Episode Analysis Interview With the Vampire: Do You Know What It Means To Be Loved By Death?

The ninth episode of AMC's Interview With the Vampire puts things in place for the rest of the season while highlighting what the show does well.

Episode Analysis Interview With the Vampire: Do You Know What It Means To Be Loved By Death?

Warning: The following contains spoilers for AMC’s Interview With the Vampire through episode nine as well as through the book The Queen of the Damned. Read at your own risk.


Episode nine of AMC’s Interview With the Vampire, Do You Know What It Means To Be Loved By Death And Also To Use Long Ass Titles That Honor the Source Material But Sweet Jesus Shut Up Already, is not an episode where a ton of things happen. It’s not a filler episode or a boring episode. It’s not a bad episode by any means either. But it’s also largely about putting things in place for the rest of the season instead of making bold moves.

Which means there’s not so much to dig into the episode in and of itself, because the full value of it won’t be known until the rest of the season unfolds. Though it is a compliment to the show’s overall quality that at this point we can trust that piece set up now will have payoff. So let’s talk about that.

Fair warning I will need to reference some things that happen in the books, but nothing too spoilery. Still, giving that heads up for anyone who thinks any reference at all is too spoilery.

The Interesting Details of AMC’s Interview With the Vampire Episode 9

First up, let’s give a shout out to Ben Daniels and his performance of Santiago. Also a tip of the hat to whoever came up with this spin on the character. In the books he’s more menacing right off the bat. And not that there’s anything wrong with that but I do love this version as a low key bitchy queen who takes his part as an actor far too seriously. Whether they keep him on this level or whether they use this humor to set up a contrast to him becoming more terrifying later on I’m all for it.

(To be clear I have no spoilers about that, I’m simply suggesting that possibility based on how he was in the book.)

On the topic of setting things up for the future, one of the things I like about AMC’s Interview With the Vampire is that it’s proven itself as a show that can handle putting understated clues in front of the audience that have payoff later. For example, in season one there was the story of Louis pretending to be Lestat’s servant which lay the groundwork for the later reveal that Armand was doing the exact same thing the whole time. This makes me suspect that there’s a lot more going on in episode nine that is going to payoff by the end of the season.

Yes, there’s obvious things like the shot of Armand saying something to Daniel about his time as a child. But more subtle things. I won’t risk spoilers by getting too specific here. But I’m talking about things like offhand comments about possible tension or someone’s state of mind.

More obviously, one of the things the show is setting up is the idea that frankly at this point Louis is dead weight to Claudia. This one is a bit of a mixed bag for me so let me first do the reminder that I can’t find any mention of Delainey Hayles’s age so I’m erring on the side of caution that she may have been underage while filming (even though in the behind the scenes clip for episode nine she referred to the murder mansion scene as adults having fun, seemingly including herself). So I’m focusing my comments on the choices about Claudia and not how Delainey is handling them.

First of all, while I get that the show had a reason to age Claudia up, making her a teenager who could plausibly look like an adult with the right makeup undercuts how dependent she is on vampires in adult bodies to help her. As a reminder, in the books Claudia was barely past being a toddler when she was turned. She was extremely dependent on anyone in an adult body because adult humans had every reason not to listen to her. As a teenager, even if she was young looking, there isn’t as much holding her back from striking out on her own. Yeah, she might run into some obstacles but not as much as someone in the body of a five year old would have.

The thing Claudia had to do to survive is become extremely clever and manipulative. Which the show has done a fairly good job of showing, but again undercuts itself by occasionally making her stupid in ways that are not plausible for the character. As I said last week, I buy that Claudia’s eagerness to bond with an adult female vampire would make her ignore warning signs about how the conversation is actually going to go. I don’t buy that she’d be so stupid as to think a feral vampire with its face falling off is going to stop and want to bond when it’s in the middle of desperately feeding.

To that end, I don’t agree with all the choices made for her character this week either. It’s not as bad as last week, but things like her staring frozen faced and eyes wide in response to the show at Theatres des Vampires is such a downgrade for the character when other versions of her could astutely comment on the cleverness and symbolism of what she was seeing.

I keep harping on this change for Claudia even though I love the other character changes the show has done because for Claudia’s story to work it needs the pathos that she is a clever woman trapped in the body of a child. Armand himself references this but it rings hollow when Claudia’s intelligence is the first thing the show drops when it should instead be her defining characteristic. (It also gets undercut when they age up Armand. In the books Armand is in the body of a fourteen year old, which demonstrates how he knows whereof he speaks on this matter.)

