(Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers for “What We Do in the Shadows” SEason 5, Episode 10, “Exit Interview.”)
After the Season 5 finale, “What We Do in the Shadows” has changed forever.
Or… will it stay exactly the same? Throughout the series, the FX comedy’s writers have proved how adept they are at maintaining equilibrium without sacrificing sitcom shenanigans and character development. Episode 510, “Exit Interview,” drives this home spectacularly, but realigns the show’s central mission moving forward.
For as long as there has been “What We Do in the Shadows” — literally since Episode 101 — Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén) has wanted to be a vampire. Even when he found out he had Van Helsing blood, when he killed other vampires to save his friends, he remained loyal to Nandor (Kayvan Novak) through 13 years of service with exactly one goal at the end of it.
Just as Season 5 misdirected the question of why Guillermo wasn’t a full vampire with Laszlo’s (Matt Berry) experiments, it skillfully led viewers away from the question that was more important than what Nandor would do when he found out someone else turned Guillermo: What would Guillermo actually do as a vampire? Did he actually want to be one, or did he just want it because he always has? As “What We Do in the Shadows” has so expertly illustrated, being a vampire isn’t just turning into a bat or avoiding the sun or hunting humans and drinking their blood; it’s all of that combined, plus a heavy dose of narcissism, some werewolf battles, lots of orgies — and it’s the friends you make along the way.
And though they’ll deny it with as much commitment as they ignore The Guide (Kristen Schaal), the Staten Island vampires Guillermo has come to know do in fact think of him as a friend. They don’t have to say it, but it’s there in Laszlo’s apology, Nadja’s (Natasha Demetriou) advice, Colin’s parting gift. It’s in The Guide bringing Guillermo’s experimental “children” to his motel room to say goodbye, and in all of them keeping Guillermo’s secret, rooting for his survival, and wanting to see him one last time before his (expected) death.
“Exit Interview” crosses a turning point with all this and more. After their altercation and conversation, Guillermo and Nandor have never been closer, can never go back to the master and familiar relationship of the past. Nandor is the one who does proudly claim Guillermo as a friend (not to the others, but to Patton Oswalt while still trying to hunt Guillermo down), who suspects that ol’ Gizmo isn’t suited to the vampire lifestyle — something Nandor may have known for far longer than anyone realizes. Episodes 9 and 10 show that Nandor is surprisingly clever when it comes to Guillermo, immediately identifying the bodily response of his Van Helsing lineage and then proposing he drink human blood in order to transform fully. Nandor’s years of not turning Guillermo were his own way of wrestling with these questions without making a rash decision that they could both regret.
So what happens next? No one died as a result of Guillermo’s impulsive decision to be turned, not even Derek (Chris Sandiford). He can’t live in the mansion as a vampire, and he no longer needs to serve as familiar in the hopes of being turned. But everyone in that house knows that Guillermo is one of them, if not in a literal sense; a friend, a confidante, a member of the group — someone who has killed for them and came very close to dying for them.
“Nothing ever changes around here,” Guillermo grumbled at the end of Season 4 — but thanks to him, a whole lot has changed, at least in his relationship with the vampires and with vampirism itself.
At the very least, they might start paying him.
“What We Do in the Shadows” is now streaming via FX on Hulu.