Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for the What We Do in the Shadows Season 5 finale.
The fifth season of What We Do in the Shadows has arguably been the series’ best. That’s a hard thing to accomplish, as the show only gets better by the season. Each year, the writers and cast find new ways to top themselves without jumping the shark. Every time you think you’ve seen it all, they deliver a surprise. You thought it was nuts when Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) died and came back as a giant-headed baby? Think again.
Since the beginning, the biggest ongoing and unresolved storyline has been the desires of Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén). Guillermo, as vampire Nandor’s (Kayvan Novak) human familiar, has longed to be a vampire. It’s all he truly wants. He’s the glue holding these undead roommates together, but he wants to be noticed, to be one of them. While there’s an argument to be made that Guillermo should stay a human rather than change who he is, Chekhov’s gun tells us that with Guillermo talking about wanting to be a vampire so often, it had to happen at some point.
Nandor’s Reaction to Guillermo’s Vampire Turn in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Was Much-Anticipated
Last season’s finale of What We Do in the Shadows ended with a shocker, with Guillermo going to his vampire friend Derek (Chris Sandiford) to turn him. He’d been begging Nandor for years to keep his promise to turn him, but sick of being turned down, he takes matters into his own hands and has another vampire do it. Season 5 opens with Guillermo going through with it. Derek does indeed bite Guillermo on the neck in a hilariously bloody scene, but nothing goes right. Guillermo’s turn is excruciatingly slow. He can’t fly, can’t turn into a bat, can still go out in the day, and has the most pathetic little wings. He still seems way more human than vampire.
Fans wondered what Nandor would do when he found out about Guillermo’s turn. His familiar kept it from him, though every other vampire in the house found out and warned Guillermo of the fate that awaited him. For Guillermo to have another vampire other than his master turn him would bring great shame to his master. If Nandor ever found out, and in time he most certainly would, he would kill Guillermo and then himself. The fifth season had Laszlo (Matt Berry) studying Guillermo’s strange lack of change, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) taking him to a vampire doctor when he got hurt, then saving him, and Colin Robinson showing no interest at all. While this all made for some funny moments, the tension kept increasing ahead of that moment when Nandor inevitably found out. What would he do? How would he and Guillermo co-exist? What kind of life would Guillermo live as a vampire?
Guillermo Changes His Mind About Being a Vampire in the ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Season 5 Finale
What We Do in the Shadows‘ two-part season finale did finally deliver on this revelation, when The Guide (Kristen Schaal) sort of spilled the beans, forcing Guillermo to confess, and then fly away for his life (fear made him a great bat) while an angry Nandor raged about how he was going to kill him. Shit was hitting the fan and nothing would ever be the same again. The series as we knew it had evolved into something quite different… except that’s not what happened at all. Instead, we got something similar to Colin Robinson’s arc in Season 3. It was a huge, series-altering moment when Colin Robinson died and then came back as a baby. In the end, however, Colin Robinson was back to his usual droll, adult self. Nothing had changed. Everything was back to where it was. That’s unfortunately exactly what happened with Guillermo’s vampire life as well.
Of course Nandor wasn’t going to kill Guillermo. Something was going to intervene. What changed Nandor’s mind was a funny couple of scenes where the vampire befriends actor Patton Oswalt, only to get mad and push him off a roof to his death. The death of this new friend makes Nandor realize that he doesn’t want to be without his friend in Guillermo. Nandor decides he’s no longer angry with Guillermo and welcomes him back into the house like nothing ever happened. Already, What We Do in the Shadows is starting to hint at moving backward rather than forward. No matter, Guillermo de la Cruz is still a vampire. Nandor can forgive him all he wants, but it doesn’t change that huge fact. Guillermo even becomes more of a vampire when he finally drinks human blood. His voice deepens, his fangs protrude, and he moves around the house with dangerous speed. It’s as if Guillermo has been reborn. The next step of the series was right there, but then What We Do in the Shadows decided to play it safe.
Where Can Guillermo and Nandor Go From Here in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’?
Everything is fine until the vampires go out on a human hunting spree. While the others bathe themselves in blood, Guillermo’s energy quickly changes. He can’t kill. He’s simply too empathetic, looking at a person and seeing not food but a soul with thoughts and feelings. It becomes a dealbreaker for the man who has so longed to be dead. Now that he is, he’s found that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. There’s an interesting story to be told there, to get everything you’ve ever wanted, only to hate it, but then have to be stuck with your choices. What We Do in the Shadows doesn’t do this. Instead, they gave Guillermo a quick way out.
Nandor accepts Guillermo wanting to be human again very easily. He doesn’t even seem to be hurt by it. None of the vampires are really. The potential for conflict is dismissed. Nandor then holds a ceremony. In it, Guillermo is told to kill a hooded Derek, who can’t see what’s happening. If he puts a stake through the heart of the vampire who turned him, Guillermo will turn human again, but just like he couldn’t kill a living person, he can’t kill an undead one either. Nandor takes the stake from Guillermo and does it himself, stabbing it through Derek’s chest and killing him. Guillermo instantly turns human again. He went through so much only to end up exactly where he was. There was still the potential of him having to deal with the death of his friend, but nope, What We Do in the Shadows brings Derek back to life when Laszlo takes him to a necromancer who resurrects him.
In the end, everything is back where it was. Guillermo got out of his predicament and Nandor quickly accepted his betrayal. There were no changes and no consequences. What’s left for Season 6 of What We Do in the Shadows? Guillermo’s biggest plot point has always been him wanting to be a vampire. Now that this dream is gone, who is he? What does he dream of now? What are his goals? This too holds potential for some great storytelling. Maybe now Guillermo focuses on his Van Helsing roots more, or on finding love. The other big Chekhov’s gun plot in the series has been the will-they-won’t-they between Guillermo and Nandor. It’s time to go there, too. Season 5 of What We Do in the Shadows, while still fun and hilarious, also played it safe and easy. The season finale gave us a show going backward for the first time. Season 6 needs to go big and bold.