What We Do in the Shadows Recap: Wedding Bell Blues
If Marwa’s role on What We Do in the Shadows wasn’t specifically to be pushed to the sidelines by a fiancé (now husband) who doesn’t see her as anything but an extension of his own ego, then I’d say she’s been treated unfairly. Yes, he treats Guillermo like shit, but they actually spend time together. (Yes, I am going to continue beating this drum, no matter how hard the characters and/or show try to pretend like this ship isn’t the heart of the series and its natural outcome.) By comparison, Nandor just doesn’t seem terribly interested in the rest of his … we’ll call them “household staff.”
This week we say good-bye to the Djinn, who will presumably depart from Staten Island now that he’s done waiting around for Nandor to use up the last of his wishes. (What about the tiny lamp he gave Nandor as a wedding present, you ask? We shall see!) We never got much of an impression of the Djinn’s personality, aside from his being a businesslike sort and a tough negotiator. He does seem reasonably fond of Nandor — unless, of course, that tiny lamp is a Djinn trick with an ironic twist! But it’s the same way you might be friendly with a co-worker: not friendly enough to actually call them up and hang out outside the office.
Although they seem to spend very little time together and don’t even have their coffins in the same room — maybe they’re old-fashioned like that (like, medieval “separate quarters” old-fashioned) — Nandor seems to tolerate Marwa well enough. That being said, the harder she tries to mold herself into his perfect mate, the less he cares about her. (There’s a feminist, or at least an observational, thread here vis-à-vis heterosexual relationships.) Nandor does show one small kindness to Marwa without being asked, spending one of his precious wishes to bring her parents back from the dead for the weekend so they could attend the wedding.
Kindness — however reluctant or driven by ulterior motives as it may be — was the driving force behind this week’s plot. This is true not just for Nandor, but also Nadja being nice to Guillermo so he doesn’t have a stroke and can continue being her accountant on top of his many other responsibilities. (Laszlo also does Sean and Charmaine a solid by ensuring that they’re invited to the wedding, which I’m increasingly certain is because Laszlo recognizes a fellow wife guy in Sean.) But Nadja doesn’t need much of an excuse to take her new BFF the Guide to Jersey to visit Nadja’s vampire creator the Baron (a.k.a. Baron Afanas) and his pet/life partner the Sire (a.k.a. Goëjlrm). I’d say they’re platonic life partners, but you never know with this crowd.
We last left the Baron and the Sire at the end of the season-three episode “The Escape,” which, coincidentally enough, I was just referencing in last week’s recap. (It’s a great one!) Following a series of comedic misadventures at a Queens supermarket, the Baron (who was introduced all the way back at the beginning of season one) and the Sire (introduced in the season-three opener) retired to the leafy suburban enclave of Nutley, N.J. with their hellhound Aspen. There, they’ve been living off the blood of unsuspecting Airbnb guests, whom the Baron and the Sire drain as soon as they arrive for what they think is going to be a peaceful weekend away from the city. Otherwise, they pass the time with English flash cards and reality TV, as good a way to spend your retirement after millennia of spreading terror and pestilence as any.
Despite their doom-laden rumblings, the Baron and the Sire are both quite pleasant company. I’m sure it helps that Nadja and the Guide are reduced to giggling vampire schoolgirls in the presence of the Baron, who they both agree is still quite fuckable despite not having any genitals and looking like a burnt log. It was clear that these five were heading for a montage as soon as the Baron started lamenting about how he isn’t looking his best these days. But the scene, and especially its reaction shots, was still one of the most charming bits in this above-average episode. One can only assume that the orgy that commenced shortly after they all collapsed in a giggling puddle on the ground was cut by standards and practices. This season has been more profane overall, but the show does still air on basic cable.
Love isn’t dead in Staten Island, in other words, even if watching The Wedding Planner together on that rainy Sunday afternoon was just “okay” for Nandor. A wedding episode is always a great excuse to show the entire cast of a show having fun together, and we haven’t seen Nadja and Laszlo in their horny swinging element like they were at Nandor’s wedding in a while, and good for them, I say! Have logistically confusing quickies with the Baron in the coat closet, you two! Now that he’s returned to his original form, he looks like a combination of Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive. And how could anyone, living or dead, resist that?
They seemed to be having a great time during the ceremony, too. (That whole scene gave me flashbacks to ’90s talk-show audiences; dare I say, vampires probably love Jerry Springer.) Not to mention their performance of “Who Will Come First on the Wedding Night?,” a song featuring their catchiest — and filthiest! — chorus since “Horny for Blood.” Sean and Charmaine were also excellent party guests (dare I say the MVPs?), even if the aftermath of their hypnosis will probably cause more problems than it solves. Even Derek, a member of the vampire-hunting group Guillermo infiltrated in season two who was last seen escaping death by daylight in the Council chambers in season three, found love — for the evening, at least — with the Guide.
Everyone seems to realize that this wedding is a sham except for poor Djinn-blind Marwa. Nadja is unabashed in declaring Nandor to be a selfish bastard, both generally and in the bedroom. And she’s probably right; she’s been spitting facts all evening, because she’s a straight shooter, bay-bee. Even Nandor is acting like he’s actually ashamed of himself for once, and —as Guillermo points out before the ceremony — has been looking for a way out of this marriage since he first selected his perfect bride. What will it take to get a 750-year-old vampire to finally admit he’s wrong?
• Naturally, the first thing I did after finishing this episode was Google “what did dodos taste like?” The answer, according to the r/AskHistorians sub-Reddit, is that they tasted … fine. One early account says “their belly and breast were of a pleasant flavor and easily masticated,” while also calling them “soft” and “insipid” eating in the same passage. Perfect for a wraith!
• Yeah, man, wedding planning is stressful. The bulk of it usually falls to the bride, not the groom’s familiar, but again, these are centuries-old aristocrats we’re talking about. They’re used to having servants do everything for them.
• “Rich humans are basically like veal: conceptually repulsive, but so buttery on my tongue.”
• The only thing missing from Guillermo turning to the camera and (rather weakly) denying being a chicken fucker was the dramatic pulling off the glasses.
• “Everyone who is anyone who is also a vampire is going to be there!”
• It was nice of Nandor and Marwa to include the childrenish members of the vampires’ household — I refer, of course, to Baby Colin and the doll reanimated by Nadja’s human soul — in the wedding.
• “I just want to say that I think all marriage is a scam, except for my own marriage to my darling wife Nadja over there.” Good save, Laszlo.
• “Time lays waste to all, and love is reduced to dust. Ruin is inevitable, and all else is prelude.” “He’s got a point.”
• Laszlo’s relative absence this week allowed Doug Jones to snatch the line-reading crown this week with his silly Dracula accent, lamenting the state of his “tattered wessel” and how “once, they dined on the lavish feast that was my veesage.”
• The placement of the Go Flip Yourself commercial (featuring real-life identical twins Randy and Jason Sklar) in the midst of this week’s otherwise unrelated episode seemed random. But perhaps home renovation will factor into the plot once more before season’s end.