'What We Do in the Shadows' Season 3 Took the Vampire Comedy from Good to Excellent

The FX series' recently wrapped third season makes the case for it becoming one of the best comedies of the decade.

kayvan novak in what we do in the shadows season 3, what we do in the shadows gym
Kayvan Novak | FX
Kayvan Novak | FX

Few shows on television today are funnier than What We Do in the Shadows. The FX comedy sunk its teeth into audiences quickly after its premiere in 2019, and three seasons in, is swiftly securing its place as one of the best sitcoms of the 2020s. The show, based on the 2014 mockumentary of the same name from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, is stacked with actors at the top of their game in every episode and is wickedly clever in its writing. Even at its lowest What We Do in the Shadows remains one of the best, so when the show returned for its third season this September, there was no doubt it would be brimming with absurd vampire (and vampire hunter) antics. What was unexpected however, was the way the show finally managed to push past its wacky surface to provide depth to their characters before culminating in an unusually tense season finale chock-full with moments that could change the show forever.

The season begins relatively calmly considering where it picks up. Approximately a month after Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) slaughtered a hefty amount of New York’s vampire elite, his vampire housemates have “imprisoned” him in a cage in the basement. Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) are still debating whether or not to kill Guillermo, when they receive a message from the Supreme Vampiric Council informing them that the title of Leader of the local Vampiric Council now belongs to them. After some arguing, Nandor and Nadja decide to co-lead, Laszlo and Colin Robinson hang back and bond, and Guillermo is not killed—he talks his way into being promoted to bodyguard.

natasia demetriou in what we do in the shadows season 3
Kayvan Novak and Natasia Demetriou | FX

Guilllermo isn't the only one rediscovering himself. Nadja, once seen as the most competent of the group, is blinded by her new position of authority. Demetriou plays Nadja just as charming as ever; she’s a woman drunk on power she has clearly never had, and yet is still so dependent on the support of her loved ones. Guillermo, on the other hand, is more capable than ever. Is he respected as a full-fledged member of the team? Absolutely not. Still, it’s clear that Guillermo has finally found his voice, and Guillén channels a sort of mania to show that Guillermo is no longer around just to serve Nandor; he wants power too, and he’s not afraid to do his fair share of manipulating to get it. Guillermo is in his Lady Macbeth era, and it was nice to finally see him get his moment on the throne.

Nandor on the other hand, once a relentless military leader, has gone “soft,” tormented by the malaise of living without clear purpose for 700 years. Novak is perhaps at his best this season, balancing Nandor’s hopelessness with uproarious comedic moments, such as his impressions of his fellow cast members in “The Cloak of Duplication,” where it is revealed that Nandor has been spending time (unsuccessfully) trying to get a date with the receptionist of a 24-hour gym. It’s these concepts that help make the jokes work so well—of course vampires would use 24 hour gyms. This creativity in the writers’ room leads to one of the season’s peaks when Nandor, still languishing over his eternal life, ventures to a vampire “wellness center'' that allegedly specializes in curing vampirism. In reality, it’s a cult that doesn’t specialize in curing vampirism so much as it is singing to The Barenaked Ladies.

While Nandor, Nadja, and Guillermo try their hand at ruling, the unlikely pairing of Laszlo and Colin Robinson becomes real friendship, spending time on energy vampire research, Sirens, and failed lawyer aspirations. The dynamic brought out a softer side of Laszlo, and allowed Colin to be funny in a way that didn’t necessarily involve boring the people around him. Berry and Proksch are the comedic duo of the season, and their undeniable chemistry carries the season to its mind-boggling final two episodes.

The season’s penultimate episode, "A Farewell," provides the show’s biggest twist to date, and those wondering why Colin and Laszlo have been spending so much time together got their answer. Energy vampires only live to be 100, a fact that Laszlo has concealed from Colin, who is celebrating his 100th birthday. After Laszlo does his best to fill the end of Colin’s life with joy, Colin passes on. The house is left reeling, with everyone trying to figure out how to move on. Guillermo and Nandor come to blows over unresolved feelings and Nandor’s plan to leave Staten Island, and Nadja and Laszlo bicker over returning to Laszlo’s native London (something he vowed to never do) so she can accept a position on the Supreme Vampiric Council. Nandor, allegedly satisfied with Guillermo’s ability to defend himself and ready to embrace his affection for his former familiar, vows to take Guillermo with him on his trip and make good on his word to make him a vampire. Laszlo agrees to join Nadja to London, after revealing that he only left because of their classist views towards her.

matt berry in what we do in the shadows season 3
Matt Berry | FX

With Guillermo and Nandor ready to embark on their world tour, and Nadja eager to achieve new professional heights, there’s only one thing left for Laszlo to do—bid goodbye to Colin Robinson’s body. He returns, something slightly off, and departs for the docks with Nadja and Guillermo, who is helping with luggage before joining Nandor at the train station. As Nadja’s coffin is loaded onto the boat, Laszlo somberly wishes her a safe trip. As Guillermo turns to wish Laszlo goodbye, Laszlo pushes Guillermo into the coffin, sealing him in instead. In a letter to Nadja, Laszlo confesses he is sending Guillermo to be Nadja’s bodyguard in London, as he must remain in Staten Island to see to other important matters. The letter reveals what the writers have been insinuating about Laszlo the whole season: Despite his outwardly self-obsessed nature, he is the most sentimental of the group. For the first time, he vouches for Guillermo’s skill as a friend and defender, and reassures Nadja that she will shine in her new position while he takes care of unforeseen business in Staten Island—raising a regenerated, baby version of Colin Robinson.

There’s no question that What We Do in the Shadows set up huge plot points for themselves moving into Season 4. Will Laszlo be able to handle being a guardian to baby Colin Robinson? Will Nadja and Guillermo girlboss their way through the Supreme Vampiric Council? Does Nandor believe Guillermo rejected him? And how are they all going to find one another when they reunite? It would be easy for the show to find some quick and easy resolution, reuniting everyone early in the season. Here’s hoping they don’t. Here’s hoping they’re just getting started. They’ve discovered new, shocking, and exciting ways to reinvent the show in its prime. If they explore these new paths they find themselves hurtling down, there’s no stopping them from being one of the best sitcoms of the modern age.

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Heather Beattie is a contributor to Thrillist.