All that being said, what I do like is that they are remembering to show that in many ways Claudia is the adult of the relationship between her and Louis. She’s clearly trying to nudge Louis into having a life outside of her because his dependency on her is stifling. So at the very least the show is striking the right balance in terms of who is the smarter and frankly more mature of the both of them, so kudos for that.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to production designer Mara LePere-Schloop as well as her whole team. The props and settings on this show have always been on point, but in this episode in particular there were two things that stood out.

First, we see Claudia holding the diary Daniel is reading from in the modern day which is a beautiful touch to bring to life (heh) how she really was putting her thoughts down in these moments.

Second, everything about the letter Lestat wrote to Louis. This is one of those things where so much work gets done for a blink and you’ll miss it moment but notice how much storytelling is there. Lestat got a box for the presentation even though what he had in there wasn’t that big. The letter was closed with a wax seal, which could be both because he’s old and because he’s a pretentious twat. The fact that he’s got his own seal at all says something.

Then the letter is written on nice paper with embossing and the whole nine yards. This speaks volumes about how he loves to have the finer things, he used some of these finer things for Louis, he took the time to write the letter (and let’s be real, Lestat’s impulsive ass went through multiple versions of this letter we all know it), he took the time to give it a nice presentation, and so on.

All this in something that you only get to glimpse for the maybe - what? ten seconds the letter is in the shot before Sam Reid takes over to say what’s on it? So much work that could be easily overlooked and props did it anyway. Love it. Love this attention to detail.

(Also from a writing perspective, I love how even in his most over the top romantic gesture to Louis Lestat still has to point out he loves himself most of all. That is also true to the character and perfectly handled.)

So yeah. Not an earth shattering episode but not a bad one either. Interested to see how things go from here.


As always, things that don’t fit anywhere else:

  • Another detail which stood out is that in the interview Armand frequently speaks for Louis’ emotions, not just his own take on Louis' memories. Further fuel to the theory that Armand has possibly been putting his own perception/spin on events for Louis for a while now.
  • Likewise the way Armand had the math of how much longer he and Louis were together compared to Louis and Lestat. I liked how Assad Zaman read that line like Armand knew the time down to the second too, and just knew better than to say that part out loud. Somebody is bitter.
  • Another nice understated detail was the way Daniel’s hand was shaking early on. They showed it but didn’t hit you over the head with it. It easily came off as a symptom of Daniel’s failing health until the later reveal that it was actually him reacting to having his mind fucked with.
  • I also liked how the scene of the blatant manipulation showed how Armand and Louis are dangerous. And make no mistake, Louis is a dangerous vampire. He likes to think of himself as a good one because he feels so super guilty about what he does, but all that means is he gets other vampires to do horrible things for him. Remember in the first season Louis talked about how he doesn’t drink from humans but he does drink from Armand…. who drinks from humans. How does that make Louis any better than if he drank from humans directly? It doesn’t, except that it lets Louis tell himself he is somehow morally superior. Lestat is an asshole, make no mistake, but Lestat is also not wrong when he points out that Louis is a piece of work all his own.
  • In the books Daniel is at the very least bisexual because he’s in a relationship with Armand. Regardless, even if AMC’s Daniel is straight, the man lived in San Francisco not only for a significant bit of time but during the 70s and 80s. He knows damn well why gay men had to cruise parks. I did not buy him being snooty about that as though there were better options available, especially in post war France.
  • Once again I am baffled as to why the show insists that French would be strange to Louis. I can buy it for Claudia since she came around later, but Louis himself is not that far removed from New Orleans being staunchly French. I mean aggressively French. Louis would not have survived in New Orleans high society at that time without speaking French. It’s just not a thing. Now I’m fine for how he might be rusty if he hasn’t spoken it in decades - and maybe that’s what his comment about the mother tongue was meant to convey - but it was such a weird choice to have Claudia being the one who was more fluent than him. Like it’s not a beat they even needed to hit at all, let alone be so oddly inaccurate about.
  • Given that Claudia looks so much older than her age I’d really like a supposed age for Armand here. Louis saying he looked like a boy is a callback to Armand being fourteen in the books because yeah, he looks like a boy because he was a boy! I was assuming that Armand had been significantly aged up, at bare minimum into his twenties, but if we’re saying he’s supposed to look like a boy is this a “All high schoolers on the CW are played by thirty year olds” situation?
  • Louis and Claudia were going through Eastern Europe but Paris is when they first notice food rationing??
  • “We need to stay away from Estelle if we can” was a funny line.
  • A single painting is hardly a shrine but I can buy that Louis would freak out so much he’d take it as such.
  • Finally, according to the credits the seamstress’s name was Madeline. Just putting that out there in case that’s a detail that pays off later. (IYKYK).

And that’s all for now. See you next week!

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