In this great country of ours, there is but one day that commercialism reigns supreme. There is but one day that people from all walks of life can convene in a singular setting. There is but one time that differences are tossed aside through the unadulterated fellowship of sport. There is also one day a year that only there is an ineffable phrase, only fit to the likes of kings… or whoever is malleable. Oh, you thought I was speaking of Black Friday? Welcome to the third episode of What We Do In The Shadows (FX), “Brain Scramblies.”
So it seems the gang is getting gussied up for a party next door, which concerns a one Superb-Owl. I mean that’s enough reason to dress in your own finery, right? I mean it’s the best owl ever, right? Little do they know, their surmising was a turkey. Colin (Mark Proksch) knows though the sly yet soporific fox in the vamp house he is isn’t willing to share that information. They all think it’s just a party to exalt a majestic last living dinosaur (birds are though, look it up), but it’s just for a dumb Superbowl party. Hey, they only have dominion over two streets, beggars can’t be choosers.
At the homestead, they are greeted by Shaun (Anthony Atamanuik), an archetype of a tri-stater and basically the warmed-over frozen dinner of what everyone else perceives of these three beautiful states. They are also met with his wife, Charmaine (Marissa Jaret Winokur)- the spitting image of a Sopranos wife, only frozen-over from her hubby’s lethargy in the relationship.
After being invited in, as they can only entire any structure on this one defining rule which they must abide, they must also follow the weird request of leaving their footwear at the entrance, and because of Laszlo (Matt Berry) giving pretty much no fucks to that, I will give him his proppers. Respect.
Upon entrance, we realize that Charmaine is just raring for a fight with her husband. In front of the company, no less. What shit has this group stepped in now and have to try to walk off?
Back at base camp, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) scours the interwebs for virgins. It’s feeding time for his superiors and they just don’t grow on trees. They convene in vines and he needs to complete this task, as he reflects on his Van Helsing lineage and tries to fight it. It’s as if the brah was trying to outrun the tsunami of fate. Cute, but ultimately futile. Breaking the cycle only works if you’re a beast in spin class.
As Colin is enjoying his appetizers at the party right at the kick-off, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) is pulled to the kitchen with the other wives. Shaun likes the company of his guests and wishes they were over more often, but because of them seldom being seen, save for night, he makes the off-handed comment of them being vampires. Question- you want to spook a vampire in this day and age? Intimate that you actually know you exist.
Both Laszlo and Nandor (Kayvan Novak) go off to the only secluded place in the house to plan their next room: the bathroom. The “taking a shit together” gag always gets me. But, I digress. They workshop ideas until dual hypnosis rears as the only option for Shaun.
Back at the house, Guillermo’s hit paydirt. His dart lands on the Mosquito Collectors of the Tri-State Area. If that didn’t set alarms off, then you deserve to be bitten.
At the meeting, our guy is confronted by Claude (Craig Robinson) and Tonya (Abigail Savage) about his intentions. Guillermo in lockstep says all the right things but he realizes the mosquitos are not what they seem. The entomologist title is simply a front for vampire hunters that wanted to gather… He stumbled into an oops. Wait, Fate, Providence, Kismet, call it what you will- the universe doesn’t have time for fucking “oops.”
With their plan freshly cemented, Nandor and Laszlo get Shaun to take them on a tour of the house… or at least someplace secluded. Back in the kitchen, Nadja is perplexed as to why the wives are vibrant and full of life when their husbands want to drink and zone out to a bunch of people professionally turning their skulls into a mixing bowl. This aging process for humans is fucking with her.
Just then, like a goddamned hawk, swoops in Joanie (Sondra James), Shaun’s mother. She hears all the frivolity going on between the women that drink wine and is curious. She notices Nadja right off the bat and knows her powers, but Nadja blames it on her easy out- the octogenarian has dementia. This gives pause to the vampiress, however. She used to be a sight-unseen nanny to Joanie when she was a kid. She remembered that fresh-faced cherub but now she’s basically a sack of skin, as we all will be one day. She can’t grapple with it.
As Laszlo and Nandor are growing increasingly bored with Shaun’s tour of the domicile, he brings out his coup d’ grace- the world’s largest (albeit un amazing) collection of Oceans 12 memorabilia. This joke I found to be not only subversive to boring husbands everywhere but also to collectors. It’s creepy. Get a hobby. Oh, wait.
Both vampires cut to the chase and go ham on his brain with dual hypnosis after they confront him, and giving themselves away. Because Shaun freaks, they have to. Mind you, this isn’t one of those MIB toys. This is deep dive skull-fuckery… And maybe it worked too well…
At the meeting, as Guillermo’s actually feeling slightly, but uncomfortably at home. Claude opens the floor for comments and Derek (Chris Sandiford) proposes they all have sex with each other to stave the vampires off since they wouldn’t be virgins. I thought this was a cute joke, as it ripped out a page from “It”. I like where ya fucking head’s at, Derek- stay gold status. Yeah, he’s shot down.
Back the festivities, Nadja sneaks out and catches up with Joanie. Observing the woman’s wedding photo, Nadja realizes that Joanie’s adorned with a prized family heirloom- a necklace with a jade piece. This isn’t some Ming dynasty shit, oh no. It’s way more precious. This was given to Nadja by her mother before she was mauled to death by a bear. The jade itself holds properties though. It can absorb the screams of people, so she wants it BACK!
Nearly choking Joanie to death for it, playing it off as her being demented to the other guests and ransacking the house to the point of destruction, Nadja is left without the necklace.
Back where the party’s at, Shaun makes the guests a big plate of nachos (aka baked batteries.) Yeah, this guy is beyond gone. Ostensibly, Laszlo and Nandor with their powers combined leveled it up. You see, there are three levels to over-hypnosis. There’s “Weak Brain” and going up “Thoughtless Sallies”. They went the third tier, “Brain Scramblies” which should never be achieved. They eschewed killing him and killing his brain is somehow worse.
Laszlo for some reason really loves his “good time boy” and convinces the other two to spare his life for one night and perhaps make it the best he’s ever had…
At the meeting, Guillermo finds out most have yet to encounter an actual vampire, save for one. Shanice (Veronika Slowikowska) actually was Jenna’s (Beanie Feldstein) roommate and watched her die, come back to life, and vanish. Because of the vampire, she now vows vengeance. Hey, at least Guillermo and Shanice have a mutual friend!
Back at the party, the trio steals Shaun away and attempt to show him a crackin’ night. The dude, whose brain is basically pudding is terrified of all that they consider fun. This includes flight, transfiguration, scaling, and conjuring. The sheer terror of all fun things to him was probably my favorite joke of all. Poor guy. Not really.
Amongst his brethren, Guillermo becomes more aware of the things he and his household have done. The fallout from a vampiric encounter hurts their family and friends, too. He catches himself though before he falls into the lifestyle that is coursing through his veins. This was not exemplified more than him attempting to shoot a crossbow and pegging all three targets in their noggins instinctually. Guy has to leave. He has loyalty… but to a house, that is going to constantly rag on him? At least these people respect and like Guillermo. I believe this will become a throughline in the coming episodes.
As the night winds down, poor Shaun is more fried than ever. Nandor, in his nature just wants to rend his head from his shoulders (first ya gotta do the neck) but in a stroke of the universe, Shaun sees his wife take out the garbage and is smitten. Granted, he doesn’t know who the fuck she is, but it’s just the flint to ignite the well-needed spark in that marriage. With a happy ending like that, how could you kill a guy to feed?
Even if he before your eyes gifts his new girlfriend the necklace you’d kill for.