Episode Analysis Interview With the Vampire What Can the Damned Really Say to the Damned?

Episode eight of AMC's Interview With the Vampire lays the groundwork for how the show will deviate from the books - for good and ill.

Episode Analysis Interview With the Vampire What Can the Damned Really Say to the Damned?
Image Courtesy AMC

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Interview With the Vampire through episode eight. Read at your own risk.


Welcome back, Interview With the Vampire guys, gals, and non-binary pals! Boy it’s been a while, huh?

Yep, it’s your friendly neighborhood episode analyzer. For those new here (and hi! I saw those new newsletter subscriptions and thank you!), in general what we like to do here is talk about all the aspects of what goes into a TV show or movie and how well it worked. Specifically for AMC’s Interview With the Vampire, I’m also one of the people who got a cease and desist letter from Anne Rice’s lawyers back when Anne Rice decided she no longer liked fanfic. I’ve got a long history with Anne Rice, I’ve been in her homes including an overnight stay, I used to write about her, and I used give tours based on her books, so there’s a tiny bit of history and expertise here that you’re not going to get with your average viewer, I daresay.

If you can allow me the small but related digression as we dust the post-strike hiatus off this place, one of the things I want to be clear is that it’s never my goal to shit on movies and TV for the sake of it. I know the easiest clickbait in the world is to put up a title like “TOP TEN REASONS WHY AMC’S INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE IS A MASSIVE FAIL!!!!!!!!!!” and go to town. But that’s not what we do here.

Don’t get me wrong, if something is bad I will absolutely say it is bad. But I’m going to try to talk about why it was bad.

To give a contrast, during the strike hiatus I saw someone on social media who I won’t name but suffice it to say was not an unknown name in the recap community. She was talking about something that was subpar on a show. It was so minor I can’t even remember what it was. But think something like unto a single scene in an entire series that wasn’t written as well as the others. And her comment was basically that the person responsible for that should be ashamed of themselves, quit Hollywood, and hide themselves away for the rest of their lives for daring to do whatever this supposed bad thing was.

And we’re not talking something offensive. It wasn’t a scene about how we should all kick puppies as a lifestyle choice. It was just something that wasn’t as good a quality as the rest. Which had me sitting there like - why? Why make that comment? Why shit on somebody who was at the very least just trying to get a paycheck to make rent that month? Sure, I get that this recapper was trying to be funny but I honestly do not see the humor in singling out somebody who was in a writer’s room crunch, or who was working on props, or lighting, or whatever and immediately assuming the answer is that this specific person is horrible?

Why not look at the bigger picture? What was the budget? What were the time constraints? Was there somebody in a corporate office insisting that you can do a show without supporting your writer’s room or showrunner? (coughShe-Hulkcough) If there was somebody on set who was getting in the way of quality, who was it and why? Was this a straight up attempt to do lesser quality work or was it people trying their best and you know what? Sometimes life happens.

So yeah. I’ll absolutely be talking about things with AMC’s Interview With the Vampire that don’t work for me - the long ass title of the show that I have to write out in full each and every freaking time to make sure people googling this don’t get lost if they actually wanted to talk about the movie being one such example. But I’m also going to talk about what works and why it works. I’m not going to poop on things just because that’s a low hanging fruit way to get pageviews and I’m not going to shit on it just because it’s an Anne Rice property and Anne Rice’s lawyers personally shoved me out of the fandom. Quality is quality. We honor it when it’s there and as always we respect all levels of production (shameless merch plug).

Right! That all being said, let’s actually talk about the show.

How Was the Acting of AMC’s Interview With the Vampire’s Episode Eight?

You know what else is a long ass title? The episodes. Oh my GOD.

Look, I get that they’re all quotes from the books. Love it. So sweet. All for an homage. But dear zombie JESUS Anne Rice wrote like the greatest inspiration she took from Charles Dickens was wanting to make people believe she was paid by the word. We don’t need to copy her on things that should be pithy!

(She was not. Didn’t have an editor after The Queen of the Damned, but was not paid by the word. Dickens was her favorite author though. The more you know!)

Anyway, point being please have pity on those of us who have to write up these titles for graphics and SEO. Though I suppose also pity for the folks who have to format all the script changes too since, again, we care about all levels of production here.

