Interview with the Vampire Season 1 Episode 1 Review: In Throes of Increasing Wonder
It’s rare to watch an episode of television that leaves you mesmerized from start to finish.
There are quality shows out there, some great shows that you’ll see racking up prestigious awards and critical acclaim. But even those don’t always have those special hours that enrapture viewers and wrap them around their fingers.
Interview with the Vampire Season 1 Episode 1 is that hour.
Full disclosure here, I’ve never read the books. I have seen the film, but I recognize this is a different endeavor. So, I’ll review this series without much prior knowledge, which could ultimately be a net positive or negative.
I’ll let you be the judge.
Vampire shows are a dime a dozen and range from the quirky to the overserious. This falls somewhere in between.
The set-up is simple: Louis reaches out to a man he’s intimately familiar with from his past, and he gets to work on telling his life’s story yet again. There’s an underlying tension between the two that simmers and flames out throughout the hour as Louis recounts his previous life.
And some of the best moments of the pilot are the quieter moments listening to Louis’s words in the expansive penthouse.
Jacob Anderson is a dream as Louis, nailing all the complexities of a black, closeted gay man in 10th century America and the weathered, hundred-plus-year-old vampire of present-day America. 2022 Louis has lost the New Orleans accent but gained a world of battle wounds.
The series doesn’t work unless Jacob’s story has you invested in what he has to say. Lestat will undoubtedly be a significant player in this journey, but it’s not his story to tell. And Anderson does a fabulous job drawing you in with a magnetic turn here.
Louis is a complicated man with a kind heart. As a provider, he does what he feels has to be done for the betterment of his family. He puts himself in undesirable positions because that’s what he has to do, even if those around him disagree.
The series does a beautiful job introducing us to the du Lac family dynamics, which inform so much of the man Louis is in the past. His relationship with Paul, in particular, is combative and yet nurturing in a way. He loves his brother, and it’s evident in his actions, even if the two have drifted apart.
Grace is an angel and a bit of a people-pleaser, while Florence is the headstrong matriarch. And while we know eventually, this dynamic will change, it’s essential to Louis’s story to get a frame of reference of where it all began. His human journey is a crucial piece of the story.
Anderson’s turn as Louis is a highlight, but Sam Reid’s Lestat is a revelation. Everything he’s selling, you’re ready to buy. He’s compelling the unsuspecting humans and the audience with the way his emotions filter through the screen. And the chemistry between the two men is undeniable from the second Lestat sets his eyes on Louis in the street.
Their first interactions are fraught with sexual and emotional tension, a forgotten Lily at the table unaware of what’s happening right under her nose.
Lestat: I had plans to make a new life for myself in St. Louis. That was to be my destiny. And now I know I was right, only it turns out the saint is not a city but a handsome man with the most agreeable disposition.
Lily: You’re his destiny, Louis.
Lestat: Destined to be very good friends.
Lestat is bold and upfront in a way that could be overwhelming if not for the way he understands the right ways to appeal to Louis. It’s more than getting in his head because Louis displays the ability to push back. But their connection can’t be ignored; once they became intimate, Lestat had already won.
Because Lestat doesn’t exactly need to change who Louis is at his core, he merely helps bring more of himself to the forefront.
Again, having not read the books, I’m unclear what the relationship between Louis and Lestat was in them. But here, it’s explicitly clear that these two are lovers, and the way in which Lestat approaches their relationship feels like that of a man looking for a legitimate partner, not a conquest.
I was being hunted. And I was completely unaware it was happening.
An interesting power struggle in the beginning slowly tips to one side the deeper their connection goes. When Louis fights back against Lestat’s dinner disrespect, Lestat shrinks back. But we’ll see that side of Lestat evaporate over time as he gets closer to realizing what he’s wanted all along.
Paul’s suicide is the catalyst here because it’s effectively the thing that breaks Louis. Paul’s absence, his mother’s anger, and his profound shame push him to a place where he sounds suicidal.
The self-awareness he shows earlier when rightly pointing out his family’s judgment is replaced with the contempt that judgment blanketed him with.
The entire last scene at the church presents like a bit of a fever dream. Louis’s emotions spill out in a verbal tirade that hits upon all the thematic hits of his young life. It’s an acting masterclass from Anderson, whose sanity does feel like it’s slowly slipping away.
You can feel the tide shift during the scene, and it was genius to have the camera below Anderson at times, which adds to the mystique of the scene. You’re waiting for something to happen, but you’re just not sure what that is.
Lestat’s absolute devastation is necessary to gauge what kind of vampires we’re dealing with here.
Yes, vampires suck blood and have super speed and strength, but that’s all expressed in different ways through media. How Edward Cullen presented way back in 1008 is nothing like Lestat de Lioncourt.
Some fantastical images are sprinkled throughout, with the two coming to mind first, the two men floating in the air and Louis’s body literally deflating in ecstasy. The second is the slowed-down image of the priest running and Lestat’s slow walk gaining on him step by step.
It culminates in perhaps one of the more gruesome deaths you’ll see on television. I like that the series isn’t afraid to go there in the way they tell this story and have seemingly decided against playing it safe. Even if they eventually fall flat, it’s worth the risk, in my opinion, because it helps you stand apart.
Lestat’s appeal to Louis is honestly a good one because he’s just speaking to who Louis is in many ways. Louis wants the power, and he’s okay with the darkness. But hearing that Lestat can absolve him of his shame? Well, that’s just the icing on the cake.
If I had one minor quibble here, it would be that his speech goes on a little too long. And I feel like the show also felt that way when they inserted a Louis voiceover in the middle of Lestat’s campaign speech.
Louis’s turn is also longer, but his description of the event is ethereal, which is an apt description of this episode at large.
- Though this was a heavy series, there were many laugh-out-loud funny moments throughout. On the surface, you would think that could come across as odd, but it doesn’t. It’s just funny, and you think nothing of it when you’re shuddering at the brains coming at you later.
- The Daniel character is also an essential piece of this puzzle, and I look forward to the episodes where we get more with Daniel and Louis and can evaluate what happened with them in the past.
- There are a lot of mixed feelings about including the pandemic in series these days, but I appreciate it here as a juxtaposition to the stories Louis tells in the past. It also gives a great perspective into why now is the time for Louis to tell this story while the world is crumbling apart.
- An Interview with the Vampire Season 2 renewal before the first episode even airs usually means the word of mouth and the network’s contentment are high enough to move forward. This one lives up to the hype and then some.
This was a bloody good time, and I’m curious what you thought about the pilot. I’m especially curious if you’re well-versed in this universe, someone who knows a bit, or a total newbie!
Please drop your comments down below so we can discuss and watch Interview with the Vampire online right now and join the conversation!
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.