Nearly 130 miles south of New York City lies what once was the country’s preeminent getaway destination. This Eastern seaboard town had it all: economic boom through tourism, economic boom through corruption and racketeering, economic boom through unenforced prohibition- and that was even before the advent of legalized gambling! Though no longer labeled “The World’s Playground,” episode four of What We Do In The Shadows (FX) titled “The Casino” reminds us that though Las Vegas looms larger and prettier, Dirty Jersey’s Atlantic City still remains something more real: ‘The Devil’s Playground.’
It’s all aboard! at the Vampire Residence, as the crew is packing their trunks for a vacation. The Guide (Kristen Schaal) seems a bit taken aback by this with the backlog of Vampiric Council matters to be attended to, but it’s been several decades since last the crew cut loose and let their hair down. However, Shaun (Anthony Atamanuik) and Charmaine (Marissa Janet Winkour), whom you may remember from the Superb-Owl party last season have decided to renew their vows and planned a group getaway, with the whole gang invited! Viva Atlantic City (which, Laszlo tickles on the ivories), leading us into an unorthodox main title, complete with footage of their travel into the nocturnal mecca of sin.
It should be noted, before they leave, they must pack the soil of their coffins, as mere documentation for travel will not suffice. Without the ancestral terra firma, the vampires cannot eat, sleep, leave and their powers wane.
Settling into their hotel rooms, Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) is already at it snapping Polaroids of banal things, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) is setting out his cot, Nandor (Kayvan Novak) is attending to his soil while Laszlo (Matt Berry) is plowing his love Nadja (Natasia Demetriou).
At dinner, as the vampires struggle with how to convincingly eat, and the girls are gab about deals on fashion, Shaun proposes a toast to his wife and good friends. All eleven of them. Oh, we know why the nocturnal nabobs were invited… group rate! and the number is not lost on Shaunie. He’s a massive Ocean’s 12 fan, as you’ll remember from the Superb-Owl episode, but now tearfully respects 11 as a “prequel.”
He brings the room up by shouting out to Laszlo, Frankie (Gavin Fox) and Mikey, before Mikey passes stone-cold out, causing the rest of the party to think he’s plastered before the night’s begun. Judging by the craven smile on one’s face, we know who the culprit is.
Laszlo summarily commands the erstwhile familiar to fetch a broom from the hostess, as if he still thinks he’s a familiar. Even Gizmo himself thinks that the transition to bodyguard status has been non-existent. Nandor does remind them that Guillermo no longer holds such a subservient title, so his inclusion is of import. Colin co-signs, citing that office drones work harder when feeling part of a family, thus neglecting their own families and building a higher threshold for degradation. Upon returning to his seat, the vampires ham-fistedly grill him on his interests, including his love life in order to gain more insight or feign more interest in someone they’ve largely seen as a breathing piece of furniture in the house.
Guillermo is coy about divulging, but Laszlo breaks the seal, as is customary, citing the most beautiful thing in the world as fucking. Personally, who could blame the libertine lothario? Before Guillermo could spill the beans on his worldview on that due to his parents, which the vampires are waiting on with bated breath, Shaun interrupts.
It turns out that rascal Frankie put glass in the piccata, so the House comped the group a bunch of chips. With that, the group breaks off to hit the casino, leaving Guillermo all by his lonesome. Their respect is to be earned and it may take more than just saving their lives once to get there.
Charmaine and the girls decide to hit up a Rat Pack revue, which tickles Nadja to no end, thinking they are the OG lounge luminaries she partied with back in AC’s heyday. Though she cannot imbibe with the women, Nadja still has a swingin’ time as if she had, calling out to them and reminding, spread eagle what they might have forgotten over the years.
At the tables, Colin is getting his crunk on, boring his competitors and the dealer with palaver about the Monaco Grand Monday night’s fight of Jackson vs. Rodriguez.
Elsewhere, Nandor’s livin’ it up with his newfound love and no, it ain’t Guillermo. It’s the Big Bang Theory slots. He’s more animated than Guillermo’s ever seen him, especially when hitting it big, causing him to shout “Bazinga!” (which is the “war cry” of Sheldon.)
While an overzealous Nadja takes the girls backstage at the Rat Pack revue, freaking out the trio (that bear zero passing resemblance to the originals), Colin’s all but drained the last of his little island of gamblers. Nandor is riding high on this new addiction, but the sun is coming up and they all must retire.
