Interview with the Vampire 1×03 “Is My Very Nature That of the Devil?” is by far the most thought-provoking episode of the series to date. While this third episode continues the second’s focus on Louis’ moral struggles with his “very nature,” it also gets to the heart of exactly why this new interview views Lestat so differently.
That alone would make for a compelling and powerful episode of television. But there is so much more to parse out here — particularly the historical context of the series’ chosen setting, as well as the roles jealousy and insecurity play in Louis and Lestat’s relationship.
That last one is especially important, considering where the episode ends. But, rather than spoil the Claudia of it all for those who are coming in blind, let’s just say…buckle up.
“The odyssey of recollection”
The Daniel Molloy in AMC’s version of Anne Rice’s tale is…Well. He’s basically the type of journalist we wish existed in the real world. Daniel asks the difficult questions, calls Louis out on his inconsistencies, and presses him when he’s evasive.
“The boy” no more, Daniel even provides his own insights and has a little bit of an attitude about him. Which is maybe not exactly what we need in the real world. But with some subjects, it’d certainly help.
What’s particularly striking about Daniel’s antagonism in Interview with the Vampire 1×03 is the way he refuses to believe Louis’ “new, improved” version of events. He even plays Louis’ own words from the original interview back for him as proof.
“He was the sow’s ear, out of which nothing fine could be made….I was his complete superior, and I had been sadly cheated in having him for a teacher.”
Which, in keeping with series tradition, these words are taken directly from the text — page 31 of the Ballantine paperback, to be exact. It’s a touch that really works here, as it’s both a nod to, and a confrontation with, what’s “known.”
The modern day scenes in this episode are brilliant in a few ways: First and foremost, Jacob Anderson continues to be the epitome of the “practiced detachment”
Louis Rice describes so often in the book. In ways both big and small, he also lets viewers know when enough is enough from Daniel. And then, there’s the layered, nuanced way we get to compare this Louis to everything we see in flashback.
Another way the interviews work so well is in…basically daring viewers to say this series isn’t faithful enough. Anyone who only knows Louis’ story, and not any of
Lestat’s Anne Rice’s other entries in The Vampire Chronicles, may have a bone to pick with this “out of character” depiction. But, of course, this updated and more complex view of Rice’s characters is about as genuine as it gets.
The version of Lestat that the series delivers us, especially, is more in character. And Louis’ defense of his own retelling demands that viewers accept it.
Furthermore, Daniel does bring up some of the more problematic elements of this relationship. We can — and, in some places, should — use that “abused/abuser psychological relationship” as a lens through which to view their incredibly difficult time together.
In defense of the Brat Prince, for whom many of us have a huge, special place in our hearts: Rather than viewing this as a matter of Louis flipping the script on how survivors react to abusive relationships, what if we frame it as him gaining new perspective over the course of the intervening 50 years?
When we’re upset, and still very close to the situation that hurt us in the first place — still raw — we may only think about the negatives. We may, as Louis did in the original 1976 novel, paint the people in our lives as only their worst selves. That’s especially true when we hate our very existences, so it’d be especially true of a Louis who hated what Lestat had made him.
I’d also argue — again, not trying to look too far ahead…but… — should the series put Louis through a certain major loss as is canon, he most certainly would’ve been looking for a place to put the blame for his pain. Lestat would’ve been an easy target, especially with how imperfect and messy he was as a lover. And especially with his talent for hiding his own insecurities behind bravado and carelessness, pretending to be heartless…Yeah, I’ll stop right there before I go any further.
Interview with the Vampire 1×03 raises multiple questions about how Louis views, should view, Lestat after all this time. Through a fairer, 20/20 hindsight? Perhaps with the benefit of the doubt, after time has granted him a certain level of forgiveness? Or, as Daniel suggests, is this a backwards rewrite — a victim suddenly humanizing his abuser?
That doesn’t even begin to get into the very real fact that, often, we don’t remember things clearly. Sometimes, we remember things that definitely did not happen. Or, we forget things that did. Louis makes a grand show of reminding Daniel of this using his own book against him. And all we can wonder is: Would a vampire’s memory be stronger after more time in the Blood? The answer, in viewing this series, seems to be a resounding “yes.”
