What We Do in the Shadows (Season 5 x 05) 2023

Week after week the vampires that take up residence in the Staten Island home in What We Do in the Shadows take one little mishap and turn their world into an unhinged and untethered nightmare. And yet, week after week, a solution is found, the heat dies down, and everything goes back to normal (as normal as things can be living as a vampire in secrecy in a mundane world). For the series as a whole, now deep into its 5th season, this description sounds pretty familiar – we wouldn’t expect anything less from these strange, unpredictable and beloved characters. At least they’re consistent, right?

Titled Local News, episode 5 fits the above description like a glove, firmly encapsulating our time with these vampires and once the mishap is shared to the greater household, the only reaction is for all hell to break loose. Opening on the local news, a water main burst causing massive flooding in which the reporter interviews Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) or for the sake of the viewers Nandor DeLaurentis. Nandor precedes to let slip that he witnessed a flood worse than this one in Staten Island centuries ago in 1892 before correcting himself to say 1992.

Leave it to Nandor to slip up immediately multiple times and in fact expose vampires and their secrecy to local television viewers of the greater Staten Island area. As you can imagine, the panic sets in, the vampires once again overreact creating a hysteria within the walls of the gothic home. Energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) starts a rampage, setting up countless booby traps for potential mobs, Laszlo (Matt Berry) suggests kidnapping the reporters to brainwash her and of course Nandor supports the idea and finally Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) decides that running and starting over is the best course of action in which The Guide (Kristen Schaal) follows suit.

But what about Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) during this crisis of exposure? Guillermo is on his way to his mother’s home to break the news that he won’t be coming around anymore more. Thanks to the documentary crew, a flashback is shown that Guillermo’s family are descendants of legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing and obviously, Guillermo isn’t going to kill himself for becoming a vampire. It’s been Guillermo’s ambition to become one way before finding out about his ancestor. And though he’s isolated from his housemates for the entirety of the episode, Guillermo still bears witness to the hijinks that play out on the news.

Guillermo’s isolation also signals a change for the household. Since becoming a vampire, Guillermo’s absence has been felt each week. He’s avoiding Nandor at all costs, probably to lessen the blow when the secret comes out but still Nandor has walked in on Guillermo checking for fangs and hasn’t noticed or commented on the fact. Maybe Nandor does know more than he lets on which will lead to a major confrontation. If that were the case and the eventual conclusion for the 5th season, Guillermo’s fighting ability shouldn’t be discounted (remember the fight club and the time when Guillermo slaughters majority of the vampiric council at the end of season 2).

Written by Sarah Naftalis, Local News departs from all the various plot lines and instead focuses on crisis the vampires are facing. All have their own method for a potential discovery situation and the one who is most in control of the house, is not there, witnessing the probable demise of his master on live television. I would suggest Guillermo has the tougher battle to wage – he has act like a human in front of 10 descendants of Van Helsing.

Even further, in one of the more tense moments Local News provides, Guillermo is given a cross necklace to wear from his mother which as one of the vampire tropes lays out, the crucifix with contact to the skin immediately burns Guillermo. Harvey Guillén’s face says it all – in a moment of desperation, his acting stands out among the chaotic energy his vampire housemates jump toward at the first sign of real trouble of their secrecy being exposed. This moment is but one shining example in the sea of perfectly timed performances.

Once again, Harvey Guillén brings out the vulnerability of his character when faced with his astronomical decision. As a mortal, the possibility never occurred so to see the difficult choice being made affects Guillermo on a deep level the other characters cannot relate to.

Meanwhile, the vampires (apart from Nandor) fail to have everything under control, or even the appearance of it, at least each member will say what happened went according to their own plan. And like always the plans are spectacular and certifiably insane and Director Yana Gorskaya puts us right in the frenzy of Nandor getting various sized bags for a human body, Colin Robinson setting deadly traps and Nadja changing her hair color and name to Sally Rhubarb. At least Nadja pays attention to the finer details including a 3 day supply of blood and coloring her dolls hair the same shade of blonde.  

Yet with all the chaos happening on screen and right outside the home, the endgame that the vampires always turn to when in a spot of trouble remains – hypnotizing. The entire episode builds up to its final moments that stick the landing for the time being – the vampires taking over the news station and delivering the remaining segments including sports from Laszlo and weather from Colin Robinson. I cannot speak for everyone but an episode where the vampires deliver the news for the entirety is exactly the type of humor the shows gimmick calls for. Especially Colin Robinson with his beige colored clothes that makes him blend into the interactive weather map.

Overall, Local News doesn’t disappoint but the episode isn’t a home run either. Changes in the household dynamic are on the horizon with seismic discoveries. The question is how Nandor will take the news and what will he do about it because deep down he cares for Guillermo. Humans can only be patient for so long. With half the season left to go, it’s difficult to say if the landing will be stuck but at least the laughs will keep us all as young as the eternal vampires.

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: August 4, 2023

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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