What We Do in the Shadows (Season 5 x 04) 2023

Episode 4 of What We Do in the Shadows’ 5th season takes a step back from the main story thread it has been weaving since the finale of last season (and If im being honest the entirety of one characters existence in the vampire house) and instead follows up on the b-plot of last weeks Pride Parade episode. The episode, titled The Campaign written by David A. Makin for a majority of its sitcom lengthy runtime does more with less compared to other weeks, picking up right where the least effective subplot ends, giving it sharper fangs and a more pronounced bite mark.

That’s all the vampire puns I’m making for this review.

The Campaign starts with everyone’s favorite energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) taking over for neighbor Sean (Anthony Atamanuik) Comptroller campaign. The perfect setting for an energy vampire to drain multiple humans of energy is at a debate. That’s the only reason Colin stepped in for Sean, citing his disinterest in running and holding local office. All eyes and ears are on Colin, and he monotonously and gleefully spends his time droning on about his made up domestic life with emotional vampire Evie Russell (Vanessa Bayer) and their two kids – one definitely named Christopher.

Elsewhere, Nandor (Kayvan Novak) decides to make Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) jealous once more by gaining new friends. But since Guillermo is avoiding Nandor as to not give away his new abilities, Guillermo is absent for majority of Nandor’s plot. The less of a familiar Guillermo is to Nandor, maybe the less punishment will be dished out from Nandor? A bit of a recycled plot but Nandor decides to join a gym (again) to meet new people. In his Easter Sunday workout, Nandor meets Alexander (Robert Smigel). And finally, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) reluctantly introduces Laszlo (Matt Berry) to her new Antipaxos family – mostly out of embarrassment that Laszlo is considered an outsider.

Leave it to Laszlo to assume he knows everything about a specific group through arrogance and his ego, only to be proven wrong yet again. But it’s Laszlo’s ego that puts him in the funniest situations – Jackie Daytona human bartender for example. Throughout the episode, Laszlo does more damage to the group of locals as he tries to impress them through song, the way he dresses and finally insults. Yet the best representation of Laszlo is assuming the matriarch of the family is a cat during the introductions. It’s like Laszlo has learned nothing being married to Nadja for centuries. Self-consumption will do that to a vampire.

Undoubtedly, the height of the episode, aside from the YouTube recap of the debate that  pauses at the perfect times to hear parts of his speech happens after the debate which sees Evie and Colin being vampire napped and brought to the energy vampire council. This sequence alone of constant distractions, monotone voices, and a PowerPoint presentation of 500+ slides has enough energy draining power to break down the great Colin Robinson and i’m sure a viewer or two. Regardless of its power, the scene is engaging and features several familiar faces residing on the council including Hannibal Burress and Martha Kelly.

Identifying a regular vampire by their signature fangs and energy and now emotional vampires by their glowing eyes still leaves the impression since Colin rarely shows that ability off. he lets his dull monotone speech full of uninteresting facts do the draining.

What keeps What We Do in the Shadows a show to keep coming back to week over week are the performances from the main cast. Mark Proksch, though technically in support majority of the time is given the keys to this week’s episode – stepping out of the shadows so to speak of his co-stars spotlight and proves how deeply comedic this ensemble truly is. But for this week in particular, the debate scene is where he shines brightest with the delivery and cadence of his speech and impromptu addition of Evie further draining these mere mortals of any emotion they have left.

To avoid spoiling too many of the laugh out loud moments that this series continuously finds ways to keep the show fresh and inventive years after it has premiered, I’ll keep it brief. There is nothing worse than having a funny moment spoiled and anticipated only for it to not have the impact the writer and performers expect. Despite the derivative storyline or 2 that may pop up from time to time (It is still a sitcom, the last remaining of a dying breed), director Yana Gorskaya and her team show no signs of any dulling. I can forgive the derivative when it comes to this show because the writing team unlocks new levels of out of touch situational humor used to create these scenarios. That said, it is cause for some concern that the well may be drying up a bit. It’s only episode 4 – there is plenty of time to course correct and find the right destination.

And just like that, I went and used another vampire pun when I said I was done at the beginning of this review. Sometimes, they’re too good not to be used, the vampires would all agree.

Created By: Jemaine Clement

Episodes Directed By: Yana Gorskaya

Music By: Mark Mothersbaugh

Cinematography: David A. Makin

Starring: Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch, Kristen Schaal

Where to Watch: Hulu

Release Date: July 28, 2023

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Based On: What We Do in the Shadows by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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