‘What We Do In The Shadows’ Season 5 Opener Recap: Nobody Is OK in “The Mall”

Last we left lovable vampire hunter Guillermo de la Cruz, he'd a lofty proposition for a friend. The FX premier of 'What We Do In The Shadows fifth' season titled "The Mall" welcomes a fifth vampire into the house as the crew set their sights on a new playground.


At the Vampire Residence, Laszlo (Matt Berry) is convinced something is up with familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén). We ended last season with Guillermo approaching his friend Derek with a bag of money to turn him. So he’d be right. Guillermo calls a house meeting. He’s skittish — did Derek actually turn him? Nandor (Kayvan Novak) is curious about the announcement. He’s in a good spot in life due to reading Laszlo’s transactional analysis guide I’m OK — You’re OK. What he wants to call attention to is the house being negligent of remaining in the shadows. No matter how epic he thought a misstep in the stands was, no amount of hypnotizing of the entire Barclays Center should stand, even if Hov’s team is down.

Guillermo is worried their throwing around hypnosis with wild abandon is making Staten Island dumber, but Laszlo’s not convinced it’s possible. Nadja asserts that Gizmo won’t understand because he’s not one of them, but he’s got a bit of a secret… one that will change the game. For better or for worse, this is something that remains to be seen.

He nearly informs the production crew that Derek (Chris Sandiford), after a rough and awkward start, did in fact pierce the veil of his flesh with his vampy teethers before Nandor barges in. He’s onto Guillermo, but he thinks that things have been off because they missed his birthday. To be fair, nobody in the household even knows when it is, and though Guillermo wants to come clean to his Master, it’s already too late. They’re going out to celebrate! What? Somebody didn’t tell the rest he can no longer each food? Oops. Off to the Red Rock Steakhouse, where Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) is now part of the waitstaff, having ditched his office job in exchange for service work. The feeding ground seems a lot more varied to him. Whether he’s a good waiter or not is moot.

With the group seated before their time, Colin orders jalapeno poppers for the table to keep up human appearances. Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) brings out her Doll, currently cross on account of a drunken Nadja accidentally making her a seat cushion, turning her ceramic legs to the powder from which they came. An animatronic cabaret dancer’s body now doing the heavy lifting, all it takes is the push of a button to force her to perform a bawdy jig at the vampires’ behest. Can a forced act be dehumanizing if the corpus performing the action is battery-powered? Shit, even the Big Mouth Billy Bass of Jim the Vampire possessed mechanized joy before it was so unceremoniously smashed to bits on the gymnasium floor.

Though not being able to ingest anything that resembles food, something’s surely eating away at Lasz about Guillermo mentioning the possibility of not being around. Nandor thinks it could be as pedestrian as a change of job or death. He brings out the third option of being turned, but the idea is so ludicrous, the four don’t even bother to take a moment to unbox the possibility. The fact of the matter is that Derek turned him. Very, very messily, Derek turned him. Oh, Guillermo turned the stockroom into his own fucking personal Pollock. When give us a heavy bleeder with a vampire that faints at the sight of his own blood, bad news for them is goretastic comedy for you. Nandor should be the one to do it, but Guillermo’s grown so tired of waiting around, he’s enlisted his D&D amigo Derek in IRL. This is all being captured by the stockroom camera. The all-seeing eye doesn’t judge. Unfortunately, the household does.

Upon arriving at the restaurant by Uber, the housemates are in stitches thinking that their resident familiar could ever have the temerity to get his fix elsewhere. The gut-busting inconceivability calcifies to ice-cold incredulity when Guillermo brings up the hypothetical of a familiar being turned by anyone else other than his Master. The outcome looks grim according to all. Nandor would have to kill Guillermo and then himself… Now who’s hungry?

