enough. His feelings didn't matter. That happens in parallel to the vampires not really noting the passage of time. This season forced it onto them a little bit. It hits Laszlo hard because of everything that happened in the span of a year with Baby Colin. He took on the responsibility of raising him. He saw the value in believing a life as an energy vampire wasn't his destiny. He could have a much better future than what the past 100 years have been. It's absolutely soul-crushing when Laszlo is confronting with the truth. All of it was completely pointless. Once Colin reaches maturity and reclaims his former identity, he has no memory of all that happened. He doesn't know how Laszlo and Guillermo cared for him. They tried to do right. They wanted to prove the power of nurture through parenting. Nature was simply too strong. That was true from the first moment Baby Colin picked up a hammer and started swinging at the walls in his room.

So many mysteries still lurk within the walls of the vampire residence. Hidden passageways can be discovered and open a whole new world of possibilities. Even then, Guillermo is still stuck with a room beneath the staircase. He is never given the freedom of expression or the opportunity to thrive in this world. He saw a reason to continue being of service. He also found a way to prioritize his own needs. He could be happy for his roommates without being solely devoted to them. He still had to function the same as always in parenting Baby Colin. He saw the value in that service. And yet, time passes and nothing changes. Sure, Colin has behaved differently in the past year. It's still all building to the fateful conclusion of him reclaiming his memories and returning to life as an energy vampire. Laszlo and Guillermo even saw that eventuality coming. That was a massive disappointment for them. One fight between a teenager and his father was all it took for the truth to be revealed. They still hoped the disconnect between Colin's body and mind proved nothing was set in stone. All of this is still mapped out for Colin to find when he was ready. As a teenager, he came to question the world. He was no longer solely beholden to Laszlo. He could pursue his own interests. That included flexing his powers. Laszlo could offer him some answers. He doesn't know everything. That led to the discovery behind the walls. It takes the right touch for Colin to find all that once meant so much to him. That discovery is all that's needed to reset the narrative. For the first three seasons, Colin functioned in the same way. He was the vampire who stood out. He had different powers than the rest. He could walk in the sun. He was hilarious to watch because he had completely different opportunities and interests. This season offered a significant change. It allowed the creative team to flex its special effects work by showcasing Mark Proksch's face on a child's body. Everything had to work seamlessly in order for the gimmick to prevail. It never should have been taken seriously. It was simply a new way to depict this strange, alluring world. Baby Colin was just as central to the proceedings even though he operated in a different way. His presence propped up Nadja's nightclub. His exit signals its downfall as well. Nothing could quite match the novelty of him tap dancing and singing. That could only take all involved so far.

Nadja is completely clueless about insurance too. She believes she can collect money after burning her nightclub down despite not paying into that service. She's careful enough to ensure the Guide and her wraiths are out of the building. She even shows consideration to the documentary crew. Footage still exists that shows what she did. She wouldn't have gotten any money anyway. These vampires don't understand the ways in which the world works. Systems are in place to prevent scams like this. Nadja loses everything in the process. The nightclub became her new dream. She didn't know how to build it so it would last. She even enters the podcasting space for a little bit to prove her relevance. It's not enough. She's not an expert on any of the historical figures she brings back to life with the Guide. She embraces that tactic despite its use of witchcraft because she's desperate. She doesn't want to admit defeat. If something can go wrong, then it does. That's the fate she has to accept. She wasn't the only one stealing from the club. Guillermo was as well. He splurged on himself. He's willing to give all that he has left for Derek to turn him into a vampire. That's the smartest decision he could make. He reaches out to someone who doesn't abide by the vampire rules and ideals that consume his world elsewhere. He knows Derek has a different perspective. One that uplifts and cherishes Guillermo. Of course, Guillermo is still selfish in some ways. He deserves better most of the time. Laszlo is the one most defeated over Colin's transformation. Meanwhile, it's heartbreaking for Guillermo as he realizes Nandor just needed time exploring marriage. Nandor didn't need his entire life to suddenly be determined by some magnificent love. That was something he wanted for a little bit. It brought him peace until it annoyed him. He then had the power to wish it away. It was difficult for him to do so. He wanted more for his Freddie. That ruined Guillermo's future. Nandor is completely oblivious to that. He has a book now. Reading is comforting enough. He has that passion. He doesn't need anything more. He doesn't need to wonder about the passage of time and if his life is fulfilling. The tables have turned. Guillermo will do anything to get what he wants. The season closes without offering any clarification on that point. He believes it's destined to happen at some point. He doesn't have that satisfaction to the same extent as Colin. The vampires are at peace with their lives. They struggle as well. But the fear of change isn't too daunting and paralyzing for them. And so, nothing changes while Guillermo has to force his dreams into reality.