If you haven’t experienced a mid-life crisis, you will. For each and every one of us, it will be different, to which we can either say “I’ve been there” or “I may be going there”. In that dreaded uncertainty, we wrangle with the things done versus those unexplored. In this eighth episode of What We Do In The Shadows (FX) titled “The Wellness Center” we find that even a simple gamble in finding life can end it just as well (if you don’t fasten that seatbelt in that silly looking Maserati.)
We open in on the Vampire Residence. It is Nandor’s Accession Day, commemorating the time in which he officially came to power as Supreme Viceroy of Al Qolnidar. This includes gussying up the house with all sorts of dressings, including crepe (creepy) paper, which is a nice throwback nod.
Last year’s celebration included Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Laszlo (Matt Berry) dancing in full Qolnidarian garb, Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) belly dancing in naught but loincloth and fez, with Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) blowing away at what appears to be a middle eastern bagpipe, as Nandor (Kayvan Novak), in all his regal finery smiles and approves from his throne. It’s good to be the king… right?
The opening of Norma Tanega’s “You’re Dead” that proceeded in a Persian styling was, indeed, a very nice added touch.
As the gang once again prepares for the year’s annual tradition, with Laszlo donning his turban gifted by the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, something is amiss… it’s the Accession Boy!
Though the full house, with the Guide (Kristen Schaal) included, is ready to greet him with feigned joy, they open the coffin only to find a corpse. Though he rises, it’s merely the husk of a Ruler they find ambling past, and not even Guillermo’s adorable handmade gift of two dolls of themselves isn’t enough for Nandor to bat an eyelash, so you can simply forget about Colin’s prepared Monroe-Esque Belly Dance.
Nandor’s simply not feeling the rigamarole, the old chapeau of a celebration of something that happened hundreds of years ago, only to be celebrated for eternity has the Relentless down for the count. According to Nadja and Laszlo, vampire depression is no joke, with one trying to grapple with the perpetual state of simply being. The proven method of dealing with a depressed eternal is, according to unspoken etiquette is to leave them the fuck alone.
This holds true for Nandor, as the chap is seven centuries deep with no wife, no offspring, and is living with roommates. Since this is there is no midway for a vampire it’s bigger than a mid-life crisis. In Guillermo’s words, it’s a “crisis-crisis.”
With Nandor slouching listlessly at the house meeting, Nadja attends to the matter at hand: someone taking up the duty of collecting Vampiric Council union dues. Very deliberately going about the room, causing the rest to renounce the job they are “not qualified for”, she zeroes in on her co-leader. Wresting the ledger from her in anger, Nandor storms out on his own and into the night.
His first stop is the Post-Chiropteran Wellness Center. Inside, he finds rooms of vampires that eerily smile and point in unison to his desired target. This leads him to an aerobics class with Jan (Cree Summer) presiding. Commanding her spandex class with the alacrity of a Jane Fonda, she’s also able to flick the switch like a Vietnam sergeant.
Nandor’s not affected by this, but there’s only one snag. Though the numbers claim she hasn’t paid in 132 years, she claims she’s no longer a vampire, leaving no debt to be settled. In showing her collector she no longer bears fangs along with the rest of the class, she asserts she and the rest of the building are HUMANS. She guides a skeptical Nandor to her office.
Inside, though the wall adoring pictures of past lives lived is par for the course, a wall of monitors looks disconcertingly out of place. She pours Nandor a glass of water, but since the dude isn’t able to drink it, she takes the liberty of savoring every gulp of it herself. Ahhh. She continues on in inquiring Nandor about how long he’s been a prisoner to the vampiric lifestyle, but before he can open up, she excuses herself to vomit up the water behind Nandor’s back. Ahh!
Getting back into the soft and sensuous sell of becoming human again, Nandor’s growing curious. Jan’s crunch into an apple would serve as the exclamation to her point… if it didn’t serve as more of ellipses with her chewing but not swallowing.
Still, it’s enough to get old Nandor packing his stuff, ready and rarin’ to join the Formerly Fanged. Nadja thinks his renouncing vampirism is the dumbest shit ever, notwithstanding dressing in his “normal human” clothes which make him happy when he was in true power. Colin Robinson refers to it as looking like a Playmobil figure, but it matters none as his mind is made up. Moreover, Nadja refuses to be the laughing stock of the Vampiric Council for his silly walkabout… but Nandor doesn’t a flying fuck, not that he can, you know, as a human. Guillermo goes after him, leaving only Colin to call dibs on Nandor’s space.
