Interview with the Vampire 1×07 “The Thing Lay Still” concludes the series’ first season in style. This finale is a bloody delight that pulls no punches, spares no one, and even manages to include a few surprising twists. Then, there’s the episode’s final moments. If you’ve been paying enough attention, the only twist there was the how of it all. But, even if you were sure all along, it’s still an incredible reveal.
No detail goes to waste, from the gorgeous costumes to the buckets upon buckets of blood. Or, rather, the costumes don’t get wasted until they absolutely have to be — by bathing all three of the series’ central characters in the blood. As they should. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles may be about love, and longing, and the outsider’s perspective. Her vampires may be seductive — and even instructive, with their long walks through history.
But they are still rooted firmly in the horror genre. And perhaps no passage from Interview with the Vampire induces more terror than “this horror that had been Lestat” and the events surrounding the Brat Prince becoming that horror. Certainly, if any event comes even close, it’s that which occurs at the Théâtre des Vampires…with a certain other character who we’d traditionally not meet until later. But, as some of us might have suspected upon laying eyes on him for the first time, that guy has been hiding in plain sight all along.
You know the one. Suffice it to say, if you’ve yet to actually watch the finale and are simply here for spoilers, you’re about to get them. Big time.
Despite the series’ missteps with the child vampire, “The Thing Lay Still” fully delivers on the Claudia we’ve been dying to see — and the only one who can bring about Lestat’s downfall. She manages to manipulate the situation expertly, keeping Louis just enough in the dark to make the switch with her poison — all while keeping Lestat just suspicious enough to send his little spy after her.
It’s a brilliant turn of events, Claudia poisoning Lestat through Tom Anderson instead of one, or even both, of the twins. Not only does it show that Claudia knows which kill Lestat will want the most — “always the petty slights with you, Uncle Les” — but it also keeps the material from being predictable. It’s a fresh new take on a plot we thought we knew by heart, yet it still brings in all the bits we expect.
Bailey Bass was never the problem with the series’ characterization of Claudia. We’ve always believed that. But good God, getting to see her as the character in this finale has been an absolute delight. Whether she’s pretending to make nice with Lestat at the piano — playing with him in perfect harmony because, whether they like to admit it or not, they are a perfect match in evil — or in that slow-mo shot of the three vampires walking at night in New Orleans, or delivering that absolutely empty “have your goodbyes” after Claudia’s plan is a success, Bass is fantastic here.
She is pure gold…kinda like Claudia’s curls in that wig.
“I’ve killed so many…just…no one I—…”
Another one of her best moments is the complete opposite of cold: That moment where Claudia and Louis admit, to themselves and each other, that they just can’t burn Lestat. We expect the pain out of Louis, but there’s also a great deal of emotion from Claudia here. And Bass just nails it.
From a storytelling standpoint, Interview with the Vampire 1×07 sets Claudia up as the vampire to beat all vampires. Meticulous, cunning, and an absolute monster in the episode’s epic bloodbath. If only our precious little time with this one had been this wonderfully Riceian from the start.
The Raj of Mardi Gras
Ah, Lestat. You’ve always been destined to become a ruler of some sort, huh?
Aside from learning Rashid’s true identity in grand, theatrical fashion, the part of Interview with the Vampire 1×07 that brings me the most joy is the Mardi Gras Ball. The Ball is the perfect setup, on so many levels. As the first and easiest, if you’re in New Orleans and have the benefit of multiple episodes with which to tell a story, why not?
But..that’s a superficial sort of answer to the question of exactly why this part works so well. So, let’s look a little bit deeper.
First off, it is a great nod to longtime fans of the source material. It transports the story, for ever-so-brief a moment, back to its original setting in the late 1700s. Claudia gets her golden curls, her lavish ball gown. And both Louis and Lestat get their own attire fit for kings. But beyond that, there’s another nod here: The Raj of Mardi Gras could just as easily be called the Brat Prince, or simply the Prince.