But yes, season two, episode one, or episode eight as they apparently went with? What Can The Damned Really Say to the Damned.

It’s an interesting start. It’s clearly meant as a start because they’re putting things in place for the season. First up that Delainey Hayles is playing Claudia now. I did my best to try to find out her real life age and came up with goose eggs. I have a strict rule that I do not talk about the performance of child actors on this site. The reason being that kids can google themselves and they do not deserve to see people talking smack about them online. Which means that I don’t say a word if a kid turns in a bad performance but also I don’t say a word if it’s a good performance because then it’s super obvious that if I say Kid A did a great job but not a peep about Kid B that means Kid B didn’t do so great.

And they’re kids. They deserve to be kids.

My personal cutoff here is anything younger than age 20 while they were filming. So if anybody can tell me how old Delainey was while the cameras were rolling that’d be great. If she was 20 or older I’ll comment, but until I get proof of that I’m not saying a word one way or another.

Jacob Anderson, on the other hand, continues to be amazing. I have no idea how things shook out given the strike schedule but man I hope his confession scene from episode one was in his Emmy reel. Likewise his breakdown in tonight’s episode was beautiful. The man knows how to show pain masterfully.

I also like how passive he’s making Louis. Mind you, normally passivity is not something you want out of a protagonist. However, Louis is an extremely passive character in the books. They mixed it up a little in the start of this show by having Louis be a very active and fairly successful brothel owner even before Lestat came along, but otherwise the core of Louis’ personality is that he really does not engage with any agency in his own life. He’d much rather whine about how wretched he is, and how awful life is, and okay he cares but does he have to do stuff about it? Can’t he get by with the minimum amount of effort and have other people make the bold moves and decisions?

So credit to Jacob as well for how he’s embodying that as Louis and Claudia are traveling through Eastern Europe. He’s got a lot of silent physicality going on with his hunched shoulders and quietly taking huge heavy packs that Claudia unceremoniously gives him to carry. This then also makes a wonderful contrast when you see actual signs of life in Louis, like his dreams of Lestat or even how Louis was interested in the reporter in that shelter.

Speaking of Lestat, of course they had to keep Sam Reid on in the show even though Lestat is very much Sir Not Appearing In These Chapters in the book. Lestat as a manifestation of Louis’ guilt is sure as hell a better way to do that than how they brought Chris Pine in for Wonder Woman 1984 so I’m all for it.

(Insert your own joke here about there’s nowhere to go but up compared to the handling of Steve Trevor in WW84).

I made no bones last season about how Sam Reid was perfectly serviceable but not mind boggling to me as Lestat. I know for some people he’s great and I’m happy for them. This is entirely a personal preference. I don’t hate Sam’s performance, I just think that when you have Jacob Anderson right there giving S-tier quality it stands out that Sam’s doing a B+ is all. (More on my harsh and unfair grading system when we get to costumes).

That being said, I appreciate how Sam seems to be trying to alter his performance to reflect that this isn’t the true Lestat but rather Louis’ guilt manifesting as Lestat. Sam’s trying to make changes to how he holds himself and speaks so that it’s sort of a Louis-and-Lestat hybrid. I think it’s too soon to say if he’s successful - this version of Lestat hasn’t had enough lines yet for even Meryl Streep to be able to show a successful performance here - but I like that he’s at least making that a goal. We’ll see how it goes.

Assad Zaman is obviously getting much more to work with as Armand now that we’re allowed to know that he is Armand and not just “Did you notice this mysterious guy? Guy who might be a mystery? Huh? Did ya?”

I said it last season that I’m all for changing race of the characters and, in Armand’s case, especially changing age (he’s adolescent in the books with all the problematic issues regarding sex that entails). I’ve only ever seen Assad Zaman on this show but he looks like he’s got good chops. But Armand being a different race means needing to be mindful about what impact that has on his backstory and how he relates to other characters. And, as I also talked about last season, the show very much punched above its weight when doing that with Louis.

But that’s all on the showrunners in terms of how they’re steering this, so we’ll see how it goes. As for Assad, I do like that we’re seeing a quiet power from him that wasn’t obvious last season - as it shouldn’t have been. I have a personal pet peeve about characters hiding their true nature who still do a devious look to the camera when nobody else is around or whatever. Like that’s purely for the benefit of the audience and not an actual emotion a real person (or vampire) would have. So I do like that last season Armand tried to make himself effectively invisible and this season he’s got a sort of quiet menace to him.

