blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

What We Do in the Shadows (2019) s03e08 – The Wellness Center

It’s Stefani Robinson’s first writer credit this season on “Shadows.” She was credited on some excellent episodes last season. And Wellness Center has Yana Gorskaya directing too. So it’s got the right credits… they just don’t translate into an exemplar episode. It’s a perfectly good, very funny episode about Nandor (Kayvan Novak) joining a cult. It’s simply isn’t inspired.

Novak’s in a vampiric depression, which comes when vampires dwell too much in the face of eternity. There’s good material for Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou to talk about the behavior, which will be the most they do in the episode. Pop in for some outstanding deliveries of funny jokes, and then piss off. Besides Novak, Mark Proksch and Harvey Guillén get the most to do. Proksch because he’s moving into Novak’s room if Novak leaves for the cult and Guillén because, as Novak’s bodyguard, he needs to be prepared to deprogram.

The cult itself—led by Cree Summer—is a not-unfunny concept. Vampires pretending to be human and pretending they’re living in eighties exercise culture. But Novak doesn’t have any interesting adventures with them. Instead, there are clip montages with all the gags and Novak talking in between them. It ought to be a fantastic showcase for Novak, only then it isn’t. Ditto Summer. She’s fine and has good deliveries, but she’s not some magnetic personality.

The episode does end up giving Guillén the most to do in a few episodes; just like everything else, it’s okay. There’s just nothing special about it.

It’s the show’s fault for being so consistently excellent; a perfectly acceptable good episode seems like such a letdown. The most significant subplot is Proksch taking over the bedroom, and we get some further insights into the behaviors of energy vampires. Laugh out loud insights, but because they’re mostly just cheap gags.

Actually, most of the jokes in the episode are just cheap gags, hence the problem. They’re expertly executed but immediately forgettable; not up to “Shadows”’s standard at all.

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