In addition to being the most Matt Berry episode of “Shadows” ever, this episode also has the best Mark Hamill performance since… 1983? 1980? He’s only in the episode maybe five minutes so it’s hard to compare with the Original Trilogy or Big Red One.
Hamill’s another vampire, one who Berry stiffed for rent on a beach house in San Diego in the late 1800s; Berry had been trying to sell his soul to the Devil to get better at the guitar, but went to the wrong place. Also there was a floater in the toilet, so Berry definitely wasn’t paying. It’s a hilarious argument, leading to a duel, with everyone in the cast getting something to do.
But then Berry runs for it and it becomes his episode. He’s not going to duel, he’s not going to pay the rent, so instead he’s going to pretend to be a human named “Jackie Daytona” and run a bar in rural Pennsylvania. Berry’s beloved by all—well, not the people he’s killed and drained of blood, but everyone else, particularly bar waitress Madeleine Martin. And then the entire town after Berry starts supporting the high school girls’ volley ball team in their quest for the state championship.
There’s a little bit back at the house with everyone dealing with Berry being gone, but mostly it’s an excuse for a great Mark Proksch scene. Natasia Demetriou’s distraught, obviously, and Proksch takes advantage for some great feeding. Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillén are background the whole episode, with the occasional knowing look from Guillén and a one-liner from Novak. It’s like the show realized Berry can’t really go all out with the main cast; “Shadows” has gradually become Demetriou’s show, with Berry acting as her main support but support. Giving him a side adventure really works out.
Two crises arise in idyllic Pennsylvania however—the town can’t afford to send the volley ball team to state and Hamill has tracked Berry to the area. He doesn’t recognize Berry because of the foolproof human disguise, but Hamill knows he’s close. Great stuff with Hamill and Berry, just great.
The end seems like it might not connect, but then does—Stefani Robinson’s script is outstanding. Nice direction from Yana Gorskaya too.
Hopefully Hamill will be back.
Or just get his own show with the character. They leave him with an excellent setup.
But it’s finally a Berry showcase. Since the first episode, he’s been reining it in so as not to walk off with the show. It’s show much fun to see him not have to worry about it and just let loose. Jackie Daytona indeed.