Sunday, May 26, 2024

REVIEW: 'Interview With the Vampire' - Armand Details His History with Lestat and the Theatre des Vampires in 'No Pain'

AMC's Interview With the Vampire - Episode 2.03 "No Pain"

Armand tells the history of the Theatre des Vampires. Louis tells of his reluctance to join.

"No Pain" was written by Heather Bellson and directed by Levan Akin

Molloy has pushed back on the narrative Louis and Armand have been telling him. He knows when they are being cagey with their answers. They romanticize several notions to avoid the sinister truth of what the past was actually like. They want to remove the edges of this tale. Molloy has a fair amount of skepticism. He still sees the power in sharing it with the world. Louis and Armand are technically breaking the rules laid out by the coven. They share their true nature with a mortal. They don't immediately kill him after doing so. In fact, they invite him in. They accommodate his requests. They provide just enough luxury to make him comfortable. He doesn't immediately take their word as fact. His mind is still vulnerable to attack. Everyone is trying to influence him in some way. Even during his break, he's still approached with an offer. Someone new wants to put this entire situation into a different context. Intelligence agencies understand the threat from vampires and have been monitoring it closely. As such, they too try to sneak in information to reshape the events of the past. Molloy is at their complete mercy given how he can't protect his mind or computer. He has to accept it. He's drawn in. The distraction is powerful.

For the first time, Molloy gets to interview Armand by himself. He shares the origins of his coven and the founding of the Theatre des Vampires. Armand was always the master. He ruled over all the vampires who came under his spell. For two centuries, they lived in squalor under a false devotion to God. They may have become monsters of the night. However, they still believed they had a higher purpose to honor God's will. Armand grew disenchanted over time. He wasn't the person to break down this facade and reinvent it as something new. Instead, he used Lestat as a vessel to achieve that goal. The first season depicted Lestat as a master manipulator who abused other to get what he wanted. With Armand, it's all about the slight emotional manipulation. He knows how to convince others into doing what he wants. The coven originally blasted Lestat as dangerous for performing as a vampire onstage. He broke the rules. He wasn't punished. Instead, Armand displayed his powers. He had to exert authority over Lestat. He was successful. Lestat allowed the coven to evolve even though he didn't naturally have that thought himself. It was implanted by Armand who wanted this change all along.

Of course, the story of Armand and Lestat's relationship is cut off prematurely. Louis shares the conclusion of Lestat simply leaving the coven a week after a declaration of love by Armand. Louis and Armand are kindred spirits who both walled themselves off after being manipulated by Lestat. It makes for a convenient story. One in which the two found camaraderie and love with each other. It places all of the blame on Lestat. He chose to embark on a new adventure in America because he was bored with the tedious nature of the stage in France. His love for the theater never truly went away though. He dragged Louis to countless performances across their three decades together. That informs Louis' hesitance to join the coven. He doesn't want to be confided to that world. The vampires behind the production perform their roles. They bond together. However, Louis still seeks exploration elsewhere. He saw the horrors produced by war. He now sees a city coming alive. He doesn't want to miss that. Every night holds the promise of new adventure. He wants to capture those moments on film. The coven doesn't understand him. They only view him as a threat. They risk exposure from him being careless with his kills. And yet, Armand cannot seem to punish him as is required.

Armand and Louis are constantly sizing each other up. Being argumentative forms the passion of their seduction. They have strong convictions while trying to carefully balance how much to reveal of themselves. It's a playful dance according to their telling. They are in love. They want the luxury of seeing everything as romantic. Molloy sees the toxic nature of their combative interactions. That's a crucial piece of the story. They chose to ignore those warning signs. They opted for the love. It's sweet while remaining dangerous. Armand is tasked with killing Louis. He doesn't go through with it. Again, that highlights the immense love he feels. This dynamic has come along and suddenly shifted his priorities in life. He has always been looking on at the theater. He doesn't perform onstage and feast alongside the coven. He leads them. He places himself above them. He has always operated that way. He presents as humble about it. It's still an immense form of control. Santiago questions how long he'll let Louis endanger their lives. The company is united in their concerns. Yet they also abide by the decisions of their leader. Armand has the ability to kill Louis. He teases him with the creation of flames from his hand. And yet, they ultimately come closer. Louis invites Armand in. The seduction has worked. 

So much remains volatile though. Louis continually feels like he is losing control. He is spinning out. Armand has seen that numerous times. Vampires go crazy once confronted with opposing views of the world. They don't know how to reckon that with the amount of time spent following their beliefs. They go mad and often die. Armand already sees that eventuality with Claudia. She was turned at 14. Her mind is forever trapped at that age. Louis and Claudia are committed to the lie about their creator. They create a detailed story to answer any questions. Claudia engages with the theater. She wants to follow in Santiago's footsteps. She remains captivated by his performance. She wants to know how he lures his victims into believing they will feel no pain during the climatic moment of the show. With the coven, she sees the ability to evolve and mature. She is accepted amongst them. And yet, the world is incapable of ever seeing her as more than a child. That's the role assigned to her in the next stage production. Armand already sees her downfall. She isn't destined for centuries of life as a vampire. Louis still strives to protect her. Even facing death, he wants someone to step into that role for her. She deserves that safety and compassion. And yet, that concern fades away because Louis isn't killed. He's allowed to live in Paris despite not joining the coven. That causes problems too. They are of a separate nature though. One where Armand has the skills to adapt as necessary.