And uh. This doesn’t quite fit with talk on memory, but it does come from the same series of arguments between Louis and Daniel. So…
…anyone else a little shocked to see Louis use the Fire Gift on those tapes like that? (When we interviewed the cast, we specifically asked about this and got…a delightfully cagey answer that has us thinking some of our other theories are legit.)
Not only did he use the Gift, but he was so…casual and not-at-all troubled by it? Seems to me he finally took that “embrace what you are” advice. And, having done so…
Actually, it does fit in here, huh? He’d view his time with Lestat, and Lestat himself, quite a bit differently once having embraced his — their — nature. Wouldn’t he?
The vampire doth protest too much.
In an effort to pretend like he doesn’t desperately fear Louis leaving him, Lestat spends a lot of Interview with the Vampire 1×03 partying it up. And by “partying,” of course, we mean finding all sorts of men and women to hook up with. It’s an obvious effort to make Louis jealous, to get a rise out of him, all for some weird sort of self-validation.
He even goes so far as to basically say Louis can do
whatever whomever he wants, too. And, as a surprise to no one, it all blows up in Lestat’s face. It’s actually pretty interesting that Lestat challenges Louis about his “easily-attainable dreams” and then…attempts to go the “easier” route with their relationship. If he listened to his own advice, he would’ve known only aiming for “ok” is a recipe for disaster.
And the easy dreams aren’t dreams at all — they’re nightmares.
There’s absolutely a toxicity to Lestat’s decision to follow Louis into the Bayou and watch his entire encounter with Jonah. But it also speaks to a great amount of insecurity on his part, just needing to see what happens. We also know Louis’ mind is the one he wants to know…and the one he can no longer read. So, he makes a stupid, impulsive decision to find out by any means necessary.
When he and Louis battle it out over the whole messy situation — and really at every single opportunity — Sam Reid does another absolutely stunning job of showing that vulnerable side of the character.
One of the best aspect’s of Reid’s performance is the way he over-acts Lestat’s reaction to Louis’ sincere “aren’t I enough,” only for the character to obviously have that same doubt when the tables are turned. But even before Louis even acts on his “permission” to fuck whoever he wants, Lestat is…not ok with the premise. That Brat Prince smirk after the first “of course” in response to Louis’ question tells the story he wants Louis to believe. But then there are three more instances of “of course” with an “as long as you come home to me” thrown in…And it’s painfully, accurately obvious that he’s trying to convince himself there. Not Louis.
When Louis returns from his night out with Jonah, that “hello” from Lestat is one of the most shy, uncertain moments from the character to date. The seduction that he turns on and off like its nothing isn’t working anymore. It terrifies him. And, while we take a detour to the devastation of Louis’ old family in between, the “I don’t like sharing” during their big fight sums it all up.
So, too, does the utterly devastated expression on Lestat’s face when Louis says Lestat took his life, made him lose his family, and now he’s losing the last thing he cares about. Because, Lestat wants to be the last thing Louis cares about — the only thing, maybe. And, as Lestat already told Louis in the second episode, he is Louis’ family now. But Louis still isn’t accepting it.
And Lestat can not fathom why. After all, hasn’t he given him the great gift of immortality? Support in his businesses? Freedom to do as he wishes? Has Lestat not shared all of his own great passions with Louis? The opera, insight into the artist who designed the square, killing? Has Lestat not made some great sacrifice in giving Louis some space to carry out his baffling preference for animal kills?
And so the internal questioning goes on and on. Doesn’t Louis see how much Lestat loves him? He even “chased an American icon out of town” because of that love. How is it not enough? Lestat obviously worries about why he is not enough. So, he surrounds himself with admirers. And he puts on a show of being the fool, arrogant, unbothered…But when Louis walks away, and when viewers get a shot of his true pain, well. That’s a lot to process.
Lestat does everything for Louis, as he tries (fails) to casually put it at one point. He doesn’t know anything else to try. (Listening might be a good start, Sir.)
He doesn’t see the chains Louis feels he’s been put in. Because he views immortality and killing differently. And he can’t understand how adding all that preternatural strength to Louis’ arsenal almost makes his existence as a Black man in America more difficult.
The demise of Storyville
It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the rage created by Louis’ pain ends in a brutal act of killing that’s enough to impress even Lestat. The anger that comes from pain is the absolute worst kind of anger, and the pain of being a Black man in America is its own unique hurt.