Running after his Master, ahem, former Master, Guillermo pleads with Nandor to at the very least turn him, that the last 11 years of servitude may not be in vain but rather in vein. In the most caring of fashions, in his own special way, Nandor denies Guillermo, attempting to save him from a lifetime of pickled ennui. Yet, in the ever graceful style, Nandor goes out into the world not as a vampire, but as a mere human, nearly getting liquified by walking into oncoming traffic. Being human’s going to take some learning for this (700) yearling.
After a month in a Nandor-less house, things have been more or less status quo. Laszlo and Nadja do appreciate an atmosphere free of Relentless weeping and Colin’s claimed Nandor’s room in the most Colin way possible- through his lower G.I. tract, crop-dusting the entire joint! Guillermo, on the other hand, has been taking the absence a bit harder, thinking he’s now in the position that Nandor was in whenever he threatened to quit (yeah, ok.) He only has the comfort of his stuffed Nandor to cuddle with at night. That I will say, pobrecito.
Over at the wellness center, Nandor’s having the time of his life! Over the Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week”, we go into full montage mode. A more exuberant Nandor is clapping it up at 7 pm Aerobics, drumming it up at the 8 pm Jam Session, chopping it up (literally and colloquially) at the 9 pm Vegan Dinner Prep, studying it up at 10 pm Humanity 101 class, suffering it up at the 11 pm Ritual Teeth Pulling (they grew back every morning), hula-hooping it up in Free Time, and humbling it up at 3 am Cornhole, learning how to lose like a human.
In every way, Nandor is actually living it up. He’s been spellbound by Jan and seems forever changed by her seemingly holistic ways. She certainly and happily confirms his progression to date, mentioning to the cameras, “Oh yeah, we’re fucking.”
Guillermo suspects something’s amiss and decides to investigate Colin’s room for clues. A pamphlet out in the open spells it out.
A gorgeously coiffured, spry-looking Nandor is now being made Jan’s number two, and though he would have been teased in his own house for the title, his name holds some weight, despite the guy himself shedding some pounds in the form of a few housemates.
Little does he know, Guillermo’s come to join Nandor’s community for a little exercise himself… in infiltration.
Inside, Guillermo surprises the erstwhile Master in the middle of warm-ups, but before he can perform the extraction, Jan busts in with her Big Guru Energy, asking who’s ready to feel the burn.
Little does she know those words will soon bite her in the ass by the only one in the room naturally bereft of fangs.
Before the session can truly get underway, Guillermo’s made and his stakes are found. This prompts Jan to send out a call to all residing in the building of an interloper, but before Guillermo can become the community’s first non-veggie course, he snaps into bad-ass bodyguard mode, taking Nandor by the hand and everybody else down in his path. This leaves Nandor apologizing to everyone Guillermo leaves in his wake. Namaste, bitches.
Exiting out and securing Nandor in his vehicle, Guillermo and the rest of the camera crew peel away. Though the extraction was a success, this is only the beginning of a long and painful process. Oh, I’m not talking about Nandor’s deprogramming. This already started with Guillermo.
His best friend excoriates him for taking him away from the only happiness he’s felt in centuries, the only thing Guillermo’s wanted for his Master the entire tenure. Oh, this road will be bumpy for Nandor with a safety belt, because it’s lined with silver to prevent escape. Good thinking, Gizmo!
At the abode, Guillermo unveils to the crew the most drastic thing he’s done yet (that doesn’t involve his pee-pee).
In the basement, the house is shocked to see that a very human-looking Nandor is captive. Initial shock turns to swift brainstorming, as long nights are ahead for the house, as they attempt to fix their housemate’s head full o’ pudding. Until then, it’s the longest night for Nandor as the lights go down on him in the basement.
Perhaps the Vampiric Residence has bigger fish to fry. Before all of Jan’s community can turn on her for lying to them, she promises their salvation day has just arrived, leading them all to blister in the sun.
To be fair, there are far worse ways to go out: at least they wouldn’t be able to drink Kool-Aid!