We’re in the nerve center. Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) is running for comptroller on account of Sean (Anthony Atamanuik) possessing over nine DUIs. While Colin’s psyched, Nandor (Kayvan Novak) is struggling to find a workout buddy. Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) has been avoiding his master like the plague, so the Relentless attempts to make a friend in fellow gym rat Alexander (Robert Smigel) and he lays on the Yiddish lexicon thicker than Jewish guilt. The poor lunk is just excited to be able to finally get talk to a “fierce warrior”, only known through stories in his homeland of al Qolnidar.
The move to become a comptroller has nothing to do with politics and all to do with the debate stage for a mega drain. He needs to run under the aegis of a family unit and finds a perfect wife in Evie Russell (Vanessa Bayer) during her break-up group therapy. Evie’s an emotional drain vampire and Colin’s erstwhile inamorata before leaving his heart a desiccated husk. Their love language is movie titles. He seals the deal with a beautifully awkward smooch-o-roonie. He is non compos mentis around his only walking weakness, which may show us a more colorful side to the otherwise magnificently milquetoast Mr. Robinson.
In Little Antipaxos, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) is experiencing something of a repatriation. She’s feeling almost human helping her new diner family in hopes she may be able to lift her dreaded hex yet. The only catch is her Antipaxon family is dying to meet Laszlo. Antipaxons are very weary of outsiders, so Nadja’s island oasis may be in jeopardy if he gives a buffooned first impression… and right on cue, Laszlo (Matt Berry) comes barging in from the Spencers he was vomited from. Right out of the gate, he talks down to them and confuses their dog for the matriarch. Nandor’s not fairing any better at the cinema with Alexander. Yes, Nandor, let’s break the theatre’s number one rule.
At the Staten Island Comptroller Debate, through the WBPB-TV Community Access LIVESTREAM, we see Barbara Lazarro (Marceline Hugot) attempting to extol the future of digitalization. Is there something about cameras this season? She wants to eliminate the bureaucracy. Colin wants to cut the bullshit and clean house on this captive audience, which he and Evie soon do. He’s more than content. He managed to turn Sean’s loss into his gain with the added bonus of it doubling as a date night. Before the night can run even wilder, both Colin and Evie are kidnapped and hauled off. They’re summoned by the Supreme Council of Energy Vampires for an emergency meeting. Among a fashionable orgy of filing cabinets, calling to order this meeting is none other than the illustrious Jo Firestone. Speaking to her from across the room, Gregg Turkington tries to help her through an old-school microphone. Hannibal Buress “chimes” in as Jo’s actual phone chime goes off, Aparna Nancharla attempts to speak but has some technical difficulties. This is a bloodless bloodbath. Colin wants to confess to Evie that he’s always loved her, but is cut off by Aparna Nancherla.
At the diner, Laszlo arrives once again, lute in hand to serenade all with what he thinks is a traditional Antipaxon song. It’s actually the battle hymn of a neighboring country, so the second attempt at ingratiating himself is a spectacular failure, ending in some non-potable potables being chucked.
At the emergency meeting, the Chairman (Martha Kelly) speaks. She’s a certified visionary at draining her own kind, reverting to the old classic of never calling on those with raised hands. But down to brass tacks, bureaucracy is at risk of being lost. it’s the lifeblood of energy vampires. The Chairman will simply not let this stand and through an interminable slide presentation for beating Ms. Lazarro, Mr. Robinson is broken. He tries to muster all the piss and vinegar he can to promise to his constituents via Zoom, going all Howard Dean. The only problem is he cannot keep up the ruse, he cannot be inauthentic, so he pulls a Toobin. Hey, admitting to cranking it to the shiny, happy visages of one’s supporters can only spell only last mega drain with an old flame for old times’ sake in the form of a Concession speech astride his Wife and non-existent sons.
At the gym, Nandor gets a little too thirsty for Alexander. I mean, waiting five hours… that’s prime Guillermo time! And to do what, show him the work that Makeshift Mohel Guillermo had performed? The vamp regenerative property comes in handy just when you don’t want it and ain’t that always a kick in the plums?