One might even say that killing an unapologetic racist, who seems to think he’s outsmarting the “lesser” Black man in business at every turn, is the more moral kill than all the rats of New Orleans.
Interview with the Vampire 1×03 sets up Louis’ act of violence perfectly — from minute one, really. As the episode opens, he’s puzzling out reasons to kill. He’s asking Lestat if maybe he’s here “for a larger purpose,” if maybe they shouldn’t only go after criminals. And even as Lestat is fawning over the design of the square he’s relaxing in with Louis, Louis’ mind is on the horrors committed there.
“…say anything about how they used to take runaway slaves, cut their heads off, and pike them on the iron gates as a warning?”
The hints are there, and if you look at the way this episode’s climax capitalizes on every single one of them, it makes the genius of it all that much more. It’s perfectly sensible that Louis would wind up delivering justice as some sort of avenging
…it’s also a matter of him just, simply, snapping. How much can a single person take, especially when you add the prospect of an eternity of racist aggressions, both big and small, against him. Louis has already suffered a lifetime of “yes, Sir,” as the previous episode’s first solo kill already reminded us. It’s important to compare this kill to that one, too. Then, Louis’ regret came from the kill itself; this time, it’s all about the unintended consequences of his work.
So, City Ordinance 4118 goes into effect, and Louis’ very successful business is targeted out of a vendetta by Fenwick and Anderson — white men who he bested. Who can’t stand to see him more successful than they could ever be — it’s more of the same for him. But it’s also worse. Because he has all this power as a vampire, yet in many ways remains powerless.
Powerless against the “WHITES ONLY” signs littering the streets, the power being shut off, the double-talk, his desire for Lestat. And, yes, powerless against his own thirst for blood.
So, as Anderson does yet another masterful job of showing Louis’ rage simmering beneath the surface, we have a sense of what’s coming. But it’s impossible to predict just how well it all fits. It is an utterly fascinating reversal of the slave uprising against the plantation-owner version of the character we once met between the pages.
This Louis, rather than the all-powerful white man against whom others rise up, single-handedly makes an example of the oppressor instead. He taunts Fenwick and the others with his “COLOREDS ONLY. No Whites Allowed” sign, with Anderson oozing that “detachment” of Louis’ that’s all over Rice’s pages as the white people point and laugh at him. But you can see the slim control he has even then.
So, when Louis terrorizes Fenwick, then brutalizes him, it’s a moment of triumph. And the tableau against those gates is about as deserved as it gets — about as much of Louis showing Lestat’s own love for the art of killing as it gets, as well. And when the retaliation is to burn it all down, it’s a terribly true-to-life sort of parallel.
Also important, yet secondary to the historical context and societal commentary here, is what Louis tells Fenwick: “I am a vampire.” It’s in direct contrast to all the struggle he’s had with that part of himself, which he’s now embracing. And it’s even a huge difference from the “I was no vampire” self-deprecation in the book.
How something so incredibly different from the original story can keep its spirit so well — while providing a huge reversal of context — I’ll never know. But Interview with the Vampire 1×03 is the perfect example of how possible it is to do so. And do so very, very well.
More thoughts on the nature of Interview with the Vampire 1×03
- “The version we speak of now is the more nuanced portrait.” Indeed.
- Not Lestat getting booed for playing Bach’s Minuet in G Major. Rude.
- Ok, but hear me out. “Rashid” knows who Marius is. He also shows up and lingers, for no obvious reason, when Louis is discussing his Bayou hookup. Why. Does anyone else…have…a thought on this? I’ve got a thought.
- “I can’t be definitive. So much of that year was a blur…” Memory is unreliable.
- “I do not consider myself abused.” And. “I am not a victim.” People, please don’t insist someone is one of those things when they either aren’t, or just aren’t ready to admit it. It’s not productive. The end.
- “…like you were locked in some fucked up Gothic romance.” You say that like it’s a bad thing.
- “From time to time, I like a little variety. There. I said it.”
- Um…that kiss.
- Will never get sick of Lestat’s chest. There. I said it.
