And it’s another exemplar “Shadows.” Season three’s rise continues, making all my concerns seem very, very silly. Trust in “Shadows.”
This episode’s mostly Natasia Demetriou. Whether as Nadja or the doll version of Nadja, who decides she’s sick of being ignored and runs away. So you’ve got this adorable, foul-mouthed little goth doll running around the streets and so on. It’s a wonderful kind of hilarious. Like, this episode’s laughs all feel good on the Demetriou arc. It’s been a while since Demetriou’s really been able to kick ass on the show. But this episode fulfills—it’s literally twice the Demetriou, interacting with one another and the other characters. It’s wonderful.
Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillén go with Demetriou, the vampire, to find Demetriou the doll. Part of the running away has to do with Demetriou and Novak being busy with the Vampiric Council. The latest drama over their partnership opens the episode, but it quickly becomes giant, magical slapstick. Guillén’s the utility man this episode—he starts with the documentarians pairing him with the doll for an interview, which pisses Guillén off for now being second-string—and he starts the doll hunt arc, then teams up with Matt Berry for a bit. Plus, there’s still the Guide (Kristen Schaal) having a crush on Guillén, which is a ship just for the comic value.
Berry’s paired chiefly with Mark Proksch as they go on a fateful trip by boat. Some amazing fake historical paintings of Berry on ships throughout history start the plot, which goes somewhere entirely different. The eventual plotline does inform some character development for Proksch, which the show then uses for a one-time-only great final punchline. It’s incredible stuff.
Shana Gohd gets the writing credit, Yana Gorskaya directs. It’s possibly Gorskaya’s best-directed episode, which is saying a lot, but it gets excellent early and just improves. Even with Proksch’s subplot, which involves guest star Catherine Cohen and a Bee Gees song, every possible plot perturbation is a success.
And then Berry gets a couple-minute subplot of his own—Guillén’s along—before the show gets back to the episode in progress. It’s all inspired; every setup delivers.
This show’s so reassuringly good, a sterling example of a show knowing what’s good about itself and running with it. Not a victory lap, because it’s still achieving, maybe… justifiably confident.