Mind you, Armand is coming of so quietly menacing and controlling that - well one it’s creeping me the eff out. I was in that kind of relationship and it’s no fun, trust me (and my therapist). But also it’s so obvious I’m wondering if it’s a fakeout? Like we’re being so led to believe that Armand is doing something to betray Louis that the surprise reveal is that what he did was helpful?

But I may be overthinking it. I do that. A lot.

Finally shout out to Eric Bogosian who really seems to be hitting his stride as Daniel. Every riff on “real Rashid” cracked me up.

So there’s the quick overview of the acting as best we can cover it when it’s just one episode to go on. How about the rest?

How Was Everything Else in AMC’s Interview With the Vampire Episode Eight?

I crack myself up, I really do

The show at this point is seriously deviating from the book. Last season they made the obvious changes with the year, Louis’ race and background, and Claudia’s race and age, but otherwise they tried to hew as close to the original story as possible. Here they’re going even more off the rails and I want to say I’m 100% for it.

Look, Interview With the Vampire is a great book. It’s defined the entire genre of vampire stories for a reason. But that’s not to say Anne Rice didn’t have her weaknesses. Anne herself recognized that when she finally wrote The Vampire Lestat.

Which actually ties in nicely to what seems to be another conceit of this season that I’m all for: The Unreliable Narrator. Regular readers of the site know I love an unreliable narrator. AMC’s Interview With the Vampire teed up this issue towards the end of last season and it looks like they’re leaning into it hard for this season. Love it. Yes please! Gimme!

For context, what basically happened is that Anne Rice wrote Interview With the Vampire for a few reasons, but one was to help process the death of her daughter. Dead daughter in real life, vampire child who cannot die in the book, not a huge leap. Which I do not say to put it down at all. I’m just saying you can see how it was a very strong thesis statement.

Then in the 80s Anne decided she wanted to revisit the world with The Vampire Lestat. However, she wanted to go in a different direction from Interview With the Vampire. This was more about fun and not mourning. Plus she knew that she’d written Lestat into a corner on many aspects, including who he was as a person (er - vampire) and how alive or dead he was at any given time.

So Anne used the unreliable narrator. Louis narrates the first book. Lestat narrates the second and he tells you straight up Louis is a whiny little bitch with his own spin on events. Just because Louis told you something doesn’t mean it’s true, so here’s Lestat’s take. Boom! Off to the races!

The show is going in a slightly different direction by implying that something has interfered with Louis’ memories on purpose, but I’m still all for it. It makes for a fun little mystery. I’ll be curious to see how much this affects things that we supposedly know. For example, will Lestat be as awful and abusive as we were told last season or will we find out that he wasn’t actually that bad?

Which also relates to the biggest change thus far which is Louis and Armand having a relationship in the first place. Huge change here because not only was that not a thing in the books (save for fanficcers who wanted to spin their own theory on what happened during Louis’ time in Paris) but also Armand and Daniel were the big thing in the books (after Armand and Marius).

Granted, we may find out that Armand and Daniel still had a thing after the first interview. But saying Louis and Armand ever considered each other the great loves of their lives is total show invention.

Which doesn’t make it a bad thing! Again at this point I feel the more the show makes the story its own the better. It just amuses me because c’mon. Game knows game. This was somebody who had their personal pairing and they got to make their fanfic canon. I see you.

In terms of smaller stuff, something that didn’t work for me in this episode was how Claudia was written as stupid. Because we’re introduced to the idea that Claudia is the powerhouse behind this leg of the trip. She’s figuring out the maps, she’s learning the language, she’s charming the guards long enough to get her close enough to kill them. Yet when she’s with a group of children in a town where she’s told only two adults know English she’s talking English to them? When she sees an obviously feral vampire in the woods she’s all “New friend?” like an actual conversation will happen?

Don’t get me wrong, I get that the point is she was desperate for connection with other vampires. But that worked better in the scene with the woman vampire who could actually talk. I don’t have a problem with how Claudia would be so thrilled to have finally met an adult female vampire that she’d check some of her common sense - or ability to sense imminent problems with that nearby fire - at the door. But the feral vampire? No. Did not make sense.

