Interview with the Vampire 1×04 “The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood With All A Child’s Demanding” introduces the child vampire Claudia, for better and worse. Notably worse: When it comes to characterization, it’s the series’ first major departure from the source material.
Sure, we’ve changed the time period and actually introduced representation of something other than white Europeans and white plantation owners. That’s led us into some really interesting storytelling and development that was most certainly not on the page. But, even when making that much-needed update, the series has always remained faithful to who the characters are at their cores. Prior to now, at least.
With Claudia, though, that doesn’t always feel like the case. And that…leads to some kind of mixed results.
In our advance review of this series, we made it clear that, while we had issues with Claudia, those were not necessarily due to the acting. And we stand by that after an additional viewing — for the most part. Given the material, Bailey Bass does a really good job of selling it. So, yes, the acting is part of what works here.
It’s the very beginning of Claudia’s story, however, where Interview with the Vampire 1×04 is at its best. In the first place, there’s the begging, pleading Louis does to get Lestat to save the child. He feels a connection to, and responsibility for her, and he is burning in his ever-present guilt. After all, he found Claudia all alone, on the verge of dying in a fire caused by his own kill.
As has become the theme for this show, everything hinges on the complicated love between these two men. And rightfully so.
Jacob Anderson portrays Louis’ damned-near praying to his maker-slash-lover so utterly perfectly. And, then there’s the way Sam Reid, as Lestat, shows his character battling against his own better impulses. Before, of course, he eventually gives in. Lestat does, as he told us in the third episode, do everything for Louis, after all. Here, he’s really, really showing us.
And that caress before Lestat finally gives in is absolutely everything. Full stop.
Then, there’s the way the episode flips a well-known moment from the film adaptation on its head. Rather than putting Bass up to the (potentially unfair) task of emulating Kirsten Dunst’s iconic “I want some more,” Anderson delivers an utterly bewildered version of the same sentiment. It’s comedy in a place where there absolutely shouldn’t be any, but that’s what makes it land so effectively. You can’t help but crack up in that moment, and it’s a great nod to those of us who know that story.
As far as Claudia’s “ruthless pursuit of blood with all a child’s demanding,” the episode certainly delivers on that, as well. And in terms of the characterization of Claudia as someone who could use her innocence to lure in victims, there is nothing — absolutely no moment — in Interview with the Vampire 1×04 better than when Claudia rushes off to murder a policeman.
She hums that tune, is the picture of an abandoned child in need of help, and then delivers an utterly ruthless kill. To a barely lesser extent, Claudia’s kill at Lovers’ Lane is equally a thing of beauty. Which, admittedly, that’s a weird thing to say about a vicious murder. But. Here we are.
Introducing Claudia’s diaries, letting her tell her own story — and showing her two dads’. Or, uh, dad and uncle’s…reactions — is also a nice touch.
The same goes for letting Claudia experience her adorable first love and then having it horribly dashed. Having love ripped away from us is relatable, and when we feel like it’s our fault — and, in this case, it’s not just a feeling. It’s definitely Claudia’s fault Charlie’s dead, considering she drained him herself — it’s that much more of a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking experience that can leave even the strongest among us feeling live we’ll never recover.
In fact, I’d even argue that one of the most powerful shots of the entire series to date is that of Lestat forcing Claudia to watch as Charlie burns. Bass portrays that anguish in a way that, whether you’ve connected with the character overall or not, your heart can’t help but bleed for her. And in that moment, Reid is about the coldest, most hateful and villainous, version of Lestat we’ve seen yet.
Not to mention, just as a visual, seeing the characters through the image of the flames, is pretty cool. Or, well. Pretty hot, I guess. It is, in fact, fire? (I’m a nerd. Hush.)
Honestly, the entire concept of a teenaged, rather than 5-year-old, Claudia is pretty fascinating. We were looking forward to it…but the execution is, uh…not great.
…and what most definitely does not
Look: It’s been, how you say…a minute since I was a teenager. However, I have consistently worked with them — and even pre-teens, from about sixth grade on up through undergraduate-aged — as an adult. And this…
The Claudia we see here is just not my personal experience as a teenager. It also doesn’t meet the perception I have of the many teen girls I’ve worked with.
In fact, the infantilization — with frequent whiny tantrums, and skipping all around the house, and a lot of the other touches — is almost insulting. I don’t know if, given that we’re experiencing Claudia’s diaries through an old, white dude in Interview with the Vampire 1×04, we were supposed to feel like we were getting a very male-gazey, stereotypical, false interpretation of that experience on purpose or if it’s just what happened here. But it’s upsetting and, quite frankly, kind of insulting.
Certainly, changing hormones are…not fun at that age. And Anne Rice’s vampires have always lived in a certain extreme. But there’s still something very, very off with this erratic, out-of-control version of the character. As Jasmine put it in our partnered advance review, we really just need her to calm down.
For just a damned minute, even.
As Bass put it during the roundtable interview, there is a sense of Claudia’s “brain never fully developing” to maintain here. But as the 5-year-old Claudia matured, over the course of 65 years, in Rice’s work, there was a sense of growth there. In fact, that was part of made her so utterly terrifying, that wisdom and maturity staring back from behind a child’s eyes.
This Claudia…She has her moments. They’re just few and far between.