Laszlo, still in his sequined look that cuts like a Neil Diamond, returns to the scene of the crime, with a bushel of roses in hand before plopping them down and making himself unapologetically known as the peacocking Mr. Cravensworth. Though one of the women present is smitten, Lasz says in no uncertain terms the whole Antipaxon lot can go fuck off. What we get is a Deus Ex Mama, as the Matriarch takes his boorish, Dionysian as a sign of him being the reincarnation of their mythical King of Pigs. Do pearls truly come before swine? “Only if the pig is too tight,” is probably what the old boy would say and so long as the Antipaxons believe he’ll bring good fortune, he’d probably dine on that line for years.
On Channel 8 News at 7, Colin concedes but Evie elevates. She snipes his spot, but not before assassinating his character on public television and eviscerates any hopes for them romantically in the private environs of his confessional through a Nancy Meyers citation. Instead of fomenting the bubbling cauldron that is mumblecore romance, Evie Russell simply rips out Colin’s heart again, and by extension our own, and stomps all over it. She’s got the moves to slay in more than one way — perfect for comptroller.
The resurrection of Vanessa Bayer (I Love That For You) with Evie in “The Campaign” was welcomed as a callback, but when is one too many? What We Do In The Shadows (FX) has always prided itself on never truly retreading water and chewing cud. Granted, the biggest glaring callback outside of Laszlo’s mention of topiary was the tribunal that sat before Colin and Evie. We’ve seen this before, and this particular roundtable of comedy’s brightest today was a fucking delight to see on screen, I will concede to that. It was the highlight of the episode and as far as my comedy boner goes, the highlight of the season so far.
A big reveal this early on in the season, however, doesn’t feel earned when the Colin & Evie saga honestly just skated on by. It’s an energy vampire-centric episode, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the soporific nature of the whole endeavor was on purpose, as if we the audience are being drained. Grey. This whole episode felt grey. I suppose to the mumblecore ilk (who cum in sepia tone, medical fact), it was a fucking delight. But if that was the ultimate direction of this episode, clever as a move as it might have been on paper, in practice, it sadly overpowers, not underscores the B and C plots of Nandor and Nadja. Those were equally as important, and I’m contemplating whether giving the comedic powerhouse that is Robert Smigel a few fucking measly lines was the joke, and if it wasn’t, whether the sin should be punishable by having the writers’ room incorporate a Logan/Jake Paul cameo next season and making it work (the same way Atlanta took the risk of injecting the other Hanks) in their tertiary season.
If Colin’s plot was the least energetic, Nandor’s being slightly more with Nadja’s being energy at its peak, I would even understand. A steady escalation that culminates in a crushing blow sounds like a Safdie Brothers’ wet dream. The tragedy is that though FX prides itself on treating each episode as an individual movie, comedies aren’t dramas, ass-fucking obvious as that is to say. They cannot luxuriate in the melty block of an hour, even with cable’s lax running times for half-hour shows. Something that high concept could work if given the time to show its complex gradients. I get that Colin isn’t a showman, it’s not in his blood to be the positive center of attention while also trying to assimilate into modern society. It felt more like a Colin episode, which is great. I just wish there were more keeping his plot-line mired in risk to give us a reward that surpasses one (well-received) reveal, moving the benchmark rather than simply just going back to it for the viral moment.
The stinger of Guillermo talking to Nandor inside the theater is cute, only because we get to see them spending time together outside of the house. The callback to a reprimand wasn’t really needed as an avenue to remind us, the audience, the ones that have stuck with you from the very beginning that Nandor treats Guillermo like shit. In fact, I think it was a missed opportunity for Nandor to show a bit of growth. Even someone in another row telling Guillermo to shut the fuck up with Nandor hypnotizing the theater would have been a better call back to the second episode of this season. I didn’t need a reminder that Nandor can be an asshole to his familiar. This felt like a hold-over episode, and for that, I didn’t need to be reminded.