Also not for nothing but last season they decided to make Claudia the victim of sexual assault by a vampire stranger. Now if the show wants the audience to forget that ever happened I’m fine for making that deal. However what this reads like is the show pulled a The Last of Us style “Oops! We forgot if we throw in a scene that significantly deviates from the character and/or worldbuilding of source material that actually needs to have an impact past this one scene” moment.

And all of this is even dumber when you realize this episode, like the rape episode, was written by Hannah Moscovitch. So arguably she should remember the rape and the impact it would have. However, Hannah was also the one who said that Claudia, the native of New Orleans, never noticed it floods all the god damn time so “stupid and far too easily assaulted for no good reason” is apparently Hannah’s sticky note for how to summarize Claudia’s character.

Finally, we’ve got Carol Cutshall back on costumes. Now I did a whole thing about costume design that her work in season one was the impetus for so I want to stress I’m grading Carol very unfairly. But I also want to stress this is a compliment.

Because look, Carol did beautiful work last season. But, as I said in the costume article, it was so good that it left me wondering why it wasn’t better. I am a thousand percent being the asshole parent asking their kid why they earned an A minus because I know damn well they’re capable of an A plus. This is the same reason why we grade Zendaya and Law Roach’s efforts at this year’s Met Gala harder than we do Chris Hemsworth’s. Because Law Roach and Zendaya have to top Joan of Arc while Chris Hemsworth’s stylist just has to make sure Chris doesn’t show up in adult sized Thor underoos as part of the ongoing desperate pitch to get a fifth movie absolutely nobody but Chris is asking for.

So I am on the lookout for Carol and her team to elevate what they did last season. You’ve had a season of historic clothing under your belt (heh) so you know how to put it all together. Now stop copying someone else’s homework and make your own stories with the outfits.

As far as that goes, I don’t think there was much, if anything, in tonight’s episode that did that. If any of the outfits were more than stuff pulled from a warehouse or bog standard period piece patterns I’d be surprised. But! This was a quick zoom through of an area, so frankly not where you want to spend your time and money building story with costumes. So much like it’s too early to judge what Sam’s doing as DreamStat it’s too early to judge the costume work this season as well. Based on the previews, though, I have high hopes for what’s to come.


As always, things that didn’t fit anywhere else.

  • Not that I need my gay vampire horror show to get deep into these issues, but at the same time they did kind of “yadda yadda” the Holocaust in much the same way they yadda yadda’d slavery last season. Like if you’re touching on it at all do it better.
  • As for example, if you say it’s during the Holocaust and mention your characters are able to see the trains, then realize if you have flakes of something falling from the sky the first thing coming to your audience’s mind isn’t that it’s snow.
  • The vampiric actions, like Claudia leaping around and throwing the heart, felt too cartoony to me. The supernatural stuff felt more, well, natural last season.
  • Not to jinx it but I notice no use of “Les” or “du Lac” this year. Dare we hope it’s because they realized that’s not how anyone would shorten “Lestat” and “de Pointe du Lac” respectively? (Words and sounds mean things!)
  • How freaking long was that first night at the shelter? And if it was just one night, why did the woman go back out to get more rabbits? Especially if she knew/suspected there were vampires? Even if there weren’t vampires there’s also wolves and, yanno, it’s fucking dark. Since she’d already brought in one round of rabbits from the traps it made no sense she’d go out at - what? 2am? 3am? to get more. Take a nap and gather them when you can actually see.
  • Related, what exactly was Louis and Claudia’s plan for sleep? Yeah, they were going to hide under the flooring in the boiler room but did they think nobody was going to look for them during the day at all? Notice the bent floor?
  • Plus why did they keep yelling at each other when they could possibly be overheard? Use telepathy! Again this is just basic stuff that makes characters look like idiots. I don’t wanna say it seems to be a Hannah trademark buuuuuuuuuuuut….
  • Did not miss the Wham! style closeups from last season. Not hugely thrilled that one snuck in tonight but hopefully it’s the last time that will happen.
  • We’re all on the same page that the person bidding on the artwork is Lestat, right? I’m assuming in a final ep of season two reveal?

And that’s all she wrote, folks! By which I mean me. See you next week as we discover how season two unfolds.

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