Correspondence has taken on various forms through the ages. In ancient times, cuneiform was the preferred means by which rulers could say “Sup?” to each other. This would eventually give way to papyrus scrolls and so on and so forth as the affairs of state weren’t the only subjects that were lobbed about by couriers, but rather a myriad of exchanges, from history to curses. Cut to Denver 1935, whence the local Postal Service was flooded with letters claiming to be from a “Prosperity Club” and thus the first chain letter was born. As we learn in the fourth installment of the season of What We Do In The Shadows (FX) entitled “The Curse,” the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Opening up on Nandor (Kayvan Novak) rifling through a chest of old missives, we catch a glimpse into his past lives. A letter from his mother and father when he was training with the Al Quolanudarian forces asking if the rocks he used as pillows and a blanket were too hard and an unopened letter of resignation from a leader of the opposing army he slaughtered are but a few flashes of the bloodthirsty warrior he once was. It is, however, an expired coupon for a free scoop of ice cream from Baskin Robbins that prompts him to wonder what else he’s been missing out on.
Nandor summons Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) to hook up a laptop to the internet in order to peruse what’s electronic mail he’s been remiss in checking. Clearly out of touch, Nandor fumbles with the computer, but Guillermo has little time to hold his master’s hand. He’s got a vampire hunter club to infiltrate!… And a Tide Pens to Go run.
At the club, the crew is fucking pumped. Claude (Craig Robinson) briefs them all on what’s about to go down and they could all feel it in their bones. They are going on their maiden vampire kill fest and suddenly, Guillermo isn’t feeling as confident in his ability to take the group down from the inside. This is especially evident when he finds out what house Shanice (Veronika Slowikowska) earmarked for their hunting grounds- a place in Staten Island that may have questionable topiary. Sound familiar? Though Guillermo tries to sway them from the house, their heads and hearts are too intent on stabbing other heads and hearts, so they pack into the Derek’s (Chris Sandiford) mom’s catering van and set sail… for a limited time. The van needs to be back by morning.
After forgetting but then remembering his email password (we’ve all been there, brother), Nandor realizes he’s missed the boat on some fun stuff, including a special screening of The Blindside. However, the one digital announcement that has Nandor “shook” is a simple chain letter, immediately cursing the reader but offering unforeseen riches if the letter is met with 10 recipients by sundown of the next day. Failure to do so would result in a visit by Bloody Mary. Mind you the letter is “NOT A JOKE!” I mean, it states that multiple times, so it must be real, right?
Finding this hoax to be a bonafide hex, the assistance of Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Laszlo (Matt Berry) is sought to make sense of it. Nadja is no stranger to curses, as she relays a story about a man who once didn’t pay a fair price at the market and summarily has his plums shrunken down to the size of raisins if ya pick up what I’m putting down. Nadja’s doll likeness also makes a little cameo and she’s so much welcomed as an addition to the household.
This leaves the trio no choice but to rustle up as many email addresses as possible to relay the curse. One of these unlucky souls is Timothy, a Circuit City employee kind enough to leave his business card with his contact information on it, email included. The three delight in being only 10% of the way in and I couldn’t be happier for them. For having lived countless lives and experiencing so many things, these guys possess this extremely adorable incipience.
En route to their destination, Guillermo isn’t feeling so hot. Maybe it’s the insanely loud nu-metal the group is vibing on. Maybe it’s the fact they sit among boxed shrimps. Maybe it’s because they’re about to fucking kill all of his friends! Either way, Guillermo does the only thing he can and tries to warn the house.
In a very Frasier-esque moment, the crew is at first spooked by the phone ringing and in searching it out listen to Guillermo’s distorted, muffled voice message telling them to get out of the house and that it “wasn’t a joke.” Without any context, that was all the three needed to freak the shit out. They need those email addy’s and they need them, like, yesterday. This prompts Nadja to attempt to volley the curse back to “firstname.lastname@example.org” to which they get a Mailer-Daemon which has the three spooked. I have to say, the only thing scarier than having to witness that if I were in their capes is how bloody genius that joke was.
Desperate times, so they enlist a desperate measure in the form of Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch). He gives them his email address (email@example.com) and they unwittingly give him their scrumptious energy, so curried with nerves, it probably has some kick to it.
At their target house, Guillermo is able to breathe a sigh of relief. This isn’t the residence of his undead friends. It is, however, a vampire breeding ground, so everyone shakes their limbs to get ready for business. With crosses up and out, they proceed into the house.
Observing the pictures on the wall, Guillermo believes it’s simply a human family. Unconvinced or just plain ignoring Guillermo’s protestations, the group splits up, with Guillermo going after Shanice and Tonya (Abigail Savage) going at it alone on the top floor. As Guillermo has Shanice’s six, he still tries to convince Shanice to just go and that they are simply kids in their beds. I mean, what vampires sleep in twin beds? I have an answer for that. Twin kid vampires, duh!
Whodini once sang that the freaks come out at night. Well, this house isn’t any less true. Outside of the Shining twins and a disco vampire, the large house is chockablock with nightwalkers. Even Leeroy Jenkins would’ve said, “You should’ve probably rethought this.” As a Van Helsing by bloodline, Guillermo is swift at making an exit… leaving his friends to be fucked up. Alls well that ends well, right? I mean, he got what he wanted- the group to be eradicated. Well, he wanted them disbanded, so the better of his natures kicks in and blazing back into the house to save these goddamn amateurs.
This includes a mastery around stakes, warding off with confidence, and simply going H.A.M. Instincts are instincts, and he knows how to use them, especially when it comes to saving Shanice. Using his gut instinct, he pushes her out of a window and then makes a bad assed exit himself, chucking two chonky middle ones in the air as one last sayonara. It’s just too bad Derek’s gone or been turned. Maybe as one of the converted, he’ll convince his group to be more tolerable towards vampires. At least his mom will get her catering van back on time!
As the group finally completes their task of 10 emails sent (including maybe Sir Bob Geldof), the doorbell rings. Now we all know it can only be one person, but they don’t, so with some trepidation, they approach the door until Guillermo just opens it, fresh from the hunt. The group gives so little a shit to his arrival, they mistake him being drenched in the blood of their brethren to tie-dye.
Guillermo produces the Tide Pens and because they were on sale, Nandor had some extra cash left over. The trio takes this as the aforementioned “Unforeseen Riches” and embrace as the curse has been lifted. Oh, guys, never change… unless it’s into a bat.
Nandor lays down for the day’s slumber but not before taking an opportunity to censure his familiar for giving him a machine that incited a curse upon the house. Classic Nandor. Already tired and defeated, he takes it. Technically, Guillermo knows he has a feared power but doesn’t want to use it against his own house. Classic Guillermo. Nandor implores Guillermo to stay with him until he falls asleep because he’s afraid of being killed. The warrior is showing signs of fear and Guillermo obliges. Classic them.
The episode was hilarious and actually raises a lot more questions than answers. Is the house, now harboring a vampire hunter marked in the vampire community, unbeknownst to them? What will be the takeaway from the group’s encounter at their next meeting and will those survived question Guillermo on his prowess during the fight? Will they hold him as their leader? Will the house stand behind, if they find out, what an antecedent Guillermo was or distance themselves from basically their only friend?
Keep an eye out in your emails to find out.