What We Do In The Shadows Recap: Pine Barrens

“.. and the truth will set you free.”

– John 8:32

“It’s better out than in.”

– My mother explaining flatulence

Welcome to the seventh episode of What We Do In The Shadows (FX) titled “Pine Barrens”.

Rolling southbound on the West Shore Expressway, Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Baby Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) are headed towards the famed Pine Barrens.

Sean (Anthony Atamanuik) is taking them out for a weekend in the woodlands to hunt.

Vampires don’t hunt (save for humans), so, at the very least, it’ll give both Nandor and Laszlo a chance to spend some quality time with each other. Oh, that’s right- Lazzie’s got his sights set on Seanie, leaving Nandor standing there with his proverbial dick in his hand.

Forget about Baby Colin Robinson paying much attention to the soon-to-be overlooked conqueror, as the only thing he’s paying he’s doing is that of Robux to a newly released Roblox campaign.

Meanwhile, at the Vampire Residence, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and the Doll containing the spirit of her deceased human side enjoy a relaxing soak Elizabeth Bathory would simply salivate at. That’s right, it’s a girls’ weekend at home… just the two of them…

…Or so they’re led to believe. As it turns out, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) is having like-minded thoughts, taking the opportunity to spruce up the ‘vacant’ domicile to host dinner for his family in a night’s time. This includes a few ramshackle tweaks, such as plastering a My So-Called Life poster over the house portrait… unbeknownst to Nadja floating about, thanking her lucky stars the atmosphere of swingin’ dick energy has been temporarily relocated to the stomping grounds of New Jersey’s Ol’ Scratch.

This is immediately exemplified even before the brews are cracked, with Laszlo brazenly refusing to help Nandor with unloading the car, much less opening the door.

Once all are settled in, Laszlo has taken a keen interest in Sean’s gun collection at attention on the wall. After arguing about how Sean’s grandfather acquired the mini-armory, both Laszlo and Nandor learn that acquiesence to defeat was never a viable way to kick off the weekend, even after a swift search from Siri arbitrates only half of Laszlo’s misconstruing.

If Nadja thinks their eight-decades-long bickering may finally be quashed, she may want to remember that “boys will be boys.”

The flames of a fruitless 48 are further stoked when Baby Colin, out in the crisp midnight air as Laszlo and Nandor attempt to ‘hunt’ humans requests to be taken back to the cabin to charge his iPad. Overall, a wasted night.

The next day, searching for possible vantage points, Baby Colin confides in Sean he fears Laz doesn’t exactly have as big a soft spot for him as he lets on, exemplified by how concerted an effort he is making on Baby Colin NOT becoming like the bore that bore him. Sean seems to take a mild interest in the boy, imploring him to share more of his likes. However, after confessing to an affinity for smashing holes in walls, maybe taking an apprehensive worry is smarter.

At the homestead, as Ladies’ Night takes flight with The Guide (Kristen Schaal) and Marwa (Parisa Fakhri) with drunken shenanigans, Guillermo’s moment of truth arrives.

As his family floods into the house, he explains to his Aunt Valeria (Socorro Santiago) and Cousin Miguel (Frankie Quinones) the presence of cameras, dressing the occasion up as a filmed video montage in occasion for his Abuelita Maite’s (Emma McCoslin) birthday.

His kinfolk marveling at the impressive dining accommodations only saves Guillermo’s hide but so much as Miguel’s latent confusion about his cousin’s means of work throws a wrench in the ruse. This has Guillermo compounding lies, nearly having his cover blown.

To be fair, the journey from Point A (Panera employee) to Z (Staten Island lineman) can take only so many stops.

With Guillermo growing a little hot under the collar, the heat’s only turning up for the girls with Nadja suggesting they make it a Blockbuster Night with Momma Mia! Who could blame her? It reminds her of the fond memories she left behind in Antipaxos and it’s just flat out a choice fucking flick!

Back at the cabin, as Sean regales the guys with a Jersey Devil tale, Baby Colin calls bullshit. Elegantly mapping out the details of the cryptozoological terror (right down to the “button cock” atop two low-hanging balls), Sean believes he’s got Baby Colin by the tail.

Both Laszlo and Nandor write the whole ordeal off, insisting the Jersey Devil was a myth perpetuated by vampires to throw people off the scent of their nightly feedings in the woods.

Who’s also thrown off is poor Nandor, as Laszlo names Sean as his best friend straight to the lens. Dejected, Nandor doesn’t speak up. Nandor before cited silence as a hunter’s best weapon, but what happens when said weapon backfires?

After carrying a drunk Sean off to bed, Nandor chides Laszlo for toying with one a pistol, as a child is present but is immediately handed his walking papers. Lazzo lays in the burn deriding him as less than an authority on weapons, not having seen warfare in centuries. Instead of proving his honorific, Nandor still chooses to remain mum.

As a very happy Nadja decamps to get more boozy blood, she happens in on Guillermo’s dinner party and there’s no CTRL-Z’ing the moment.

Summarily introducing her as the maid, her being his significant other is an old lie that invariably had to be assimilated into the mix. Trying to compare their living situation to that of Daphne and Niles from Frasier wasn’t a citation that sought to wipe any doubt either.