Afterward, Guillermo decides to hit up the mall for some post-dinner shopping. With the rest enamored by this mythological edifice, tonight’s a birthday that keeps on giving (grief). The moment his back is turned is the moment that has Bill and Ted splattered all over it. Nandor buys a Shrek tee with “special coupons,” and Nadja attempts to make things right with her dolly by taking her to a Teddy Bear Workshop, revealing the bigger problem. She doesn’t see her doll as an extension of her but rather just her and isn’t readily concerned with her AA-powered proxy’s wants. Elsewhere, Laszlo isn’t amused by the wealth of stores. Like the Bikini Warehouse, which he believes to be the front for a brothel or the “cheap sex potions” of the perfume kiosk, his intention is to cut through the bullshit. He’s still not able to penetrate the wellspring of Guillermo’s odd behavior, so he’s hot on his trail, bypassing Nandor “Living Más” on the carousel.

At the eyeglasses hut, Guillermo gets the unforeseen news that he now possesses a vision that far exceeds 20-20. Maybe it’s a byproduct of both him and Derek being of the bespectacled persuasion? Since he could not puncture Derek’s skin, desperate times called for box cutters and strong stomachs. Unfortunately, Derek possesses only one of them, but hey, 50-50 ain’t bad, right? The rub is that his actual transformation isn’t the majestic reveal he’s been dreaming of. He can’t turn into a bat; he only goes Dumbo with the ears. He can, however, “day-walk”, like Colin, and he can consume meat like no human’s business. What he can’t do is play anything off with aplomb, including being his former human self.

That night before bed, as he combs Nandor’s hair, Guillermo asks Master if he “accidentally” got bit, would his life be in the hands of Nandor? He relays a bedtime story to his Master about his own experience, but Nandor dismisses it as being not into sci-fi stories before bedtime. On the bright side, Nandor got Guillermo a foot locker. To be honest though, is there really a bright side to a day-walker that must keep his own glaring secret in the shadows?

And even though Guillermo’s lifeless footlocker, devoid of any warmth or personality isn’t the most optimal of accommodations for keeping up appearances, he’s at least slumbering with his own kind now.


In grand What We Do In the Shadows (FX) fashion, the fifth season opener, “The Mall,” takes us out of the house and into yet another unexplored nook among Staten Island’s myriad crannies. This time? The mall. Despite the episode’s title, the real star of the half-hour was Guillermo. Harvey Guillén’s been having a good year, and his character’s journey is proving to be a compelling, serpentine through-line of discovery amid every chaotic turn in the rest of the house. With that in mind, my only bugaboo is that they won’t revisit the mall the rest of the season. The gang had a lot of fun there and the possibilities are plenty. It could be shambolic in the best possible way! I’ll keep my fingers crossed (hissss) that this isn’t our first and last jaunt to the place of commerce, similarly how I’d like to be whisked back to the Night Market of last season.

The humor hasn’t wavered for even a split second. The bit about Nandor’s ambient sound machine with “rainy night at the leaky castle” (rain), “banshee wail” (white noise), and “abandoned orphanage” (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”) was a clever play on a fish-out-of-water embracing change.

Colin’s workplace change of scenery was a well-needed breath of fresh air. I loved Baby Colin, but what the world needs now is just Colin, Sweet Colin. The hospitality backdrop is replete with the potential for some memorable interactions. The dude even says “per la tavola” with zero fucks given or meant. I am really looking forward to seeing a master at work as we progress.

Some Catholic cultures choose to celebrate their respective Saint’s Day rather than their own birthday. I say, why not celebrate both? I feel this episode has all the trappings of a turning point for Guillermo’s journey and the series as a whole. He is reborn as the undead and with the now uneaten haul from the Red Rock Steakhouse, “feast day” is only too ironically applicable.

Will they transform his birthday into a special occasion by the end of a season full of I’m sure unexpected mind-fuggery? I hungrily await.

4.5/5 Stars.

Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski is a script writer who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He's written for pop culture and film websites alike. You can hear him on Spotify (After the Credits) and reach out on Instagram, X or by English Carrier Pigeon.

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In the fifth season opener of 'What We Do In The Shadows', Guillermo gets a little more than he bargained for, Colin gets a new job and things get funky.'What We Do In The Shadows' Season 5 Opener Recap: Nobody Is OK in "The Mall"