- “We’ll be together ten thousand nights. A hundred thousand. What we’re doing is hard. Anything that wards off the dullness of the everlasting road we walk…The pleasures of flesh, pleasures of the kill, for me…” He tries so hard to pretend not to care. And then, this. Lestat, baby, you’re a romantic. Just say it.
- Lestat de Lioncourt, jazz icon. As a future rockstar, and with rock basically evolving (stealing, tbh) from jazz, this makes the most sense ever.
- “Tell me what I believe, Louis. Excavate the heart of thoughts buried beneath my damned soul.” Lestat: I didn’t get that far in my reading. Also, Lestat: I am a fucking poet.
- “Every one of them is capable of abomination, even the ones worthy of admiration.” He’s not wrong. In fact, he’s about as on point as it gets.
- “Whisper to them their Lord God and Savior is not listening, and you will see all kinds of depravity.” Especially true of the loudest “religious” people.
- “I’m not a gossip.” “But I am.” We know, Lestat. Trust us. We. Know.
- “What you imagine confines us to a single note. Why not a chord? Why not a cluster?”
- “Sinister talk of molars and bicuspids around every corner.” I actually hate him. (Not really.)
- “Been called a cunny, a cow, and a bitch that ate a thousand dicks. You want to apologize for calling me a woman? Ooh! Leave your wife. I’ll make you a happy man, Mr. Anderson.” I. LOVE. HER.
- “Take a Black man in America. Make him a vampire. Fuck with that vampire, and see what comes of it.” I think this is Daniel Molloy’s version of “fuck around and find out”?
- “Actually, the man had 20 children in his lifetime.” Correct!
- “Feel like a boot. On my neck.”
- “Better than getting shot at for a country that makes you use the side entrance.”
- “He’s…a lot. He’s not perfect.” Lestat de Lioncourt, in a nutshell.
- …and then, the way he throws that back at Louis. They are perfect adaptations of these characters.
- “Is ‘ok’ what you desire?” I mean. Neither of you is ok, so it’s a good start!
- Excellent show of how much using the Spell Gift on alllllllll those men sapped Lestat of his energy. And let’s not start on the smirk after the last one saluted him. We’ll be here forever.
- “…that’s a stupid fucking business plan.” How many of us think this about our bosses all the time? Justice for Brick!
- That head tilt in Tom’s face, all while he’s ignoring the admonishment for not calling the white man “Sir.”
- Fenwick, in his racist rant: “You haven’t accepted your place in this world.” Louis, finding acceptance in his place as a vampire: You thought.
- And he’s so calm sitting there before he just…ATTACK. MODE.
- “…my temples throbbed, and I could finally stand it no longer.” (Book, 73.)
- He is so preternaturally calm when he gets out of that chair at Fenwick’s, too. Utterly lethal.
- “I didn’t do it for me. I did it for my city, my people.”
- Lestat is horny over Louis’s kill, while Louis is busy worrying about, you know, systemic racism. They are not the same.
- Of course, “Lestat is horny” is a redundant statement.
- Ok but why leave out the 1918 flu, when it would’ve provided a great parallel to modern times? Not to mention, wouldn’t it have worked for updating Claudia’s emergence, next to a dead mother, as they were packing in an attempt to escape a plague that inevitably caught up with them?
Thoughts on Interview with the Vampire 1×03 “Is My Very Nature That Of The Devil?” Drop us a comment!
Interview with the Vampire airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC, with the next episode releasing on AMC+ the same day.
I was surprised that Lestat cheats on Louis in front of him, then laughs in his face when he asks if he’s enough 🙁 After allowing Louis to have an open relationship, too, he follows and watches Louis with Jonah; he gets jealous. That alone is creepy .. then again, he’s been stalking him since episode 1. Is he like this in the books?
He’s a messy mass of contradictions in the books, but I don’t remember him being quite so forward in terms of shoving his hookups in Louis’ face. There was a musician (not Antoinette), but he mostly went off on his own for those encounters. The night of the plot to kill him, he’d tried to get Louis to go with him to see this mortal guy and got outraged when Louis stayed behind. Otherwise…there was Freniere, but that was framed more as Lestat wanting his property. If anything, Louis kind of made his infatuation with Freniere’s relative Bianca clear at that point.
Anything else, I haven’t retained and have, somehow, managed to gloss over even in all my detailed digs for quotes over the course of the TV adaptation. :/