Highlights and review of What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 1: The Mall

What We Do in the Shadows - Courtesy FX
What We Do in the Shadows - Courtesy FX /

On the premier episode in the fifth season of the award-winning vampire mockumetary series What We Do in the Shadows, Guillermo has finally become a vampire through likely the most awkward turning ever, while Laszlo suspects him of harboring a secret even as Guillermo tries to keep his new state of undeath under wraps.

We open with Laszlo being suspicious of Guillermo, that he has a secret and so follows him around trying to be stealthy. It isn’t really from lack of trying, because the chubby familiar does call all of them for a house meeting for his big reveal.

But even that effort falls on deaf ears since none of the vamps can even comprehend him being clever enough to have another vampire turn him like we saw his friend Derek did from the finale of season 4 and as teased by FX on this new season.

What We Do in the Shadows season 5
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS — Pictured: Harvey Guillen as Guillermo. CR: Matthias Clamer/FX /

Highlights and review of What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 1: Ch ch ch changes

Meantime Nandor has discovered an 80s pop psychology self-help book in Laszlo’s library and is trying to follow its tenets to the letter, as obsessive as any vampire when he finds something new to play with.

In any case, they all laugh Guillermo down and have no inkling of his defiance. But really it’s Guillermo’s decision to bribe his buddy Derek to finally turn him into a vampire that’s at the core of this episode.

See, the series has had one major running theme that both works as creature mythos and comedic gag: for vampires, nothing every really changes. Aside from major evolutions in body or conflicts versus other vamps, like Colin Robinson “dying” and eventually being resurrected from a strange babyhood, with season five that’s all about to change as the familiar that’s been dangled the gift of vampirism finally defies his master.

Highlights and review of What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 1: Meet Yermo, the new undead

The finale of season four was mostly Guillermo realizing that life in the vampires’ house, and specifically under his master Nandor, was never really going to change. So he decided to take all the money he had embezzled from the vampire club and bribed his buddy Derek to turn him into a vampire.

The title of the episode is one of those clever comedic feints that this series does so well. Sure, there’s plenty of comedy in putting out of touch undead dolts in a modern setting of unmitigated commercialism and having them react like the anachronistic idiots that they are. But prior to that, they were really just preoccupied with throwing Guillermo a birthday pity party.

It’s not even his birthday, but the vamps all thought they were doing the poor human a favor since mortal, you know, live so short.

In any case, Guillermo’s turning is like a cross between an SNL sketch and an Evil Dead scene. Derek, unsure what to do, jumps on a hesitant Guillermo and punctures an artery. A hydrant’s pressure worth of arterial blood sprays out everywhere from Guillermo’s neck during the transformation scene.

Apparently Derek, the young black neophyte vamp who works as a clerk in a convenience store, isn’t really the kind of creature you go to if you wanted all the romance of a classic undead coming of age. When Guillermo says he also needs to drink from Derek, the guy passes out since he’s squeamish about seeing his own blood.

Highlights and review of What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 1: Better eyesight through vampirism

It’s all very awkward virgins fumbling at each other in vibe. This leaves Guillermo to find a way to sip out what he needs. But then it all works and he turns, the luminous vampire eyes but as of yet sans vampiric powers.

When the episode opens it’s been 16 days without any significant change. The familiar can still walk under the sun, eat human food, and he’s still a chubby guy. He tells the camera crew that he doesn’t “feel any sexier.”

The only good news is that his eyesight has greatly improved. Which is why he went to the optometrist and got a pair of vanity frames for his now better than 20/20 vision. Oh, he also craves rare meat now. Which I guess is a good sign he’s becoming a legit bloodsucker, albeit very very slowly.

Later we find out that there’s no more embarrassing act than for a familiar to go behind his master’s back to get transformed. It’s such an abuse of the unequal familiar-master trust!

See, if Nandor ever found out Guillermo had violated their relationship that way, then Nandor would be honor bound to kill him and then kill his own damn self out of social shame.

What We Do in the Shadows season 5
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS — Pictured: Kayvan Novak as Nandor. CR: Matthias Clamer/FX /

Highlights and review of What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 1: Back to the familiar closet

Which is why Guillermo has gone through great lengths to keep his new state of undeath a secret. He’s got a new “coffin,” which is actually just a huge luxury trunk Nandor bought him for his fake birthday.

So he literally pushes himself back inside the casket closet and keeps mum that he’s now just like his housemates. I do wonder if Nandor ever found out how that fight would fare?

I mean it’s kind of comedic just imagining that the hoary old Carpathian would ever actually beat the Van Helsing-blooded Guillermo! That’s going to be a very lopsided battle.

Some other significant events in the episode include Colin becoming a waiter at a restaurant and feeding on the guests as he bores them about the day’s specials. Then there’s Nadja and her regrets at breaking the legs of her spirit doll when she went on a drunken blood binge. And finally Laszlo trying to sleuth on Guillermo and finding nothing cause he’s likely the most outdated detective in the world.

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You can stream season 5 of What We Do in the Shadows on Disney+.