Photo-Illustration: Russ Martin: FX/Copyright 2023, FX Networks. All Rights Reserved.
One thing television has taught me is that usually when someone is being hypercritical of someone else, it’s because they feel threatened by whatever it is they’re harping on. We learned this when Roxxxy Andrews derisively called Jinkx Monsoon a “comedy queen” on season five of RuPaul’s Drag Race. And we learn it again in “A Night Out With the Guys.”
As the episode opens, Laszlo is lifting his leg (proverbially, in this instance) and marking the vampires’ next-door neighbor Sean as his territory. Laszlo is one of the guyyyyyyyys, as he explains with much vocal fry, and his “wit, wisdom, and charm” allow him to spend time with humans as a “psychological comedian” without having to resort to the “cheap tricks” of vampire hypnotism. This, he says, makes him superior to Nandor, who’s so awkward that he has to rely on hypnosis to cover for all the times he makes an ass of himself in front of humans.
Laszlo’s not wrong when it comes to his and Nandor’s respective ability to charm the snake, to use another suggestive turn of phrase. But his posturing does indeed turn out to be a cover for Laszlo’s insecurity about his own hypnotic abilities. We learn this when their classy night out at a Staten Island wine bar with Sean and “the boys” ends with “the boys” resting their slicked-back, wine-drunk heads against the cool surface of a holding cell toilet.
Nandor and Laszlo are fine because they never drink … wine. (The episode was so close to another Dracula quote here, but decided to pull back, which I respect.) It might seem odd that immortal raconteurs who have witnessed (and enthusiastically participated in) debauchery beyond all human imagination are essentially outpartyed by a bunch of suburban wife guys in this episode — unless you’ve partied in the suburbs. #NotAllWifeGuys, of course, but some of those dudes live to get blackout drunk as quickly as possible. It’s awesome, in the “stunned mixture of fear and horror” sense of the word.
Anyway, everything turns out for the best when Laszlo finally admits that he’s jealous of Nandor’s hypnotic abilities and asks for help. Nandor obliges, convincing the NYPD that he and Laszlo are Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and “Thomas” Selleck from the television program Blue Bloods in the process. It was fun to see how calm and confident Laszlo was when surrounded by mortal authorities — and why should a vampire be scared of a cop? Sure, cops have guns. But vampires have super-speed and shape-shifting abilities that make them difficult to hit. And that’s before the mind-control abilities come into play.
Laszlo’s turning out to be the borough’s greatest detective, too, squeezing the truth out of Guillermo without really trying at the end of this episode. As expected, Laszlo thought Guillermo was upset because he had diarrhea — why are the vampires so obsessed with poop? Is it because they don’t do it anymore? — and never expected “Gizmo” to take such radical action in pursuit of his vampire dream. But what’s done is done. Guillermo’s secret is out, and now his fate is in Laszlo’s hairy little hands.
The main plot of episode two wrapped up in a satisfying (and funny!) manner, as did Guillermo and Derek’s visit to the Pine Barrens to consult the Baron and the Sire (always nice to see those cuties again) on what to do about their “friend’s” half-vampiric dilemma. But the episode’s other subplot, involving Nadja and the Guide, felt unresolved by comparison. I can see the thematic through line between Laszlo recognizing his pettiness and insecurity, and Nadja refusing to see hers when it comes to her friendship with the Guide. But there were still lots of questions remaining about the hex — not a curse, a hex — as the episode ended and Nadja and the gang sat around chatting at the diner in Little Antipaxos. Was there actually a hex? If so, who placed it, and why?
If it was the Guide, I sympathize. She and Nadja were so close last season, and now all of a sudden Nadja’s off the blood-bottle and doesn’t have time for her sidekick anymore. They had matching outfits! It was a whole thing! The Guide is clearly hurt that Nadja has forgotten about her so quickly and so drastically — and it seems like Nadja will never change because even after that stupid picture frame spelled out to her exactly what she needs to do to change her fortunes, she still doesn’t get it. The only consolation I can give the Guide is that it isn’t personal. She’s like this with everyone. Just ask Guillermo.
• I’m here for the Quebec slander in this episode, if only because French Canadians are sensitive about not actually being French, and to quote Marie Knodo, “I love mess.”
• Speaking of France, the wine bar where Laszlo, Nandor, and the boys begin their evening is called Gare de l’Est Brasserie — also the name of a major train station in Paris. (“Gare de l’Est” just means “East Railway Station.”)
• In a Laszlo-centric episode, giving Line Reading of the Week to Matt Berry is a given. The two gems this week, IMO, were the steep upward inflection of “Much as it pains me to say THIS!” and everything about “Lay off the breakfast burrit-ahs.”
• The joke about the Greeks “taking Antipaxian cuisine and passing it off as their own” was very funny, given that I’m pretty sure they just used the Greek alphabet to stand in for “Antipaxan.”
• “So much cheap crap and old fish! It’s like looking out the window of my childhood home!”
• “I’ll have the taki-taki without the yogurt.” Colin is a menace.
• The Sire building a cathedral out of Popsicle sticks was adorable.
• I actually gasped when Jonathan the vampire (sorry, wampire) neighbor exploded like a water balloon full of blood. Cheers to the VFX department for creating that one.