Like, why is she skipping all over the place???? Even after she’s aged a few years? Again, it’s not my personal experience, or my personal perception, of 14-year-olds, much less 18- or 19-year-olds, that they regularly behave like that. The squealing and acting a bit over-the-top over the first crush, certainly…
I’d actually love — and this isn’t being said with snark — to know what other viewers have loved about this character. (I’ve seen chatter online since the AMC+ release, yet have been unable to respond.) So, please, chime in in the comments…politely if you want an actual dialogue.
More thoughts on Interview with the Vampire 1×04
- Complaints about Claudia being portrayed as super immature for her age — at least in this viewer’s opinion — aside, I am grateful that the series didn’t do something even worse.
- She said “ACAB” before it was cool and turned Lovers’ Lane into Bloodbath Lane. Love that.
- It’s just that, again, you can’t say, “Claudia’s older in our version of the story” and then have her behave, at times, like she’s 5 or 10.
- I don’t really have a lot of opportunities to go, “omg, the book said that here,” but. I will say that Interview with the Vampire 1×04 does Louis’ words about his close relationship with his daughter justice. Namely (p.105 in my handy-dandy copy): “I loved her so completely; she was so much the companion of my every waking hour.” That scene where Daddy Lou and Claudia are out alone is good for that. The conversation also plants some seeds for…
- Well. If you know, you know. And if you don’t, buckle up.
- Lestat being jealous of, and being incapable of understanding, Louis and Claudia’s bond from minute one is great, too.
- So, again. Better and worse.
- “I haven’t forgotten what a book is. This is a…This is a book.” Me when Rice brought the Vampire Chronicles back? Definitely.
- “I hope you passed a comfortable night.” “I never pass a comfortable night.” In which Daniel remains me…and Eric Bogosian slays the deadpan.
- Rashid: Start on the left. Daniel: Ok. I’ll start on the right. Me: I legit could’ve done without the obvious Holocaust reference.
- “And I remember thinking, ‘why would an angel cry in heaven?’” This is so very Riceian, to borrow Anderson’s word from our interview. And! Not that I need much for this, but it’s close enough to bring to mind my favorite of Rice’s works, Cry to Heaven.
- The way Lestat just has to show his super speed to freak Claudia out when he’s left out of her conversation with Louis. We get it: You’re insecure.
- The shot of their hands when Claudia says Louis and Lestat have “a funny way of being nice to each other.” Hi. I’m a mess.
- “Who was it she takes after?” Dead.
- “Some sleep is what she needs.” “Sedation. Is what she needs.” Guess who I sided with here. Guess.
- “…less kids to play with.” At 14???? Ok.
- “When I’m tired, I’m not so kind.” Me. And…you don’t say.
- The French argument…Louis and Lestat have a special language, just like Louis and Claudia do. Chef’s kiss.
- “What fourteen year old questions her existence?” “You ever met a teenager before? the only thing they do is question their existence…” This is correct.
- “You’ve forgotten what it is to be young.” Apparently, so have I.
- “Fucking hell! Good night!” A whole mood.
- Lowlight: The coffin shopping scene. Again, calm down.
- Rashid theory hours: Something about Crimea…and Dubai being “a child”? What mortal would say that about Dubai???? Shoutout, also, to Daniel for being on top of this mystery. Like, why does Rashid talk with such outdated language???? Something…is…not…right…here.
- Are y’all seeing what I’m saying yet or.
- “This was given to me by a Marquis who was beheaded by a mob 10 years after he gave it to me.”
- That terrible calm that comes over Louis when reminds Grace what he did to the door…He’s come such a long way as a vampire…
- …but that human angst is still in there. (See also: Anderson’s expression in front of the coffin.)
- Lest we forget, and the Lovers’ Lane scene was a gorgeous showcase: “Claudia was my dark child, my love, evil of my evil. Claudia broke my heart.” The Vampire Lestat (p. 501). (As in, not Louis’ words. Lestat’s. He loved her…he’s just shitty at showing it.)
- And the cute family moments, like dancing together and making fun of classic vampire cinema and stupid tropes are so…Pure.
- “I’ve been 18 for seven months now. And it’s time I started acting like it!” Yes, please do.
- The confidence Claudia has when she wears that new dress. This is good. Again, Bass pointed this out in the interview, and it’s played really, really well.
- “Look who fell into her mama’s closet…” Nope. Not using that word. “…playing dress-up in the dark.” Should’ve ripped their throats out.
- The ice cream date is so sweet. And then…
- “This is why we never get close to mortals. Because sooner or later, they end up dead.” The way Lestat teaches Claudia this “lesson” of his is utterly abhorrent. But it’s still a vital lesson. Everyone learns it the hard way.
- Louis, bff, tell him about the Talamasca. Tell him that’s why you didn’t share the diaries before. No? Ok.
- Anyone else catch the diary snippet that was most certainly not Claudia’s? Another if you know, you know.
- “Anne Frank meets Stephen King.” The Anne Frank comparison is a big, hard NO from me.
- Quiet, remaining grief when Louis talks to Daniel about Claudia. Nailed it again, Mr. Anderson.
- The whole ending sequence, though…? That’s also a NO from me.
Thoughts on Interview with the Vampire 1×04 “The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood With All A Child’s Demanding”? Ready for a debate? Leave us a comment!