It’s all a nod to Lestat’s ego, the way he is utterly and completely obsessed with the idea of getting to be king for a day, so to speak. The episode does a wonderful job of detailing all his plans for the costuming, the smitten way he glances on his vision for Louis’ clothes…
…and then there’s that completely over-the-top entrance. It speaks to Lestat’s need to be the center of attention, sure. But as another hint at what’s — or, perhaps, who’s — to come, we also see Lestat participating in a little bit of theatre here. When he does that bit with the baby, he reveals his true nature while under the guise of it all being for show. To a lesser extent, his grand storytelling, just before all hell breaks loose, back at the house does the same.
Théâtre des Vampires indeed.
Another place where the Mardi Gras Ball setting really fits with the story is in exposing this idea that everyone’s taking part in a bit of deception. All the party guests are wearing masks. Nobody’s quite themselves on this evening of all evenings, and it’s impossible to trust your eyes or your ears. It makes it that much easier for Lestat to plant his spy, just as it also makes it that much easier for Claudia to outwit them both.
It’s also either yet another hint that Rashid has been nothing more than a costume all along…or something easy to apply to his situation in retrospect. Either way.
Then, of course, we get Louis and Lestat’s one and only chance to take to the dance floor. Not only is it a beautiful moment of sweet angst that Jacob Anderson and Sam Reid deliver like perhaps no one else could have, but it also exposes the crowd’s bigotry. They’re more turned off by these two men, especially of two different races, dancing together than by all the many excesses and indulgences of the night. Even Louis’ narration singles that out, specifically — that it’s the one detail left out of all accounts of the evening.
Meanwhile, I have a very strong feeling the dance — and what, for me, was the vampire lovers’ most emotionally loaded kiss — will be the subject of quite a bit of creative expression. Gifs, fanfiction, drawings…have at it, fans. A moment that’s pure art certainly deserves to inspire plenty more.
“The blood poured out of him…”
If you’ve been following along with our Interview with the Vampire coverage here at Fangirlish, you know I’m a sucker for a good book quote. And uh. This episode is so full of them, I’m sure even I have missed some pretty notable ones. But, as usual, the way Anderson narrates some of Rice’s most gorgeous prose is pure perfection. It might just be criminal that we haven’t gotten an updated audiobook with him as narrator yet, actually.
“The blood poured out of him, down his shirt front, down his coat. It poured as it might never pour from a human being, all the blood with which he had filled himself before the child and from the child; and he kept turning his head, twisting, making the bubbling gash gape.”Interview with the Vampire, Ballantine paperback, 1997, p.136
So, if you’re going to include long quotes like the one above, which was only just slightly altered (“all the blood he had filled himself with” instead of “with which he had filled himself” and then leaving out the rest), you need to deliver on the images. And deliver this finale does. Lestat just gushes blood, and Reid plays every ounce of the vampire’s agony so well, it’s as if he’s reached inside this reader’s head and brought that image to life.
“He lay now on his back…his eyes…staring wildly at the ceiling, the irises dancing from side to side…”p.137
And then, of course, the series adds the extra, devilishly delightful touch of Claudia dipping her pen into Lestat’s neck as it continues to gush blood. Because why wouldn’t a truly sadistic young vampire record her most gruesome kill’s final words like this? As translated by
Armand Rashid Armand from the French, they are simply: “Put me in my coffin. Louis, Louis.”
Or, if you prefer, there’s Rice’s accounting of events:
“Louis…put me in my coffin.”
That’s on page 136, followed by at least two iterations of “Louis! Louis!” on that same page
“Louis, Louis!”(p. 137)
Even in the middle of all this direct text-to-screen goodness, there’s still room for the scene to pack an extra emotional punch. In the text, Claudia delivers her “I’ll put you in your coffin” line and proceeds to slice Lestat’s neck open. In Interview with the Vampire 1×07, however, the final, and deepest, cut is left to Louis’s conflicted hands.
It gives Jacob Anderson yet another chance to prove how incredible he is in this role, as Louis looks on in horror while Reid’s Lestat begs for help. And Louis agonizes over delivering that final nail in Lestat’s (locked from within!) coffin.
But, notably, he does it anyway — even as he, just as notably, embraces Lestat in all that bloody mess at the same time.
