What We Do in the Shadows Episode 9 Review: The Orgy

TV

This What We Do in the Shadows review contains spoilers.

What We Do in the Shadows Episode 9

What We Do in the Shadows, season 1, episode 9, “The Orgy,” sullies the Staten Island contingent’s bad name among vampires, but reinforces it for the audience. Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Nadja’s (Natasia Demetriou) house has been selected for the Biannual Vampire Orgy and it turns out to be a double-edged sword, which could be an erotic accoutrement at such a gathering. If the orgy is a success, the hosts are celebrated and treated with high esteem. If it fails, the embarrassment is enough to make a vampire go to ground. There is a stigma in throwing a bad orgy. There is no recovery. Vampires are still deriding the orgy of 1937, thrown by fucking Mike. It turns out the party really could have used the talents of the now truly-deceased Baron Afanas (Doug Jones) and his Ken-doll anatomy.

We know from the outset which way it will go based on past episodes. The Staten Island vampires are very innocent for immortal carnal-vores, regardless and sometimes because of their long pasts. This is most hysterically evident in Laszlo’s preparations. We are heartened when he displays his Peek-a-boo cape and bat codpiece, but he stakes us, and Nadja, with his pornographic past. It turns out Laszlo has been filming erotica since its very beginning, which began about two weeks after motion pictures were first invented. His early works are tame, as all vintage pornography seems now. But, after almost 100 years in the business, he doesn’t get any better.

Nadja is rightfully bored by her husband’s celluloid sexploits. She is probably the most worldly of the quartet as far as sensual experience, but even the Biannual Orgy itself, which Laszlo is extremely excited about, doesn’t really faze her. Her memories of it are okay, and most of them have to do with protecting coating for the antique furniture. Something Nandor agrees with, ordering Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) to load up on absorbent towels. Vampires are all about juices. Semen and blood have very similar nutritional value, loaded with protein which Laszlo is happily anticipating spraying all over the antique furniture.

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While Nadja does come up with some of the more interesting fetish feng shui, including a blood fountain, a lingam and yoni set, an electric chair fantasy where the last words are “I want to have sex,” and ten kilos of pure opium, she is also very innocent. Part of this is because, while she may have been very brazen in her day, what was edgy during her prime, is par for the course in the Meatpacking District.

I have to say, besides the cat n nine tails and Colin Robinson’s (Mark Proksch) leather harness, I was pleased the series dished out more of an assortment of kink beyond S&M, which has become a stale stereotype on TV and films because it’s been done so often. In the very opening scenes as the vampires are preparing their home the orgy, Nadja checks the chandeliers to make sure they can handle the weight of indoor acrobatics. And that’s not as bats, which must also come into the mix somewhere besides failure’s retreat.

The vampire orgy offers a side of eight or more toppings. S&M is lazy kink on TV. It’s always on, telling the TV audience ooh we’re kinky. It is a safe-word. Of course BDSM and vampires have a natural affinity, which Nandor explains by asking “why are there puncture wounds on my penis?” Besides the power exchange, there is always going to be pain when you tear apart a virgin for his tasty blood. Even when vampire sex is bad it’s good and the orgy is more about pale bodies fornicating and snarling. And when you throw in middling, fiddling, it becomes, as Laszlo exclaims, a “carnival of desires” which takes months to recover from.

Guillermo and Nandor have an almost emotional scene. Nandor actually puts on a public display of protection over his familiar, after he sees Nadja and Laszlo heaping too much of the orgy’s burden on him. Only Nandor can treat his familiar like a slave, he proclaims. Guillermo looks authentically pleased his master is sticking up for him but when he offers his services to Nandor he is told to do whatever it was that Nadja and Laszlo asked him to do. This is clearly a classic payoff coming just far enough from an unexpected set up that it lands successfully and without prediction.

Part of the charm of What We Do in the Shadows is how the audience can see the jokes coming and still finding it funny when they land exactly as expected, this and the constant use of repeated banalities. Phrasings most shows would reword to get plumb for deeper wit are repeated to give the very realistic effect of coming from a moment in mundane reality. What is slightly less realistic is Guillermo’s growing fear his high school friend Jeremy will be torn to pieces at the orgy because his blood is so virginal it is intoxicating. The payoff to this sequence, without giving too much away, is a subtle nod to Jim Carrey’s sanguine condition in the never-coming-of-age teen comedy Once Bitten, but much less teen. It is probably the least “innocent” scene in the episode.

The Biannual Vampire Orgy is a success for the viewer because of its failure due to over-romanticism and spoiled virgins. What We do in the Shadows does what it does best in “The Orgy.” It promises delights which the characters fully commit to only to have their dreams dry out before the first sip. We expect blood play and intravenous intercourse, the slitting of arteries, veins and sanguine-smeared seduction. We wind up getting cockblocked by the very exuberance the vampires themselves put into courting perfection. Vampires and mortals aren’t that different after all. We all love a good orgy, but most of us get too caught up in the expectation to enjoy the money shot, which is reserved for the nose-bleeding, wheezing, mouthbreathing virgin.

What We Do in the Shadows‘ “The Orgy” was written by Marika Sawyer, and directed by Jason Woliner.

What We Do in the Shadows airs Wednesdays on FX.

Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFKRead more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.

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