There’s only one problem- nobody can slumber. At hand lies the even bigger cause- their ancestral soil is gone all because of Colin. His favorite show (the in-house Monaco Grand commercial) he was caught up in binge-watching had him neglect noticing housekeeping doing what they do best. The vampires can already feel their powers wax and wane, as Laszlo goes from bat form to sparrow form, which is not only adorable but also a clever answer to a question I never had.
This prompts Nandor to send Guillermo on a journey and Nadja sending her beloved to ask his bestie, Shaun into lending him his credit card for the mission with no questions asked, since his power of persuasion is kaput. Laszlo proceeds with trepidation, as he doesn’t want to jeopardize the only real human friendship he has on this blue spinning marble. Surprisingly, Shaun feels the love and lends him the credit card, on the sole proviso of being paid back ASAP, as the Commemorative Patrick Ewing Discover Card is an emergency only piece of plastic… and with that, Guillermo heads to Europe!
At the Vow Renewal Ceremony, Nadja, Laszlo, and Nandor are fading and fast. This is a limbo from which they may never return. Colin’s still fine, still snapping photos, such as when Nadja succumbs to her soupy brain and falls down. In fact, what seems like weeks to the vampires only is 14 hours to Colin.
From the bustling Heathrow International to the majestic Paralia Urika Beach in Antipaxos to the precarious South Iranian Border (formerly Al Qolnidar), Guillermo shows why he not only protec, he attac but most importantly, he bringin’ dat shit bac.
Back in the rooms, as Nandor enjoys Chuck Lorre’s splooge on TV, Laszlo’s having a moment, guilt-ridden over the $7500 he’s taken. By virtue of being a true gent, he goes down to explain himself. This only pours more salt on the wound when he learns that Shaun used to have a big-time gambling problem, with his second vow renewal this trip to not romance those demons.
Well, there are three absolutes in this “world of chance” you can set a watch to – odds are lucky for a reason, never bet on the Knickerbockers, and that there are no absolutes.
This comes as a huge blow to Laszlo, but his dear Nadja attempts to remedy the situation by using her feminine wiles with her old pals, the Rat Pack and when that fails, she uses her next best non-vampiric asset: threats. Though she does fall flat, quite literally, she does succeed in collecting, as sometimes pity is more useful than power.
This is basically all for naught, however, as the amassed wealth is a mere 300 clams. Hubby isn’t quite sure they were the hepcats she used to hang with, but Nadja wants none of that heresy.
Nandor listlessly bops away at his favorite slot, but not even Colin pointing out that he got a couple of Koothrapali’s, a Hofstader, four Wolowitzes, and a Penny could prepare Nandor for getting him noodle baked about what the Big Bang Theory actually means.
They map out on opposite walls of the room in marker their views on the creation of the world, Colin’s being heliocentric and Nandor’s being one he’s believed for seven and a half centuries: that the world rests on four elephants that reside on the back of a gigantic turtle. He’s been converted, due to science and logic trouncing fantasy and whim and even more depressed due to the fact that we’re but a spec of cosmic dust in the grand scheme of things.
A contemplative Nandor sits atop the Monaco Grand Hotel and Casino, feeling lonely as ever, even as Guillermo is soaring right above him with a little piece of home in hand.
Upon arrival, Guillermo’s greeted to a room of emotional and mental anguish across the board- Laszlo’s regret of possibly causing his best mortal friend financial and marital ruination, Nadja’s rumination of the Rat Pack’s fall from grace, Nandor’s existentialist crisis, and Colin’s castrated viewing of his favorite tv show with the volume off.
It’s time for Guillermo de la Cruz to put Frank Farmer to shame, first by getting everybody to night-nights and pumping up the volume on Colin’s show as he works on his plan on how to get them out of the jam.
Once they are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as evidenced by their inherent treatment of him, Guillermo lays out the scheme with some Danny Ocean panache. At 6.47 pm, he’ll head to the box office to get the tickets to the fight. At 6.52 pm in the elevator, Nandor is to meet one of the boxers, Eli Jackson to hypnotize him. At 6.55 pm, Laszlo is to hypnotize the other, Arturio Rodriguez. At 6.59 pm, Colin Robinson is to place a nice, simple bet. At 8.00 pm, they all take their seats at the fight and, well, “Ring-A-Ding-Ding…”
Ten seconds into round six, Nadja triggers the hypnosis of both pugilists by yelling out “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” causing a knockout that can only be likened to when one successfully pops the cork off a bottle of champagne.
Colin collects the cash, they all experience a flying on earth known as the escalator, hand over the winnings to a thankful Shaun who swears off gambling (before betting it all on 12 as they walk away) and head back into the party bus for, but not before giving Guillermo a welcome to the family card of sorts.