What We Do in the Shadows (2019) s03e01 – The Prisoner

I wasn’t apprehensive about this season of “What We Do in the Shadows,” but there are a couple changes to this season I couldn’t help but think about as this episode kicked off. First, show creator and original movie co-creator Jemaine Clement isn’t involved in a writing capacity this season, which may take a while to show itself to be a problem (or just never be one). Oh, and I think they filmed during Covid lockdown. Because there are barely any house exteriors in the episode, and when there are house exteriors, they’re super shot shots, and they appear to be CGI.

Or maybe director Kyle Newacheck just doesn’t like establishing shots.

The episode picks up almost a month after last season’s cliffhanger; the vampires, Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, and Mark Proksch, have discovered their familiar (well, Novak’s familiar), Harvey Guillén, is actually a vampire hunter. They’ve been trying to decide what to do with him since he saved them from execution at the end of last season; even though he saved them, killing vampires is a no-no, and Demetriou really wants to kill him. Novak doesn’t but isn’t really too forceful about it. Berry’s disinterested. Proksch’s got a related subplot, and, well, I wouldn’t want to spoil.

After the opening with Novak and Demetriou arguing, it quickly becomes a Guillén episode and a slightly absurd one. But he also reminds why he’s such a good protagonist for the show. He’s able to mug his way through some of the thinnest plot logic.

Luckily, the cliffhanger resolve is the B plot, with the Vampiric Council returning—in the form of guest star Kristen Schaal—to deal with the disobedient vampires. It involves a hilarious VHS joke and a cameo from one of the original film stars, though I guess it’s unclear if he’s playing the same character. It also doesn’t really matter; it’s just a nice cameo.

The best performances in the episode are Guillén, Novak, and Demetriou. Proksch’s recurring bit is fine and funny, but it’s just gross-out, albeit intentionally boring gross-out, so it doesn’t require much from him. Berry’s fine when he has material, but he’s seriously got so few lines you could also make me believe he’s green-screened into some of the scenes due to Rona.

But it’s a good opener, with a solid season set up—it’s kind of big story arc stuff, especially for this show—and by the end, I was ready to just trust in “Shadows,” which has always paid off before.

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