This change also lets Reid take an already moving “final” (y’all know better, even if you’re only getting your information from Daniel, right?) scene and drive his own knife through viewers’ hearts.
“I have loved you…with all myself. I’m happy it was you…here with me…”
There is so much angst and heart here from both men. And there’s, yet again, not a single wasted element. That score in the background just makes it hurt all the more…until:
“Finally the irises rolled to the top of his head, and the whites of his eyes went dim. The thing lay still. A great mass of wavy blond hair, a pair of gleaming boots, and this horror that had been Lestat, and I staring helplessly at it.”Interview with the Vampire p. 137
(For what it’s worth, the series gives “I stared helplessly at it” and mixed up the order with “the thing lay still.” But um. Close enough!)
And let’s not even get into how much Anderson’s voice hesitates the slightest amount on “went…dim” and basically has to force out that croaking “horror that had been Lestat.” Just…unparalleled here.
The big reveal
A viewer can have theories, and a reader can immediately feel a pull toward a character. “That’s Armand,” something inside me screamed the second I saw Assad Zaman as “Rashid” for the first time. Then, there were so many hints along the way, which I — and many of you! — devoured.
But until those theories could be confirmed, they were just that — theories. Now, though…
Let’s talk about Armand!
Specifically, let’s talk about the big reveal itself. For a character who is well known for his time at the Théâtre des Vampires, Armand’s introduction here is one of the most satisfying things I’ve seen in television in a long time. He makes a grand entrance after fooling everybody into thinking he’s just another human. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. It’s the Theatre…just elevated.
But there’s more here than that. It’s the way the portrayal brings together all the many, complex elements of this character’s personality. All the contradictions, every description from Louis and Lestat. Like this one:
“It wasn’t merely his beauty; it was the astonishing innocence of his boyish face. He moved so lightly and swiftly I could not see his feet actually take steps. His huge eyes regarded us without anger…”The Vampire Lestat, 2010 Ballantine paperback, p. 215
Or. If we look at the moment where Daniel is badgering Louis over Lestat’s “death,” there’s
Rashid Armand, passive and unaffected in the background…
“…the face so subtly transformed itself to rage that I drew back…”The Vampire Lestat, p. 224
Even Armand’s final, deliberate shedding of his disguise and casual use of the Cloud Gift are exactly on point. The way he’s in the background as he’s simply rising at will, then being pulled toward the bookshelves (also at will) is it. Then, as he throws down that book of programs from the Theatre, it’s like tossing down the gauntlet.
And those open threats, that he won’t save Daniel from Louis a second time, well. What a way to end. Let’s not even start talking about camera focus and how he bleeds in from the background. As he’s basically been doing all along.
The previous adaptation of this tale maybe only ever got the “sinister” element of Armand right, if that — never the rest. Even with so many reasons to have grown up loving the film, the misunderstanding of Armand was always a stain.
But Zaman, while hiding in plain sight as Rashid, has been Armand from the start. All those contradictions, that ancient intelligence hiding behind that youthful look, it’s him.
We’ll have more on this in a separate piece…
…but let’s just say, of all the things I, personally, was looking for in this series, I was always most afraid I wouldn’t get Armand. Like many (I assume), I was desperate for news of who would play him. At one point, following Zaman’s casting, I was like, “but that…that’s the right look…something about him…”
Thankfully, someone in casting agreed. And I, just like Louis, am in love.
Final thoughts on Interview with the Vampire 1×07
- Ok but Moonlight Sonata. Discuss.
- Honestly, the only effect I could’ve done without was all the vampiric…leaping, for lack of a better word. It’s corny enough to be a distraction. Maybe they can fix that up for future seasons.
- When Claudia throws “you must think me an idiot” back at Lestat like that…damn!
- “Soooo, question: Can an immortal meet immortality?” I adore Eric Bogosian’s delivery here. It’s both that usual flippancy we’ve come to expect from his version of Daniel and evidence of how distracted he is by “Rashid.” The vacant look when he asks the question also speaks to that distraction. (Same, Daniel. Big same.)
