Thursday, August 24, 2023

REVIEW: 'What We Do In the Shadows' - Secrets Are Exposed as the Vampires Try to Cheer Up a Depressed Laszlo in 'The Roast'

FX's What We Do In the Shadows - Episode 5.08 "The Roast"

A roast held in Laszlo's honor reveals dark secrets.

"The Roast" was written by Sarah Naftalis & Lauren Wells and directed by Tig Fong

Sometimes it's hard to keep track of who knows all of the secrets within the vampire residence. It doesn't really matter either. These characters simply project what they expect life to be. They don't exactly live up to the standard of how vampires are suppose to operate. They are meant to be terrorizing creatures who strike fear into humans every night. Instead, they've grown soft. That's what has happened after centuries of life. So much would end if the Baron was killed. Every vampire that can trace their lineage back to him would perish as well. That would be a destructive event. The Baron has nearly been killed several times too. It's always been an accident on Guillermo's part. The Baron never knew that. He thought he accidentally walked into the sun after a night out with the vampires. He was buried in the ground and survived on the remains of the bodies the vampires killed. He was restored to his former glory and stature. The vampire community respects him so much. They kept secrets from him though. Enough time has passed to laugh about Guillermo opening the door and the Baron going up in flames. The Baron isn't in on the joke though. It's a new revelation for him. Similarly, he just now learns Guillermo is a vampire hunter. He was completely oblivious to the many vampires Guillermo has killed. He lets out his rage because he's dissatisfied with his life. He is nothing more than roommates with the Sire now. They no longer have fun together. The roast of Laszlo is trivial. It's a bunch of people in a room trying to make each other laugh when none of them are great at writing jokes. These characters are outrageously funny a lot of the time. The humor of this situation comes from their struggles to perform. Everyone is worried about Laszlo because he has fallen into a depression. He couldn't figure out what was happening to Guillermo. Science had failed him. He doesn't know what to do with his life anymore. The vampires don't associate that failing with this sudden turn of events. Instead, it's all about them and what's going on in their individual lives. Colin can't get a good drain out of him. Nadja worries about the hex on her. Nandor fears he's gotten too positive and well-read. Guillermo sees this dynamic for what it really is. And yet, that too is a massive presumption. Instead, it's nothing more than Laszlo lost in thought over a very minor thing. He's just contemplating the best way to arrange books in the library. He doesn't care about others. They are merely a distraction to his life. Sometimes they're interesting. That was true when Colin became a baby and Guillermo turned into a vampire. Those are old developments now. He's moved on. He doesn't do so in a way that engages with the other vampires. As such, they desperately try to include him in the spotlight that just so happens to make them feel good too.

This conflict is driven by the apparent inevitability of Guillermo's death. The first four seasons pondered if Guillermo would ever become a vampire. The show answered that question this year. It was true right away. That created a host of problems. He continues to agonize over how to tell Nandor about what he did. Everyone acknowledges that it is now Nandor's responsibility to decide the fate of his familiar. He deserves that power. Others are annoyed and enraged with Guillermo too. They are justified in taking out their feelings. The bond between vampire and familiar is sacred though. Nandor and Guillermo are friends. Nandor makes that confession when he believes Guillermo has been killed by the Baron. That's the truest expression of love he has ever displayed. It's even more intimate and vulnerable later on when he questions Guillermo to prove he's real. Guillermo brought a card with him when he started this job. Both vampire and familiar remember it word for word. It carries special meaning for both. The narrative always teases that something more is on the verge of happening between the two. Guillermo opts for inaction. He wants to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Death is certain. That's the only way for Nandor to respond. The Baron agrees to a truce. Guillermo nearly kills him again. It's once more presented as an accident. One of Laszlo's experiments is killed as a result. That creature provides enough life to excite the Baron's existence in the New Jersey suburbs once more. That's thrilling even though he isn't the best parent. He's terrifying because of the scars on his body. He gets enough pleasure from what happened at the vampire residence that he is willing to let them decide their fates moving forward. He could control so much if he wanted to. He strikes fear so easily. That's no longer a priority. He wants something different now. He sees the joy of turning a vampire killer into a vampire. That's what Guillermo always wanted even though he was quite skilled at killing vampires. His transformation hasn't been easy. That isn't even communicated with the Baron. He doesn't connect it with the questions Guillermo and Derek previously asked. That demonstrated the perils of a vampire trying to be turned twice. Guillermo has developed more abilities since then. He escapes the Baron's wrath. With Nandor, it's a completely different story. Guillermo has more control over when the truth is shared. Time is still running out. That agony grows stronger the longer he waits. Nandor teases that he knows a secret is being kept. He too provides oblivious reactions to ease Guillermo's fears for a moment. That doesn't weaken the underlying inevitability of what must be done. So much has changed. So much remains the same. These vampires don't particularly care about the various twists that happen. They maintain their survival no matter what. And so, it's just momentary pleasures. Some are bigger than that. Guillermo's transformation may be one example. However, so was learning he killed vampires. Everyone accepted that part of his identity. They just need the opportunity to accept the truth and acknowledge that it too doesn't really need to change anything.