Nadja’s invited to join the family with Silvia (Myrna Cabello) chastising his brutish exclusion of her.

They say that with age comes wisdom and Grandma Waite ain’t no slouch, pulling Guillermo aside to inform him of Nadja’s true nature: a vampire. I mean, it’s right there in black and white. With the Van Helsing DNA coursing through his veins, ‘twould be foolhardy to ignore the lineage itself, sitting right in the next room, with a fire building in their hearts and goosebumps forming on their arms.

With the night still, Nandor finally opens up, querying Laszlo about the comment made before about not seeing him as authoritative. Laszlo calmly doubles down, calling the Relentless a “former” soldier rather than a “real” one.

Nandor’s come loaded for bear though, citing Laszlo being kicked out of the Eton College Rifle Corps, which he already sees as hardly anything militant. This tidbit, spoken in confidence, only electrifies the air. Voices are raised and 80 years of grievances are categorically aired before Laszlo points and cocks the pistol in Nandor’s direction.

His only weapon to counter is a paper decreeing that he was to have the first pick of the quarters when they moved into the house, proving to Laszlo that he’s a habitual line-stepper.

Laszlo extracting an amendment to that rule calling for a quorum of merely 2/3rd’s present to supersede the rule seems to be the last straw… or maybe that was the accidental going off of the pointed six-shooter at Nandor.

With lightning reflexes, catching a bullet probably wasn’t on Nandor’s checklist for the weekend, but neither was catching a few more where that come from before actually catching one through the hand.

Neither was a search party for Baby Colin, so the night’s already off to a chill start! Way to go, fellas!

Oppositely, Nadja’s having a ball with Guillermo’s family, much to her surprise. The thing about dreams though is you inevitably have to wake up. This sobering reality becomes apparent as everybody around the table is growing spicy as Nadja attempts to keep her cool.

Grandma Waite finally decides playtime is over, tearing off a chair leg and making her true nature known to the rest as Nadja escapes posthaste. This may be the first time I’ve ever seen people leave the table for their supper.

With hearts aflame, the de la Cruz crew is on the hunt, having Nadja climbing and scurrying for safety as wood is hurled at her.

The Guide, the Doll, and Marwa continue enjoying the musical, unaware an actual action piece is being filmed elsewhere.

Guillermo luckily puts the skids on what would’ve been Nadja’s final act with a shocking confession: he’s fully aware of what she is and even lives with more of her kind, wanting to eventually be one of the Clan. Oh, and he’s gay.

The admission is one of tenderness and bravery. His family’s nonchalant approbation makes the moment all the more impactful and sweet. They’re more concerned with his life choices outside of the lad’s nature. Both are indisputable facts and it is who he is, stem to stern.

Breakthroughs can happen anywhere.

As Nandor and Laszlo search for Baby Colin Robinson, in a rarified moment between the obdurate two, an understanding is met. They’ve been remiss with their hang sessions and miss them. Hey, tomorrow’s a new night.

Before things get too gushy, Baby Colin is found. The boy simply was investigating a sound he heard outside of the cabin… and now, a new sound can be heard in the distance in the form of Sean screaming out for help.

It turns out that the Jersey Devil (Vaios Skretas / Jean-Michael Richaud) is not fiction and in fact, has a very real Mr. Rinaldi in its grasp and not even Laszlo’s mellifluous flute playing could have the devil in a spell and no amount of kicking him in the dick and wrestling him will keep that bifurcated tail down.

Coming in the clutch, Baby Colin knows there’s only one thing that can soothe this savage beast of the East: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer.”

As the Jersey Devil is rockin’ out to Sayreville’s own, both Laszlo and Nandor double team the cloven-hooved, draining him in unison as he dances. Sean, coming out with the shottie only enjoys the misplaced recoil, putting him on the ground and putting a gun-powdered exclamation point on an otherwise halfway decent getaway!

Nadja leads the hypnotized family out with Guillermo pleading for her to spare their lives. Having watched her own family die in front of her eyes, the softy in Nadja relents and agrees to let them off with a mere brain wipe on the proviso she’s afforded the house to herself one night a month along with the procuring of Momma Mia’s sequel.

Leaving Guillermo’s coming out in their memories shows that momma can have a heart, too.

Setting course for home with Laszlo taking the wheel, Nandor is left happier and more complete, save for a brain-scrambled Sean now super invested in the street value of Robux.

The weekend wasn’t a total bust.

The house has some new accouterments in the form of the Jersey Devil’s… bust.

Though peppered with top pedigree hilarity, this episode manages to bring the feels in nicely sized vials.

Not only did it craft a watershed moment, but also a watercooler one, which I wasn’t sure was still possible, given the state of so much great television at our fingertips.

With only three more episodes left to this season, I have full confidence that the stakes will only be raised.

(No, Abuelita Waite, I didn’t mean those.)

Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski
Robert J. Kijowski is a screenwriter who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He enjoys the company of strangers in a theatre but adores the camaraderie of friends watching Netflix. He also loves to talk- a lot. This can be read through his recaps and reviews on the Workprint or heard through his weekly movie podcast, After the Credits. His presence can be felt through Facebook, Spotify or Ouija. Don’t use the latter though- he almost always ghosts people.

Latest articles

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: