“What We Do in the Shadows” concluded airing its fourth season Sept. 6 on FX. The beloved supernatural-comedy-mockumentary series follows four vampires: Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) and their human assistant, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), through their escapades in modern-day Staten Island.
The fourth season focuses on Nadja and Guillermo’s new spellbinding vampire nightclub, Laszlo parenting a child version of Colin Robinson and Nandor’s quest for companionship. With three seasons already under its belt, does the recently ended fourth installment of the series live up to expectations? In short, yes, although it wasn’t perfect. This season’s good qualities outweigh the not-so-good aspects, making for an entertaining watch and an excellent addition to the series.
The actors gave excellent performances that were consistent with the past three seasons. Particularly, Demetriou killed it as an exasperated, powerful businesswoman with a bit of a sinister side, as Nadja busts a wraith union with no remorse. Moreover, Guillén offered not only the comedic perfection audiences have come to expect from Guillermo, but also a surprising amount of sincerity during his touching coming-out scene. Of course, Berry and Novak impeccably delivered every single line in their respective roles.
These outstanding performances bolstered the season’s simplistic, yet cute, character arcs. In both a logical and entertaining direction for her character, Nadja grew more powerful and exploitative while running the nightclub. Nandor’s multi-season search for companionship finally ended when he remarried, only for him to tragically end up just as dissatisfied as before. And, in a hilariously yet oddly sweet twist, Laszlo proved to be an involved and (mostly) supportive mentor to baby Colin Robinson
Beloved side characters from previous seasons had cameos, including Simon the Devious (Nick Kroll), Jim the Vampire (Mark Richard Hamill) and Baron Afanas (Doug Jones). None of these characters overstayed their welcome, and their inclusion in this season bolstered their respective episodes.
This season featured both superb episode premises and entertaining one-off jokes. Episode eight, “Go Flip Yourself,” stands out as the best episode of the season. It’s a parody of HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” complete with corny cuts to fake commercial breaks, stilted banter and Hallmark-inspired minimalist home decor. This season also had many gripping fight scenes, a continuation of Guillermo’s vampire-killer bloodline and a vampire rapper named “Richie Suck” (whose name speaks for itself).
Underrated yet essential, the sets and costume designs were critical to selling the audiences on the supernatural world. The new and improved locations were a visual treat this season, from the decrepit state of the mansion to the seedy, supernatural night market to the glamorous nightclub.
The costumes were especially stunning. Nadja’s departure from Victorian fashion into a more modern look, is emboldened by the inclusion of sequins and red hair streaks. Nandor’s tunic, cape and mitre-inspired hat, as well as his wife’s sumptuous wedding dress, complete with beading and embroidery, featured remarkable matching gold detailing. The Jersey Devil’s full-body monster costume, another example of amazing practical effects in this series, blew me away with its fur mane, goat legs, four arms and demon head with a moveable jaw. The production design shows the level of detail and care that went into every aspect of the show.
While there is much to love about the latest season of “What We Do in the Shadows”, it did disappoint in a few key aspects. The show disregards its season three finale’s dramatic cliffhanger, in which Laszlo forces Guillermo to travel with Nadja to the U.K., leaving Nandor believing he was abandoned. With the characters separated across continents and last-minute miscommunications in the lurch, I was excited to see how season four would continue that story. However, it was entirely brushed over with a time skip between seasons and an anticlimactic reunion of the cast, hastily resetting the series to its status quo.
Furthermore, the new characters introduced this season were not always utilized well. While I was excited to see Nandor’s resurrected wife, Marwa (Parisa Fakhri), interact with the rest of the cast and join the antics, I was left disappointed that her sole plotline revolved around her marriage. Similarly, the Djinn (Anoop Desai) had great comedic moments scattered throughout, yet his involvement past episode two, “The Lamp,” was limited. When he was on screen, he wasn’t given anything to do except grant Nandor’s wishes and react to other characters. I hope that Marwa and the Djinn return, and that the writers harness their potential more effectively.
Finally, baby Colin Robinson was a mixed bag of quality. There were some great bits with Colin in the first few episodes, such as his Lego YouTube videos and Mr. Beast obsession. However, once the novelty of an obnoxious, gamer-kid-turned-child-star character wore off, Colin Robinson became a one-note gag that went on for too long before abruptly getting cut off, as Colin Robinson becomes a teenager for half an episode, then an adult one episode later.
Between the new characters and the awkward time skip between seasons, season four sometimes struggled to find its footing. However, it consistently delivered great character moments, stunning sets and costumes and, most importantly, instantly iconic jokes. The fourth season of “What We Do in the Shadows” is not merely satisfactory — it is a fabulous continuation of the deliciously irreverent and wickedly witty series.