- “…in possession of ancient powers that had been passed on to his progeny only in a diminished form.” Ancient indeed.
- The shot of Lestat, mesmerized by blood in the middle of his elaborate kill, just as Louis is explaining how he may be killed…Again. There is not a single element of this finale that goes to waste.
- “Locked together in hatred” is typically Claudia’s line (page 116), but I’ll take it!
- Louis: “Savage Garden…” Me: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- “Well, send Saint Peter our regards…” The way he vamps. out!
- “You share a heart with him.” “I can cut it off.” No, you can’t. But damn if this isn’t dialogue even Rice might’ve loved.
- Anderson’s sweet, smitten smile on that streetcar when Reid’s Lestat looks back at Louis. Obsessed.
- Lestat and his piano, just before being “murdered.” Yup. (129-130, spot on.)
- THOSE WHO MUST BE KEPT
- “You irritate me. Your very presence irritates me.” (p. 131!)
- “An idea of yours. It must be a small gift then.” The derision in that tone!
- Excellent use of the Spell Gift, Prince. Somehow, I feel like even Claudia’s laughter wasn’t faked here.
- Even just the way Reid rubs his fingers together as he’s discussing “transcendent” hunger is so Lestat. Tiny details like this are everything!
- Another awkward moment with Claudia seeing Louis and Lestat’s romance…
- “…and let the flesh instruct the mind.” (Originally, Claudia says it, and Louis becomes enthralled on 121. Fine with Lestat getting the first smack at the line here.)
- “…matched only by the sun-hot ego of the vampire king.” Prince, but close enough!
- “And where are Luke and John?” Every time one of these vampires mocks the very concept of religion, my heart grows three sizes. It’s them.
- Even in those masks, you can tell Lestat is hurting, Louis is conflicted, and Claudia is untouchable.
- I really wanted the surprise reveal, of a woman in “men’s” clothing, to be Gabrielle. Alas.
- “I’m going to miss this place.” The whisper. That look of vulnerability and longing. Sam Reid, you will never not understand this assignment.
- “I was his…and he was mine.” Fuck me right up, Mr. Jacob Anderson.
- “Not for long, Tom.” THE LOOK IN HIS EYES.
- “What is it, my love?” “I think it’s the gin.” I wasn’t talking to you.” Crying.
- Even knowing Louis is in on Claudia’s plan, Lestat still tries to pull him away from the action between Antoinette and her. Great setup for…Well. Let’s just hope season 2 (or 3?) does that part of the Theatre story.
- Also a great detail to have Antoinette still “alive” and screaming in that fire…
- “It was as if we expected Lestat to disappear in a puff of smoke, or get sucked back into hell.” Y’all have been watching too many tween vampire dramas.
- “There’s a feeling that she hated your guts there for a while…” Correct, Daniel.
- Moonlight Sonata again!
- “Rats. Big fucking rats, the size of Kevin Durant’s sneakers. Enough blood in them to bring back the dead, especially one in a trunk with locks on the inside. You knew it, Louis. You had to. The biggest rat eater of them all.” Again with Bogosian nailing it.
- …but why not the swamp? What purpose does the garbage serve as a change here? Just for the hell of it?
- “She stuck a pen in his neck — she recorded his last words in his own blood. The girl did not have a fucking problem tossing him on the grill.” I mean. Points.
- “You chose Lestat over her time and time again.” And when he didn’t, he chose Armand over her.
- I KNEW IT. I FUCKING KNEW IT. IT WAS HIM. I WANTED IT SO BAD. AND I GOT WHAT I WANTED. HE’S PERFECT. WE CAN FINALLY ERASE THAT AWFUL PORTRAYAL FROM THE MOVIE. ARMAND!!!!!
- Look at him!
- Armand’s smirk here: “Louis can sometimes act out. I protect him from himself. Always have.”
- …but did you protect him from himself when he was destroying your coven?
- What a final image. What. A. Final. Image.
Thoughts on Interview with the Vampire 1×07 “The Thing Lay Still”? Leave us a comment! (I beg you to come yell about Armand with me, to be honest.)