What We Do in the Shadows (2019) s03e04 – The Casino

One of the things about “What We Do in the Shadows,” back in the first season, was the high number of standout episodes. Thanks to the lack of overarching narrative, week after week, the show could deliver these great done-in-ones. This episode is the first (and hopefully not only) great done-in-one for Season Three. It’s the first episode credited to Sarah Naftalis, whose been in the room since Season Two; Yana Gorskaya directs; she’s done a bunch of great episodes.

If the title weren’t a giveaway, the episode very quickly sets it up. The vampires are going with their human neighbors to Atlantic City. There are a few vampire details—the vampires have to bring their dirt with them from their coffins; otherwise, they won’t be able to sleep and will lose their magic and become irritable—and a quick moment with Kristen Schaal (who doesn’t need to be in it but it’s like she’s a regular, yay), then it’s off to AC. In a party bus. With a bunch of drunk humans.

The neighbors, Anthony Atamanuik and Marissa Jaret Winokur are renewing their vows. They were on a standout episode from last season, where they got a lot more to do. I’d forgotten Atamanuik being a big fan of the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy, which turns out to be a plot point and part of the third act gag. It’s excellent stuff and possibly even funnier not remembering the mega-fanning has already been introduced. It’s such a strange franchise to obsess about. The episode will introduce another one when Kayvan Novak becomes obsessed with “The Big Bang Theory” thanks to a slot machine.

“The Big Bang Theory” detail jokes themselves are, of course, limited because how funny could you really make them, but it figures into the plot twice in unexpected ways, and they’re both doozies. Everything in the episode, except maybe the surprise resolve in the finish, Harvey Guillén’s side adventure (there’s not enough room for all four vampires and Guillén), and the truncated vampires bonding with Guillén material, everything’s a doozy. And of those three lesser bits, only Guillén’s side adventure isn’t really funny. Thanks to Guillén’s performance, the absurdity of the adventure, and the direction, it’s amusing and cute, but it’s not a comedy gag. The surprise resolve is just over in a few seconds because of narrative efficiency, and the truncated bonding seems to be promising something more going forward. I mean, they better get back to Matt Berry interrogating Guillén about his parents’ sex life. Sex is the only thing Berry ever wants to talk about, and they’re trying to include Guillén more since he’s now officially their bodyguard.

The rest of the jokes are all hilarious. Everyone gets a bit of an arc, with Natasia Demetriou’s night out with Winokur and the girls getting interrupted when she sees old friends. Novak and Mark Proksch have an arc together, while Berry’s got one with Atamanuik. It’s all spectacularly paced, phenomenal comedy. Great work from the cast, great work from the crew. The script’s truly superb.

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